Poll

You have pre-paid for a full semester at a private school for after hours piano lessons for your grade school child.  What do you need?

a grand piano or a baby grand
2 (1.6%)
an upright piano
10 (7.8%)
a full sized keys and weighted keyboard/electric piano
13 (10.2%)
a neighbor or grandparent who is fine with daily and consistent visits and practice sessions
5 (3.9%)
a small keyboard or a keyboard app on an e-reader
5 (3.9%)
nothing, wait and see how lessons go, and maybe Santa will bring a piano
7 (5.5%)
options 1-4 are ok
86 (67.2%)

Total Members Voted: 128

Voting closed: September 16, 2012, 02:54:13 PM

Author Topic: What you need for piano lessons:  (Read 6167 times)

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WillyNilly

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2012, 05:24:13 PM »

I will tell you what I told the mom tomorrow.

This - I find annoying.  If you have an update, then post it but don't drag it out like that.  This seems more like a plea for attention and get posters hoping for an update.

I agree.  Either update us or don't but please don't taunt us, its patronizing.  You have two pages of responses already.

Jones

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2012, 05:30:46 PM »
I wanted to add that, if a person is paying for piano lessons, it behooves them to not only have a piano to practice on but also ensure that piano is tuned. I had lessons from age 5 to 17, the piano was tuned ONCE in all that time. I don't know if that's the only reason I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but it sure didn't help. I've such a poor ear now that teenagers used to make fun of me during hymns in church, and my daughter used to cry when I'd try singing to her. Now she just says "Mooom, stop it. Please. I get it."

jmarvellous

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2012, 05:59:33 PM »
I've never played an instrument aside from a plastic recorder we had to buy in 4th grade (my teachers did not let me touch the class instruments or sing out loud because I was such a bad singer). My BF, who for arguments' sake would be my fellow parent, is a singer and a trumpeter, but not a pianist.

If I had a kid who was interested in piano, there's NO way I would know to buy such an expensive, huge piece of equipment before they had a few years of experience/lessons, unless the teacher told me explicitly. I figure it'd be a waste to have it sit completely unused in our home, and I wouldn't be interested in the investment without a long-term commitment from the kid.

In short, it's ALL on you, as the teacher, to convey your expectations. Your students' parents aren't likely to be piano teachers or even former pianists.

Surianne

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2012, 06:12:36 PM »
In short, it's ALL on you, as the teacher, to convey your expectations. Your students' parents aren't likely to be piano teachers or even former pianists.

I agree -- or they may be used to piano teachers who are willing to work with students who have all types of instruments, from the baby grand down to the sheet of laminated paper.  This has definitely been my experience, and I've studied under and am friends with a variety of music teachers.

I do think (and didn't mention in my previous post) that if having a particular type of piano is a requirement for taking lessons with you, and you did not make this clear up front, you should absolutely offer the parents a refund on the prepaid lessons. 

blarg314

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2012, 07:49:30 PM »

As someone who studied piano for a number of years, I would say that for beginner piano you need regular (ie, at least once every two days) access to a keyboard with full sized keys, whether natural or electronic. Learning on a keyboard with non-standard key-size is worse than useless, as they'll have bad habits that need to be broken later.

For a student beyond the beginner level, they would need a touch sensitive keyboard with a natural feel to the keys, because dynamics and touch are very important to learning to play. For a family with financial issues, they might be able to get by with a non-weighted keyboard for scales and working out fingering, and practicing at a community or friend's piano for at least half the time.

If the child does not have a suitable instrument to practice on at least one day out of two, they aren't going to be able to learn to play the piano, whether or not they have lessons, and they should think of other things to do - a cheaper instrument (or one that can be rented and stored more easily), or vocal lessons.

Bob Ducca

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2012, 07:58:22 PM »
Perhaps my point of view is flawed because I teach public school, but I wouldn't consider a full-sized instrument a necessity for a beginner.  It is not only possible, but preferable to avoid the upper and lower octaves in the early stages of lessons.  Once the child shows aptitude and advances to intermediate level, weighted keys and expanded octaves may be necessary, but insisting that people buy what is essentially an enormous piece of furniture based on the chance that their child might show enough aptitude to make the investment worthwhile? No.  I think a keyboard with full-sized keys that are also weighted would be fine even if it wasn't full-sized, as would access to an instrument on a semi-regular basis outside the child's home.  Even smaller keys are all right for students who are younger or absolute beginners. I would be thrilled to have students with enough interest to show up for lessons, though, so I wouldn't be as picky about their exact practice instrument.

Surianne

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2012, 08:16:51 PM »
I would be thrilled to have students with enough interest to show up for lessons, though, so I wouldn't be as picky about their exact practice instrument.

So true!  I also found that switching between instruments really lent me a lot of versatility as I was learning. 

If you're not training to be a classical concert pianist, it's pretty handy being able to adapt to playing the same pieces on an unweighted, 4-octave keyboard, a cheaper upright apartment piano that might have a heavier touch, and a full-size sensitive grand. 

You never know what you might end up playing on in public, and it's a lot of fun being the person who can switch between instruments without being snobby about it  :D

If the goal is to go on to a professional or academic career in art music, of course, then the requirements may be different.  I'm not sure of the exact nature and goals of the students the OP is teaching.

snowdragon

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2012, 08:56:53 PM »
I took piano lessons for a year, with an electronic keyboard that had fewer keys than a normal piano. My teacher was fine with it.  You can get them at flea markets these days fairly cheaply, often enough that they would be doing themselves a disservice to not check.
But I think not having anything to practice on is unreasonable.  Even having it at a neighbor's house could lead to problems - what happens when the neighbor needs alone time, or needs to go out, or whatever?

kareng57

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2012, 09:31:27 PM »

I will tell you what I told the mom tomorrow.

This - I find annoying.  If you have an update, then post it but don't drag it out like that.  This seems more like a plea for attention and get posters hoping for an update.

I agree.  Either update us or don't but please don't taunt us, its patronizing.  You have two pages of responses already.


Yes - this seems to be a carrot-stick concept that's rather condescending.

I agree with some PPs - the onus is on the teacher to make sure that the parents understand the requirements upfront, at the time of registration.  OP might think that the parents ought to ask, but you never know.  For example, their neighbour's child might have had a teacher who was fine with a keyboard at home, and they could be assuming that OP would be fine with it too.  If it turns out that she's not, then they deserve a refund for the pre-registration.

OP, you really have no business in figuring that you know the financial situations of all the parents in the school.  Even if the school doesn't offer scholarships, you don't know where the tuition $$$ are coming from.  Perhaps it's from well-to-do grandparents who are okay with providing the basics, but the parents are on their own for optional activities such as fine arts.

Moray

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2012, 09:49:30 PM »
We had neither the money or the space for a full piano at home when I was growing up, but my piano teacher didn't have a problem with my parents getting a non-weighted keyboard for me to practice on. 

And just because the OP thinks finances aren't a hardship doesn't mean that either they really aren't or that the parents want to invest in a full piano when they don't even know if their kid(s) will continue to play.

Parking my vote here. Personally, I was an awfully indecisive child. I wanted to play the piano...and the viola...and the saxophone...you get the idea. If my parents had bought me a high-end [whatever] it would have been a very poor investment. A non-weighted keyboard is fine for when they're just starting out.
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kareng57

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2012, 11:03:09 PM »
I had 13 years of piano lessons and was a music composition major in college, so this is near and dear to my heart  :)

1) If the student doesn't have a piano at home, I'd suggest providing at the first lesson a paper/cardboard piano keyboard.  My teacher gave us laminated paper keyboards, with regular-sized keys (~2 ft x 8" or so) which we used to "practice" in places with no piano, like in study hall or in the car on the way to a competition.

2) I'd also make up a short list of cheap keyboards and where you can get them, such as links to Amazon listings (including the price).  I'm thinking the <$50 range here - nothing they'd want to keep forever, but something you can hand out to parents who don't want to spring for a piano.

3) I'd make a point of telling parents who don't already own a piano that their student will do MUCH better with a real piano or full-sized weighted keyboard at home.  Parents who don't play the piano themselves might not realize that a 3/4 size unweighted keyboard (suitable for electronic music) just isn't going to compare to learning dynamics and touch on a real piano, and you don't want them to shell out a few hundred bucks on something that's not really going to be good enough.


Yes - re point #3.  I'm not as high-level as you are, but am sort of intermediate+/ :)  I was the Sunday School piano-person for a number of years - for some time it was okay, as there was a fairly old, but serviceable, acoustic piano available.  (The powers-that-be had purchased an electronic piano a few years earlier, but I could have the old piano if I wanted it).

Then - suddenly they got rid of the old piano, and at the same time selected a Christmas pageant program that was fairly challenging - lots of fast tunes and staccatto, for example.  Fairly quickly, I found out that practising the songs at home, and rehearsing them with the kids every Sunday just wasn't going to do it.  I was working part-time at the time, and at the same time was trying to co-ordinate with the church secretary as to when I could come in to practise on the electronic piano (for example, obviously I couldn't come in during the daytime if there was a funeral in progress).  But I needed to practise almost every day.  The touch really was so different.  Maybe a high-level pianist wouldn't have had a problem with it - but for me, they had to take what they could get... :)

Overall I'm just trying to get across the idea that using a piano at the teacher's place - and an electronic keyboard at home - might be doable, but not optimal.  A teacher who is reluctant to take on a keyboard-student isn't necessarily a music snob - he/she might simply be acknowledging the difficulties.

And - the church eventually purchased an upright-grand to replace the electronic piano.  I never had high-insight as to the decision, but I think they had a few guest-pianists who did not want to play an electronic piano.

Calypso

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2012, 12:29:46 AM »
Maybe they want to see if the child actually likes the piano before shelling out big bucks? 


I will tell you what I told the mom tomorrow.

This - I find annoying.  If you have an update, then post it but don't drag it out like that.  This seems more like a plea for attention and get posters hoping for an update.

Plea for attention? Patronizing? Geez, that's harsh. I read it as "thank you for your ideas, everyone; I won't be able to update until tomorrow." I thought it was courteous.


ETA: Oh! I just realized there's two ways to read the OP's statement. I read it as "I will talk to the Mom tomorrow and then tell you all what happened." I think stargazer and WillyNilly read it as "I've already had the conversation but I'm not telling eHell about it until tomorrow." Two very different things! Which is it, RegionMom?
« Last Edit: September 12, 2012, 12:42:08 AM by Calypso »

RegionMom

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2012, 08:59:05 AM »
OP here-

I only have a minute (got called in to sub 7th grade English, and then have more piano students this afternoon) but I wanted to say that I was taking time and did not want to sway answers and the poll by giving my brief response to the mom.  Plus, I wanted to check with the fine arts coordinator to see what she tells parents when they ask about after school lessons. 

I was swampled last night with scouts and popcorn monies, and also back to school night so I was never back on the computer.  Sorry for any ill will.  I knew it would take some time for me to gather input and help me determine what more I need to say to the mom and other parents if this comes up this afternoon with more new students.

Thanks for the responses!  I will post more tonight, after home and dinner. 

:)
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Redsoil

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #43 on: September 12, 2012, 09:03:08 AM »
You cannot learn to play piano properly without adequate practice.  It's a bit like expecting to be able to drive a car properly with only one 30 minute lesson each week.  It just won't cut it.
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RingTailedLemur

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Re: What you need for piano lessons:
« Reply #44 on: September 12, 2012, 09:17:42 AM »
You cannot learn to play piano properly without adequate practice.  It's a bit like expecting to be able to drive a car properly with only one 30 minute lesson each week.  It just won't cut it.

That's how I learned to drive.  I had no other option.

I've never taken musical lessons, but it never would have occurred to me that a child would need their own piano right from the start.