Taking piano lessons is an obvious way of improving your skill level on the piano. However, you may not be getting as much out of your piano lessons as you possibly could be. There are some simple things you can do to maximise the improvement that you get from your piano lessons.
But first, a note on practicing between lessons…
If you practice your piano effectively between lessons, you can be assured of great progress. However, everyone is different, and regular practice may not be a possibility for some. Contrary to popular belief, it is entirely possible to improve on your piano without doing a single minute of practice between lessons. There is nothing wrong with recognising you need to commit to a weekly lesson time in order to ensure you play at least once a week. This is in fact what clever but busy people do who have a desire to play. They acknowledge that if they do not go to a lesson, they don’t play at all. Of course, playing your piano between lessons will always be desirable, and what many people do not realise is, consistent improvement can come from very short practice sessions, provided the practice is deliberate and effective. As little as 5 minutes can be very worthwhile. There are also many people who “practice” for considerable amounts of time, yet do not improve much because they are not practicing effectively.
Tips To Get The Most From Your Piano Lessons
1. Keep an Open Dialogue
The easiest and by far the most important method of getting exactly what you want from your lessons is to simply ask for it. Maintaining an open dialogue with your piano teacher is vital to achieving your goals and working in a direction that is relevant to you. If your teacher doesn’t know what you want to get out of your piano lessons, then it can be hard for them to help you effectively. A good piano teacher will regularly ask for feedback regarding lessons, so take the opportunity to tell them what you like and what you dislike about the lessons and make sure you are clear about your goals and what you want to learn. Don’t worry about about offending them. In fact, they should be thankful for you for providing a more clear, relevant feedback. Your piano teacher is there to help you achieve your goals, and your lessons can only be effective if you’ve clearly outlined exactly what you want. If your piano teacher isn’t open to listening to what you want, or teaches a “set” method, you should sack them immediately and find a good one!
2. Set Yourself Goals
Having something to work towards will often spark motivation. If you have no clear objective to achieve, you may find yourself meandering and not improving as efficiently as you possibly could. The goal doesn’t have to be huge, or anything wildly specific. It could be as simple as “I would like to play X piece of music in 6 months” or “I would like to play to an audience by new year”. An astute piano teacher will work back from there, designing a plan while setting you smaller, regular goals to achieve. Having set goals that are regularly checked up on can do wonders for your improvement. Instrument grading, such as those offered by AMEB, can be helpful with this. If you can find a grading system that covers a style of music that interests you, it can be an automatic goal for you to achieve. “Complete AMEB Grade 3 in a year” is just as valid a goal as any other, plus you will get a certificate as a bonus!
3. Get Engaged in the Lesson
Try not to feel as if your lesson is a lecture. There is a reason that music lessons are done one on one or in a small group format, and that’s so you can ask questions and be one-hundred percent engaged in the lesson. If there’s something you don’t understand, speak up, and your piano teacher will endeavour to explain it in a different way. Present your opinions. Tell your teacher “I’m struggling with this passage” or “I don’t think this section is coming along as quickly as I’d hoped”. That way your teacher can help your piano lessons remain efficient by focusing on the exact parts you find most difficult.
4. Don’t Stress
In music, frustration is your biggest enemy. If you get mad with yourself from making the same mistake several times over, you’re doing yourself a disservice by getting angry. You’re simply going to make your lesson or practice less beneficial, and more importantly, less fun. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes learning to play an instrument, especially if you’re just starting out. Just accept the mistake, learn from it, even have a laugh at yourself, then try again. If you’re really struggling, don’t stress, your piano techer is there to help you out.