Why Do We Need a Piano and What Type Should We Get?

Students need a piano because they need to be able to practice at home. Learning to play any musical instrument is a big undertaking that depends upon regular lessons and daily practice. It takes practice to understand musical concepts and to acquire the coordination and motor skills it takes to become a pianist.

What Should We Get?

There are basically two types of pianos, Acoustic and Digital. First, let’s look at Acoustic Pianos.

Acoustic Pianos are made of wood and have steel strings. An acoustic piano is a great choice if you have space in your home to accommodate one and if you can afford it. Concert artists always play on fine acoustic pianos and almost all pianists prefer them. Acoustic pianos need periodic tuning, however, this is a minimal expense. If carefully chosen and properly cared for, an acoustic piano is an investment that will last a lifetime.

It is important to know that acoustic pianos vary wildly in price, quality and condition. In order to be useful for piano practice, an acoustic piano must be a new or a well maintained pre-owned piano. You must also look for a reputable brand of instrument. Acoustic pianos have over 10,000 moving parts, these parts wear out if not properly maintained. I always recommend that families get help when selecting an acoustic piano. Consult your teacher. He/she can certainly point you in the right direction and help with your piano selection.

Digital Pianos

Digital Pianos are electronic instruments. Digital pianos have a full set of 88 weighted keys. The weights inside the keys make these instruments feel more like acoustic pianos when played. They also have an assortment of different sounds and computer interface capabilities.

Digital Pianos have improved greatly in price and quality over the past 20 years. In my opinion, a good quality digital piano with its own case and bench for proper seating is a good option for families that do not have space and budget for an acoustic piano. Digital pianos also vary in price and quality, so please consult your teacher before purchasing a digital piano.

Keyboards

Keyboards are not pianos and are not acceptable for piano practice. They do not sound or feel like a piano and practicing on a keyboard will be discouraging and will foster bad habits. I would also prefer that my students forgo practice on a keyboard and concentrate on the lessons in “First Four Week Before a Piano” (coming soon) rather than practice on a keyboard. In my 30 plus years of teaching, I have seen that keyboards just don’t work. Piano students need pianos.

There are many many affordable options when it comes to getting a piano. You can rent or buy. Some of my students have even received nice pianos from friends or relatives. The bottom line is that the sooner you get a good quality piano the better.

If you would like free printable music

How to Create Your Own Hands-on Piano Activities

Hands-on is Helpful.

I live in Cleveland Ohio in the U.S. There is a large and vibrant classical music community here due to the presence of the Cleveland Institute of Music. As a result, a lot of my student’s parents are musicians. At an introductory lesson, one pianist-father observed all of the hands-on activities his son was engaged in at the lesson. His comment was that piano pedagogy had come a long way since he had taken lessons as a boy. I believe this is true, largely because of all of the awesome sharing that takes place between all of us on the internet and on social media. There are so many great ideas and activities going around. I love to come up with hands-on activities myself, and I enjoy sharing them with our Paloma Piano community. In this post, I thought I would share how I come up with my hands-on activities.

Resources are Everywhere!

For ten years, I worked as a preschool teacher in a Montessori School. The head teacher at our school was a highly trained Montessori Specialist and highly creative person. She taught me to see everything as a potential learning activity. Discarded keys became a matching lesson; old perfume bottles: an opportunity to sort and the match tops to the bottles; clothes pins and cloth: a chance to hone fine motor skills, and on and on. The shelves at our school were filled with learning activities; most of them hand made. I noticed that there were two main strategies to come up with new activities. I also knew that I could apply these ideas to piano teaching.

Strategy 1: Think of a Problem that Needs Solving

Is a preschool student having trouble remembering the names of the keys? Think of ways that could help him remember. Use things that are colorful, interesting to look at and to touch. For young students, I like to choose things that feel interesting and are large enough for little hands to grasp. I think of using the senses of sight, touch and sound together when creating activities for young students. Getting young students off of the piano bench periodically is also important.

Older students can benefit from hands on activities as well. Visual aids can be used to teach theoretical concepts like how scales are constructed or how different triads are formed. More advanced students also love games and challenges. Is an older student having trouble memorizing? Think of ways to turn memorizing into a game or a challenge.

Strategy 2: See Something and Then Come up With Ways to Use It

There really are resources everywhere. Keep this in mind when shopping, cleaning out closets and drawers or just walking around outside. When you come across something interesting, ask yourself if it is something you can use in a piano lesson. This can be super fun and the more you practice coming up with ideas the better you will get at thinking of great and unique activities for you students.

Start With a Brain Dump

When trying to find ways to solve a problem or make use of an object. Write down every idea that comes to mind no matter how crazy it may seem. Inevitably some of these ideas will be good ones and ideas always lead to more ideas.

Here’s an example:

Jillian is 4 years-old she is having trouble understanding the concept of high notes being the on the right side of the keyboard and low notes being on the left side of the keyboard. I am going to think of ten crazy, off the cuff ways to help her.

  1. Take a paper keyboard chart turn it on its side so the right side of the keyboard is higher, then put it back down.
  2. Put a red bead or piece of paper on the right side of the keyboard and a red sticker on the paper flip it up and see how the red is high, use a different color for the low notes on the left side.
  3. Play a higher lower game play a note and have the student play a higher or lower note.
  4. Put a red sticker with an H on the student’s right hand use a different color for the left hand.
  5. Have the student put a red bead on the high side of every group of three black keys (B). Repeat with the low notes.
  6. Play a “Chase” game. Play a note have the student play a higher note as quickly as possible until the top of the keyboard is reached. Repeat for the low side of the keyboard.
  7. Use a small plastic bird and place it on the highest notes on the keyboard use something like a small fish for the low notes.
  8. Make up a little chant and movement activity to a simple tune like “Merrily we Roll Along”“The high notes are on the right, on the right, on the right.” Etc.
  9. Have the student play a five finger exercise and say the word “higher” on each note C through G. Reverse for the low notes.
  10. Have the student find a series of random notes each one must be higher (or lower) than the next. (for example; A, G, F. G must be higher than A and F higher than G)

Obviously, not all of these ideas are fantastic, but a couple of them are usable and one or two might really click with my student.

Try these exercises.

Think of some ways to help these students.

    1. Scott has been playing for three years but has trouble remembering Key Signatures.
    2. 5-year-old Sandra avoids using her thumb when playing.

Think of some ways the following objects could be used in a piano lesson. (You can add other objects to the ones suggested

    1. Pipe Cleaners
    2. Sea Shells
    3. Small Wooden Cubes

I know that teachers are such creative people and are always coming up with new ways to teach. I hope some teachers might find these ideas helpful. I would love to hear about how all of you come up with unique activities for your students.

If you like this post please share it.

If you would like lots of free printable music and resources you can use in your studio become a Paloma Piano member.

Free Online Piano Books and Materials

 

Paloma Piano offers Free online piano books and materials, What are the advantages of being able to print your piano method books?

I have been teaching piano lessons for over 30 years. I have used many different piano methods and most of them are very good. I love to compose music and it has always been my dream to write my own piano method books and music and have them available on line. Here’s why I decided to create free online printable piano books and materials;

Cost

It is less expensive to print free online piano books and materials than it is to buy piano method books and music.

Convenience

Printable music means it’s easy to replace lost music, or reprint music and have a clean copy. You never have to worry about running out of books or not having what you need for your students.

Creativity

I wanted to be able to add new music without having to republish books. In my thirty-plus years of teaching I have created many resources and written music for my students this is my chance to share with other piano teachers.

Community

I wanted to create a learning a community where piano teachers would be able to share ideas. When you join the Paloma Piano Community your ideas and suggestions matter. We are all interested in what you are doing with your music career. Paloma teachers are made up of  composers and authors, as well as teachers who organize workshops, and run non-profit piano organizations to serve their communities.

What music Paloma Piano members get with a Free Membership?

Paloma Piano features;

The Petite People’s Primer-music for young students

Method Books-skill based progressive lessons

Music Theory

Technique

Reading exercises

Lots of great arrangements of folk songs from throughout the world

Original music for beginning through early advanced students.

These are some features of Paloma Piano’s printable piano music you might like.

All of the PDF music and graphics are black and white, to save you and your students money on printing.

The printable method books are each less than 40 pages making printing fast and easy.

New music is being on a regular basis.

Paloma members are welcome to offer suggestions, about the creation of new content.

Members can download and reprint the music for their own students.

These are just a few of the advantages of a printable piano method.

Don’t want to print?

If you would rather buy than print piano books all of our method books are available for purchase in our online store.

If you would like to try what Paloma Piano has to offer.

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How To Get More Piano Students and Grow Your Studio

 

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How to Get More Piano Students

If you are just starting out as a piano teacher and dream of having a large, vibrant studio: here are some ideas on how to get more piano students.

Piano Teaching is a Great Job!

If you’re looking for a job that makes a difference in people’s lives, it’s hard to beat teaching. Especially private piano teaching. We have our students for a long time, and we teach them something that they can enjoy for a lifetime, or even pursue as a career. But what does it take to have a great studio? Is it even possible in today’s tight economy? Can’t students just learn to play online? Does anyone really want to play at all anymore?
Sure times might be tough, but fear not! – piano players have been around for centuries, and that’s not going to change. People love music and the piano is the most popular instrument. Research shows that music study is excellent for the minds of young and old alike, There is less music being offered in schools, yet parents want their children to be exposed to music. People of all ages are discovering that they can experience the joy of playing the piano, and the best most tried and true way of doing it is with a teacher, like you! So you can absolutely get more piano students.

I have been teaching the piano since I graduated from college. I also worked as a classroom teacher. I decided to leave my school teaching position and open my own studio in September of 2001. I placed some ads and waited for the phone to ring but, of course, it did not. It took a couple of months after the shock of the 9/11 tragedy to get back to focusing on my business but I knew I had to get more piano students to stay afloat.

Here is how I grew my studio from 0 to 45 students in 2 years;

1. I decided what kind of studio I wanted to have. I decided to focus on teaching children and teenagers, beginner through advanced classical music. I wanted a formal style studio with bi-yearly recitals.
2. I wanted to teach at my home and have 40-50 students. I drew up a schedule with time slots waiting to be filled in with the names of my new students.
3. I created a mission statement for my business.
4, I created a website (not nearly as nice as this one** ) and I posted my contact numbers, qualifications, fees, and pricing for the lessons. (I priced the classes competitively, I did not want to be the cheapest, or the most expensive.)
5. I made business cards and handed them out to everyone that I could.
6, I sent a note to local music teachers making them aware of my studio and offering my services as an accompanist.
7. I put ads in local papers. (I would also recommend church bulletins if they have advertising.)
8. I offered a free introductory lesson and I gave a free lesson to students for referrals.
9. Don’t forget to choose a great piano teaching method! Of course I hope you will choose Paloma Piano online piano method.
This is what I did to get started. In another post, I will discuss how to build upon the successful studio.
I would love to hear how all of you teachers got started with your studios. why not leave a comment?

 

If you would like a free online method to use in your studio,

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