Another week has flown by and another Thursday has come. As promised today’s blog post is going to bring you behind the scenes of a child’s lesson.

Before you even climb the stairs to my apartment and knock on the door, your child’s lesson is already in the works. Each lesson is carefully planned to each child to maximize the productivity of the lesson. The more time I’ve spent with a student, the more easily I can plan. If over time I’ve discovered that a child really struggles in a certain area I can plan to spend more of the allotted time to that concept or technique. I also keep a record of my lesson plans in a duo tang for each student. This way I can look back to see what we’ve previously worked on, what we might need to review, etc.

On your child’s very first lesson we’ll talk a little bit about the books you’ll need to pick up. It is so important that you get these as soon as possible so that your child can practice at home. I’ll also give a duo tang with your child’s name on it. This is where I will write all the weekly assignments and anything else you may need to remember. This will eventually get covered in stickers.

I like to start each lesson with a bit of review from the previous lesson(s). The review just involves a few basic questions so that I know how much your child has retained in memory. After the review I adjust the lesson accordingly. If all the concepts seemed to have sunk in then we can move along but I may also choose to do some extra review to help your child grasp each concept.

At this point we turn to the lesson book. This book is our main focus. Just as with the adults, I like to use the Alfred’s Basic Piano Course. I’ve used other methods in the past and this one has been my favourite so far. The lesson book covers the main concepts by introducing something new for each song, sometimes giving an extra tune in between to allow for extra practice. There is a small explanation for each new concept so if you get home and your child has forgotten the new ideas, you may actually be able to explain it to them yourself! If something is a little bit more difficult I may explain it to you, the parent, at the lesson so that you can help your child along at home with ease.

I’ll ask your child to play the assigned songs from the week before. My expectations are not perfection but just that he/she can show that they understand what was taught and can incorporate it into the song they are learning. Then, out come the stickers! I love the smiles I see when children put the sticker on the page.

Moving on, we’ll turn the page and discover the next musical concept to add to their knowledge. We’ll do a lot of clapping and counting, pointing out patterns, and figuring out finger positions. I like to run through each of the songs for homework at least once or twice to make sure there are no surprises. By the end of the lesson your child may actually be able to play the assignment decently well but I still like to hear it after a week of letting it sink in.

We’ll then move on to the theory book. The theory book gives more writing practice with the concepts learned. It’s so important to learn theory. The writing practice really helps the concepts sink in and become more applicable. I could probably write a whole blog post on the importance of theory; in fact I probably will write about that at some point. Depending on the student we may actually work on the theory in the lesson or I may just show the pages I want done for the next week and your child can take it home to work on it. These pages will also be written down in the homework duo tang so you can check if your child has finished everything.

If your child is taking half-hour lessons we’ll probably have about five minutes left at this point. I like to use those last five minutes to do some ear training. Your child will learn to hear different rhythms and to listen for notes going up or down amongst other things with different exercises.

At the end of the lesson the stickers will come out again if I remember and the duo tang will receive some redecorating.

Like I said last week, the lessons can vary depending on what you and your child are looking for. We can always adjust the time spent. For example, we can add some music appreciation if you’d like your child to learn more about music history and different types of music. We can also use a different series if you are more familiar or comfortable with something different. I’m always up for new ideas and ways to make each lesson special for each child.

I wish you all a musically happy week! Until next time…