My love for amateur pianists
As a master piano teacher and artistic director of the London Piano Institute, I have met hundreds of amateur pianists and shared my experience with several colleagues who are themselves terrific pianists.
We have all taught and we are still teaching wonderful people who make teaching an extremely enjoyable occupation. We can also, at times, experience lots of pain with students who do not seem to understand both piano playing and piano education.
For some unknown reasons, some people treat their instructors with little respect and tend to forget that their piano teacher is likely to have a level of expertise similar to top lawyers or brain surgeons.
Instead of looking down on them, some individuals should reconsider their views and be full of admiration for the exceptional pianist...
Like most pianists, I have started teaching in my late teenage years. My first two students were a 6-year-old boy and a middle-aged lady. After a few lessons, I realised that teaching children and adults required a different set of skills and that I was much more talented at helping this lovely woman become a better pianist rather than tutoring little Leo.
I still taught both children and adults up to my mid-twenties before deciding to specialise in adult piano education. I quickly realised that I tremendously enjoyed guiding amateur pianists throughout their piano journey and that I had a passion for this occupation.
I was teaching privately from my apartment in Pall Mall. For those we do not London well, this renowned street is located in St James’ and is home to the most notorious private members’ clubs in Central London. I remember teaching David, who was a very talented pianist and lawyer as well as Ame-Love who was a piano beginner and a writer.
The combination of both...
I have yet to find a person that cannot enjoy music.
Their preferred styles and genres may differ, but all people have the inbuilt ability to enjoy good music. Their tastes may differ as to what constitutes “good” music, but if you know their likes and dislikes, you can quickly set the right musical mood.
Likewise, no two persons have exactly the same taste, which lends itself to cross-pollination.
I have a friend who introduced me to Mahler as he always had some music of Mahler going, even when he was studying.
Now Mahler is heavy on an empty stomach, but with time you learn to savour the chap and start appreciating the subtle expectations built into his arranging. In the non-classic pop genre, the same can be said of the arrangements by Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
Learning to play a musical instrument is a proven way to expand your brain power and increase your cognitive awareness.
The truth is, learning to play an instrument requires a tremendous amount of micro-skills that all need to be fine-tuned to perfection to allow you to play with fluency and excellence.
You learn so many aspects of life through music...
1. Begin with a solid telephonic and email research. Contact a couple of teachers. Do not only look for those based in your own area, the perfect teacher for you might be a couple of miles further.
In regards to tuition fees, it is to be expected that a better teacher will ask a higher fee, but this is not always the case. The tutor's musical background should NOT be neglected. It is crucial to develop the right habits from the beginning as it is difficult to change them later. Even if you just play for the pleasure, learning the correct technique will increase your pleasure of making music....
In an article by Ken Futernick (http://edfordemocracy.org/TQI/TQI_Quality_Matters.htm), he states that most of us would not dream to have surgery performed on us by an unlicensed practitioner, (in which he states it is mostly impossible since it is a crime) but we accept education from teachers who have (in his own words) "virtually no professional training, no classroom experience, and little or no knowledge of the subjects they will be asked to teach".
Although teaching the guitar is not a high-school or further education subject, I wholeheartedly agree with Ken's article and in terms of guitar tuition it certainly applies.
I would proudly bet that more than 90% of all "guitar teachers" do not have a complete grasp of their instruments and how to teach it. This leaves you (the student) in a black hole, receiving education from a teacher who is feeding you lousy techniques and habits on a weekly basis.
Although most guitar teachers have impressive "music credentials", they will still teach you bad habits. While there are certainly value in credentials, they are in my opinion vastly overrated...