Most Important Skill a Piano Teacher Must Provide

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There are so many things involved in studying the piano. There is everything from note reading, figuring out rhythms, considering hand position, following fingering, negotiating phrasing, expression and more. There are also skills which must be mastered such as memorization, sight-reading and improvisation. You must also have a keen understanding of the underlying music theory. But there is one intrinsic thing that is a macro to learning to play the piano which transcends everything:

How to Practice

There are so few teachers in this world who teach how to practice; not just in piano but all subjects. I remember when I was in 11th grade, for the first time Mr. Gray showed us how to to compose an English composition. Before that, any time a paper was assigned, I would break into a cold sweat having no idea how to approach such a thing! But Mr. Gray broke it down to an organized method of how to write a clear, compelling composition. I’m so grateful to him to this day. His methods have stayed with me. It’s how I do all my writing, and I write a lot of articles!

Having Productive Lessons:

I was fortunate to study with my father, Morton Estrin. From the very first lesson, he showed me how to practice as he did with all his students. Many of his students went on to teach his methods including my sister and myself. Our teaching is based upon showing students what to do the other six days of the week when they’re not at the lesson. This is the key for effective training which makes the lessons exponentially more productive. It’s not just correcting wrong notes and assigning new material. There are a myriad of things you can do in a lessons from working on scales and arpeggios, to delving into music theory.

Providing a Step by Step Approach

You must show students what to do on a daily basis. They should have a clear idea how to approach each skill set whether it is memorization, sight-reading or something else. The students must be provided with the methods for approaching each skill. The most valuable thing a teacher can do at lessons is to practice with the students. You may work with them for months or even years getting them to the point where they can work effectively independently. Once students reach that level, their progress at home will soar. Your role shifts more to a coach than a teacher being able to work on refining their playing to a high level. So, be sure your teacher (whatever the subject) provides clear, step by step instructions of how to work out assignments at home for fruitful study.

Thanks for joining me, Robert Estrin here at 949-244-3729