Monday, September 14, 2015

Feedback Clears the Fog of Understanding

Some years ago a young mother registered her five year old daughter in my Preparatory Piano class.  "Cici" was eager to learn to play the piano and did well during the first few months.  Then we got into actually reading and playing simple pieces on the piano.  I knew she understood it but she began having difficulty performing her pieces.

 I tried different things to help her... with little success.  We had hit a blank wall.???  She would complain that the piano keys didn't feel like her piano keys, my piano keys were bigger than her's, they didn't sound the same, etc.   Finally, we had a piece of music that had notes to play in a higher octave.  She said her piano couldn't play those notes because her piano keys didn't go that far up.

After a thorough questioning about her piano, I learned it was pink (first clue), a small child's toy piano with only two octaves and small child-sized keys.  The mother had told me Cici had a "piano", meaning this one.

From that experience, I learned to always find out the kind and size of instrument a student will have for practice time between lessons.  Toy pianos will not work.  Digital keyboards, digital pianos, upright and grand acoustical pianos - any of these are fine.   I will be writing another blog on the differences in these pianos and keyboards next.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fall Term, Hot Weather!

Are you ready for school to begin and cooler weather to blow out the summer heat?  I hope everyone has had an enjoyable summer and is ready to get back into a regular program of activities.  

Piano lessons are one of the best activities, studies, for children and adults alike.  Research shows the amazing physical and mental effects on the brains of those who studied and played the piano.  The results of this activity are well-documented: increased nerve fibers connecting the two sides of brain for better coordination, self-discipline and ability to focus and concentrate on achievement of tasks, improved math and reading skills, and many advantages.  As a brain surgeon stated, if he had a child he would have the child take piano from as early as three years of age. 

The rewards of music lessons are far reaching.  I encourage students and parents to place a high priority on scheduling piano lessons and practice time into the busy weeks ahead.   For those who are contemplating this commitment, I assure you the end result should prove well worth the effort and expense.  

 Please check back here as I will be writing more blogs concerning the study of music and the piano in particular.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Piano Lessons During Summertime

Summer Lessons are a great way to keep up the skills for playing the piano, reading new music and polishing the performance of old pieces that you want to keep in your repertoire.  It is a more relaxed time without the pressures from a busy school term.  Lesson times are flexible to work around vacations.  It is also an excellent time for beginning piano lessons.  I encourage everyone to take advantage of this more relaxed time to enjoy music lessons.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winter is Here

January ushered in winter weather with all its changes: short dark days,gray skies and rain, chilly winds and more than enough reasons to want to stay inside and find indoor activities.  What a great time of year to spend at the piano!  Most middle and high school students find themselves stressed with the pressures of excelling in their school studies and various school activities.  The piano practice is often (maybe usually?) left to the bottom of their list of "things to do."  While some may want to participate in testing and performance activities, some may not really want to but are required to by their teacher, others simply do not want to do those events.

I have found an increasing number of students  simply feel the overwhelming pressure of what is required of them at odds with their pleasure in learning to play piano well and to enjoy learning new music. They seem to excel more when not having to spend the entire year trying to prepare for a day of testing and performance before a judge.  Therefore, I find the students do much better at learning a broad range of literature when that testing stress is removed.  Progress "testing" occurs in the studio and the student is usually not even aware of the process.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wishing Everyone a Wonderful Christmas Holiday and Happy New Year

December - January is always a busy time of year with the various holidays affording a break from the routines of school and work and other normal activities during the week.

We usually take break from lessons during the time of public schools break.  I hope everyone has a wonderful time and will feel refreshed when returning in the new year.

For those traveling out of town please be careful and return home safely.  May your holiday be filled with all you wish it to be.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Studio Policies, Expectations

I teach Beginner - Advanced levels in piano performance, music theory, ear-training, and music history and literature.  Lessons are based on a Classical background supplemented with contemporary music; each student's lessons are planned to meet the individual's particular needs.  Learning to read music is basic.

Younger students should be able to count to ten and recognize numerals and ABC's.  Adult students are welcome and encouraged to reap the many benefits they may receive from learning to play and enjoy the piano.  Occasionally exceptions may be made.

A piano in the student's home is required to progress favorably.    Electronic keyboard or digital piano with full-size weighted keys and standard range (88 keys) may be acceptable.  Toy pianos  are not satisfactory substitutes since they are not standard piano keyboard size, both touch and sound are different and will frustration the student and teacher.

A commitment to regularly practice is required in order to progress.  No one should expect to learn to play the piano with only minimal time and effort devoted to the instrument.  Many parents want their children "exposed to" piano but, due to heavy schedules in other activities, they have no time to practice.  This soon results in the students becoming bored and frustrated due to their lack of progress and understanding.  Practice time varies with age and level.

Lessons are scheduled to meet requirements of the individual, usually thirty, forty or sixty minutes weekly.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Piano Lessons at McNair Piano Studio

To inquire about piano lessons please contact me via email at (See link in right hand column.)

McNair Music Studio is in my home.  My primary goal is to guide students toward their individual potential and pleasure in playing the piano musically.  Lessons include learning to read music, music theory and history, proper technique and memorizing skills.  

Above all, music lessons should be a pleasant experience that will result in a lasting love for the piano and its music.