by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
My piano journey did not start smoothly. I started piano lessons at seven years old after begging my parents for a piano. My parents were not musically trained but appreciated music. They did not know what to look for in either a piano or a piano teacher. But they got a basic upright console piano and signed me up for a group piano class in a local activity center.
The teacher was old-school, and frankly, old. She had a long stick she used to smack students’ hands or fingers when they did not follow her exact directions during their turn at the piano.
My older sister was in the same class and already rebellious against this setting and teaching style. She was cutting jokes with other kids while I ignored all and devoured whatever music points were available.
I was immediately drawn to music for the incredible patterns, both visually and aurally. I completed that 6-month group class and bugged my parents to find another teacher.
Within a year or so, they found a fabulous graduate student at the local university. She was a vocal major but knew enough to get me started. She was compassionate and knowledgeable, guiding me quickly through my beginner material. But she only took me as far as she could and let my folks know our number was up.
This pattern of gaps between teachers continued for a few sporadic years in my youth. My parents landed me with another piano teacher who I studied with for 3 years during high school. That was the longest period of uninterrupted piano study I had before college.
She was also old school and a senior, but she at least kept me going with weekly assignments and a few counting and note-reading tips.
None of my piano teachers during my youth were great quality teachers. I’ve unfortunately learned that this is a common experience for many piano learners.
When I got to college, I determined to major in piano performance. But I received immediate criticism from the college piano educators who strictly told me I was in no way ready for the rigors of college piano study.
It was a bitter experience. I took it quite personally. I falsely interpreted the underlying message that I was not good enough as a piano player. It hurt my feelings and cut into my already minimal sense of confidence as a young person.
Fortunately, I later studied with some quality piano educators; especially after I moved to Florida to complete my music degree. One piano teacher impacted me the most; he taught me--for the first time--how to effectively practice the piano.
It was a game-changer. It made me realize how many piano ‘teachers’ do not prepare students for self-volition or continued momentum in piano progress. It took me YEARS to finally meet a quality piano educator who met me where I needed help.
I do not want you to go through anything like the heart-wrenching, confidence-depleting scenario that I did. That is why I’m offering my FREE Essential Piano Basics Masterclass on July 29 & 30 inside my New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook group.
Knowing exactly what you need as foundational basics as well as an effective piano practice strategy will help you successfully start or return to the piano without wasting time and without the agonizing frustrations that I experienced.
The sad thing is that so many piano teachers, methods, or online tutorials do absolutely nothing to address these essential piano basics or effective piano practice.
Having taught piano for 30 years, I’ve seen the positive impact of these foundational basics and from having an effective piano practice strategy.
The Essential Piano Basics Masterclass is for you if you:
Hope to see you at FREE Essential Piano Basics Masterclass on July 29 & 30 inside my New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook group.
Leave a comment below to let me know if this was helpful and ask me any questions you have about your piano learning journey. I’d love to connect with you on our mutual love of the piano!
In my PIANO blogs, you'll find ways to overcome boredom, get past musical and mental blocks, explore the creative process with piano, and improve musical progress through piano teacher recommended best practices and effective piano practice tips.