Children


I believe that playful learning is the most natural way for us to approach teaching children and this idea colours my teaching style.  My lessons encourage children to explore having fun at the piano and develop their creativity, making the most of their natural curiosity.   I take the time to get to know your child so that I can give them tuition that best matches their individual needs, personalities and preferences.   Children come to me for piano lessons from age 5 upwards.   Read more below about what we might do in a typical lesson, how I motivate younger learners, how exams fit into the equation and some genuine Frequently Asked Questions!

piano rubbers

A typical lesson always starts by talking about how the week’s practice has gone.  This way my content and approach is relevant!  I teach the ‘ingredients’ of any new music with a range of varied activities, before opening the book! This is a powerful and fun way of learning.

I plan lessons designed to develop musicianship skills in these key areas: sight-reading/theory, listening, creativity, technique, performing and playing with others.   To do this I use:

  • game playing – for example card games, spot the teacher mistake, challenges, computer games, timers, dice games.
  • imaginative choice of music that will capture their attention.  Often based around their main tutor or exam book, but with supplementary material and seasonal specials.
  • Short technical exercises/warm-ups or scales as appropriate.
  • gently introducing playful practice techniques so they can enjoy learning well at home.
  • improvisation and melody-writing to develop note reading, piano techniques and nurture creativity.
  • Movement to music activities – taking ideas from Dalcroze principals.
  • Singing and using a variety of percussion instruments for rhythm work.
  • Duet playing with me, CD backing track or sibling.
  • For my youngest students imaginative props such as soft toys, play-doh and rings.

Every lesson aims to include something new.  We finish by awarding any stars due, summarising ideas and setting targets for the coming week.

motivate

Individual children respond to different ways of motivating them, so I don’t employ a one size fits all method.  A few ways of motivating my students to practise are:

  • The 40 Piece Challenge- with one star earned for every piece finished, and certificates for 10, 20, 30 and 40 pieces.
  • A prize for the Student of the Year.
  • Regular performance opportunities: musical festivals, exams and my two annual student concerts.
  • Interesting music to learn with a mixture of easier and more challenging levels of difficulty.
  • Seasonal themed practice charts to colour in.
  • Setting SMART practice targets.
  • Setting a variety of activities around practice, including listening, improvising, writing songs and quizzes.
ABRSM-Certificates

Once my students have laid down good solid foundations in playing, reading and listening, I encourage them to start taking practical examinations in piano, with either the ABRSM or Trinity College examination boards.  I also teach theory as part of the lessons.

Many of my students achieve very high marks in their exams and enjoy the sense of pride of having recognition they’ve reached a certain level.  Taking exams can be a great motivator.  I like to make sure that my students have a  fantastic all-round musical education and really positive exam experiences when the time is right for them, rather than a conveyor-belt approach to exams.  In between the grades, I give a broad range of pieces and develop all their musical skills to take them to the next level.

FAQs

What's the best age to start lessons?

Every child is different, but very generally I’ve found that from age 7 children have the concentration, physical and mental skills to get the very most out of ‘formal’ individual lessons.  I teach children from age 5 upwards though- please bear in mind that a 5 year old will need a lot more parental support with practice and are still developing their fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.  

How long are your lessons?

I offer 30, 45 and 60 minute lessons.  Most children start off with 30 minutes, and I would reccommend that once they begin work on graded music exams, a 45 minute lesson is ideal to cover all the aspects of the exam requirements.

Do I need a 'real' piano or is a keyboard ok?

Acoustic (‘real’) pianos are ideal, as they have full keyboards with fully weighted keys.  This gets more important the more advanced the student is!  Digital pianos can be a more affordable and reliable alternative- make sure it has a full keyboard (88 keys) and fully weighted keys, with a sturdy stand.  Keyboards are ok for the very first few lessons but are essentially a very different instrument from pianos.  I ask all my students to have regular access to an instrument to practice on before starting lessons with me.

Can I have my lesson at a different time each week?

Most children come weekly at the same time, to fit in with their other activities and routine.  You then have your own ‘slot’, but if you need to swap I’ll do my best to arrange this for you.  I combine my private teaching with school-based tuition, so all term-time lessons take place after-school and Saturday mornings.

Older students and adults sometimes prefer to come fortnightly or less frequently, and for these students I have a few slots that I rotate between students.

Can you come to me for lessons?

I enjoy a very busy teaching diary, so all lessons take place in my home in West Didsbury.  I hope you’ll find it a comfortable, welcoming and spacious environment to learn in, away from home distractions.  It is well-equipped with a lovely Schimmel upright piano (and fully adjustable stool and footstool for the littlest of legs!) for you to play, and lots of additional resources at my disposal to tailor lessons to each student.

How much practice should my child do?

Quality and enthusiastic practice is more important than clock-watching.  It really depends on the age of your child and the level they’re at.  Regular practice (aiming for daily, but practically at least 4 times a week) is so important to maintaining progress, and the activities I set are based on doing a minimum of 20 minutes per practice.  Please consider whether your child has the time to commit to this before embarking on lessons!

+ What's a typical lesson like?
piano rubbers

A typical lesson always starts by talking about how the week’s practice has gone.  This way my content and approach is relevant!  I teach the ‘ingredients’ of any new music with a range of varied activities, before opening the book! This is a powerful and fun way of learning.

I plan lessons designed to develop musicianship skills in these key areas: sight-reading/theory, listening, creativity, technique, performing and playing with others.   To do this I use:

  • game playing – for example card games, spot the teacher mistake, challenges, computer games, timers, dice games.
  • imaginative choice of music that will capture their attention.  Often based around their main tutor or exam book, but with supplementary material and seasonal specials.
  • Short technical exercises/warm-ups or scales as appropriate.
  • gently introducing playful practice techniques so they can enjoy learning well at home.
  • improvisation and melody-writing to develop note reading, piano techniques and nurture creativity.
  • Movement to music activities – taking ideas from Dalcroze principals.
  • Singing and using a variety of percussion instruments for rhythm work.
  • Duet playing with me, CD backing track or sibling.
  • For my youngest students imaginative props such as soft toys, play-doh and rings.

Every lesson aims to include something new.  We finish by awarding any stars due, summarising ideas and setting targets for the coming week.

+ How I motivate children
motivate

Individual children respond to different ways of motivating them, so I don’t employ a one size fits all method.  A few ways of motivating my students to practise are:

  • The 40 Piece Challenge- with one star earned for every piece finished, and certificates for 10, 20, 30 and 40 pieces.
  • A prize for the Student of the Year.
  • Regular performance opportunities: musical festivals, exams and my two annual student concerts.
  • Interesting music to learn with a mixture of easier and more challenging levels of difficulty.
  • Seasonal themed practice charts to colour in.
  • Setting SMART practice targets.
  • Setting a variety of activities around practice, including listening, improvising, writing songs and quizzes.
+ Exams
ABRSM-Certificates

Once my students have laid down good solid foundations in playing, reading and listening, I encourage them to start taking practical examinations in piano, with either the ABRSM or Trinity College examination boards.  I also teach theory as part of the lessons.

Many of my students achieve very high marks in their exams and enjoy the sense of pride of having recognition they’ve reached a certain level.  Taking exams can be a great motivator.  I like to make sure that my students have a  fantastic all-round musical education and really positive exam experiences when the time is right for them, rather than a conveyor-belt approach to exams.  In between the grades, I give a broad range of pieces and develop all their musical skills to take them to the next level.

+ F.A.Q.s
FAQs

What's the best age to start lessons?

Every child is different, but very generally I’ve found that from age 7 children have the concentration, physical and mental skills to get the very most out of ‘formal’ individual lessons.  I teach children from age 5 upwards though- please bear in mind that a 5 year old will need a lot more parental support with practice and are still developing their fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.  

How long are your lessons?

I offer 30, 45 and 60 minute lessons.  Most children start off with 30 minutes, and I would reccommend that once they begin work on graded music exams, a 45 minute lesson is ideal to cover all the aspects of the exam requirements.

Do I need a 'real' piano or is a keyboard ok?

Acoustic (‘real’) pianos are ideal, as they have full keyboards with fully weighted keys.  This gets more important the more advanced the student is!  Digital pianos can be a more affordable and reliable alternative- make sure it has a full keyboard (88 keys) and fully weighted keys, with a sturdy stand.  Keyboards are ok for the very first few lessons but are essentially a very different instrument from pianos.  I ask all my students to have regular access to an instrument to practice on before starting lessons with me.

Can I have my lesson at a different time each week?

Most children come weekly at the same time, to fit in with their other activities and routine.  You then have your own ‘slot’, but if you need to swap I’ll do my best to arrange this for you.  I combine my private teaching with school-based tuition, so all term-time lessons take place after-school and Saturday mornings.

Older students and adults sometimes prefer to come fortnightly or less frequently, and for these students I have a few slots that I rotate between students.

Can you come to me for lessons?

I enjoy a very busy teaching diary, so all lessons take place in my home in West Didsbury.  I hope you’ll find it a comfortable, welcoming and spacious environment to learn in, away from home distractions.  It is well-equipped with a lovely Schimmel upright piano (and fully adjustable stool and footstool for the littlest of legs!) for you to play, and lots of additional resources at my disposal to tailor lessons to each student.

How much practice should my child do?

Quality and enthusiastic practice is more important than clock-watching.  It really depends on the age of your child and the level they’re at.  Regular practice (aiming for daily, but practically at least 4 times a week) is so important to maintaining progress, and the activities I set are based on doing a minimum of 20 minutes per practice.  Please consider whether your child has the time to commit to this before embarking on lessons!