Teenagers


As children approach teenage years, they develop different ways of thinking, different motivations for playing and different interests competing with their time!  I like to give teenage students as much choice as possible over the music they play, guided by me when they want to be.  We work towards developing practice methods with which they can achieve great results independent from parental involvement.   Now is the time when many students  start wanting to learn to use chords, for composing, playing pop songs and exploring jazz.  Harmony skills are integrated into all lessons, and I offer all students the chance to explore the Jazz piano syllabus if they want to flex their creative muscles in a more contemporary way.   The teenage years can also be a turbulent time, and I take the time to get to know each of my students, and what’s going on with them at school.  If we need to adapt our plans, take our foot off the gas, or even rip up the plan and start again, I’m ready!  Read more below about what we might do in a typical lesson, how I motivate teenage learners, how exams fit into the equation and some genuine Frequently Asked Questions.
piano rubbers

A typical lesson starts with a quick talk 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.   With teenagers,  I like to:

  • do technical warm-ups played along to interesting backing tracks.
  • learn about chords and harmony so they can play off lead-sheets and play pop music.
  • put their phone to good use!  This can include suggesting and road-testing apps for note learning, aural skills and rhythm; recording their performances to capture the moment, recording teacher accompaniments to play along to at home, recording practice notes/tips to enhance or even replace their practice notebook.
  • give them a lot more choice over the music they learn.  I can help to find or make suitable arrangements of the music they love to listen to.
  • develop self-evaluation skills.  For example recording a piece or sight-reading, and listening back to it together, marking in suggestions in the music.    We’ll also discuss which practice techniques work best for them as they develop awareness.
  • use improvisation and melody-writing to develop note reading, piano techniques and nurture creativity.  The 12 bar blues is a well-loved jumping-off point for exploring jazz.
  • do duet playing with me, backing track or friends.
  • students with iPads can connect to my Piano Maestro account for free, and enjoy a cool way of improving their note-reading at home with a computer-game experience.

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

motivate

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

  • Giving them lots of control over the music learned
  • Exploring jazz and pop music
  • Encouraging them to use technology in practice- such as recording software, accessing sheet music and performances online, notation software and mobile apps
  • The 40 Piece Challenge- any music learnt counts!
  • 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.
  • 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 most out of ‘formal’ individual lessons.

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 maintain progress and enjoyment.  Please consider whether your teen has the time and space in their life to commit to this before embarking on lessons.  By now, you won’t really need to be sitting with them whilst they practise, but support, encouragement and providing them with a suitable environment to practise in go a long way!

+ What's a typical lesson like?
piano rubbers

A typical lesson starts with a quick talk 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.   With teenagers,  I like to:

  • do technical warm-ups played along to interesting backing tracks.
  • learn about chords and harmony so they can play off lead-sheets and play pop music.
  • put their phone to good use!  This can include suggesting and road-testing apps for note learning, aural skills and rhythm; recording their performances to capture the moment, recording teacher accompaniments to play along to at home, recording practice notes/tips to enhance or even replace their practice notebook.
  • give them a lot more choice over the music they learn.  I can help to find or make suitable arrangements of the music they love to listen to.
  • develop self-evaluation skills.  For example recording a piece or sight-reading, and listening back to it together, marking in suggestions in the music.    We’ll also discuss which practice techniques work best for them as they develop awareness.
  • use improvisation and melody-writing to develop note reading, piano techniques and nurture creativity.  The 12 bar blues is a well-loved jumping-off point for exploring jazz.
  • do duet playing with me, backing track or friends.
  • students with iPads can connect to my Piano Maestro account for free, and enjoy a cool way of improving their note-reading at home with a computer-game experience.

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

+ How I motivate teenagers
motivate

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

  • Giving them lots of control over the music learned
  • Exploring jazz and pop music
  • Encouraging them to use technology in practice- such as recording software, accessing sheet music and performances online, notation software and mobile apps
  • The 40 Piece Challenge- any music learnt counts!
  • 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.
  • 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 most out of ‘formal’ individual lessons.

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 maintain progress and enjoyment.  Please consider whether your teen has the time and space in their life to commit to this before embarking on lessons.  By now, you won’t really need to be sitting with them whilst they practise, but support, encouragement and providing them with a suitable environment to practise in go a long way!