A fellow teacher asked me to highlight the educational aspects of The Piano Key Puzzle, and here are the Top 5!
Do I need a keyboard or piano to enroll in piano classes?
Yes, you absolutely do. Time spent at the studio is the first half of the equation; the second is time spent playing at home, to learn and improve the songs and projects.
What kind of keyboard would you recommend?
When purchasing a keyboard, you want 3 basic things:
At least 61 keys: pianos have 88 keys, so 61 keys will get you through the first couple years of lessons. Plan on upgrading keyboards or switching to a piano after two years of playing.
Weighted keys: Many keyboards are easy to play. It takes very little finger strength to push the keys down. You need the weight of the key to build those small muscles in the fingers and hands and develop the coordination to play with excellent technique.
Touch sensitivity: this means that when you strike the key forcefully, the sound is loud; when you strike the key gently, the sound is quiet. This is essential when you are learning dynamics [the loud's and soft's] that makes music expressive and exciting.
Where can I buy a keyboard?
Local retailers like Guitar Center and Sam Ash are a good place to start, to get a sense for what's available. They price match Amazon, so do your homework to get the best price. You can find good keyboards on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, too. Be thorough and play every key on the keyboard and make sure the metronome (that clicking noise), volume button and pedal are fully functional. Often you'll find why the instrument is for sale when you start pushing buttons.
Will I need anything else?
What kind of piano would you recommend?
The most important thing about a piano is that all of the keys are functional and the piano is in tune. It's better to play on a high-quality keyboard than on an out-of-tune antique piano. Greene Music is one of the leading local retailers; they sell, rent and buy pianos. If you search Craigslist or other online marketplace for a piano, do your homework. Play the piano, and if it's a large purchase, hire a piano technician to inspect the piano before making your purchase. I recommend "The Piano Book" by Larry Fine. Available on Amazon for $15 or free at the San Diego Public Library.
How much time do I need to practice?
Beginners need to commit 10-15 minutes per day, five days per week. Intermediate students 20-30 per day, 5 days per week. Advanced students 45 minutes-1 hour, 5 days per week.
Can I just practice more on 1 or 2 days per week?
Cramming doesn't really work with music. Spreading out your time over the week is better for your brain to absorb the content and for your body to learn to right movements.
Which piano method do you use?
For beginner's we use the Musikgarten program "Music Makers at the Keyboard" and supplement with materials from Piano Adventures (Faber & Faber), Celebrate Piano, and Hal Leonard. After students complete the first two years in Musikgarten, students begin in Book 2A in Piano Adventures. We know kids love to play pop music, so we begin it in from the the first class and continue until they're advanced.
How do I know if my child is ready to start music lessons?
The biggest indicator is their interest. If your child is always finding the piano tucked away wherever you want to go and wants to play, that's a big hint. Reading is not a requirement, but parents will need to be more hands on at home, making sure the child can complete the weekly assignment.
What can you accomplish in 7 minutes?
Considering the joy of dandelions made me think about what else in life that people consider a weed, but is really a gift. Or something that is disregarded except for one small part of it, like loving the seeds and thinking the rest is garbage.
Vocal warm-ups are essential to preparing your voice before solo or ensemble singing. The 5 videos are short, with a variety to keep practice interesting and your voice consistently improving.