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There are a lot of musical instruments that we can learn to play and we can enjoy. However, as far as I know piano should have got the most fans than other instruments. I don't have any formal or legal research to support my statement, but I can see from many websites that it is the piano. Although it is quite expensive compared with other musical instruments, piano has already given a good foundation for many famous world musicians. Whatever ages they live in and whenever they are, when you read their biography, most musicians have been well shaped with the piano. Well, I don't want to get it far. Here are some things to consider before taking piano lessons
Things to consider before taking piano lessons
The Motivation of Learning Piano
There are some motivations of learning piano:
- Just want to play a little song
For this motivation you don't need to do a lot of investation and learning and instruments. Just buy some number notes which is very cheap in the bookstore and get some cheap keyboard, there you go. You can play either the pop or classic ones, whichever you like.
- Want to play to entertain yourself and families
Entertaining has different standard for each person. As I am quite a perfectionist, I should give the best play for those who are entertained. Therefore, I take a piano private lesson. It doesn't mean I depend on the teacher. I can read the notes well, but I need a guidance in the matter of technique. Having good technique will make me not only produce good songs, but also I can maintain endurance and good body posture which influence my long term health.
- Take piano as a career
There are 3 types of playing piano as a career: by playing piano well, we can be a piano teacher, a conductor, a performer. Talking about career, of course we are demanded to be committed with the motivation itself. It means we need to take some formal standardized exams.
- Just want to play a little song
The Relative Expensive Price of the Instruments
Piano has some different types which are considered expensive to purchase for most people especially in Indonesia which is a developing country, even the second hand ones. Purchasing a piano is a huge investment for most people. The most common brand in Indonesia is Yamaha. There are also some other brands such as Kawai, Steinway, Baldwin, Bosendofer, etc. My piano is Yamaha. The cheapest second hand yamaha piano is around 17million Rupiah for the upright U1 (the shortest one) at the moment. It means that you need to calculate your savings to purchase. If you still cannot afford to buy one, having keyboard can help for about 1 year, but of course you need to adapt using the harder touching keyboards of piano as keyboards have much softer touching.
The Music You Are Interested in
Playing piano is identical with classical music and it is usually where most famous musicians start with. In fact, there is another option for music genre played with piano. Pop, Jazz, and blues music can be one of them. Jazz and blues are possible to learn with the classics. ABRSM exam usually has an exam session which requires jazz or blues music played.
Pop will be quite different. This usually needs us to accompany singers and I use to call it as social music. High knowledge and skills of cadence or interval are needed a lot. Besides, we need to have a sense of improvisation. The ability of hearing is needed a lot as we need to communicate our music with the singer and situation. In this case, the performance of the singers is usually more exposed rather than the pianist capability itself.
Classical, jazz, and blues pianist needs more detail skills as he or she should be able to do single performance. Classical, jazz, and blues sounds more challenging for me.
It doesn't close the possibility of choosing both kinds of music, anyway. Although specialisation will be better for me as we can be more focused and detailed, trying to play the other genre of music is also important. For example, when you specialised in classical music, having a little ability in playing pop music to accompany somebody singing is also important as it can make you more social and get your ability to play piano more meaningful for others.
The Standard of Playing Piano Ability
The first time I decided to take piano lesson, I chose to do self learning and never thought of taking any standardised exam for certificate. I just thought building my skills from my ability in reading notes and musical sign that I got from learning playing electone when I was a teenager. One day I felt so bored playing similar songs and no development at all turn up, so I start hiring a piano tutor without thinking what kind of standard I would like to achieve. I was wrong and I think I have wasted time by trying to be independent like that.
I started to see the importance of having curriculum and standard to achieve in playing piano. I went around the web to search for piano curriculum or music examinations. I found some kinds of music examination around me (local) and international music exam. The Indonesian piano exam is used to called P dan K. I don't take this one. I finally decided to take ABRSM (Associated Board of Royal School of Music) standard.
The Existence of a Piano Tutor
Learning reading notes and theory can be used for us to get independent in getting to know songs. Self-learning piano is possible for everyone with whatever music genre chosen. However, the existence of someone more expert listening to you playing and giving you advice on your music will make your musical development better. Not everyone has a consistently strong motivation to develop his or her musical ability. Playing piano will get you bored easily if you were stuck to something difficult. I think not only playing piano. Even blogging can get you bored so that you lose your enthusiasm when you don't have blogging buddies with you. The existence of a piano tutor will minimize all of that resistance.
Now you need to decide what kind of tutor you would like to hire. Try to find a tutor that has taken same exam standard you chose so he or she can lead you or help you fulfill the standard.
The Option to Online Piano Lessons
Online piano lesson is a very practical way to have piano lesson without leaving home with complete tutorial. Just search in google and find out which one is the most persuasive. Most of them are affordable and much cheaper than real teacher listening and meeting you.
Watching people playing piano in youtube is also another choice. However, I am not going to recommend having online piano lesson as the main lesson for those who wants to be professional or to take exams. A Life teacher can watch you play and see what problem you have got. He or she will correct you as soon as you have mistake so it is not going to be a habbit. Online lesson will be great as an additional or supplemental course.
The Option to Enrolment in a Music School
Before I continue with private tutor, enrolling to a music school can also be an option.
One benefit of enrolling in a music school is the chance to participate in a school concert or competition. I can say this is a benefit because a musician should be able to entertain others direct or indirectly. Having a chance to perform music in front of many people will build our confidence to perform our ability. It also will train us better to participate in an exam.
Another benefit of enrolment in a music school is that we have a special and usually more ideal place to learn rather than our house which may have more distraction if you don't have a special room for playing piano. The room is designed for learning piano, so that it is equipped with necessary tools or equipment for piano lessons.
A music school usually has a local exam or an exam within the music school standard itself. Therefore, you are obliged to apply for double exams if you want to have international certification.
In a music school owned by an institution, a beginner will usually be automatically taught by any available teacher in the school without any chance to choose which teacher to “teach” you. If you are a newbie you will be paired with a beginner teacher too. On the other hand, if your grade is more challenging you will be under a higher degree tutor and of course, you have to pay more.
In a music school owned by an individual or private music studio, a newbie will be under a teacher assistant until he or she reaches advanced grade when he or she can choose having lessons with the owner or the master.
The Option to Having Private Tutor (Not in A Music School)
Hiring a private tutor will give us more flexibility with time as we don't need to spend our time on driving and waiting if he or she is available coming to your house. If he or she unavailable coming to your house, it will means similar to a private music studio. In this case, you need to check the condition of the class.
We also can choose certain tutor to suit our need. We can choose to learn directly from the master himself or herself.
A private piano tutor might follow a certain curriculum which is familiar to him or her. Checking further about the curriculum credibility is also important.
Asking further about the tutor certification is very important for selecting a piano private tutor. A certificated tutor means that he or she has been qualified for certain standard and he or she has got an experience of having exams. The tutor should have known some tricks or technique to deal with the exams.
I suggest you to have a special room to learn piano at home if you hire a private tutor to get the lessons more effective and focused.
The Lesson Time and Fee for Longer Term
Talking about piano tutor, we cannot separate it from the lesson fee and time or duration. I don't know about other countries, the fee of Surabaya, Indonesian piano tutor is as high as a personal trainer in the gym or higher than that.
For a beginner, at the moment for a private piano tutor in a music school, it is on average as much as Rp. 400.000 per month with 4 times 30 minutes lessons. With that fee, you can hire an under diploma certificated teacher or a teacher assistant. For more serious students or for adults, it is suggested to have 1-hour lesson in each meeting. It means you have to pay for double fee amount.
Finishing with main grades (Grade 1-8 of ABRSM) is qualified enough for you to be a teacher like your teacher. However, if you want to take music as your further career, it is suggested to continue achieving a diploma.
For advance grade students (higher than grade 8 ABRSM), you should change your tutor into master qualified or at least the same diploma qualified.
The Time Dedicated to Practice at Home
The greatest factor of piano learning success is the amount of time dedicated to practice at home. Daily regular practice with small amount of time is much better than one day practice day before having lesson with a tutor. It is better to practice 20 minutes in a day, but every day or once every two days rather than 2 hours practice before the piano lesson with your tutor.
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