WHAT TO EXPECT
Beginning Piano Students
Each student receives four private thirty minute lessons and a one and a half hour Sunday group lesson. They also participate in two required recitals per year with their corresponding rehearsals. Our program includes a thorough preparation in:
Learn the names of the keys.
To recognize and play them without having to count up.
Exercises to become accustomed to using the entire keyboard.
including both black and white keys.
Posture at the keyboard.
Elements of proper placement in hand position.
Simple finger exercises to learn the fingering numbers.
Basic exercises for coordinating the two hands.
Introduction to elementary scales.
Learn the notes on the staff and the keys on the piano they represent.
Learn the time values of the notes.
Learn elementary performance directions, such as dynamics and tempo signs.
Learn to clap and count basic rhythmic patterns.
Learn to play and count basic rhythmic patterns.
Recognize pitches when sounded.
Distinguish higher and lower pitches.
Learn to sound out specific pitches.
Learn to play many simple pieces.
Beginning Guitar Students
As you already know, guitar is different than piano. The way we produce tone is a lot more intricate because the fingers have direct access to the strings, whereas in piano, they do not. For example, you can bend a string on guitar rather easily, but it is not recommended that you try bending piano string (do so at personal peril).
One thing every beginning guitarist needs to know is that holding down frets hurts at first – that is another big difference between the two instruments. Don’t let that stop you from trying. The good news is: with enough regular practice, your fingertips form calluses that allow you to play without pain.
Even though chords are important and fun to play, we should instead start with simple melodies on one and two strings – the high E and B strings. Starting guitar with chords right away can be discouraging, not only for the reason stated above, but also due to the fact that chord shapes require strength and dexterity to maintain. Holding down the frets requires strength in the wrist and forearm, and a child’s fingers have difficulty reaching most chord shapes. These skill points are earned in the same way your calluses are earned: though regular practice over time.
At this point you might be wondering: “What kind of guitar should we start with?” Classical guitars, with nylon strings, are the softest and most pliable. These also come in a variety of sizes. However, if the only thing you have available is a jumbo steel string, that’s fine too!
Aside from learning to play songs, a guitarist should learn how to properly care for and maintain their instrument. This is yet another difference between pianists and guitarists. Can you believe pianists are not expected to be able to tune their strings? Tuning and changing your guitar strings is one of our goals. It may seem daunting or tedious at first, but it becomes second nature after time.
Among the most coveted skills we strive for as guitarists is learning how to play and sing at the same time. Although not unheard of, most other instrumentalists do not sing and play simultaneously. You can certainly start learning a new song with the lyrics and chords right away, however this is not recommended; even among seasoned professionals. We learn songs in layers; you will have a much easier time learning how to play the song before you attempt to sing. Almost anything can be accomplished if you take baby steps.
On a final note, learning how to listen is perhaps one of the most important skills we cultivate as musicians. We must learn to listen to ourselves, and listen to others! Knowing how to be a good listener will serve your interests, and the interests of others, throughout your entire life!