The Benefits of Private Lessons - Individualized Teaching

"There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual." - Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University

Ellie and I see these benefits every day in our students! The excitement of learning a new skill, the enjoyment of playing a song, the pride of performing a piece well in a recital, the creativity of composing a piece...the list could go on! It is recognizing the individual experience of each student that we emphasize in our teaching.

Ellie and I both grew up taking piano lessons in the "traditional" format. These lessons were strongly focused on performance, memorizing classical repetiore pieces and scales and chords for contests and recitals. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing and performing for anyone who would listen! I participated in all the possible contests, not just in piano, but with my French Horn and my singing. I also accompanied whenever and wherever I could. Doing these performances was a major enjoyment of my time in middle school and high school.

But of course not all music students have such a strong desire for performing classical repetiore and memorizing scales. In our earlier days of teaching together (about 15 years ago) many people would ask Ellie and me what kind of music we would allow in our teaching materials - would we include popular music or just the traditional classical repetiore? And our response would be "whatever material is motivating to that individual student - that is what we will do." Motivation is the most important element for success in learning, and we want to make sure our students will get the most benefit from their music lessons.

Ellie and I have recently started to realize a need for motivational alternative options to recital performance. We started about 4 years ago including student compositions in the recital. After the students perform their pieces, Ellie and I play the compositions our students have written. It has brought such a fun element to the recitals as the students and parents gush with congratulations and pride at the creativity of the compositions. Then this year we thought "we can do more to tap into the individuality our students in recital preparation." So for next year's recital we are going to have several options for how they would like to perform - there will be some improvising performance options, some ways to include more electronics (iPad tracks, etc), and more collaborative performance options (duets, audience and parent participation). It is going to make recital preparation so much more fun and motivating for the students! It will also increase the benefits to the student's self-esteem, individual expression and musical understanding. We can't wait to see what they will do!

Getting Ready for Your Lesson
New Composition - Jumping George

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