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Mastering the Techniques of Piano Playing at an Association

By Yann, published on 05/09/2018 Blog > Music > Piano > Learn How to Play the Piano at an Association

“The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the note – ah, that is where the true art resides.” -Artur Schnabel

In an article written by the Telegraph, Jon Kelly of The Piano Removal Company, states that he is scrapping at least 5 pianos per week. People are no longer wanting to dedicate space in their homes for a grand piano that they barely use. This, however, is not a sign revealing that people have lost interest in the melodies of the piano rather it is an indication that people are gearing towards buying electronic keyboards that take less room.

Learning how to play the piano is something that takes time and must be done in a progressive way. One does not become a famous pianist like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Ludwig van Beethoven overnight.

Online piano lessons, individual or group lessons, it’s up to you to choose the best way to learn and the most pedagogical teacher that suits your specific needs.

In this article, we will discuss the many advantages and disadvantages of taking piano lessons at an association.

Let us start!

What are the Advantages of Taking Piano Lessons at an Association?

Today, the classical piano can be learned in many ways. At a music conservatoire, private or public music school, personal sessions in the comfort of your own home or in an association. The sky is the limit! Nevertheless, each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Learning to play the piano in an association may be very similar to taking lessons at a music school but the methods of teaching may vary. 

In a music school, students take traditional music theory and piano playing lessons whereas in an association, pedagogy is more suitable and tailored for all learning styles.

Indeed, the democratization of the piano is the main goal of associations offering keyboard lessons. They want the piano notes to touch the lives of everyone.

If you are looking for more technical training there are many different piano playing methods that can be taught by a music teacher to suit your specific needs such as the Yamaha, Martenot and Suzuki methods. These methods can be taught in alternative music schools (often very exclusive and expensive).

The main advantage of an association, however, is the relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. Of course, students go to learn but the pleasure of learning is above all put forward. Having fun while learning different instruments is the main goal.

In addition, at an association, you will be able to practice on a quality instrument with a professional teacher at your side. 

Just as in a real school, there are courses follow-ups to make sure that the student is progressing not regressing. The student’s advancement is carefully monitored as the weeks go by and the teacher’s courses are all prepared ahead of time.

The piano lessons are tailored made since the music teacher adapts to the level of each pupil. 

It is thus possible to resume work on a piece of music, receive remedial help about correct hand and finger positioning, learn the right chords and piano notes; all things that were not acquired earlier.

An added plus is that the rates of the associations are more reasonably priced than that of private music school.

No previous experience is required, beginners and students of all kinds are warmly welcomed!

The Disadvantages of Learning to Play Piano at an Association

Find the right level of piano classes for you If you are too advanced for the piano classes you are attending, switch to avoid boredom and regression! (Source: Visual Hunt)

Piano lessons in an association do not have only advantages. 

There are some disadvantages that may occur after especially after years of practice and the acquisition of an already high level of piano playing.

First of all, as a beginner piano player, there are usually group piano classes. Thus, there is no personalization or tailored lessons for one individual since the music teacher is focused on the class as an entirety.

Therefore, it is essential to work hard at home to progress faster and correct your own mistakes in order to not fall behind during class time.

On the other hand, the problem may be the opposite: the beginner group may be slower than you are and this could hinder your passion and cause you to get bored.

Pay attention to your own progress and take note of the different sensations that thrill you while you are learning to play the piano. When you realize what drives you, your passion for playing the piano will grow.

Thus, in some cases, it is better to change associations or go to a public music school when you rightly feel that your level has exceeded that of the beginner group you were attending. Try not to be overconfident, you still have much to learn. However, self-examining yourself in an honest way is great in order to avoid regression and stagnation.

In many associations, the classes are often saturated with students making it more difficult for the instructor to teach the piano basics. The professional educator may have difficulties monitoring the progress of each and every student.

Before signing up for classes at an association, make sure that the number of students per class is limited. Classes should not exceed a dozen students who are at the same level. This could hinder the pace for some.

In addition, it is also important to mention that many associations are very relaxed about the way the piano is taught. Unlike, professional music schools, no degree is required for piano teachers educating at a beginner level. However, in order to compensate for the lack of a professional degree, music teachers must have a lot of previous experience teaching the piano.

In the United Kingdom, there are various requirements and qualifications needed to become a professional and qualified music teacher:

  • First of all, to get to a music degree or diploma at a university or conservatoire level, you need 5 GCSEs from grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and 2 A Level qualifications such as Music or an equivalent.
  • At least a bachelor’s degree in music or teaching (a masters degree is very attractive to potential employers).
  • Relevant postgraduate qualifications and teaching experience to teach in a music school or conservatoire.
  • Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in order to teach at a state school.

Remember that being good at playing the piano will not necessarily make you a good teacher. 

Indeed, pedagogy plays a very important role in the future success of students. It would be an absolute shame if students abandoned piano playing due to an argument or disagreement with the teacher’s poor pedagogy skills.

However, some associations offer very good piano lessons and some of them are even real music training schools to learn music at a professional level.

Let’s take for example the London Piano Institute. This professional institute offers association like piano courses for beginners. Professional teachers teach a select group of amateur pianists during a recommended minimum study period of 3 months. The fees start at £165 per month depending on the length of class time. These prices are quite a bit higher than those offered at a traditional association but you get what you pay for!

Many teachers, in associations and music schools, form part of the European Piano Teachers Association UK. Searching their directory you are guaranteed to find out if the piano teacher at your association is a qualified professional!

In recent years, due to the technological world we live in, there has been a great increase in computer-assisted music courses to learn to play the piano online from a qualified musician or software. 

Steps for Signing Up at a Piano Association

piano on the street Having your goals predetermined is essential for motivation while learning to play the piano. Do you want to play just for fun or join an orchestra in the future? (Source: Visual Hunt)

Whether you are signing up for a refresher course or introduction to the piano, the approach will be the same: you will have to join the association at the beginning of the year.

Some associations open their doors to new students at the end of the academic school year, during the month of June, to allow students to attend a trial class. If you register at this time, you will certainly benefit from a lot of discounts.

In associations, there are no interviews or previous experience required, everyone is accepted within the limits of the availabilities in the courses offered.

Previous students are asked if they wish to register again before the summer months so that their spot is reserved in the fall. 

In any case, before registering and committing to an association, do not hesitate to try different piano lessons in various associations to see what pedagogy or teacher is best suited for you.

Before joining an association make sure your goals are clear. Do you wish to play the piano just for fun or do you want to join an orchestra in the future? Knowing where you want to go will make it easier to choose an association.

How are the Piano Lessons Taught in an Association?

class time for piano The amount of class time while learning the piano depends completely on the level of a student. Advanced students can spend 60 to 90 minutes per class learning. (Source: Visual Hunt)

Piano lessons taught at an association are very similar to those taught at a professional music school. Students are required to work both on music theory and instrumental practice.

The duration of classes varies from 30 to 40 minutes depending on the association, age and level of the student. Classes may last for an hour or 90 minutes for the more advanced pianists. However, the more you play the more you will feel the rhythm and melody of the tunes you are playing!

Hours of music theory can be offered if it is not taught at the same time as conventional class time. 

Indeed, pedagogy and teaching styles vary from one association to another. Some offer less formatted and structured classes to enjoyably learn the reading of piano notes, chords and hand positions on the piano keys.

What are the Prices of Learning Piano at an Association?

Course prices at an association are usually lower than the fees charged at a private school.

Associations sometimes have grants and government funding allowing them to offer more advantageous rates.

In addition, discounts are usually available depending on how many family members are signing up, the age of the learner and the level requested.

Students attending courses at an association will pay for an annual membership. These memberships allow students to take advantage of all courses and events offered by the association. The rates are extremely affordable costing around 5 to 25 pounds per year.

Payments can be made monthly, quarterly or yearly based on your agreement with the association. 

On the other hand, don’t necessarily count on the prices mentioned above because the prices of courses in associations can vary greatly according to your place of residence and it can be doubled in a big city such as London or Manchester. Smaller community associations charge less.

Which Age Groups Attend Piano Associations?

young piano players Little ones can start to play the piano from as young as 6 years of age. (Source: Visual Hunt)

Learning the piano can be done as early as 6 years of age or as soon as the child can learn how to read sheet music and write in order to understand music theory and deciphering notes.

In addition, there are no suitable pianos for students under 6 years old. It is necessary for the child to be big enough to reach the keys without difficulty.

Unlike music schools where teaching is strict, rigid and preferential for students with previous experience, everyone is welcome to attend classes at music associations. 

Children, teenagers and adults everyone can learn the piano!

There are also specialized courses offered for adult beginners. Teaching methods for adults are different from those for children. During a piano lesson, a professional teacher will show you to learn piano music based on your age and level.

The learning atmosphere is extremely family friendly and students learn how to play the piano in a room filled with laughter and joy!

Definitions for Associations

Learning the piano means also learning new vocabulary words. Here are a few terms to enrich your musical vocabulary.

What does acapella mean?

To sing acapella means to sing without any accompanying instrument.

What is an arpeggio? 

It is to play a set of notes in an untied and successive manner.

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