This can be different for every child. Through experience, I've found that children from the age of 6 onwards have developed the manual dexterity needed.
The important factor for me as a teacher is that they have an interest in music and want to learn.
Exams aren't for everyone. I teach people at grade 8 standard that have never taken an exam. So for those that want to learn for fun and enjoy their instrument that's brilliant... (can you hear a 'BUT' coming?)
However, exams are a good source of motivation and a great recognition of achievement. The exams are recognised and regulated by Ofqual and at the advanced levels also provide UCAS points, which can be used as part of a university or college application in the UK.
The ABRSM is the largest UK music education body. I teach the ABRSM syllabus from the Prep Test right through to Grade 8. Their exams are well structured and focus on all-round musicianship. Candidates develop their performance skills as well as technical, notational and aural skills.
For further information visit the ABRSM Website
• Lessons are payable at the beginning of each half term
• Lesson dates match the Wokingham Council term dates
• The occasional lesson may be rescheduled within the same payment period by giving at least 72 hours notice in writing
• Cancellations/Refunds are only offered in exceptional circumstances, at my discretion
• Lessons during holiday periods are offered by arrangement
Lessons are £14.50 per half hour
A tough question - I teach on a Yamaha C3 boudoir grand piano and have always favoured having an acoustic piano for an authentic touch and sound. A grand piano is a big piece of furniture though!
There are obvious pros and cons for both acoustic and digital pianos.
I would recommend reading some online instrument guides from Yamaha and Roland first.
It's essential that you go to a music shop and try out the options (remember to take some headphones if you're buying a digital piano as the sound can be very different).
Yes, send me a message and I'll give you their details.
Modern pianos usually have three pedals, from left to right, the soft pedal (or una corda), the sostenuto pedal, and the sustaining pedal (or damper pedal). Some pianos omit the sostenuto pedal, or have a middle pedal with a different purpose such as a muting function also known as silent piano.
Set a practice routine. Having a regular schedule is the first and most important step. Short, regular bursts of practice are far more beneficial than sitting for an hour at the piano once a week.
Make it fun. Why not ask them to make up a tune for a special occasion. Or, play some musical games at the end of their practice. (Playing a note and then asking your child to find the note on the piano is always popular!). Ask them to do a little, friendly concert for family & friends.
Design a practice chart. We all like that feeling of ticking something on a 'ToDo' list..
Talk to your child about music. What do they think of the piece they're learning? How does it make them feel? If it was music for a film what's happening in the film? What's their favourite piece of music? What tunes do they want to play for fun?
Talk to me. We all learn in different ways and it's important that we work together to identify what's right for your child. I'm sure over the years I've encountered most scenarios and can give you suggestions to help engage your child in practice.
Read my tips for practice below!
We all know the phrase "Practice Makes Perfect" (PMP) but does it? Sitting down at the piano for 20 minutes and playing through a few pieces might seem like practice but it's not perfect practice!
Here are my suggestions for PPMP (Perfect Practice Makes Perfect):
Set a practice routine. Having a regular schedule is the first and most important step. Short, regular bursts of practice are far more beneficial than sitting for an hour at the piano once a week... little and often!
Avoid distractions. Shut the door and leave your mobile in another room!
Start with a warm up. Scales are a brilliant way to loosen stiff fingers!
Be specific. Playing from the start every time just makes the beginning get better and better and can make the piece very uneven. Looking for repeated patterns and focusing on 4 bar sections will allow you to learn the piece much quicker!
Work on muscle memory. Don't expect to jump straight to the genius stage. It takes many, many repeated attempts before the finger muscles remember a sequence, a rhythm or co-ordination between the hands. Be consistent with your fingering too!
Practice slowly. In fact, practice at 3 different speeds: half speed, three-quarter speed and full speed... your fingers will thank you for it!
Finish with something you love playing. Always reward yourself at the end of a practice session with a piece you know well, or enjoy playing!
Scales help us develop finger muscle control and also understand how composers use key signatures in their music. Scales also have common finger patterns that help with sight-reading and learning new pieces.
Download scale practice sheets from Grade 1 - 5
Grade 1 scale practice chart
Grade 2 scale practice chart
Grade 3 scale practice chart
Grade 4 scale practice chart
Grade 5 scale practice chart