What do you remember about your first piano lesson? Your child's first piano lesson?
My first lessons were happy occasions with my dad. I remember my first 'proper' teacher (sorry dad), Mrs Shepherd. She had a big oval ring on one of her fingers; she had the shortest hair of any woman I had ever met; she had a friendly dog; she had a musical parrot. Mrs Shepherd was nice and she was kind.
What do you notice about those memories? They don't actually contain anything about what went on in the first lesson - or subsequent lessons! I can't remember what actually went on but I remember it being a positive experience and I remember Mrs Shepherd herself quite well.
So - what is that first lesson all about?
As a teacher, I am very aware of the content of those first lessons. I hope that your child will come away with an understanding of good posture at the piano, the geography of the keyboard and a piece of music to play and enjoy at home. I hope it will be an enjoyable and positive experience. But I wonder what they will remember in five years' time...
A child arrives at my front door. Sometimes excited, sometimes a little nervous, usually a combination of the two. There is a sense of anticipation. I have a repertoire of 'first lesson activities' but each lesson is unique to the child. I encourage the children to talk to me and show me what they already know if they are eager to do so. I guide the child to improvise at the piano and to be amazed at how well they can play. I introduce concepts and activities that can be built upon so that the piano is engaging and challenging as well as easy and fun.
By the time the child leaves he or she is happy, satisfied and confident. It's a bold statement, but they always enjoy the first lesson, and so do I (in fact I love first piano lessons!!). They leave excited to practise and eagerly awaiting their next lesson.
But - what is that first lesson all about? The most important thing? What will the young beginner student remember?
The first lesson is mostly about building trust, having fun and laying foundations for learning.
It is about building a relationship.