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Piano Lessons:
Conventional Teaching Methods, Suzuki,
Online Piano Lessons and Simply Music

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What is it about the piano that people are always looking to get lessons to learn how to play? Perhaps it is that it's the highest profile most popular instrument in America, perhaps the world? Whatever the reason, it is through piano lessons that most people see a gateway towards mastering or a least gaining the fundamentals of playing. And for those of us who aspire towards expressing ourselves through music, there is no better time than the present to find a method of acquiring the ability to at least play a tune. Here is a brief simplified, overview of the differing piano lesson methods available to date.

The Conventional Classical Approach - At an early age 6 or 7 years, the child is introduced to rudimentary music theory and music reading skills. Key signatures, sharps and flats, time signatures, enharmonics, fingerings for scales, etc. Simplified short music pieces that reinforce all the basics are required for the child to learn and assimilate so that he, she can build up to more challenging and complex musical patterns and compositions. Depending on the child, he or she can start playing real and more challenging music based on their abilities and talent.

The Suzuki Method - The Suzuki method, (also called Talent Education, mother-tongue method, or Suzuki movement) is an educational philosophy which strives to create "high ability" and beautiful character in its students through a nurturing environment. Its primary vehicle for achieving this is music education on a specific instrument often violin or piano. It was conceived in the mid-20th century by Shin'ichi Suzuki, a violinist who desired to bring some beauty to the lives of children in his country after the devastation of World War II.

Suzuki noticed that all children pick up their native language very quickly, and even dialects which adults consider "difficult" to learn are spoken with ease by people of 5 or 6 years. He reasoned that if children have the skill to acquire their mother tongue, then they have the necessary ability to become proficient on a musical instrument. He pioneered the idea that any pre-school age child could begin to play the violin if learning steps were small enough and if the instrument was scaled down to fit their body. He modeled his method, after his theories of natural language acquisition. Suzuki believed that every child, if properly taught, was capable of a high level of musical achievement. He also made it clear that the goal of such musical education was to raise generations of children with "noble hearts" (as opposed to creating famous musical prodigies).

Simply Music - This recent method developed by Australian, Neil Moore, the Simply Music program temporarily delays the music reading process, and begins by distilling music into a fascinating array of special concepts that unfold directly onto the keyboard. Beginning students, with no need to have their attention on music reading, are free to relate directly to the piano. Within months, they experience a real freedom with their playing and develop a deep connection to their instrument as they build an extraordinary repertoire that includes contemporary, classical, blues, jazz and accompaniment pieces. Simply Music students accumulate a vast repertoire of great- sounding music, and with this as their foundation, develop an appropriate technique, learn how to read more easily, and as a by-product, naturally begin developing their ability to 'play by ear'.

Online Piano Lessons - Their are dozens of online piano lesson venues all easily accessed by a Google or Yahoo search. Are they any good? It probably depends on the method but one rule of thumb is the fewer gimmicks, the better. Learning how to play the piano is more than being able to play a few chords, or notes. Some people want to play jazz, gospel, classical or ragtime. Children sometimes benefit from piano chord diagrams or other note or scale attachments or inserts to give the beginning play a visual cue for finding their way around the piano keys.


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