What do we piano teachers talk about with optimism and high spirits when we get together at festivals, student concerts, conferences and the like? What makes our eyes sparkle, our spirits soar and our energy levels grow exponentially? The answer is enthusiastic students, and in particular adult students, whom an increasing number of teachers over the past few years are finding especially rewarding and inspiring to work with. Adults who sign up for piano lessons usually have a hunger to learn, and a determination to succeed. Moreover they often find it easier to show more personable qualities to their teacher than children are able to, which means that for teachers pre- and post-lesson chat sessions are often extremely interesting in themselves.
The important thing to remember if you are an ‘adult amateur’ pianist in search of a teacher is that thereis a piano mentor out there who will love to have you as a student and whom you will adore studying with! Adult amateurs (henceforth referred to as AAs) come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from complete beginners to those who graduated successfully from music college but decided to pursue a different career path thereafter. If you have decided that piano lessons are for you, congratulate yourself for embracing a hobby that could become a passion for the rest of your life, and remember to hold your head up high.
The main problem many new AAs face is feelings of inferiority mixed with diffidence to play even a simple scale to another listener, let alone an experienced teacher. If this is the case, it may be appropriate at least initially to explore the growing industry of online piano teaching resources that are increasingly available, especially from the United States. ‘Peery Piano’ [see box for website details] is one of the most user-friendly, assigning a personal teacher to each student who subscribes, and offering excellent tips on performance mixed with a fine selection of archival performances. ‘E-music maestro’, a subscription-based website from the UK, is an encyclopaedic resource, one that evidently continues to grow. It provides specific answers to all kinds of pianistic problems and issues, as well as a phenomenal range of performances of graded exam pieces and popular works from the earliest levels up to and beyond diploma standard.
Phone a friend
Of course overcoming the ‘I’m not good enough’ factor may take some time, but it helps enormously to befriend other AAs and gain fellowship through their friendship. It is also the most sure fire method known of finding the right teacher for you to study with, because it is through word of mouth that you will gain authentic insight into the particular strengths, qualities and approaches of teachers who are willing to work with you. [Continued…]