People always think it doesn’t take much time to learn how to play the piano, they think as long as they know which key to press, voila! They become pianists. They proclaim piano teachers are unnecessary, youtube piano tutorial videos will be just enough.
Sad thing is, they never know the song they spend days and weeks to learn from youtube tutorial video will just be 5 minutes of practice for me. Because piano learning is comprehensive, systematic and in-depth learning. In an effort to play not only smoothly, but properly and beautifully, students need to be all-around in sight-reading ability, finger technique and music expression skill.
It is the ability of reading notes and rhythms while playing them on the piano. There will be two octaves of notes (15 notes) to be learned for beginners, fours octaves (29 notes) for intermediate, and more for advanced students. Beginners first will be trained to accurately find different keys on the keyboard before the music notation system is introduced, they will learn how to read most basic music notations and find them on the keyboard accordingly. For intermediate students, not only there are more keys to be explored, but most importantly, they will be trained to quickly identify notes while playing with no hesitation, which develops students cognitive ability and finger coordination. Finally, for advanced students, they will get to know different chords structure, learn to read multiple sharps or flats and wide range of notes. At the end of learning, students will be able to play any piece at first sight without practice (advanced classical pieces may take some time to learn but it will be a lot faster and easier for students to learn once they fully acquire this skill).
It is fundamental and crucial for piano playing, one bad habit formed in the early stage of learning will have an impact in future study and take years to correct. For beginners, they will learn the basic hand position, correct placement of wrist and elbow, and effortless movement of fingers (The Taubman Technique). As students get more control of their fingers, they will start to learn how to play with hands together (hand coordination), and also train their fingers to move faster by practicing scales and arpeggios. At the advanced level, students are required to play pieces that have complicated passages with consecutive octaves, rapid moving scales, big leaps and etc.
Music has always been representation of human inner emotion. Bad music interpretation will cause confusion and discomfort. For example, it will not make sense if you play Moonlight Sonata like a victorious march. In fact, most students, due to lack of music expression, play everything like an Etude (finger exercise music)— robotic, lame and meaningless. Music expressions are revealed by dynamic, speed and timbre. Students will start off by identifying soft and strong, to having melodic and singing phrases, and to producing the correct timbre by applying different finger touches.
These three basic aspects of the piano study will always be correlated and will be stressed no matter what level of students are at. The absence of one such skill will result in huge problems down the road. For example, students with great sight reading skill but poor finger technique will soon experience the bottleneck in expanding their repertoire and playing any technique-demanding pieces. Vise Versa, bad sight reading skill will cost weeks and months for students to learn a piece that is actually easy to play.
Because every student is unique and has different goals, lesson plans are tailored to suit each individual student to achieve their goal. For example, students who want to be able to enjoy playing different songs will focus mostly on sight-reading skill; students who want music achievement on their resume may spend more timing grinding their finger technique and musical expression.