I believe that a quality learning environment, that is inspirational and motivating, is a key factor in developing musical abilities. For this reason, my students will have the opportunity to learn and perform on a grand piano at most lessons.  I do have a second upright piano in another room that I utilize in a variety of ways when teaching lessons.  Students who come early, or are waiting to be picked up, will often warm-up or practise on this piano if it is available.

Lesson Options

I offer two options for piano instruction.  One is the private piano lesson and the other is a partner lesson.

Private, on-one-one instruction allows me to tailor my lessons to each student's unique gifts, challenges and needs and allows students to progress at their own pace. This is the traditional means by which piano teachers have delivered piano lessons for countless years.  

Although private lessons are tried and true, they can often be lonely for the student since the student goes to lessons alone and practises in isolation.  In contrast, the partner lesson offers a social learning environment.  In a partner lesson, partners are matched based on level, aptitude, age, and other qualities such as personality and interest. Sometimes the partners already have an established friendship.  In other cases, a new relationship is formed with music at its centre.  

The camaraderie that is offered through a partner lesson, more often than not, positively influences the motivation to practise, learn, and perform.  Peer recognition and praise from a partner can also assist in overcoming performance anxiety too.  There are also more opportunities for duet playing.  Duet playing helps students develop listening skills and rhythmic sense.  

Partner lessons are not for everyone.  Some individuals may perceive the partnership to be competitive rather than friendly in nature and find that this is stressful.  Others may like to have the teacher's undivided attention.  Others may feel that their development is impeded because they are waiting at times for their partner to catch up. Sometimes it becomes necessary to dissolve or change a partnership and this can be stressful too.

For some families, partner lessons are a  more affordable alternative to private lessons.

Lesson Frequency and Length

Lessons are scheduled once per week.  My preference is a 45 minute lesson for those studying Royal Conservatory of Music curriculum at the junior levels or below.  I prefer this because there is more time to devote to things like theory, sight reading, ear training, music writing, and improvisation.  I have also noticed that 9/10 students with longer lessons tend to progress at a faster rate too. Once a student reaches level 6 RCM a one hour lesson is necessary.  For beginning students, or those who are studying casually, the 30 minute lesson works well. If taking an exam, some students may require a few extra lessons at that time.  In other cases, I have recommended a student come twice per week for lessons.  This works particularly well for students whose attention span is short.

Instruction

Instruction is provided based on method books such as Piano Adventures for beginning students, and also Pattern Play, Chord Play, and the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) syllabus including the RCM popular selection list. Other methods and repertoire are used too when student needs indicate that this would be beneficial.  Performance opportunities are made available to students via semi-annual recitals, piano salons, RCM examinations, and local competitions.

There are many components of a well-rounded musical education.  Each student will receive training in the following areas tailored to their unique gifts, challenges, and needs:

• Repertoire

• Technique

• Sight reading

• Ear training

• Musicianship

• Improvisation

• Ensemble/piano duet

• Theory

• Music history