Piano / Keyboard FAQ

Submitted by: Winnie Cheung

What do you like about Piano?
I have been playing piano since 9 years of age. It began with me begging my mum for piano lessons after fanatically listening to a lot of pop music with prominent piano playing such as Ben Folds, Joni Mitchell and Tim Minchin. I loved the dynamic nature of the instrument, how it could be applied to multiple different emotions/styles of music and how these particular songwriters enabled it to support their melodies. My mother eventually caved and gifted me a small yamaha keyboard which not only played piano sounds but also some basic synthesisers – little did she realise, as well as engaging my newfound love for piano she also allowed me to explore the versatility of sound libraries that can be played by a keyboard. This passion continued throughout my studies at school and university, and still to this date I’m always fascinated by the unlimited range of sounds you can make through synthesisers and sample libraries.

What is your Piano Teaching Philosophy?
I believe that the teacher needs to first and foremost be a good role model to the student, and inspire them to engage with music through their own work. I know this is true as it was through seeing the work of my own teachers, both in music and music technology, that inspired me to pursue music seriously as a career.

Are Piano Lessons Necessary ?
Yes, piano lessons are necessary if you wish to develop your skills – however, piano tuition is not limited to the stereotype lesson that involves a cranky old person forcing you to practice for hours every day and yelling at you for making mistakes. With my students, lesson programs are developed to achieve the outcome that the student desires. For those who wish to pursue piano as a hobby in their spare time, there is no strict practice regime and lessons may involve games and listening to reference material. For students that wish to learn technically difficult pieces, lessons may involve more focus on theory and more practice is expected from the student to help them reach their goals.

What Age Should Piano Lessons Start?
Piano lessons can start at any age from as early as 4 years old. With younger children, in addition to good technique and performance for piano, lessons also include shaping their perception of sound and music. This includes using basic vocabulary to identify different characteristics – are sounds “high or low”, “happy or sad”, “long or short” etc. Teens and adults can already understand these concepts, so lessons focus on developing the skills needed to help them learn how to play songs they enjoy. This might include their favourite song from the radio or their favourite piano part to accompany a voice or instrument. Whether it be Jazz, Pop, Metal, RnB – there is no limit to the genres that a keyboard can be utilised in.

Why Should I take Piano Lessons at JZ Centre Stage? Do Online Lessons Work?
The internet is the host to some amazing resources for learning, notably the diverse range of video tutorials hosted online such as Youtube can be well produced and comprehensive on the topic, however they are not able to provide you on feedback on your technique, timing, phrasing and more. This is why face-to-face lessons with a teacher are vital for progression as the teacher is able to evaluate whether you are learning and practicing music effectively. Online lessons may provide good inspiration for what direction the student wants to take with their learning, but unless they have a mentor to guide them they risk practicing with poor technique and developing other bad habits that are extremely difficult to unlearn.

How many lessons do I need before I can play a song?
For younger kids, after the first lesson students will be able to leave already knowing a few short and cute songs that help them navigate different areas of the keyboard. For teen and older students, the skills to navigate simple songs and melodies can be taught within a few weeks.