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What Can I Expect From my Child's First Piano Lesson?

Updated on March 25, 2014
The three rhythms Jess needs to clap back and later, play one finger at a time.
The three rhythms Jess needs to clap back and later, play one finger at a time.

As a piano player myself, it seems perhaps a little odd to send my little one for piano tuition, surely I should knuckle down and teach her on my own?

Well this is where conflict can occur, just because an individul is a good player, they are by no means a good teacher to their offspring. (They can fit very well into to supportive parent role though) Also, there is a lot to be said for kids acting up for their parents, call it love, call it boredom, whatever you like, but it's not a winning equation. Anyway I digress, here follows the breakdown of a very succesful first few piano lessons.

Rhythms. Teacher plays a rhythm on one note. Can Jess clap it back? Similar for two other rhythms increasing slightly in difficulty. The rhythms are:

Oranges and lemons (purple)

Mummy and daddy (green)

Strawberries raspberries (blue)

These rhythms need to be learnt so well that Jess can instantly recognise and name them both when clapped or when played on the piano. She also needs to be able to clap them independently without prompting.

Teacher plays twinkle twinkle on piano. Can Jess sing it back? Then teacher plays the twinkle melody again but using each of the three rhythms on each note.

Pitch. (High and low) Jess to shut her eyes and the teacher plays two notes, which one is higher? Same again but this time with a shorter distance between each note.

Finding all the Cs on the piano.

Where is C?
Where is C?

Where is C? It doesn't actually matter which C it is, what matters is whether jess can find, not just middle C but all the Cs on the piano. Show the two black notes and how it sits just to the left.

How to sit at the piano. Loose wrists with no tension. Jess's arms need to flop down from the shoulder back needs to be straight and feet need to rest squarely on the floor or in the case of Jess who's 6, on a neat pile of books under the piano stool.

Numbering fingers. Jess to hold up her right hand, thumb is finger 1 and so on until pinkie finger is finger 5. Teacher asks Jess to hold up each finger in turn and then tests her by saying the numbers in any order. This is crucial for any piano player as eventually the finger numbers will be well engrained into both hands. The same process now for the left hand.

Using fingers to play the rhythms (Jess clapped these at the start of the lesson) on each note. Fourth finger can be problematic as can fifth finger.this is because they are generally not as flexible as the other fingers. Hands seperately and then try together. Can Jess find her starting note without help? (C to be played with finger 1 which is the thumb)

Thumbs are 'finger 1'. Pinkie fingers are 'finger 5'
Thumbs are 'finger 1'. Pinkie fingers are 'finger 5'

Aural training. Teacher to play two pieces of music, are these happy or sad? It is well documented that small children can often struggle to distinguish a minor key from a major one. At about the age of 6 or 7 it becomes less of a challenge.

Introduction to Twinkle Twinkle. Once Jess can play all 3 rhythms with both hands together and separately, she is ready to tackle her first simple melody. This is usually after about the 3rd lesson, which may seem excessively late, however the repitition of the 3 rhythms is a super warm up, confidence builder and overall foundation to begin her first little piece. It is a huge help that Jess knows the melody before trying to tackle playing it, so it would be beneficial to expose your child to the melody before hand to make things easier.

I hope this has been a useful introduction as to what to expect during your child's first lessons. It's the first rung on an infinite ladder, but well worth the climb!


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    • hubsy profile image

      hubsy 3 years ago

      Thank you, I'm teaching my first lesson today and this is really helpful. I totally forgot to explain the numbering of the fingers and it would have been such a disaster!