I started two new, beginning piano students this week, and while I was preparing for their lessons, I thought I may just share with you some of the things I do in the first few lessons.
They say, and rightfully so, that you only have one chance to make a first impression. That is true not only when meeting your students and their parents, but also in the first piano lesson that student ever has. We could re-word the saying for our purposes and say, “A piano student can only have one first lesson, and that first lesson could determine how they view piano for the rest of their lives.” So yeah, that first lesson is very important.
I talked here about the student/parent interview I have with each of my new students. I prefer for this to be separate from the first “real” lesson. This gives the student time to get to know me, and gives me an opportunity to observe him and answer any questions from him or his parent. Sometimes I begin a few introductory things with the student. It just depends on the situation, the method book he is using, etc.
So, depending on those factors, I use some combination of the following in the first few lessons:
Pre-reading songs. Susan Paradis has several of these. In some method books, the students does not have any songs to play for the first couple of lessons. I don’t like to overwhelm the student, so I generally go over a couple of pages of introductory material (Posture, hand position, highs and lows on the keyboard, black keys and white keys, finger numbers, etc.) and then give a couple of these pre-reading sheets. Susan has several of these in different levels...some that say the note name, some with just the finger numbers...so you can easily find one that fits your exact need.
Activity Papers. (Not to be confused with worksheets, mind you) For young beginners, I use this one reviewing Left and Right hands, and this one, reviewing the finger numbers. These seem to be very effective. I also use this one as soon as they learn the quarter, half and whole note so they can begin to learn to draw them. This activity is great for enforcing which note is which. For older beginners, I use mostly the little worksheets that I put together. I have not yet been able to find much along these lines for adult beginners, because they comprehend and learn at a faster pace. Do you know of any for adults???
Practice Charts. I usually use these ones from Making Music Fun. Generally adults don’t need them, but kids seem to love them! My sisters have used every one of these, and still beg to use them over again. They seem to love the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction of being able to put a sticker on the chart at the end of a day’s practice. I think I can understand that. These have such simple but attractive graphics on them.
These are the ones I have found myself going back to for each new student. I know there are more options out there, but this is what has worked for me so far. What do you use in the first few lessons? What concepts do you teach in that first lesson? Leave us some feedback!