I showed up for my first piano lesson with an open mind, not really knowing what to expect, nor having prepared anything. I found the right building and floor, located the door with my teachers name on it, and sat down.
At about a minute past my start time, the teacher emerged with the previous student, a boy around the age of 8–10, and had to make some photocopies etc. So at about 5 minutes past my time, I entered the room. In there were two digital pianos, one of them by which I sat down.
It seems the instructor also approached this with an open mind, as seems fitting for individual instruction. So I shared a bit of my background and interests. After 5 years playing the trombone in a school marching band, I feel somewhat confident reading music in the narrow band of the G-clef, but not so much the F-clef. I can construct triad major, minor and seventh chords, and understand inversions, but I have to think about it for a few seconds 🙂 I have dabbled with learning classical pieces, but my focus for this course will be pop music akin to Elton John etc.
The teacher did not have a set curriculum, and I happened to have brought with me a “Big Notes Easy Piano” score sheet of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, so we proceeded to have a stab at it. I had on purpose not looked at it previously, so ended up trying to sightread and play directly on the spot. It was predictably horrible, and at least I gave the “complete beginner experience” to the teacher. We decided to simplify a bit more for the first iteration. I would practice just doing chords with the left hand and single note melody with the right.
In addition to this, we managed to touch on a few basic exercises in technique. I was shown that the focus should be on the fingers being relaxed claw-like, in close contact with the keys, and minimise up/down movement. The first point I was corrected on, was assuming a hand position with my thumbs not actually over the keys; I guess that is what 30 years of Touch Typing will do to you 😉
The first exercise was, with all fingers pressing down on keys, play each individual finger repeatedly, and also trills with adjacent pairs of fingers. This was quite strenuous and will obviously build finger strength in addition to a certain level of dexterity and motor skills. The next exercise was playing adjacent keys up and down with both hands, while slowly advancing one key sideways on every iteration. To get used to a controlled tempo, I will practice this with a metronome. I will also make sure to not overdo these exercises, but rather try doing a few batches of 10 minutes every day.
- 20 minutes is a very short time, but I assume it felt extra short this being the first meeting. And losing a few minutes at the start. I hope this truncation will not happen as the sessions get rolling, for all students.
- The actual lessons might not give room for much practice, and will have to be very efficient to fit the timeslot. Hopefully the teacher will take command.
- Finger exercises for strength is sorely needed (pun intended…)
- I suck at sight reading, but working on that will have to wait until I am actually able to play a “slow reading” piece.
After the lesson, I am now working on learning the piece. Will report back with progress!