Learning Triangle

This page is dedicated to piano parents who wish to know more about "Studying Piano" and assist their children in achieving their potential in music learning! Please also consult with your current piano teacher for his/her professional opinions.

The Successful Learning Triangle: Student, Teacher, and Parents

Playing the piano is a unique discipline that requires commitments, motivation, and talent. Similar to learning a sport, one has to devote a certain amount of time to practice in order to master the techniques and enjoy the performance.

Unlike general education, which students attend 5 days a week, piano lesson usually engages only 30-45 minutes out of 24/7. Hence, parental supervision and support are important in maintaining a strong learning connection between the student and the teacher.

It is the parental help such as scheduling regular practice, checking on assignments completion, creating an inspiring/suitable atmosphere for at-home practice that carries the teaching instructions outside the lesson. Along with teacher’s careful guidance and study assessment; students’ devotion in practice; this learning triangle will deliver promising progress that nurtures a lifetime enjoyment of playing!

Parenting A Piano Student 101:

Quality Practice: the most essential element to foster successful piano learning
It is crucial that the student is PRACTICING CORRECTLY as instructed. Practice slowly at the beginning of learning a piece can allow students to pay attention to correct notes reading and rhythmic counting. Students shall focus on how "accurately" they can play and not how "fast" they can play.

Once the student retains this good habit of "practicing correctly," they will benefit smooth progress that leads to strong motivation in learning!

Levels of Progress: 
Like a regular school system, there are about 10 levels/grades of 4 stages at the pre-college classical piano studying:
Beginner (Preparatory - level 1); Elementary (level 2-3); Intermediate (level 4-7); Advanced (level 8-10)
  • Standardized curriculum exams such as RCM/MDP or ABRSM are graded based on these stages of development. However, there are discrepancies among various grading systems.  
  • Examples of famous piano masterworks correspond to the levels: Beethoven For Elise is at RCM level 7 (Intermediate), and Debussy Clair de Lune is at RCM level 10 (advanced).

Once the parents understand the levels of progress, it would be clearer for them to set realistic expectations and goals. If a child has daily practice routine and follows teacher’s instructions, he/she shall be able to advance from beginner to elementary stage within a year or less.

However, when the student enters the intermediate stage, it will take several years to progress because of the increasing difficulties of the repertoires. Those exceptionally gifted children will naturally advance at a faster rate.

Create an inspiring and musical environment:
Just like participating in sports teams and events, children need constant involvement with the subject that they are learning in order to maintain a strong motivation.
  • Watching well-performed videos on YouTube, preferably recommended by your teacher if you want to find one that your child is currently playing, can further develop interests in learning music. Caution: Don’t randomly pick out performances that may be a poor example for your child. 
  • Music Apps are both fun and educational. Many apps are like games and have progress tracking that motivates students' learning.
  • Work toward a goal by playing in recitals, participating in adjudicated events or competitions.
  • Attending the winners' concerts of competitions or adjudicated events performed by student's peers. These top winners and age-similar "role models" are inspiring!

FAQ: More faqs will be added on regular basis

  1. How fast will my child advance in a year of learning?
  2. Many beginner student's parents ask this question: Can my child play famous songs such as Beethoven's For Elise or Pachelbel's Canon in D?
  3. When can my child play the original version of piano masterworks like For Elise or Clair de Lune?
  4. What means playing well?
  5. What is a curriculum exam? Shall my child participate?
  6. Which curriculum exam level is suitable for my child?
  7. Shall I purchase a digital keyboard or an acoustic piano?
  8. Effective practice strategies series