At the First Lesson
Students who have taken lessons before should bring the method books used with the previous teacher, and we will decide together whether to keep using the same method or to switch to a new one. All beginning piano students will be required to purchase method books, either from the teacher or from a music store before the first lesson. Very young beginners may use a "Young Beginner Binder," which can be purchased from the teacher. If purchasing method books from a music store, students should first communicate with the teacher to ensure that they get the correct book(s). Students will also need to purchase each level of books in the method as they progress.
Preschool aged beginners will begin with the Wunderkeys method or with a "Young Beginner Binder," and "graduate" into Faber & Faber's "My First Piano Adventures" or a similar method. I most often use the Piano Pronto course for beginners ages 6 to adult. Children who start out using the Piano Pronto course may switch to another series after completing Movement One or Two of the Piano Pronto books. Advanced students may not use a method, but will likely be required to purchase a book of exercises. Intermediate and advanced students will also be working on standard solo repertoire, and while these pieces may be borrowed from the teacher, serious students will be encouraged to purchase their own copy.
At Every Lesson
Students should come to every lesson with their method books, a pencil, any “fun” or supplemental music, a completed copy of the previous week's Assignment Sheet, and a fresh copy of the Assignment Sheet. If the student has been assigned a worksheet, they should bring the worksheet to their lesson, whether it has been completed or not. A 3 ring binder and music bag can also be helpful.
Other Expenses and Purchases
Students and parents should buy a metronome as early as possible. Metronome apps exist for most mobile devices, but should only be used if the student has access to their own device. All students will be given the occasional opportunity to play pieces from books other than their method books. These books may be borrowed from the teacher, or the student may purchase them from a music store. Students who own pianos will need to get their piano tuned and checked over at least once a year. Students who own a keyboard will need to buy a pedal, stand and bench for their keyboard if they do not already own these items, and may eventually need to upgrade to a better keyboard or piano (see below). Shorter students who are ready to use the pedal may need to buy or rent a pedal extender.
Piano or Keyboard?
Beginning students, especially children, may be able to get by for a short time, probably less than 6 months, with a keyboard (61 or more keys). After that, the student will need either a real piano or a very good keyboard or digital piano. I recommend that every student who is able to do so buy a real piano. Although some digital pianos are very good, there is nothing that feels and plays like a real piano. I realize that in some situations where buying a real piano may not be possible, and in those situations a good digital piano will work. At the very minimum, the keyboard should have at least 61 keys, the keys should be full size (the same length and width as a real piano), and the keys should be touch sensitive/touch response (plays louder or softer depending on how you hit the key). Other good features to look for are weighted keys (feels more like a real piano action) and a pedal jack (strongly recommended, even if you don't buy the pedal right away--otherwise you will need to upgrade to a better keyboard or a piano later on). If the keyboard doesn't come with a stand and bench, these need to be purchased right away as well; putting the keyboard on a table and sitting in a chair will create poor posture habits and could lead to overuse injuries for students who practice a lot. If you are buying a new keyboard, be sure to check and see if it comes with a power adapter--often these also need to be purchased separately. All students who only own keyboards should try to find a real piano to play on as often as possible (check with a friend or relative, your church, or your child's music classroom). For guidance in choosing a piano, contact me and/or refer to this guide written by an experienced piano teacher, or refer to this up-to-date, informative guide. Here is a digital piano that is affordable and has all of the necessary features.