Piano Instruction: Formal Versus Informal

When you think of piano lessons, the mental picture you get might be of child sitting at a keyboard. The instructor is probably sitting next to the child, tapping out rhythm with a baton or pencil.

While many do start as children taking piano instruction from a teacher, far more options are available today. Often this is good news for adults who never had the opportunity to take formal lessons as a child. If the idea of being scrutinized by a piano teacher makes you cringe, consider these other forms of piano instruction:

* Group lessons: Piano instruction takes place in a classroom-like setting. You’re usually in a group with several other students. Every student has their own keyboard, and the instructor teaches from the front. Group lessons are sometimes offered by music stores, community centers or schools. Often with group lessons, you sign up for a certain length of time (several weeks to a few months). With no pressure to sign on for long-term lessons, the commitment level required is low. Prices tend to be somewhat less expensive than private lessons too.

* DVD instruction: A plethora of DVD piano instruction curriculum is available. Topics range from learning basic notes and scales, to chord theory, specific music genres and more. Techniques are clearly demonstrated, making it easy to follow along. DVD piano curriculum ranges in price and often works out cheaper than taking private lessons. Plus, you can work at your own pace and on your own timeline.

* Internet lessons: There are a couple of options for Internet piano instruction. First, students can view video demonstrations and download curriculum and sheet music via an online music company. As with DVD instruction, you can work at your own pace. There’s no pressure to commit to anything long term. Another method is receiving live instruction via the Web. It’s similar to traditional piano lessons, except you see your instructor through a webcam. For this type of piano instruction, you must have a computer, or access to one, with Internet access. You’ll also need a webcam and an electronic keyboard or piano that is MIDI compatible. With either type of Internet lesson, you work in the comfort of your own home, and cost is usually less than traditional lessons.

* Instructional software: Similar to DVD instruction, you may also choose to purchase instructional software. This can be installed directly onto your computer. Piano lesson software is cost-efficient. And of course, you can work at home, at your own pace.

The type of piano instruction that you choose is largely dependent on your musical goals. Most piano instructors argue that traditional, one-on-one piano lessons are the only way to go. This is especially true if your goal is to become a professional musician or obtain some type of musical certification. It’s also important to note that one-on-one piano lessons are usually recommended for children over other methods of piano instruction.

However, for adults who simply wish to enrich their personal lives or can’t afford regular lessons, these can be great alternatives to traditional piano lessons.

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