When beginning to learn piano there is a lot of new information. To make ‘learning music theory’ fun and less daunting, I would highly recommend the series, John Thompson’s Theory Drill Games as it breaks the notation and language into manageable amounts without having info. over-load! It is not too childish either, so adult beginners can also benefit from these resources.
In regards to building up some pieces of music that a learner is able to play in front of friends/family, it can be a high expectation to ‘play something’ for listeners when so far, that ‘something’ is really a handful of notes in a strictly counted order.
Without going into a state of shock/panic/stage fright/doubt, I suggest building up some easily recognisable tunes that can be incorporated into the practise time as some light, enjoyable pieces. (Then when aunt Fran/ Granny/ the neighbour want to come and hear how you are getting on, relief can be felt that a recognisable tune can entertain such request, rather than a wobbly reciting a scale of C major in separate hands!)
Easiest 5-finger Piano Collection books produce a great range that is easily learned with a varied selection of genres including Pop hits, Charts, Showtunes, Children’s favourites, Classical etc.
Just like a desk tidy or pencil case, there are some essentials every piano student should have ready for a lesson and/or practise session.
- A pencil with a rubber- crucial for noting finger markings, drawing attention to key changes etc.
- A small notepad- to note those all important new musical terms and their meanings. Learning a new instrument is like learning a new language.
- Manuscript paper (paper printed with 5 horizontal lines to note music notation in). This can be useful to quickly scribe chord formations or short warm-up exercises to practise at home between lessons.
- Post-it notes: any sticky note you can place to mark the bars to focus on working at and note any quick bullet points of things to watch out for in a piece of music. Also double up as marking your book open at the page for next use.
- Clothes pegs! If you have a music clip all the better. In the meantime, clothes pegs can be very handy to keep a thick music book held open at the pages necessary without the page closing over mid-play!
- A smart phone. This can be super to take a quick audio recording of the teacher’s accompaniment, a photo of a theory challenge to work on or a video of a scale to recap exactly how something should (bearing in mind, your tutor gives you permission).
Most of all, learning a new instrument should be fun and engaging. It ought to be exciting (although also provide you with challenges). There has to be work put in by the student, however. No teacher can wave a wand and magically churn out a ‘Mozart!’ If you need practise suggestions or ideas how to make your practise sessions more worthwhile, do not hesitate to ask your tutor. All the best!