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I am a piano teacher and give piano lessons in the Muswell Hill area, around Muswell Hill Broadway and down Colney Hatch Lane. I am a visiting piano teacher and give lessons at students' homes.
Some of my existing students take up piano in order to attempt graded piano examinations from the Abrsm and Trinity syllabus; others do so for the personal enjoyment of being able to play songs they like, and to learn new skills which will enhance their personal and social opportunities.
My approach is a positive one. I work with what you can do and slowly encourage you into more challenging extensions of your abilities. The focus is on what you can do, and what you can aim for, that will become second nature with practice.
And what if you are a complete beginner? And you have never played from notated music before? The positive approach remains. You work from learning one or two notes and one or two rhythms, to playing with both hands and incorporating more elements over the course of lessons.
In taking you from the A to Z of piano playing, I show you how to get through the intermediate stages of A to D, to H to L, Q and V and help you chart your progress, so you do not merely look from the vantage point of A over to Z, and get discouraged by the gulf.
A lot of mental processing goes into unlocking the information encoded on a sheet of music. What notes do you have to play? How long do you have to hold them for? There are at least 625 combinations involved in just deciphering how to play two notes in the piano - an astounding number for beginners! Playing music you know will give you the assurance and confidence that you are playing the correct notes. You will also already have an idea of how the music should sound, and hence know what the musical symbols are intended to represent.
In lessons I ask you for suggestions on music you listen to and like, to get an idea of the music which appeals to you. Outside of the lessons in my free time, I arrange these songs to a suitable level to meet your needs, so that they are recognisable in your initial attempts on the piano, and challenging enough to extend your skills through practice.
Imagine a plank of wood around six feet long, slightly off the floor - most people would have no problem walking across it.
Now suspend the same plank higher ten feet off the ground. It is still the same plank that people will have walked across but fewer will be able to repeat the same success because of the added mental distractions.
How do piano lessons at your own home help? You play on the same piano or keyboard you practise, on and don't have to worry about differences in touch and response on different pianos.
The surroundings are familiar to you.
You don't have to worry about travelling to and from a location nor add travel time on to your lesson time. A thirty-minute lesson doesn't expand with travel to take up an hour of importance of your time. And if you are a parent thinking of lessons for your children, I'm sure you will appreciate the hassle of travel being removed from you. While your child is having a lessons at home, you can simultaneously get on with the things that need doing, instead of having your time wasted off-site.
I offer competitive lesson rates. My rates are similar to those charged by local music authorities, with an allowance for travel. I will try to arrange lessons for a time when I am already near your location, so that my travel costs are minimised and possibly negated. The hourly rate charged by Haringey Music Service for children having instrumental lessons in school is £31.60 (for the academic year 2016-17) and in some cases where siblings share an hourly lesson, students pay less than that for me to visit their home.
I have no cancellation fees. I do not require a 24-hour notice of lesson cancellation.
As long as I am not already on the way to your home, you can notify me if you have to cancel due to illness or events/meetings that have overrun.
If you have to cancel because an illness has crept up on you, I don't doubly penalise you by charging for a lesson you are not well enough to attend!
How long should you practise for? While the prescribed timing for beginners can range from 15-30 minutes a day, it is more advisable to recommend "for as long as you can concentrate for". After all, if you lose concentration and start to make mistakes, any time you invest after that is poor quality practice time.
And when you practise, recognise you are not on show. In piano practice, you develop skills that allow you to play music. Never mind that someone may be around to hear you playing; it is not a performance - you shouldn't just play a whole song over and over again, but pause to focus on sections that are slightly more difficulty and bring them to the same standard as the rest of the piece.
On a scientific level, piano playing is about interpreting visual symbols and translating the instructions to your hands and feet, and the rest of the body.
The amount of information you have to process and direct to your body is a lot - and in order to manage that, to a good level of coherence and fluency, you have to practise slowly and build it up with familiarity. Imagine you are driving a car and have to navigate using the traditional map. The only way you can drive, navigate by map and respond to the traffic around you simultaneously is to go at a pace where you can manage all the tasks at the same time. When you are familiar with the route over time, you can up the pace.
How soon will it be before you play fluently on the piano?
It depends on the quality of your practice and how much you are able to integrate notereading and keyboard awareness. But you must give your mind and body time to adapt to the developments.
Imagine you want to be a pole vaulter. Perhaps you've read somewhere that a pole vaulter needs to be able to do a 40-yard sprint in 4 seconds, and do ten to twelve squats with two hundred pounds of weights. Just because you can do the above doesn't necessarily mean you can be successful at the pole vault - you have to channel the benefits of your training directly to your activity.
Perhaps you've read somewhere that pianists practise each of the thirty-six scales ten times every day, or practise for four hours at a stretch to develop the stamina to give a full recital. Or you have a mental picture that after practising half an hour every other day for a year, you should be attempt a piano exam after a year. Hitting these numerical targets is not a measure of your progress. Your success really depends on whether you have understood what you have learnt (and not learnt by rote), whether you have had the patience to practise slowly develop the ability to simultaneously read music and co-ordinate your hands, and whether you have a theoretical understanding on some level of what you have to play.