Piano Lessons for Young Beginners

What should my child expect out of professional private piano lessons?

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Rose Park

3/12/24 • 4 min read

If you’re thinking about signing your child up for professional private piano lessons, you’ll want to know what to expect. From finding their way around the keys to reading music and building piano skills, an experienced teacher will guide them every step of the way. With quality one-on-one instruction through a well-planned curriculum, your child will build a solid musical foundation.

Here’s a breakdown of the concepts and milestones your child can look forward to accomplishing in private piano lessons.

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How to find the proper notes on the keyboard

As your child begins private piano lessons, an experienced teacher can guide them in learning how to find the proper notes on the keyboard. While it may seem hard at first, the teacher will have techniques to make finding notes easy and fun.

The teacher will start by introducing note names through songs, games, and exercises. Starting with finding “middle C” – an important C note right in the center of the keyboard which is often used as a landmark to beginners. Once they’ve identified middle C, the teacher will have them play a simple melody or song focused just on using the C keys.

After getting used to playing middle C, the teacher will move on to helping your child identify all the other white note names – A, B, D, E, F, and G – across the entire keyboard. They’ll point out useful patterns to look for, like how the groups of two and three black keys act as landmarks to guide the way. Your child will learn that the white keys progress alphabetically from A to G, but there are skips between the notes E to F and B to C where there’s no black key.

Building note finding skills

Every new concept introduced by the teacher will be strengthened through a range of practice drills, listening activities, and theory exercises. Beginning with the right hand in the middle register of the keyboard, your child will develop the ability to identify and play notes with confidence in the central range.

To build note-finding skills, understanding music theory is key—it helps your child grasp how melodies are put together harmonically. Most method books cover all these aspects in one place, with structured lessons and exercises to make piano learning fun and effective.

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Identify note and read on sheet music

In private piano lessons, once your child mastered note reading in the middle section, the teacher will guide them in using the left hand as well. Reading notes for the left hand is a new challenge, as the notes are laid out in reverse order compared to the right hand’s perspective. Through careful instruction and repeated practice exercises, your child will become comfortable navigating this different pattern.

From there, the teacher will expand your child’s skills into the higher and lower registers of the keyboard. They’ll learn how to read notes above and below the central range, opening up their ability to play melodies and pieces using the entire keyboard. Adjusting to these new note positions for each hand requires focus and complications that the teacher will build up over time.

With consistent practice on drills, listening exercises, and theory work, your child will gradually gain skills with identifying notes in all registers for both hands. This comprehensive training provides a strong foundation for more advanced playing and music reading down the road.

Identify how a note should sound like

Understanding notes and listening to different tones

Through private lessons, an experienced piano teacher can help your child learn to recognize how each note sounds. It’s not just about finding the right keys – they’ll also need to train their ears to recognize each note’s unique pitch and tone quality. 

The teacher will instruct your kid to listen very carefully as they play individual notes from different ranges of the keyboard. They’ll point out how the lower bass notes have a deeper, richer resonance compared to the higher treble notes that sound lighter and more delicate. Your child will learn to tell the difference between how notes sound when they’re played softly or with more force.

Combining listening skills and music theory

The teacher will also incorporate listening exercises into theory lessons about concepts like key signatures and scales. For instance, if they’re working on the G major scale, the teacher may play examples of what the G note sounds like, then have your child identify occurrences of that pitch within the scale or a short musical excerpt. 

Here’s an example of how it might go: The teacher plays a simple 8-note melody centered around G, asking “Can you hear which note is the ‘home’ pitch?” Your child listens, then experiments on the keyboard trying to pick out that frequent repeating note that sounds like “G.”

Developing Pitch Perception

As your child’s listening skills improve, the teacher may work on developing pitch perception. This includes drills to develop absolute pitch – the ability to instantly identify any note without a reference. More commonly, they’ll guide your child in relative pitch – identifying notes based on their relation to a given pitch. For example, the teacher might play a chord and then your child has to figure out the notes that come after by listening to the intervals between them.

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How to increase speed and accuracy

Once your child learns the basics of note-reading, their teacher will start focusing on building up speed and accuracy on the keys. This is a process that takes consistent practice over time, but a good instructor will have lots of great strategies to make it engaging.

One straightforward approach is using a metronome or metronome apps that provide a steady pulse or beat. The teacher may start by having your child play simple exercises with a slow beat, then work up to playing on each beat as their tempo gradually increases. They’ll learn techniques for keeping both hands completely synchronized too. Another practice method is to have your child try clapping or tapping out different rhythmic patterns first before applying them to the piano keys.

Improving accuracy

For developing precision with specific finger movements, exercises like Hanon drills are classics. But it’s not the best all-in-one resource for the long-term – Hanon drills may help learners develop precision and a sense of tempo, but they can also easily bore students and lower their interest in playing piano over time. The better solution for long-term development is to mix in variations beyond just one type of drills.

A skilled piano teacher will use diverse exercises like a few Hanon drills, but then move on to more musical studies like Bach’s Inventions or Mozart’s sonatinas. These pieces demand a similar level of technical accuracy, but in a more fun musical context.

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Leveling up through piano method books

When teaching beginner kids how to play piano, teachers almost always use some kind of leveled method book series. These progressive lesson books are incredibly valuable learning tools. They provide a well-planned curriculum that introduces concepts in a step-by-step style and is designed specifically for developing skills for young students. And the clear instructions, periodic reviews, and supplemental activities give children plenty of guidance and opportunities to solidify each new technique.

Which piano book works for kids?

One of the most popular method book options for kids is the Faber Piano Adventures series. It starts with an easy Primer Level book, focusing on just getting comfortable with the keyboard, learning note names, and playing simple tunes with both hands together. Once they’ve learned those basics, they can start Level 1A and 1B which include more challenging rhythms, better hands coordination, and level-appropriate music reading exercises. As students level up by completing each graded book and move on to the next, it gives them a huge sense of accomplishment to have leveled-up their piano skills.

A professional teacher will ideally guide a student through each Piano Adventures level over a period of perhaps 6 to 12 months, on average. But they’ll adjust the pacing as necessary based on the individual student’s progress. What’s important for teachers, students, and parents is to be patient and allow enough time to master all the new skills before advancing. Some students may progress quickly through a level in 3 to 4 months, while others may require 6 months or more – there’s no strict timeline that works for everyone.

You can learn more about recommended piano method books for beginning children aged 6 and older on “8 Best Piano Books for Beginners.

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Rose Park

Rose Park is a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where she studied Piano Performance and Arts Administration, receiving both Bachelor's and Master's degrees before co-founding Lesson With You. As a pianist, Rose was a prizewinner in many international piano competitions and performed at various summer programs and festivals across the United States, Italy, and Japan.