Lesson Structure

What to Expect

The elements of good piano performance are closely interwoven, and at Northern Baltimore Piano we introduce beginners to all of these elements with their first lessons. Beginning students are taught not only the proper fingering of the keys but also hearing skills, rhythm, dynamics, touch, colors and, of course, music theory and how to read music.

Very young students, whose hands are small and still growing, start with five-finger exercises, first with the right hand and then with the left. Later they will transition from playing notes with one hand to playing songs using both hands.

At the beginning, students aren’t reading music in the traditional sense. They are learning to find C, D, E, F and G, and the other notes, by touch, so that eventually it becomes second nature to them. They are learning quantity: whole note, half note, quarter note, and so on. They are learning to hear intervals: half step, whole step, third, octave. They are learning to keep time: common time, waltz time, march time. By the time they are introduced to musical notation, they are already familiar with the concepts. Using a workbook called a note speller, they draw notes and color-code them, which fixes the notes in their memory.∗

And they won’t simply be playing notes mechanically; they will be learning to make music. They will learn how to play both softly and loudly. They will learn to play notes separately (staccato) and also to tie them together (legato). They will learn that notes in combination have different colors that project different moods. With a simple song of merely four to eight measures, students can begin to apply these lessons. When the student succeeds in putting together the elements of good piano performance in even the simplest song, the result is magical. The student is actually making music! This is a moment of great fulfillment for both the student and the teacher.

Continued lessons build on these elements. As the students learn more about music theory (major and minor scales and chords) they also do exercises (scales and arpeggios) that improve their performance skills. But we always return to the music. There are different lessons to be learned from each of the compositions the student is assigned, but the same acts of connecting with the music and projecting feeling apply to them all. Every student progresses at his or her own rate, depending principally on how much time the student can devote to focused, disciplined practice. The lessons are tailored to the rate of progress of each student, and new material is added when the student is ready for it. A hard line cannot be drawn between beginner and intermediate or intermediate and advanced. The student simply takes on greater challenges as he or she develops as a pianist, and one never runs out of new challenges.

* Please be advised that students are responsible for purchasing all lesson materials, from note spellers and books on theory to books of etudes and assigned musical scores.

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Testimonials

I like Soyoung as a piano teacher because she teaches me a lot. She is very patient even when I'm tired.

– Eric (age 7)

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(410) 929-6313

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