Transition from weekly piano lessons : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread


I am an adult who has taken piano lessions for the last 5 years. I never had lessons as a child. I've practiced quite diligently but now my interests are turning elsewhere.

Question: (or questions on the same topic) how does one stop taking lessons and not feel you are quitting?

or: how does a teacher wean a student away from the weekly lesson and promote independent play?

or: is there an piano lesson "exit strategy" that transitions the student to more independent play?

Thanks for any suggestions you have. Also, if there are any other web sites that are more appropriate for this question please let me know.

-- William Jay Tuttle (, August 30, 2001


William, you are in control of your own destiny, so to speak. Moving on to more independent piano playing, if that's what you want, is certainly something you can do. But some things in your post sound a little contradictory. You stated that your interests are turning elsewhere--do you mean to pursuits other than piano, or just to different types of music than your teacher has been assigning you? You ask "how does one stop taking lessons and not feel you are quitting?" Well, you are quitting lessons, and whether or not you quit playing, as I alluded to, is entirely up to you. Do you have the discipline to continue regular practice, even though you will have no one to be accountable to for your progress? Perhaps if you could explain a little more why you feel you should quit lessons, and what you hope to accomplish on your own, then we could be more specific in our suggestions. BTW, I understand first hand how difficult it is for an adult to commit to long-term lessons. You are to be commended for sticking with lessons and diligent practice for 5 years, with all the responsibilites that adult life piles on you. Please be careful not to lose what you have worked so hard to achieve in your years of practice! Do share some more info with us so we can help you in this transition.

-- Annie (, August 31, 2001.

Response to Annie:

Thank you very much for your reply. You raise some very good questions and I admit my original message was a bit cryptic. My 5 years of lessons have been classical. Each new peice alittle more difficult. I read music poorly but can easily memorize . I don't know chords at all. To me piano lessons have been a very linear process. My fingers are certainly more adept than when I started but if I stop this process now before I stop is there some way to "broaden" my music foundation....should my teacher say "OK if you're going to stop let's make sure you are a better music reader becasue that is one the "keys" to individual playing". my question is what are the real "tricks of the trade" that every piano player should know. What other areas of piano playing should I be exposed to that might increase my enjoyment of playing the instrument by myself? A poor analogy is I am the novice hiker, following a more experienced hiker along a path for 5 years. I say I don't want to go any further but I look around me and don't know where I am because I have followed so closely. At this point my fellow hiker could instruct me on how to use a compass, read a topographic map, etc so I could enjoy hiking more at my own pace and to see what other terrains exist. Is there a similar scenario (for want of a better word) to ending weekly piano lessons?

-- Wm Jay Tuttle (, August 31, 2001.

William, I hope I'm not jumping to wrong conclusions, but your post makes it sound like your teacher has taken you down a somewhat narrow path. I am surprised that after 5 years, you feel you don't read well, and that you know nothing about chords. I'd say that a good understanding of chords (and music theory in general) is one of those "tricks of the trade" that every student should know. It's really not that hard to memorize the basic chords: the 12 major and minor, (in root, 1st, and 2nd inversions), as well as the 7th chords and diminished & augmented. (sounds like a lot, but once you understand the "formula" for each chord, it's really quite simple). This would help you improvise, read better as you recognize chord patterns, and sharpen your ability to use your eyes, mind, and ears together to become a better pianist. Do you have an understanding of key signatures, circle of fifths, and know all the major and minor scales? Regarding the fact that you feel you don't read well: one simple thing I always have my students do is regularly continue to play through books they have "graduated" from. Do you still have the method books you learned from? Go back as far as you need to, to find the level at which you can play at nearly 100% accuracy. Then play through those books front to back; next, move up to the next level. There is no short-cut to becoming a good sightreader. It just takes tons of reading music. Your hiking analogy concerned me a little, because it seemed to imply that your teacher has caused you to follow her so closely that you feel you will be lost without her. I like to think that a student who is with me for only 2 or 3 years would already have a strong enough foundation that they could continue to grow musically even without me. (I don't recommend that, of course, particularly because a good teacher can help so much in the way of developing good technique, guiding through appropriate repertoire, developing expressiveness, etc). But as far as reading music, once a student knows all the note names and basic timing, there's no reason to think they would totally fall apart without a teacher. Now don't misunderstand--I think I could benefit if I had a teacher my entire life. And I don't know anyone who feels they have "learned it all," even after playing for decades. But I think a motivated person can learn plenty of new music without a teacher. What specifically do you think you can't accomplish on your own? Is there a certain type of music you'd like to try that you haven't been playing yet, or are you unsure in your counting of the rhythms, or maybe you just don't know how to choose good books to keep working out of? Does your teacher know you are planning to discontinue lessons, and if so, has the teacher offered some suggestions for you going "solo"? Annie

-- Annie (, August 31, 2001.

Hi William,

I'm also an adult learner, and this is my 4th year. For me, it helped to change teachers, even though my 1st teacher is a good teacher, and she helped strengthen the basics of rhythm and dividing pieces to small sections in practice and learning. If you do need to change teachers but you're shy, you might take a break and then choose another teacher.

As for musicianship skills, which include sightreading, ear training, and also theory, I suggest a visit to music bookstores, or on-line. Check and see what's available. I began using ear training cassettes 2 years ago, and I gradually moved to Grade 6 level. Sight reading books are levelled too, so you can begin from early levels and advance slowly at your own pace. And maybe you could check alfred's adult beginner course, which teaches pieces with chords. The posibilities are endless. I'll paste some websites for you.

By the way, public libraries carry music books and videos that you might use. As they say, what we need is sometimes under one's own nose. :)

This is the series I use, but the website address was given to me by another musician. (a teacher)

I baught Shaum's Easy keyboard Harmony, level one, and I believe it's a great help in understanding chords.

I don't think you can order on-line from Alfred's, but you can check what's available.

I use their Four Star Sight Reading Books, along with books of lower levels (Just as Annie suggested)

I hope that you can work it out, and continue enjoying your musical journey!


-- Mona (, September 01, 2001.

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