Learning piano in U.S.A

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Hi, I started getting my first piano lesson when I was 12 years old in Vietnam. I took private lessons for only 2 years, then I stop to concentrate more on school (Music or piano is not part of the curriculum in highschools in Vietnam). As I remember I was at Classic level 1, so pretty much like a beginning level i guess. However, I've been trying to squeeze my time once in a while to practice playing songs myself in the past 10 years in order not to forget everything. I am able to play Marriage D'amour, Fur Elise (the complicated version) and some chinese songs. Now, I am 25 years old, working as Software Engineer. Piano is still in my heart and I really want to be able to get a teaching credential in piano someday in my life. Nonetheless, I have never taken any piano course in U.S. and I learned piano in French way (not American way) in Vietnam. I don't know anything about A, B, C, but only Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol...I am able to read complicated notes and practice myself. I don't know where to start working for my dream. Especially, I am working more than 40 hours/week from 9pm to 5pm. Most of the music classes (musicianship, theory, jazz, class pianoes) are in the morning or afternoon. What should I do to pursue my dream when I only have free time in the evenings and weekends? Should I take a piano class at community college? Is taking private lessons is the only way that fit me since that doesn't require any strict schedule? Taking private lessons for a long time probably is too expensive for me. Is there any path or environment that I can join and follow all the way through? I know it's definite that I can't pursue a music degree at a university when i don't have time in the morning or afternoon. I read almost all the threads in this discussion board and learned about Grade 8, RCM, ARCT exams. How do I know what grade i m in? Is it like SAT or GRE that you just go to a center to take an exam and they would give you a certificate of what level you are in? I found this link http://www.rcmexaminations.org/

By the way, I think about giving myself 10 years to work for a teaching credential. That means I hope I can be a piano teacher when i m 35 years old. Is that too long or too short? I am sorry if my question is silly. :)

-- Hongvan Nguyen (hongvannguyen2001@yahoo.com), September 13, 2004


I don't think your question is silly at all...and I think 10 years is not unrealistic, given that you are working full time.

In my opinion, private lessons are probably your best bet. Regarding the expense, do you have some skill you could offer to trade with the teacher in return for lessons? Perhaps creating and maintaining a website for them, maintaining their computer, or some other skill you can offer? Or, perhaps you could get lessons with a less experienced (and less expensive) young teacher, who is being supervised/mentored/trained by an experienced teacher.

Regarding the grade level, Fur Elise is classed as Grade 7 by the RCM. You can get their syllabus, which lists pieces by their grade level, and also what the technical expectations are for each grade. I'm not sure if you can order one from their website; if you want to email me, I will see if I can find a place you could order one from. If you want to take an RCM exam, you prepare a certain number of pieces, scales, etc. and are examined on them. Exams also include sight-reading and ear tests.

About the French names: I think if you're planning to teach in the USA you must learn to use the English names...and I think the only way to do that is to practise! Spend a bit of time each day naming the notes the English way, and it will come in time.

I admire your energy -- to be able to practise after a full day's work is impressive -- and your dream. Tell everyone (well, maybe not your boss!) your goal, and maybe you'll find someone who can help you. Good luck!

Alice Dearden

-- Alice Dearden (alicedearden@look.ca), September 15, 2004.

Thanks alot for your advice. It is very helpful to me. You are such a sweet person.

-- Hongvan Nguyen (hongvannguyen2001@yahoo.com), September 15, 2004.

Hi, Sorry this is a bit out of context, but I'm looking for the score sheet Marriage D'Amour, if you have it, could you do me this huge favour and email it please? Greatly appreciated.

-- Amanda Tay (amandatay_rulez@hotmail.com), October 16, 2004.

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