by Dr. Julie Knerr

I have long wanted to record a longitudinal series of beginning piano lessons to show the progress of one student over the long term.

Inspired by Irina Gorin’s wonderful teaching videos, I have decided to finally start my own series of videos.

Above is the very first lesson for a new student of mine, whom I will call B. She is the younger sister of another another student of mine who is currently in Piano Safari Level 2.

B just turned 6 years old and has had no previous piano experience (except occasional sessions with her sister). As you will see, she is delightful and full of fun. She is starting her piano studies in Piano Safari Level 1.

This video is not perfect, because it is a live, first lesson video. I didn’t know her well at all before this lesson, so we are getting to know each other.

My goals for the first lesson are:

  • Provide interesting music for the student to play
  • ┬áDevelop a rapport with the student and gain the student’s trust that I will not require anything that is above the student’s capabilities.
  • Have a joyful and fun time at the piano
  • Be sure the student feels confident with the pieces to go home and practice
  • Be sure the student leaves the lesson excited about piano
  • Assess the student’s concentration, physical coordination, knowledge of letters of the alphabet, behavior, and rhythmic sense.

You will see on the video that we have a long way to go in developing a loose arm and steady rhythm. This is entirely normal at this stage. I have decided to leave in a few bloopers, because normal lessons have less than ideal happenings.

I have edited out quite a bit for ease of watching. I have shrunk the lesson from 45 minutes to just over 14 minutes. What did I cut out? Some transition times, many repetitions of the pieces we were learning. (Upon watching the lesson, I realized I must have had her repeat Hot Cross Buns at least 20 times throughout the lesson!) Also, after I finished the video, I realized I cut out the March Improvisation. Oops. I will be sure that is in the next video.

This will give you an idea of the elements included in a first piano lesson.