Introducing the Preparatory Programme
Short term targets, colourful rewards,
The Preparatory Programme for beginners is designed to ensure that students of any age accumulate a knowledge of the basic rudiments of music.
The programme is tailored to each individual student's requirements and structured to ensure that the work is covered quickly and efficiently.
The programme is broken into five stages with an award at the end of each stage giving a sense of satisfaction to the student as each stage is achieved.
Adults who are complete beginners can take the programme at their own speed, and have the option of progressing through two stages at a time.
At the end of the five stages the student will be ready to take a Grade 1 Associated Board examination.
For children, the parents are given every option to be involved and can follow their child's progress from written notes emailed to them through the website.
The Preparatory Programme ensures that steady progress is made which, in turn, means that if the work is completed the student will enjoy a lifetime of music.
The Practice Log
There are facilities on the website for the student to log their practice times and to keep track of their progress. There are colourful rewards for '1000 Hours Practice'
Did you know? A survey of students going to music college discovered that each student had amassed about 5000 hours practice by the time they were 18 years old.
A survey of concert players revealed that on average they had practiced for 10.000 hours by the time they turned professional.
Join constructive practice with dedication and a love of music and watch the results…
10.000 hours over 10 years is approximately 2 ½ per day
5.000 hours over 10 years is approximately 1 ½ per day
2.500 hours over 10 years is approximately 45 minutes per day
45 minutes per day can result in a very good piano player
Memory Work at the Piano
The 'Memory Work Challenge' is set three times every year
A Memory Work Certificate and a prize
for pupils who can play set pieces from memory.
Here is an interesting parallel for pupils to consider;
The memory works in a similar way to a weight lifter's muscles.
Think of a normal person trying to lift heavy weights.
They would say, "I can't lift them, they are too heavy"
After continuous, regular training, a trainee weight lifter’s muscles would start to develop and they would be able to lift heavier weights, and eventually even heavier weights.
The musical memory works in a similar way.
A trainee piano player cannot learn very much music from memory at the beginning, much the same as the weight lifter, but with regular training, the memory becomes very strong.
More and more difficult pieces can be learnt and eventually very 'heavy weight' works can be learnt.
These are some of the areas taught to encourage the playing of music that is a pleasure to listen to, for the performer and also the people who may hear the music being played.
Cantabile Melody with smooth finger patterns and phrasing
Alberti Bass with even quavers and semiquavers
Rhythm and syncopation
Scales, an understanding of the circle of fifths and the tonality of every piece played
Sight reading, thorough training for every grade
Ear training, thorough training for every grade
Harmony Melody and Composition, understanding the structure of the music played and how to improvise and compose
Theory of music is taught at every grade
The information and abilities learnt are accumulative.
Scales and techniques from previously completed stages are retained and built upon.
Learning to play the piano is about playing music and enjoying it.
A good 'yardstick' is the student's enjoyment and love of playing.
Using a Metronome
Using a metronome is a skill that can be taught.
Take a piece of music and learn it in your usual manner,
Choose a steady, fairly slow, practice speed, that is comfortable for you and enables you to play with the metronome.
Carefully add all the technical details, phrasing and dynamics at this fairly slow, practice speed.
When the piece has been mastered at the fairly slow speed, start to increase the speed on the metronome, one notch at a time, over the course of a few practice sessions, until it is up to the correct speed.
This may take a few weeks with a long piece.
List the speeds on the margin of the piece of music, always in pencil, and tick each one as they are achieved, such as crotchet = 60, crotchet = 66, crotchet = 72 etc.
If there is difficulty in playing the piece faster, it could be a number of reasons;
1) The fingers should bend at the knuckles. You can't play at speed with straight fingers.
2) Your wrist needs to be straight with your forearm; your forearm should be parallel with the floor, if it isn't, your piano stool is too high or too low.
3) You can't play the piano with long nails!
A metronome is fun to use when you get the hang of it.
The piccolo range and the novelty metronomes, owl etc. have a gentle sound.
The Pyramid metronomes have a louder tick, and cannot be missed!
The aim is to be in control of the beat, with an 'in built' feel for the beat.
Practice with a metronome when it is required and use it with discretion.
A good sense of time, like your own 'in built' metronome can be learnt, just the same as anything else, it just needs regular practice.
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