How to Teach First Piano Lessons


Teaching first piano lessons to a student can be challenging. Different students learn in different ways and at individual paces. Part of teaching beginning students is finding the best method for each student while incorporating the basics of piano theory that every beginning student needs to know when learning to play.

Things You'll Need

  • Piano
  • Instruct your student to sit straight at the piano. Show the student where middle C is on the keyboard and how to play a C major scale from that position all the way up the keyboard and in reverse. Be sure to show the student proper hand position and finger placement at this point. Teaching good playing habits early on is essential in helping your student develop proper technique.

  • Introduce the black keys. Help your student identify the keyboard by the groupings of black keys. This is a good opportunity to explain natural, sharp and flat notes. Demonstrate a whole step and half step, and point out that there is only a half step between the notes B and C and E and F in the C major scale.

  • Teach a simple melody in the key of C. The sooner you introduce students to playing a tune they can recognize, the better your chances of keeping their interest. First piano lessons can be boring if all you teach is piano theory. Let students hear the result of their learning. "Hot Cross Buns," "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" are easy beginning songs that will help reinforce right-hand melody playing and introduce students to sight reading notes.

  • Teach beginning chords to go with the C scale. Show your students how to memorize chord shapes and how those same shapes can play different chords simply by moving the shape to another starting point on the keyboard. Instruct your student to play these chords with the left hand to introduce the bass clef, or left-hand, accompaniment.

  • Add appropriate songs as your student progresses, augmenting lessons in theory and note reading with new scales and songs that reinforce each lesson. Learning to play the piano well can take months or even years for some students, but by teaching a balanced course that includes theory and playing technique, you can help your students learn and have fun at the same time.

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