I am alarmed!

I have just received another student from a prestigious Gold Coast private school!

Only 8 days before her exam, her family seemed urgent asking me to listen to her playing. It unfolded that this entire school year, after going to many “no value for money lessons”, she half knew her 3 pieces of her music requirements and some of her compulsory technical work was “yet to be taught” to her. As we know, this is just the ‘bare’ pre-requisite for passing exams let alone expecting that this will be enough for building foundation knowledge for next year’s progressively HARDER level to learn with ease!.

I am compelled to put some experience-based feedback out, so you can make an informed decision when  the time comes to shop around for the music teacher who does the RIGHT THING by your child!..

Pros of the “bare minimum 3 pieces just to SCRAPE  through” style teaching:
  • Student scraped through
  • ‘Teacher A’ justifies their existence for the year
  • Private school is satisfied with the hired after-school-music-teacher, especially if that teacher is travelling from private school to private school – one would think, he/she is doing the right thing by your child, right? Not necessarily!!! 

Unfortunately, this can happen anywhere and at any time, not just in private schools! If you ever experienced ANYWHERE only learning 3 pieces/year, please, get in contact! I wish to collect data and build statistics on this!!! 

Is this ‘relaxed’ OR plain neglectful?  You decide! The Cons:
  • You don’t know what you don’t know…! So there isn’t anything to solve in your mind as a parent or child unless you had to sit some exams with this ‘no preparation background’ and your have been awarded average or below average marks.
  • After months or perhaps YEARS of ‘cruising’ (not learning) there is slim chance to catch up on knowledge. The chances of sitting higher grade exams with competence, slipping away with each week passing by, unless  A) student is still patient and teacher finally teaches what was left out, (not likely) or B) a new teacher comes on board who is dedicated, sees the bigger picture why it is a must to teach everything that was left out!
  • HERE COMES the outstanding foundation building PRONTO!  
  • Trap!: those with better exam results for their beginner grades will have a false sense of accomplishment and the long term implications of what they missed out on to know and this can remain under the radar and may be in the way of becoming a confident, advanced musician for good!!

WHEN REAL LEARNING – NO SHORTCUTS – BEGINS: It will test even the most resilient, hard working pupils and teachers to do the “back to front catchup”!! ‘Normally’ a student learns from an appropriate grade book that contains a year worth of quality learning. A student ideally learns an average 8-10 of the featured dozen high quality, eclectic pieces of music collated for music appreciation, skill and experience building. As far as we respect children’s learning pace, this is all irrelevant as some kids will learn one book for 2 years perhaps.. while an other one will learn 2 books in a year. It is perfectly OK to have more books, and MORE LEARNING! THEN SELECT THE 3 BEST PIECES THAT SHOWS OFF THE STUDENT’S BEST TECHNICAL AND MUSICIANSHIP SKILLS! You see, “the 3 pieces phenomenon” supposed to be the end result of learning 3-4 times as many piano pieces then SELECT 3 for the purpose of an Exam – if it is required..

The sad truth: Only a small percentage of learners will keep going – for me, this is the toughest outcome to face as a teacher from the student’s point of view. If they turn away from the piano for life, due to a new belief, that there was something wrong with them and that they are not talented enough? How can this be justified if all that their teacher taught them were 3 pieces out of 12? 

This incomplete, yet thought-provoking list of ‘Pros and Cons’ should hopefully activate alarm bells for those in search for the RIGHT guidance. Does your current teacher teach only the bare minimum to your child, just to scrape through their level exam?


Please, interview your child’s teacher-to-be on their teaching philosophy, WHAT, WHY and HOW they teach.

Do not fall for ‘first lesson free’ advertisers as there is no such thing as learning without building rapport. Easy to get blindfolded by the prospect of a ‘free lesson’ so you forget asking the kid-, time-, tuition fees- and foremost your child’s self-belief – and their future dreams’ – preserving questions!!!

THE MORAL OF THE STORY:  “Even if a teacher is near or there are music lessons provided in the school where your child goes, please, don’t just automatically accept your teacher for convenience’s sake as it can really backfire and your child will likely receive production-line style, rushed, crammed, often also shorter and below standard tuition for unjustifiable fees. And there is far more to the story. The child who is signed up for this type of piano lesson often has to miss parts of other classes that may additionally hinder him/her in progressing with normal school subjects and this may be the beginning of falling behind. The child may not even have time to take a so much needed toilet or food break. Parents are not to blame, as they do NOT KNOW ENOUGH about these lessons held during school time and how stressful and inefficient it is to be rushed from one room or building to the next. It is only a matter of time before the kids will miss out on something or say, they want to stop lessons. So, PLEASE, ask many questions, before you hire your next music/art etc teacher. It is always a good idea to check out word of mouth recommendations by other parents.”  

Please, contact me with questions about your child’s current learning journey. for an obligation free one off Clarity Session where you will be sent a questionnaire to fill. Once it is returned to me, I will spend a full hour on the phone coaching you to help to optimise your child’s piano lesson outcomes. 

Yours in Teaching, Nurturing and Confidence Building