Frequently Asked Questions

 How does your program differ from other types of piano instruction?

We are very unique. Our system is unlike traditional methods, the Suzuki method, or any other recognizable teaching system or philosophy. When we work with your child, we will target various aspects of your child’s cognitive capabilities, then work within a true psychological framework to achieve the most effective musical ends. We combine a comprehensive musicianship approach with the preceding framework to expedite mastery of all the requisite skills necessary to move on to higher levels of learning. We also know that every child will need have a varied approach to recognize his or her capabilities and figure out the best way to make the most of them. 

 Why do you base your program on psychology?

The major problem with music education today (music education outside the school system) is that there has been a tremendous lack of modern scientific application toward any type of intervention or method being used. Basically, the pedagogy has remained relatively unchanged for the past 100 years! Today, music teaching websites are prone to make broad, unproven claims like, “music study makes one smarter” while disregarding the specific nature of HOW it does so. Another problem is preponderance of psuedo-scientific solutions being offered by practitioners completely untrained in understanding psychology experimental methods and research. The outcome is unfortunate. In the wake of misguided attempts to motivate children, is commonplace for music teachers to unwittingly pit their own students against one another, play psychological games, treat young children as though they are adults, and fail to understand even the most basic principles in human learning. The biggest challenge teachers face is due to lack of teacher-student contact time inherent in the present-day instructional model. When children inevitably fail to make sufficient progress, teachers tend to blame the outcome on “kids today” for being lazy and unmotivated. Principles of psychology help us recognize the issues with the student until the problem is resolved. Psychology gives us the insight to make better teaching decisions and that makes all the difference.

 When do I know it is the right time for my child to begin learning piano?

Unlike language, there is no “music center” in the brain and thus no “critical period” of maturation for learning piano. The question is really about whether YOU are ready to start your child in lessons. You have to decide whether you currently have the time to supervise your child at home during practice sessions each week, 5 days a week. You have to ask many questions of yourself including: Are you willing to play music recordings for your child 20 minutes a day? Can you bring your child to group classes on 2 Saturdays per month? Are you ready to oversee that your child plays pieces that all the things that seem to be “unnecessary.” Are you OK with the fact that your child may seem to go more slowly than you as an adult. Are you OK with the fact that many factors go into learning rate of children, there is no real standardization on the national level, and therefore, there is no basis for comparing your child to other children in music?

 How does your program help children deal with negative emotions about learning piano?

Our program is set up to promote feelings of competency in students. We use a comprehensive musicianship mastery approach so learning is well-rounded. Our learning environment is cooperative (not competitive). We have group classes to foster a positive peer group and facilitate social learning. We use incentives to reinforce and take satisfaction in the “little successes” throughout the process of learning. We recruit you (the parents) to be involved as partners in your child’s learning. Finally, we don’t do things that cause “demotivation” in students. For example, it is traditional to do “student of the month” which basically is pitting students against one another. Competitions implicitly call for being #1 in something or beating someone else. Year-end evaluations place too much emphasis on testing and rating kids which takes all the fun and joy out of the music making process. Lastly, we don’t throw students into a recital situation they are not ready for, setting the stage for a traumatic experience that lasts for years, if not a lifetime.

 Do I have to know anything about piano to effectively mentor my child at home?

No you don’t. Most of our parents don’t know anything about music. They are watching the lesson and taking notes so they understand what needs to be done. As an adult you are able to read the assignment we give you, interpret the meaning, and help your child with following the directions. Also, our program is conceptually based meaning that your child will eventually become musically autonomous and your role will be less instructive and more supervisory. Basically, you do in music what you have been doing since the day they first learned to walk. You are there for the child to witness and take pleasure when they succeed (walk), but you are offering much need support and encouragement when they inevitably fail (fall down, try again).

 What are the challenges I will face in getting my child to work we me at home?

No matter how much your child likes something, there will be many times when conflicts occur because they would rather do something else than practice (play with favorite toys, watch TV, go outside, etc.). When you stand your ground an insist they practice, it is normal for them to whine, complain, fuss and push it to the limit. Much to parent’s dismay, they will even say they hate piano and wish they weren’t in lessons, making it seem like piano is ruining their life. Are you ready for the times that your child will say he or she hates piano? You must know that any child will say they hate anything if they don’t want to do it right then. Piano won’t be different than other things your child does so putting them in another activity only sidesteps the real issue here: your child complains, kids complain. The key is to know whether the child truly dislikes what they are complaining about, or just complaining. Most often, they have not really thought it through at all. It is totally based on emotions and feelings at the time. We work tirelessly with you to make sure your child is not complaining because he has taken a dislike to all piano playing. However, you need to be ready for these times because all kids do it at one time or another. In fact, we get concerned if they do NOT complain. We need parents to mention the conflicts to us so we can address them right away. If you remain silent, you will eventually get tired of it and pull your child out of lessons after it has already gone too far.