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I am a piano teacher offering home piano lessons.
I travel to Crouch End, Hornsey, Muswell Hill, Islington, Finsbury Park, Highgate and Wood Green. The range of postcodes I cover includes N4, N6, N8, N10, N19 and N22.
I teach you to play adaptations of
well-known music. I cover genres such as classical, pop, rock, anime, metal and jazz. The music I use in lessons is familiar, current, and at a suitable level of difficulty.
I also prepare students for graded practical examinations and teach song-writing and composition.
I have fifteen years' experience, and have full and current DBS clearance.
We work from music that you can play and move on to more difficult repertoire as your skills and concentration improve. The focus is positive, on what you can do and what you can aim for.
I develop your current piano skills so you can continually play harder, impressive-sounding music.
Piano playing requires co-ordination of six or seven tasks, and it is always reassuring and satisfying to know you are playing the correct notes.
Playing songs you are familiar with also helps with improve the reading of musical notation, because you have already have an idea of what the music should sound like, and hence know what the written notes, rhythmic symbols and expression marks are trying to convey.
In my own time, I write out and arrange your favourite songs at a suitable level of difficulty for you to play, at no extra charge to you.Do you know any other piano teacher who does that on a regular basis?
My rates vary depending on your location, but they are comparable to rates charged by local music services for children's piano lessons in schools. The current rate charged by Haringey Music Service is £31.60 per hour. In some cases - such as when siblings have lessons, and if I'm already in your area - I charge the school lesson rate, or less! I teach in areas such as Crouch End, Hornsey, Finsbury Park, Muswell Hill and Wood Green, and my travel costs are shared among students. Please contact me to ask - I can almost always guarantee you lower rates than most teachers who do home visits.
I am particularly understanding if you need to cancel at short notice (e.g. due to child illness).
Or maybe you've suddenly remembered about another appointment - as long as I've not appeared at your doorstep, that's fine!
Other music schools or tutors may require you to give 24 hours' notice for cancelling a lesson. I don't - no one plans an illness in advance! - and I understand that life sometimes just gets a little bit complicated for our liking!
If you're considering learning the piano, or have already started, here are some points I hope you will find useful.
Learning to play the piano doesn't necessarily involve only playing Classical music, although there is an abundance of Classical music that you can play to improve your piano skills. A good starting point could be to play a song you have already heard of and like.
Why is this the case? This is so that as you are working out the notes, either from sheet music or by ear, and depressing the piano keys, you already have an idea of what the music should sound like, and will know if you have played the notes or rhythms correctly. And at the early stages of learning the piano, it is a good incentive to practise something you have already heard. But having said that, at a later stage you should still try to work out songs that are new to you, to practise your note-reading skills.
Learning to play the piano is learning to process the composer's instructions and interpreting and translating them into sound. Reading music is an important skill which will allow you to work out notes, articulation and expression more quickly.
Printed music contains the composer's music intentions in its most condensed form. What notes do you play? What speed do you play them at? What is the general speed of the music? Do you play the notes loud or soft? All this information is crammed on the sheet of paper - that is what makes reading music hard to initially work out.
There are so many details to unlock from the printed music that it can be overwhelming - but don't make the mistake of thinking then that you will henceforth learn only to play by ear, ignoring the need to read music. A musician who doesn't read music and relies on memory to learn a piece, is like an orator who learns his speech from listening to recordings, but doesn't know the alphabet to learn it from the written word. Memorising short pieces of music may be easier at the initial stages for most, but as the music gets more difficult, ignoring the need to read music notation will mean you spend more time trying to decipher a piece, and get little in return.
In printed music, there are sometimes numbers indicated under notes to tell you which fingers to play them with. (The thumbs are "1", index fingers "2" and little fingers "5".) Fingering is helpful, because it shows you the best way to play a piece of music. Sometimes you may have to move your hands to a different position. But there really is no point worrying too much fingering before you have learnt to work out the notes. Playing the piano is not a robotic action, where you set your hands around middle C and then depress keys according to which numbers you see. No, no, no.
Imagine you are learning to dance the waltz in a ballroom. At the certain point in the music, both you and your partner need to be at a certain spot on the dance floor. If you are going to fixate on that position and let it dictate everything before you've learnt all the steps and hand holds, then yes, you will dance like a robot. But there's no need to.
When you are learning anything new, there is only so much information you can take in at any one time. As we've seen above, there is quite a lot of information condensed into a sheet of printed music. Play parts of the music, a bit at a time, understand what you are playing, and then attempt to link them all the parts together.
And how long do you practise? While the often-quoted line for young beginners is "three to four times a week, fifteen to twenty minutes at a time", a better guide would be "as long as you can concentrate for". There is no magic number, no magic workout routine - it's not so much how long you practise, but how long you can personally concentrate for, and what you do in that practice time that determines your progress.
When you are practising, you are working and improving on sections of the music. You may be working out the notes, or trying to put two hands together fluently. Practise slowly, so that you have a bit of mental space to look ahead to the next bar or the next few beats, and allow your mind to have some prior indication of what you need to play and react accordingly.
You are not on show when you practise. This means you don't necessarily practise in the same way as you would in a performance, by merely playing the music over and over again, from start to finish. And ignore the fact that someone may be listening in from another room - your practice time is when you work out how to develop your skills to play the music.
Imagine you want to be a pole vaulter. You love how pole vaulters charge up to the bar at speed, slowly lowering the pole on the approach, then plant the pole in the box and leverage their body position to go over the bar, in a combination of timing, power and balance. That is their performance. But if pole vaulting were your goal, you wouldn't just pick up a pole and charge at the bar countless times and call it practice. There are times when you have to do the gym work, to work on your core strength. At some other times you work on your flexibility. Sometimes you work on your sprinting. Sometimes you work on balance. And you bring all these various aspects in combination into the performance, starting slowly to get the combination of things right.
If your practice consisted solely of picking up a pole, raising a bar to the height you consider would win you adulation, and then hoping to clear it, you would be investing too much time doing things unsuccessfully and eventually you would give up.
So when you practise the piano, don't just play the songs from start to finish over and over again. Invest your time in the areas that don't sound good and need improvement. Work on other technical skills like learning to play chords. So what if someone is listening in? To get better at anything, you have to spend time working on the parts you're not good at, not going over the parts you are already proficient in. Before you sit down to practise, leave your ego at the door.
Chords form the basis of most music - a chord is a group of notes (usually three) played together.
There are two main types of chords to initially know; they are major and minor chords. Major chords generally sound brighter and positive, while minor chords have a slightly darker edge. There are twelve major chords and twelve minor chords and most music is built around these chords - a common feature is a tune in the right hand simultaneously being played with broken chords in the left hand - the notes of the chords broken up, and played one at a time. There is a bit of music theoretical knowledge to learn, but knowing what notes make up a chord would be a good starting point, so you can move on immediately to the accompanying patterns in the left hand without being hindered by having to work out what notes to play.
The above were some points I learnt over a span of nearly twenty years of teaching and playing. I've observed what works, made mistakes ... and am still learning.