What’s so different about the way I do things? In many ways my approach is quite traditional. Children are taught to read music and to develop a sound and healthy technique – and of course none of this can be achieved without practice as a routine part of life. But there are certain features in the way I go about things which help my pupils succeed more effectively:
- My Piano Course Volumes 1–24 takes pupils from beginner to Grade 8 standard.
- Using my piano course it’s possible for very young children to play colourful music ranging over the whole keyboard.
- All the music can be heard on video playlists in my YouTube channel (Esther Cohen) so my pupils have a clear idea of how the music should sound.
- Once underway, pupils find the energy to sustain their efforts precisely because they experience the rewards that success brings. In time, the satisfaction of playing well becomes the principal motivator to improve one’s playing.
- Parents of younger pupils attend the lessons and take notes. Having parents involved in lessons and practice means that even very young children can make real progress.
- From the very start, my pupils experience the freedom of playing from memory and the confidence this brings.
Exams – or not!
Learning to play the piano takes a long time! It’s useful to have some goals and markers along the way – encouraging you to make a special effort or letting you know what level you have achieved. Sitting piano exams can sometimes be helpful in this way.
But exams in themselves do not provide a complete curriculum. You will not learn to play an instrument by working through grade exams year in year out with little attention to the larger world of music out there. By working through the Ebony Music Piano Course Vols 1–24, my pupils play many pieces at each level and are exposed to many styles of music.
Some of my pupils relish the goal of an exam and I am happy to prepare them for an occasional grade exam as appropriate. I always help those who are interested to achieve the highest grade they are capable of before they leave school. I have found that, as a goal for younger pupils, the performance of a collection of pieces to the extended family and friends is often more rewarding than exam work.