My Piano/Music Instruction Program for Kids:
Not only does each student learn how to play the piano, they also learn:
- Sightreading (learning how to play music at sight, while not looking down at your hands, so that in time you can play any piece of music)
- Technique (proper posture and alignment of hands, wrists, arms, for best playing and injury-free playing)
- Ear training (identifying music note relationships by ear through identification games and fun exercises)
- Applied music theory (beginner: drawing notes, music symbols, and later, studying the “how” and “why” of music)
- Lead sheet/chord playing (playing music reading only the melody with chord symbols, or just chord symbols alone)
- Composition (how to write your own music)
- Improvisation (making up your own music)
- Artistry and musical expression at the piano!
Length of Lessons:
- 30-minute lessons are for students ages 5–7, Grades K–2
- 45-minute lessons are for required for all students Gr 3 and up*
- 60-minute lessons are either for students at the intermediate/late intermediate level or above, usually grade 7 and up, or for students who are working on composition projects and need more time
*Please see my page: Why I Teach 45-Minute Lessons.
Julie is a gem! She takes an interest in each student as an individual. Recitals are ever a pleasure because each one of her students has a different style and approach to their love of music, which Julie continuously nurtures. Julie works to keep lessons engaging while balancing technique and theory with the joy of playing. Julie is a gift to her students. At each lesson I am always impressed with her warmth and dedication as well as her sincere desire to bring out the most in each of her students.
—Michele Notte, Gloucester, MA
I am thrilled that my daughter actually loves going to piano lessons, so unlike my experience when I was young (and everyone else I know of my generation). Miss Julie has a warm and gracious way with kids; she is sincere and kind and playful while also inspiring them to practice and do their best. Because of Julie Cleveland, my daughter loves to play the piano and is flourishing!
—Robin Wright, Manchester, MA
After I have a piano lesson, I can focus more at home when I practice.
—Adelaide, age 10
Miss Julie’s lessons are so much fun. She is a great teacher and I love the way she teaches stuff.
—Bella, age 9
I like taking lessons with Miss Julie because she knows what kind of music I like to play. She also helps me play impossible notes!
—Addie, age 10
What I Teach: Mission Statement
I believe students are best served by charting out a long-range course of study. When you sign up for my program, think of it as going to a music school. I teach a “whole-music” education—it’s not just a weekly lesson at the piano learning repertoire and popular songs (I teach both!). All young students who study with me gain a foundation in music fundamentals as well as piano-playing skills: that is, theory, sight-reading and ear training skills, and improvisation and composition skills.
Although I do stress a solid foundation of repertoire at the piano, even with beginning students, I let them explore their own musical interests. I’m completely open—I encourage it—to students bringing in their own songs that they want to learn. If they’re too hard for their level, I’ll convert the song into a lead sheet (melody with chords) at their level so they can play it.
I consider myself to be a “student-centered” teacher, rather than a teacher that is “teacher-centered,” or focused only on their own agenda, with no room to bend. Right from the start, I foster and encourage students’ own explorations at the piano, in any form that may take, through helping them out with learning songs from YouTube by ear, composing in GarageBand, or just learning how to improvise either freely at the piano, or by playing along with their CDs/iPods.
The bottom line, truly, is that students (of all ages) enjoy themselves—even though it’s hard work to learn an instrument—and to gain self-confidence in their playing, thus in all areas of their lives, while always moving forward in their music studies.
My agenda is not to produce perfect pianists but to instill a lifelong love of music, and the piano. So that in 20, 30, even 50 years from now, they will always want to play. 🙂
So how much time needs to be set aside for practice? The general rule is the length of the lesson, or a little less (For example, a 45-minute lesson requires, eventually, 45 minutes of daily practice, 5 days a week minimum. Students work their way up gradually.
Is this possible? Kids today participate in sports and other activities, so it may seem impossible, but it’s not.
Just as you write other activities in the calendar, write when your child will practice in, too. It’s harder to do piano practice because you’re not leaving the house to go and do it! And there are so many temptations and distractions at home. But once your child is at the piano, most kids enjoy it, for all their griping and “how many more minutes??” Also, practice sessions also can be split up into smaller sessions. Children can try practicing just a few minutes in the morning before school. Then a few more minutes right after school. Then maybe just before dinner, or after, and before you know it, your child has practiced 30 or 40 minutes. Every time they walk by the piano, they can sit down and practice one song!
These practice goals achieve the result of your child being able to play the piano, and playing a musical instrument gives children a great sense of accomplishment. It raises their self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as developing many other skills, such as self-discipline and problem-solving skills, which improve their academic skills in school. Watch this fascinating video of the effect on the brain from playing a musical instrument:
If 45 minutes is just too much, a minimum amount of practice for all students is 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Remember, if there’s not enough practice, students soon lose interest and give up, as they are not accomplishing anything. All this said, daily practice in any amount during an especially hectic week is better than no practice at all, sometimes we all are just too busy.
So when considering signing your child up for piano lessons, remember, it’s not just a weekly lesson, but a daily commitment to practice, too. I am firm on practicing because I know the result will be success and happiness!
Visit my Resources page too for links to articles about ways to help your child practice and visit my blog post archives for articles, links, info on practicing.
What You Get for Your Tuition Dollars . . .
- A dedicated teacher, committed to students, providing scrupulous, individual attention to and careful preparation for each student
- A teacher whose piano training began at the age of 8 and whose formal music education includes both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music
- A teacher entering her 30th year of teaching students of all ages
- A teacher who is consistently furthering her own education in music education and piano pedagogy by being an active member of professional music teacher organizations, attending professional master classes and workshops, studying professional journals, taking courses online, and participating actively in online professional instructor forums
- A teacher who actively encourages students to perform, if they want to, for friends and family, at piano parties, or in more formal (yet supportive and fun!) recitals, and other venues, such as retirement communities, local charity benefits, etc.
- And a teacher who is kind, caring, enthusiastic, encouraging, creative, positive, and fun!
More Help for Parents of Future Piano Students
A terrific article on how to choose a piano teacher for your child: Choosing a Music Teacher (MTNA website).
Another great article on music lessons/choosing the right teacher: The Truth About Piano Lessons.