Acquiring Musical Skills • Ask Aureus • Piano

March 2022

All You Need to Know About Learning the Piano!

Music lessons have become one of the most popular choices of enrichment activity in Singapore, as more are learning about the benefits they bring. In particular, piano lessons are widely sought after, with piano being a popular choice among parents picking an instrument for their children. If you are thinking about sending your child for piano lessons, or taking them up yourself, read on to find out everything you need to know!

A Brief Introduction to the Piano

The piano is a highly versatile instrument, boasting a wide tonal range through its arsenal of eighty-eight black and white keys. It is an instrument that can perform a wide range of musical genres, from Classical, Jazz, Theatre, to Pop. It can be played as a solo instrument, or used as an accompaniment alongside a singer or other instruments.

What are some of the costs to consider?

Music education is certainly not a cheap investment! In the case of picking up the piano, a decently conditioned piano could already cost you up to a couple of thousand dollars. Of course, you would also have to fork out the costs of weekly lessons and also all the music scores.

Piano lesson fees can vary depending on various factors. For one, lesson fees will differ based on the teacher’s musical qualifications and years of teaching experience. In some cases, learning from a teacher with a Master’s Degree in Music will definitely cost more than one with only a Grade 8 in Piano – however, at Aureus Academy, our piano lesson fees are unique in that they only differ according to the duration of the lessons and not the grade or level of the student.

Another factor would be whether you are taking one-to-one or group lessons. Group classes at a music school are certainly more affordable than lessons from a private tutor. However, it is also important to consider the effectiveness of group learning in the long run. Taking lessons with other students would mean having split attention from the teacher. This could possibly hold back the student’s progress, or cause them to lose interest altogether.

What will a student learn in a piano lesson?

A full piano lesson can take up 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the level of the student. As a student advances into higher grades, more time will be needed as the music gets lengthier and more complex.

Learning the piano is not just about knowing how to play the instrument. It is also crucial to understand every aspect of music in order to have a holistic learning experience. Therefore, piano lessons also involve understanding music theory, training one’s aural skills, and developing good musicianship. If these terms sound foreign to you, let us quickly unpack them below!

Music Theory
Learning how to read the notes and directions on a music score is an important skill for pianists. Students will also get to understand the common structures and patterns in music, and eventually learn to write their own.

Aural
“Aural” refers to the sense of hearing, which is of utmost importance to all musicians. After all, music is appreciated through listening, and musicians have to be trained to discern what is good music. Aural training includes learning to distinguish dynamic contrasts, tonality and much more.

Musicianship
Finally, the core of being a musician lies in one’s performance and expression. What makes a musical performance truly outstanding is not only the performer’s technical prowess or mastery. It involves a unique touch of character to produce music that tells a story. Teachers can help students develop this by introducing the historical background of the music or composer for a deeper understanding of the piece.

What are some benefits of learning the piano?

Learning anything requires one to commit their time and effort, but at the end of the day, there will always be something to gain! Here are some benefits that come with learning the piano:

Improved Concentration, Discipline & Patience
The entire process of learning and mastering the piano requires a great deal of concentration, discipline, and patience. Obtaining perfect control over the keys not only takes lots of practice, it also requires a highly focused state of mind. Mastering a piece often goes beyond just identifying the notes on the score and pressing the keys. A huge amount of thinking work goes behind a well-executed performance.

Better Self-esteem
While the learning process can come with a lot of uncertainties, nothing beats the sense of achievement from mastering a piece! Over time, these successes will accumulate, and the learner will grow more confident with each one, especially if the student’s learning journey involves frequent performance opportunities!

Strengthened Hand Muscles & Improved Hand-eye Coordination
Hand-eye coordination is extremely important when it comes to playing the piano. The piano is also one of the few instruments which require one to extensively use all 10 fingers. Many pieces require a high level of finger agility and that is something that pianists train for years to achieve.

When should my kid start learning the piano?

There is no absolute best age for a child to start learning the piano, as every child is different. However, most children are ready between the ages of 4 and 9.

Is the piano hard to learn? How quickly can one learn the piano?

Though it may seem more straightforward than other instruments at first, the piano is a difficult instrument to learn and master. Playing it requires a good sense of coordination between both hands, and even the foot for the sustain pedal. How quickly one is able to learn to play highly depends on the individual’s reception towards the instrument. However, with dedication, patience and consistent effort, nothing is impossible!

What type of piano should I buy?

Purchasing a piano is not a decision that should be made lightly. After all, pianos come with a huge price tag! If you have never been in touch with pianos, it is hard to know where to begin looking. Besides choosing between the many brands of pianos in the available market, you will also have to make a choice between either getting a digital or acoustic piano.

Digital Pianos
Digital pianos are electronic instruments that replicate the acoustic piano experience by using sound samples coupled with advanced technology. Some digital pianos also attempt to imitate the touch of the heavier keys of an acoustic piano. The advantages of a digital piano are that it does not require tuning, is fairly compact and portable, and the volume of your playing can be adjusted or even cancelled out by using headphones. They also come with a wide variety of sounds to play with, not just piano sound samples. Price wise, digital pianos can cost significantly less than acoustic pianos.

Acoustic Pianos
Acoustic pianos produce sound through mechanical action. These instruments are made out of natural materials such as wood, wool, iron and felt. Acoustic pianos can be further categorised into the upright, or the grand piano.

Upright Pianos
Upright pianos position its soundboard and strings vertically. They were originally designed to take up less space while achieving a similar effect to the traditional grand piano. They are available in different heights that correspond with the length of the strings. The taller an upright piano, the richer the tone, and louder the volume it can produce.

Grand Pianos
Grand pianos are the traditional 3-legged pianos. The mechanics in this horizontal design caters for a more balanced keyboard with quicker response. They are used in concerts because the powerful sound of one can easily fill up an entire hall. However, a grand piano takes up a significant amount of space, and its loud volume may not be ideal for small living spaces.

So, which type of piano should you get? It really goes down to finding the right balance between your needs and goals as a learner, the amount of space you have at home, and your budget. Generally, digital pianos can serve a learner well up to the first few grades. However, for classical piano students progressing to higher grades, an acoustic piano would be more effective for building the finer technical skills.

We hope this article has answered some of your burning questions and helped you in deciding whether you would like to try out piano lessons for yourself or your child! Have more questions for us? Come attend a free trial lesson and have them personally answered by our piano teachers!

Aureus Academy