What I Do At A Student’s First Piano Lesson (ages 6-10)

Hello! I recently received another question:

So I am extremely new to the teaching world. This is literally my first time teaching piano and I’m just going to be teaching a few kids, but I am a little unsure of exactly what to do. I’m 16 and have a high level of piano, theory, and music skill. I’m just unsure of where to start. I want to be able to get to know their skill levels and then go from there hitting theory, sight reading, and ear training first. I was just wondering if you could offer some tips? Maybe some suggestions on what I should focus on and what books are the best for beginners?

I’m going to tackle this question in two separate posts.

First, I’ll show my basic plan for a first piano lesson with a beginner.

The first piano lesson ideas are covered mainly in this video, but below I’ve outlined the main points and added a little more information below.

Don’t forget, you can ask me a piano teaching question anytime…

First Piano Lesson: Step by Step

This is the basic run-down of what’s on the board, details in the video!

1. “Copy Cat” – black note game
2. Musical Alphabet – say/write (no piano) – More about the musical alphabet here.
3. White Notes – putting the musical alphabet onto the piano
4. Find all C’s, D’s etc. – isolating specific white notes
5. Finger Numbers
6. C Position – More about beginning hand position.

That’s the normal progression of what I usually cover in the first lesson. I do most of this without a book.

But then I DO try to get to the first 3-4 songs in the Primer Lesson Book (either in the beginning of the book, or in the middle – I start in different places depending on age and how well they do with the other stuff.)

I also recently discovered the very helpful Primer Level Teacher’s Guide which is packed with tips for teaching beginning students using the Faber method and included a DVD.

Here’s the biggest takeaway off all though, which I didn’t mention in the video:

A lot of what I do in the first lesson is NOT about the material. It’s about my first moments with the student, laying the groundwork for a positive relationship, getting a feel for the students emotional, intellectual, and psychological demeanor.

I keep it loose, and don’t ever strictly follow this plan by rote, allowing room for creativity, fun and experimentation. But just like playing a jazz standard, Its good to have a framework to work from, and deviate from it if necessary.

So remember: I’ll be answering more of this question, in a second post, to come shortly, so stay tuned! Sign up on the email list or RSS feed if you haven’t already. Thanks!

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