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10 Basic Concepts for Beginning Piano Students

What should a young beginning (ages 6-8) piano student learn over the first 6 months (25 lessons) of their studies?  Every teacher will have their own criteria for this time-frame and I would like to share mine.

1~Posture and Hand position

          ~This is the first thing ANY student should be taught.  Sitting properly on the piano bench, feet flat on the ground (or stool), with arms parallel to the keyboard are a must.

2~Right hand and left hand

          ~Have a little chuckle here, but there are many students who get these mixed up, so make sure they are clear which is which.

3~High, Low, Up & Down the Keyboard

          ~Students should be able to differentiate high pitches from low ones and the directions of going high to low and low to high.

4~Treble Clef, Bass Clef and Grand Staff

          ~These are very basic symbols and students should understand.

5~The Staff and naming the lines and spaces

          ~A student should be able to identify the names of each line and space on a given staff and be able to associate them with the proper key on the piano or keyboard.

6~Whole note, half note, quarter note and their rests

          ~The student needs to understand the relationship between these notes and rests and how the function.  There are 2 components to each, rhythm and pitch. 

7~Time Signature

          ~The specific grouping of notes is essential.  Three/four and four/four are the first two that should be addressed.

8~Measures and bar lines

          ~The basic understanding of notes and rests being placed within a measure is often confusing for young students.  They want to place the number of notes, not the number of beats within a measure.

9~Legato and Staccato

          ~The first technical elements that a student should learn are the differences between legato and staccato.  They should also be able to recognize a slur.

10~Dynamic Markings

          ~Dynamics should be learned from the beginning.  Students should begin with loud and soft.

So, these are my top ten concepts and elements for the first six months of piano study.  I hope it is helpful navigating lessons.

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