Monday, October 4, 2021 by William Suit | Uncategorized

I really want my students to benefit from lessons while studying at Pedal Point Music.  Private music study can often be ambiguous when it comes to goals and clear paths to reaching them.  Over time I've come to understand that my students do best at reaching their goals when four elements are in place:  Focus, Presentation, Exploration and Creation.  During 2020, when the pandemic had us all hunkered down, I decided to visualize this for my students so that they could see it in the background when we had online lessons.  I had a large clothe banner of it made and hung it in a frame behind the piano.  It still hangs in my studio, and I was enamored last week when a student turned around, pointed at it and said, "Where are we in the lesson?"  So, for my parents wondering how to structure practice at home, here is the structure around which I build my lessons.  It works great as a daily routine of music study at home as well.

FOCUS - The study of any instrument involves the discipline of scales, finger placement, posture, etc.  One of the first things one should do is take a few moments to clear the mind, loosen the joints and warm things up.  Scales are a great way to do this.  However, scales, for the sake of scales, become tiresome and meaningless...leaving the student disillusioned and bored.  So, change your scales up from time to time.  Play them in duplets or triplets.  Pull out Hanon's Virtuoso Pianist exercises or play through an Etude.  The idea is to focus and prepare!

PRESENT - Once you're warmed up, play through a number from your repertoire.  If you have time, play through two or three familiar pieces before launching into exploration.  My students currently have a music journal with a section to list the songs they've already learned. (repertoire)  It's a great idea to do this so that you don't let songs slide into the category of "I once knew how to perform this."  Keep the list current and play through it regularly.

EXPLORE - This is where the student grows.  Go over the assignment for the week.  Complete theory and research.  Play through your song requirements.  Spend time on difficult phrases, slowing the music down until you can play confidently through each progression.

CREATE - This is your moment to get to know your inner musician and express yourself.  Write something every week if you can; even if it is just a few measures.  Your instructor can give you some guidance or an assignment.  Improvisation is a great way to build your creativity and develop your composition skills.  Try it!

Studying music can take you on countless wonderful paths.  With a bit of encouragement and structure yours can be a lifelong journey toward artistic fulfillment.  Happy studies!

Will Suit