Saturday, February 25, 2012

How To Be Your Own Teacher On

One of the benefits to online lessons are the fact they are SO cheap!  Private lessons with me or another professional can run from $50 to $80 an hour or more.  Another perk is the vast library of lessons available, around 1600 videos on my site at the time of this article.  The last advantage, and probably the most advantageous, is that fact that you have access to all lessons at any time, whenever YOU need them.

Ok, now the downside.  You have to be your own teacher.  There's not the luxury of the immediate feedback that you would get from me if you were sitting right next to me at a private lesson.  Self motivation is a must, and you have to decide on a PLAN of instruction to best suit your needs.  Many of my members to tell me they feel OVERWHELMED when they are a beginner, and sign on for the first time and scroll down the huge list of lesson choices under the 'browse lessons' tab!  What to do, where to begin? What lessons should I do first, how many songs should I work on at a time?  Too many choices!  ARGHHH!

Well, that's why I'm writing this article, to help you formulate a plan  that will work.  I should have done this for you guys a long time ago, but at least you'll have it now.

Rule #1.  DON'T try lessons that are too hard for you.  If you are a beginner, please don't try a level 5 song off the bat.  (in a 1960s intercom voice) 'All beginners please report to the generic 50 piano lessons videos that can be found by scrolling down the main list by clicking browse lessons on the main page.'  These 50 lessons start from the VERY beginning and are designed to get you ready to play the other songs and lessons on the site.  Do all of these lessons first if you are a beginner, or near beginner.

Rule #2.  Practice often, but not too much at one time.  You must develop a practice routine that is consistent.  Two hours on Saturday only will not be very effective.  15-30 minutes EVERY day, however, will be extremely effective.

Rule #3.  Your practice routine should consist of THREE parts, like a pie chart with 3 pieces cut.  The first part should be Repertoire.  Repertoire is what you can play RIGHT NOW.  Not what you used to be able to play, but what you can play this instant.  This is the first part of your practice routine in which you will play through all the stuff you've learned since you started  Don't repeat choruses and all that, just play through the main sections of the song you were working on just to give it a good run through.  Playing through ten songs like this will not take as long as you think as long as you just run through them and don't do any repeats.  Should take about 1 minute a song on average if you really know it.  This should take up from 0 to 50% of your practice time.  It will BUILD confidence and give you a great feeling of accomplishment.  If you are a beginner, your repertoire will consist of the 50 lessons from the generic piano lessons only for a while.  Of course when you first start you don't HAVE a repertoire, but you'll build one fast enough in time.

The second part of the practice routine will be the time you spend working on something new.  This takes a lot more brain power and concentration that does the repertoire section of your practice.  Work on repeating small sections, then linking them together to make bigger sections.  Remember we are learning to play by ear on, so memorizing is totally fine and encouraged.  TO PRINT OUT the whiteboards, simply go full screen with the video, hit pause at a moment when my ugly mug isn't in the way, and use the 'print screen' command or function on your computer.  Google it if you don't know what this means.  Pretty easy though.

The third section will be the time you spend on supplemental material, such as the finger exercises or the 38 sight reading exercises that are on webpianoteacher.  Note:  these are NOT the Sight Reading Boot Camp DVD lessons that I sell only as a DVD box set.  Those can only be acquired by clicking the DVD tab on my blog  The supplemental material can also be the Piano Blues Improv lessons found by scrolling down to the 'P's in the main list.

So, here's the way an average practice session might go:  Repertoire 15 minutes, New Material 10 minutes, Supplemental 5 minutes.  These relative times on these CAN differ, that's OK.  Just make sure you have each section in there every time you practice.

RULE #4.  Rule 4 is in all caps because it is where most online students fail to succeed.  Choose lessons that will work for you!  If you choose a song lesson and you find it too difficult or you don't like it, QUIT IT!  Choose another that you DO like.  Sometimes we will choose the wrong song, and need to drop it and go to another.  If you ever find yourself getting overly frustrated and bored after consistent practice, you've made a wrong song choice and need to cut it loose!  Be selective.  Don't feel like a quitter if you have to give a song the axe.  USE the mywebpianoteacher function to keep track of your favorites.

Rule #5.  Keep a practice log.  Keep a Repertoire List.  After a lesson in the New material category gets learned pretty well, MOVE it over the repertoire section of your log and mark it out of the new lessons category.  Watching the repertoire section of your list GROW over time, and the number of lessons you mark out of the new materials section will give you a great feeling of accomplishment!

Final thoughts:  Progress slowly, slowly.  Try MANY level one songs before adding a level 2.  Try MANY level 2 songs before adding level 3.  Also, don't skip over a song just because you've never heard it!!  If a lot of people like that song, you may like it too if you give it a chance.  Just because a song is old or new doesn't make it a bad or good song!  Listen to it first, and then decide.  Don't let your lack of listening to the radio rob you of learning some really good music.  Learn some new stuff, man!

WebPianoTeacher out.


Anonymous said...

I am recovering from a stroke 7 years ago, and have very limited use of my left hand. Up until the stroke, I sang lead and played guitars, bass, drums and had started keyboard.Spent most of my life performing in my own bands. After the stroke I had to relearn eating, talking, walking...everything! For most of the past 7 years I was convinced that I'd never play again. Then, I found your videos on you tube, tried some of the free ones. Today,I am working on some of the songs from your website. I can't play octives with the left hand,yet, but at least I can do the single bass notes, and I have been working on "cinederalla" by Steven Curtis Chapman.. almost got it down, just need to work a bit more on the timing on that first solo piano part, but, I'm getting it! THANK YOU for inspiring me and providing your lessons, I'm playing again, everyday MUCH of the day because I find your lessons to be quite good! THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!!!! I very highly recommend your lessons to ANYONE at ANY level!
God Bless, my friend!

Song of the Bride said...

Thanks Shawn
I needed this. Now i know how to properly take the lessons. Last time I was trying to move to fast. gonna do all 50 lessons first like u said.

John s said...

hi shawn, my name is john stuart im brandnew to your site, ihave a quick question. I cannot get the lessons to play on my ipad, is there an app i can download that will fix this problem ? The error message says "video file not supported". Im not an apple person, but i can only use my android phone or my ipad where are piano is located...
It does work fine on my droid, but the screen is just so small.... Thanks john

webpianoteacher said...

John, use Google Chrome as your browser and all will be well! Thanks.

Charlotte said...

Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you

Dean said...

Is it available to download pdf's for your sightreading boot camp?
Thanks, Dean

Sierra said...

Hi Sean,

Many thanks for the incredible labor that went into making this such a great site. Can you recommend a pair of headphones? I want to take you up on your oft-repeated recommendation to listen to the songs but my headphones aren't quite up to the task.

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على محمد said...
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