Three Styles of Piano Tuition

Piano tuition is currently available in a number of packages and styles. Is there any basic difference as far as a student is concerned? Let's have a look at the main streams. These most significantly differ in the relation between the teacher and the student. In a "classical" situation, the ratio is one to one: every student has the full attention of the teacher all of the lesson time. This situation allows the teacher to explain technical questions, learn about the student's personality and tailor progress to the specific needs and desires of the student. Apart from obvious advantages as far as technique is concerned, a good teacher can also transfer to the student subtle wisdom about music as an art and part of culture. The way the student creates tone, the way they hold their hand, the way the student sits at the piano, all these habits are straight away learned the right way, which is often not the case in group or "electronic" tuition. The individual teacher will explain in minute detail how to play old and new music, how to keep rhythm and play stylistically, will choose from vast repertoire of material available the pieces which are most beneficial for further progress of the student. And finally, a one to one situation enables the teacher to change music tuition into an interactive social event. Every musician should have regular opportunity to prove themselves in front of an audience, to try their skills (and luck!) at examinations. To feel that they are good in what was painstakingly learned. The teacher can especially prepare the student for such regular events.

In group tuition, part of this is still available. However, no teacher can listen attentively to more than one student at a time, so each student can only have the attention of the teacher for a part of the lesson. Rest of time is more or less practicing, albeit under professional supervision. The student and teacher usually drift apart. Technical side will still be reasonably well looked after, but art has much less chance.

Computer tuition systems which have recently become available in different disguises are the extreme of this. The teacher is replaced by a programmer at an (often) American office and the student is left alone with an automatic system to learn what can be learned this way. The best systems available (they are not always cheap) can do a lot. As a way of practicing they can be great. However, nobody will tell the budding pianist that shape of his or her hand is inefficient, that their tone sounds crude or even vulgar, that they somehow invented a number of bad habits and that their idea of how a piece should sound is far from correct. An enthusiastic student may go a long way under the supervision of a smart chip, but part of this trip will inevitably be in a totally wrong direction. Worst of all, no chip driven system can educate a cultivated artist. It can help achieve some degree of manual prowess, but is it worth the effort?

In an age, when any music is available in excellent quality on tape or disc, the main reason why people start learning music is to enrich their personality. Chip driven systems offer too little for this. They may help to change home practising into a less boring exercise, but without personal approach of a good teacher, they cannot hope to cross the thin invisible line between manual prowess and art - between playing a keyboard and making music.

Our belief is that computers do have their place in music. Computer aided tuition can help the student broaden their knowledge, increase their interest and develop and practice a particular skill or skills. But this needs to be specifically tailored for the student and only be an addition to individual tuition.