The Perfect Piano Lesson | Structure and Resources

Are you wondering how your lesson plan stacks up against other teachers? Or maybe, wondering how you can lessen some of the stress you feel trying to fit everything in?

There’s no formula for the perfect piano lesson, but there are elements that should be included on a regular basis. The first list, below, is my idea of the perfect lesson for beginners though intermediate students.

The Basic Plan

1) Listen to Practiced Music
2) Scales
3) Select and Work on New Music
4) Music Theory and Music Terms Worksheets and Games, and Composer Biographies, Worksheets, and Listening

Students should begin with an opportunity to play the piece they’ve been working on all week. It will give them an expectation that you will want to hear their progress. Without this expectation student may invest less effort. If you introduced a scale the week before, listen to that too, or just have them run through a scale or two so they stay fresh. Next, pick out a piece or two for the next week. Most of the remaining time should be devoted to working your way through the piece so your students will have a solid understanding of the piece. This investment of time will greatly enhance your student confidence and ability to practice their pieces effectively. Finally, spend the last five minutes with a worksheet or game.

This plan isn’t for every student, but works well for the ones that practice. For students that devote little time to practicing, my lessons focus on music mastery during the lesson, because that’s the only time that will happen, and developing note naming skills.

Advancing Student Plan

For advancing students I recommend time be devoted to the following topics. It’s hard to do everything in the time you’ve been given for beginning level lessons, so you might consider recommending a 45 minute lesson if students seem ready and motivated.

Chords and Accompanying
Technique
Composing
Ear Training

Chords and accompanying are skills every piano student should develop. Students should begin by learning to identify intervals. Next, jump in with chord building. Once they’re able to play a few chords on the piano, give them a two chord song and ask them to play it with a boom-chick accompaniment. From there it’s just building a knowledge of chords and ideas on how you might arrange a piece of music.

Composing is a wonderful activity that helps students to discover how composers do what they do, and gives them the opportunity to create too. Consider taking some time to compose a piece. If they liked the opportunity, do some more.

Techniques books come in all shapes and sizes. Kids can certainly gain technique from the lesson pieces you assign them without purchasing an extra book. A well written book will, however focus on specific skills, and help them develop weaker areas. One of the best books for advancing students is Hanon.

Ear training certainly makes for better piano students, so this shouldn’t be ignored, but perhaps not be something you should feel burdened about fitting in every time. When you do, make it fun. Come up with a game that kids love to play and include in the final five minutes that you reserve for worksheets and games.

Recommended Resources

Digital Print Sheet Music
The perfect piano lesson is never perfect without music that kids like to play. Here are three popular sites for instant print sheet music. MusicNotes.com includes many current titles for movies and pop music. MakingMusicFun.net and GMajorMusicTheory.org have some of the largest collections of sheet music for great composer classics, folksongs and kids songs.

MusicNotes.com
MakingMusicFun.net
GMajorMusicTheory.org

Worksheets and Games
Here’s a collection of games and worksheets that you can print and enjoy.

Color That Note! Worksheet Treble Clef/C Position
Color That Note! Worksheet Bass Clef/C Position
I Thought That I Was Crazy Note Name Worksheet | Treble Clef
M&M Challenge Note Name Worksheet | Treble/Bass Clef
Carnegie Hall Park™ | Music Theory Board Game
Pirate Quest™ | Beginning Music Terms Game
Music Practice Games and Tools | Digital (PDF)
Music Tech Teacher | Games and Quizzes

Major Scales

C Major Scale and Arpeggio Easy/Intermediate
F Major Scale and Arpeggio Easy/Intermediate
G Major Scale and Arpeggio Easy/Intermediate

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