Tips for Older Students
Ruth P., North Carolina
Those that also work with students 60+ might find something useful in a recent post to my students:
Happy New Year! 🎉🎊
I hope you’re looking forward to an enjoyable year of music making in 2023! Here are a few tips that will support your progress.
- Correct Glasses: Using regular progressive glasses (those that have distance, medium and up close) are not ideal for piano playing. I have seen many folks tilting their chins toward the ceiling trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where they can see music notes clearly. What is needed are glasses that have only TWO full fields of vision. The entire top is for reading medium depth (music notation) and the entire bottom is for seeing your hands on the keys clearly. Some folks call them ‘computer glasses’ which have similar needs as playing the piano. When you visit the optometrist, explain what you need and get a prescription for piano glasses. There are many very affordable online companies that can provide you with a pair at low cost. Both Steve and I have used Zenni to purchase glasses. Having piano glasses has been a game changer for me!
- Correct hearing: If you have hearing impairment and have hearing aids, please wear them at your lesson. This is all about hearing – both the notes and the conversations during lessons. This is especially important if you’re in a shared lesson.
- Consistent Practice: Do you sometimes feel you should be farther along than you are in your piano playing? Take a look at your practice habits which could be hindering you. Even as little as 20 min. a day of conscious and consistent practice can do wonders. It’s the daily attention to your goals that will help far more than a long practice a day or two before your lesson. Set a target practice each day. The brain and body get used to making space for this time in the daily routine. Otherwise, it’s 9:30 pm and you’re too tired to practice.
- Playing through pieces is different than practicing: I am preparing to accompany cello students in a recital in early February. Because I have family from out of town visiting, my practice needs to be laser focused and intentional. I open the 6 page piece and identify the 2 sections that need the most work and practice them very slowly making sure the rhythm and notes are correct. Playing through those sections at performance tempo will do little to help me perform it well.
- Nails: Basically pianists need to trim the white part of their nails until they only see a sliver of white. Long nails impair proper technique and often means the person plays with a straight finger.
- Track your practice: Use your playlist or other kinds of spreadsheets to make sure you’re covering all the material.
- Have fun! All the above sounds a bit heavy, but with your ultimate goal of enjoying music, of making music a companion for life, these tips will help you achieve your goals!
See you next week!
Stephen R., California
Other things could be added to this too: making sure devices (ipads) are charged for lessons, having all relevant materials with you (Reading) and online materials ready for remote lessons! Basically, being as prepared as you can for music lessons as lesson time is precious.
I taught a senior Light Blue today and really had to coach her to approach it slowly and instruct out loud, controlling the events!
Original discussion started January 5, 2023