Information About Alpharetta Piano Lessons (aka Piano with Julie)
So, you are looking for a piano teacher – and you have been all over the internet and have found my site: Alpharetta Piano Lessons. I live near Alpharetta Georgia in Woodstock. I can travel to you or you can travel to me. I’m what is known as a traveling piano teacher.
Since this is your first introduction to me, I feel that I need to take the time to explain my teaching philosophy and methods, as well as the reasoning behind them. After you have read what I am all about, you may be ready to sign up for lessons. Then again, my style and approach may not be at all what you need or desire.
What I Offer
I specialize in teaching beginning to intermediate level piano, and give lessons to children as well as adults. Anyone who would like help building a strong musical foundation will find my instruction comfortable, enjoyable and worthwhile.
Although I do follow a certain curriculum for beginning students (James Bastien Level One Primer) I am also very flexible in my approach, and assign supplemental (fun!) exercises to assist them in learning the physical skills that are needed to play the piano well. I have had experience with a number of beginner books and have purposefully chosen to use the James Bastien because it is laid out in the most logical manner, is easiest for a beginner to understand, and has a wealth of information (music theory) that is very useful, even after the student has progressed to higher levels.
For Intermediate Students
For students in the intermediate levels, I offer counsel concerning what pieces they may enjoy playing, and work closely with them on more difficult supplemental exercises (when applicable). Some students really enjoy playing “classical” pieces, and others would rather learn to play show tunes and movie themes.
Some may want to learn how to play “jazzy” or “blues-y” music, and some love composing their own songs. Because my goal is to have happy, motivated students who LIKE to practice, I do my best to provide knowledgeable instruction and guidance in all of these areas.
In summary, I offer piano instruction in a relaxed atmosphere, and in a way that is encouraging and rewarding to each individual student. As a former piano student myself, I know that if you don’t like something, you will not want to spend a lot of time doing it. That is why it is so very crucial that my students enjoy their lessons and their practice time, even when it means having to put out a lot of effort. I may be their teacher – but I am also their biggest cheerleader. They know that I am always ready to give them heaps of praise for a job well done. While you are here reading this page, check out one of my favorite websites.
What I Do Not Offer
I have found that the vast majority of students are not interested in formal recitals. For the few who really enjoy playing for others, I encourage them to play for friends and relatives at family gatherings, at school talent shows, and with/for their church or other service group. Most kids (and their parents) have enough going on without adding in a recital schedule! Also, the planning and costs involved in having recitals would significantly increase the tuition rates for my students and make lessons much less affordable.
Advanced Lessons/Music Exam Preparation/Competition Preparation
These are not within the realm of my expertise.
What To Do Next
If this sounds like the type of program that you or your child is looking for and would enjoy, please contact me so that we can discuss evaluating the student. The easiest and surest way to do that is to use the student application form. Please fill it out completely. Once I receive it (it is much more reliable than regular email and will not go into my spam filter) I will contact you as quickly as possible. Usually the same day, but always within one business day.
Whether you become a client or not, I would like to wish you well in your musical journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much should my child practice?
A very young beginning student should spend a minimum of 15 minutes daily in physical/skill practice and learning to recognize notes and musical symbols. A parent should be fully engaged in the practice/learning at the beginning stages. A little each day is MUCH better than an hour of stressful practice right before your weekly lesson. As the student matures/progresses, daily practice time should increase accordingly, and less parental supervision will be needed.
Is my child expected to learn/pass all of the assignments given each week?
No, that is not the goal of the assignments. Each assignment is given to practice skills that develop over time. Progress is much more important than perfection. Learning music is not a rigid step by step process. A piece of music has many different components: knowing where to place the hands, use the fingers, how to read the notes, understanding the rhythm, and so on. It is not uncommon for a student to take many weeks to be able to grasp certain concepts/develop skills and consistently apply them to their playing. Also, as a student progresses, I will assign music that will be more challenging. If a student comes every week to their lesson and always plays all of their assignments perfectly, that will be a clear indication to me that the music is WAY too easy to master, and therefore not much use in moving them to a higher level of skill.
Should I come inside for my child’s lesson?
For younger, beginning students, YES, at least for the first month or two. (If at all possible, please come without siblings or friends as they are disturbing) I need to be able to communicate with you during the lessons so that you understand the exercises, as well as discuss what I expect your child to practice and learn during the coming week. Once there is a good foundation, your attendance for the entire lesson is welcome but not required, but please check in for a few minutes regularly so that I may update you on your child’s progress.
For older students, parents are free to attend or not. Just be sure to come in regularly for a few minutes for communication purposes.
My child is here for a lesson – but somehow (one, some, or all of) the books did not make it.
This is disappointing, but not the “end of the world”. I usually have extra lesson and exercise books from which to play. BUT, I will not have the student’s special books or music, or their personal assignment record (in their spiral notebook) to guide me during the lesson, and the assignments I give for the coming week will have to be written on a loose piece of paper (and kept track of for the next week’s lesson). If a student quite often comes to lessons unprepared (little or no practice, with no books, or some missing) it shows me that piano is a low level priority, and progress will be slow. It is very possible that I will suggest the termination of our business relationship if a student regularly comes to lessons unprepared.
How can I help my child with practice? Is there anything I should not do?
You can help your child with practice in many ways.
1) Work with your child to schedule 15-30 minutes of practice time daily – and keep to the schedule as much as possible. Schedule times when you and your child are not likely to be stressed or tired.
2) If your child likes to fill out charts, help them design one for daily practice time – or find one online that will be motivating to them.
3) Always look at their assignment notebook to see what I have written about what pieces to practice, and what about a particular piece needs work (the tempo, rhythm, dynamics, etc.) If you and your child do not understand something about the music or what I have written, please email me with your question. I am happy to explain things to you.
4) Do your very best to keep practice time undisturbed by siblings or other distractions. This is VITAL. Do not allow others to interrupt the student for any reason. Keep all music books and materials out of reach of destructive youngsters. If others in the family want to play on the piano, they can do it at another time. Parents, the very best way to get progress/value out of lessons is to treat musical study as important and valuable. Practice time is worth protecting.
5) Practice might be challenging at times, but it should not be overly stressful. Do not push too hard. If frustration boils over, just set that part of the lesson aside and work on something else. Take a break by playing a song for fun, then work on something that takes more concentration. Always try to finish a practice session with something positive.
6) A word of caution: Sometimes we parents do a little TOO much when we help our children. If your child is having trouble remembering how to recognize the notes, please do not ever write the note names on their music (or have them do it). I know it seems like you are helping, but this is actually the worst thing you can do. You may, however, make a COPY of the music and have your child use it as a worksheet for note recognition. If they spend time writing in the notes on this separate sheet, then it should help them remember how to play them from the “clean” music in the book. Being able to read music is the KEY to being able to learn and play new songs .Writing in the notes on the music that they use to play at the piano will just about guarantee that the skill of actually reading the music will never be developed.
7) Another word of caution: Please do not show or teach your child how to play an assigned piece of music. I say this because there are many very bright kids out there who will learn the music that way, memorize it, and then end up with no clue as to how the music written on the page in front of them relates to the piece they are playing. It is fine for kids to learn other music that way (like Heart and Soul, Chopsticks and other fun stuff) but the music assignments I give to practice during the week are for the student’s total development, and they must be learned by the student reading/understanding the written music mostly on their own. It is fine to encourage and guide, but do not “spoon feed” assigned music to your child. When you do, it gives me a false idea of how well the student is really progressing in their understanding of written music.
How soon do you need to be contacted about a lesson change?
Generally, the sooner the better, and always via email or written note – unless you are with me at my computer and the change is done and confirmed at that time.
What if I am running late for my lesson?
If it is just a few minutes, don’t worry about it. If it looks really bad, please call my business number – 678-775-8489 – and leave your message. It will come to me via email (which I will be checking since you are not here!)
I just want to try out lessons – can I do that?
Certainly. I do not require any contracts or registration fees.
My child needs a “break” from lessons. How does that work?
When a parent says “we need to take a break from lessons” it generally means that either the child has been reluctant to practice, is over-scheduled, or stressed. It is best to address the issues head on and decide simply if this is a “rough patch” that can be worked out between student/parent/teacher, or if the student is not suited well for piano (quite possible!) and should move on to other interests.
A “break” for a student who really needs to move on to something else just delays the inevitable, and a “break” for a student who needs to work through the real issues does not usually solve any problems. .
Can you give advice on piano and/or keyboard purchases?
Certainly, I am happy to help you find an instrument that will suit your needs and budget. It is a very good idea to do thorough research on this type of purchase.