If you’re taking piano lessons, it’s in order to learn to play the piano. In theory, the end goal of piano lessons is straightforward and clearly defined.
In fact, however, goals can vary from person to person.
A beginner pianist doesn’t have the same goals as an experienced pianist, for example.
Some students want to learn about music theory and composition, while others simply want to be able to play their favorite song. There are many different reasons.
Below is a (non-exhaustive) summary of the primary goals people have for signing up for piano lessons.
So, we ask, what are the various goals of piano lessons?
Before answering that question and in order to set the stage, it’s important to remember that there are many different types of piano lessons.
You can, basically, distinguish between to types of lessons: piano lessons taken in an establishment (music school or conservatory) and piano lessons with a private teacher.
The inherent goals for each of these two types of piano lessons are different.
Let’s talk about piano classes at an institution first: courses taken at a music school or a conservatory have common points that distinguish them from private lessons. At a conservatory or music school, you generally follow a curriculum.
The programs vary in function according to the age and skill levels of the students. There is an overall “scholarly” approach, especially at a conservatory: classes covering many subjects (theory, the piano itself, composition, etc.), auditions, exams, diplomas, etc.
The conservatory or music school…
But learning to play the piano at a music school or in a conservatory offers the opportunity to acquire a universal understanding of music and your instrument. Sometimes, of course, at the expense of the fun side of the piano. If you want to learn to play the piano for fun, educational institutions might not be right for you.
Although it must be said that certain music schools, usually the smaller cultural organizations, have a much freer spirit, a more open feeling, less “scholarly.”
You will learn the piano alongside passionate pianists, without necessarily throwing too much information at you. Musical institutions have the advantage, compared to private piano lessons, of offering group lessons. If you want to learn to play in a band, music schools are for you. But know that the cost of piano lessons at a music school will be more expensive.
Learn to play the piano with a private teacher!
Piano lessons with a private teacher can pursue different objectives, and vary based on the expertise of the teacher and the student’s playing skill. Private piano lessons can help beginners and advanced pianists.
The advantage of this format is that it allows for the establishment of a lasting relationship with the same piano teacher, a relationship that allows your teacher to get to know you, to assess your weaknesses and strengths in order to control, with your input, the direction and function of the lessons. These are more individualized piano lessons.
If you want to learn to play the piano to enjoy yourself, without taking on too much or building too many ambitions, or if you’re looking to perfect one aspect of your playing in particular, piano lessons with a private teacher are without a doubt the most flexible solution.
Of course the caveat is that you need to find a great piano teacher. But that’s another story.
You can see that the goals of piano lessons vary according to the learning style.
If you want to learn to play in a band, and really learn music theory as used by technical pianists, and that sits at the heart of all other musical styles, a music school or conservatory could be an effective solution.
If you prefer a gentler education on the piano, private lessons are more appropriate. But this is a rather exaggerated simplification; certain music schools have very fun approaches and looser orientations, and many private teachers are very demanding. The greatest composers often took piano lessons with private teachers, who were often very severe.
It’s also important to stress this point: the goals of taking piano lessons are directly linked to your skill level.
If you are truly a beginner, learning music theory, rhythm, how to read sheet music, finger agility, or the individual roles of each hand are the primary objectives to meet.
The positioning of your hands and your body as you play are equally important.
On the other hand, if you are already fairly experiences, piano lessons might have distinctly different goals, even complementary ones:
Our advice: think about choosing a piano teacher that suits your level.
Some teachers don’t teach beginner or intermediate students. Before finally deciding on a teacher, ask if the instruction they offer is in line with your skill level and goals.
Even if you’re learning to play the piano simply for fun, you’ll see that goals can vary considerably depending on your skill level.
But it’s not the only determining factor.
Goals are different for everyone!
There are many ways to envision the way you learn to play the piano, depending on the goals you’ve identified.
There are those who want to be able to play pop songs for their friends and those that want to learn to play Beethoven’s “Appassionata” sonata; there are those who are fascinated by improvisation and who want to learn to improvise like Chick Corea and, on the other hand, those who simply want to be able to the piano in order to unwind after a long day at work; there are creative people who would love to learn how to compose music and those who want to create a little collection of songs to add ambiance to parties.
Basically, everyone has their own and different goal in learning to play the piano.
The goals of piano lessons vary according to desires, specific projects, and the ambitions of the student. In the end, it’s the student who determines the objectives of the piano lessons.
These different goals contribute to the shape and methods used as you learn to play the piano: the amount of work you can commit to, along with the time you can devote to practicing vary according to these fixed goals.
Some people, by taking piano lessons, also aim to learn about musical harmony.
It’s far from being the majority of people. Most aren’t interested in harmony or musical theory in general, and they ignore it altogether.
But others do want to pierce the secrets of music: What exactly is a tonality? How do they relate to each other? What are the main chords in a scale?
Why does one chord sound good while another is torture to the ear?
What are consonant and dissonant chords? Why should I even learn to play the piano?
What are the rules surrounding the sequencing of chords?
How do you learn how to improvise on the piano?
We can continue like this for a long time.
The answer to these questions are essential for those who plan on composing or improvising. It should be noted that composing and improvising, historically, are two activities that are inseparable from each other.
Contrary to the received wisdom, it wasn’t jazz that introduced improvisation to music, because the piano has been at the heart of it for ages. The classical composers were, above all else, the greatest improvisers.
What’s essential is being aware of this: the majority of piano lessons are devoted to teaching piano techniques.
There’s a certain amount of theory, it’s true, but usually only enough to enable you to read sheet music.
If you want to learn harmony and the rules of composition and improvisation, you need to find a teacher who’s capable of teaching you these subjects. Some piano teachers are perfect experts of music theory and can meet all of your needs. We can’t over-stress the importance of choosing the proper piano teacher before getting started.
It’s the best way to progress quickly and to transform your piano lessons into real moments of pleasure.
Superprof, where there are dozens of available piano teachers, allows you to find piano lessons that suit exactly what you’re looking for.