Teaching advanced students piano technique can be a challenge. You know what to teach, but you don’t know how to make it engaging and interesting.
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When it comes to teaching advanced piano techniques, you want to avoid these mistakes:
Before I delve into what to do, I want to cover another mistake to avoid.
So often, when a teacher gets a transfer student, they pick them to pieces over faulty technique. This eclipses their other musical abilities.
I’m really strong on this.
When I started doing my diploma-level work here in Australia with my teacher, Caroline Almonte, I was apprehensive she would say, “Tim, your technique is rubbish, and let’s start again.”
I had heard this happening with other teachers. I also don’t want to do that in my studio.
It’s so hard and so debilitating for students. They think, “I’ve come all this way, but I have to start again and play middle C because I haven’t learned to do it properly.”
I don’t agree with that. I think the chances of actually losing students is far too high.
Rather than focusing on what they’re doing wrong, continue teaching your transfer student and work in technical aspects as you go.
For example, if a student is really flat-fingered when they play, it’s not a matter of…
“We need to drop everything and fix this.”
“Let’s perform technique exercises for a month before you’re allowed to do anything else.”
Find ways of strengthening those last finger joints.
Work on the student’s awareness of what they need to do and help them to do that as they’re playing.
Video them while they’re playing so they can watch it back. Or have someone sit in on the lesson and watch them as they’re playing to give feedback.
It’s going to take time.
But — the last thing we want to do is sit there with a student and say, “Sorry, we can’t do anything until you have mastered your technique, and you’ve got it perfect.”
Moving on, let’s discuss next what you should consider instead!
In the TopMusicPro complete technique course, I recorded a bonus video demonstrating some of the technical exercises I use with advanced students.
We’ll break down some of the examples and show you highlights from the video here:
These are a few new exercises that you might not be familiar with. I find these to be a great addition to any advancing student’s warmup routine.
They’re actually some of the exercises that I use today when I warm up!
It’s a great warmup for the first four fingers, but you can do the same thing with fingers 2-3-4-5.
You can also do this descending chromatically.
Here are some good goals to set with your students:
Tip: The patterns feel quite differently under the fingers. Students will take quite some time to be able to get comfortable at this exercise.
You can mix it up however you want! That’s the idea of that exercise – keep your advanced piano students on their toes!
Students will play diminished arpeggios and dominant 7th arpeggios at some stage as they advance. I like to put them in a “package of arpeggios”.
They’re based around the major, the minor, the augmented, and the diminished chords in each key. Then add into the chord the
Let’s take C major as the example (demo at 3:28″)
You can then go to the minor chord and do the same thing (demo at 4:10″)
As I mentioned before, integrating advanced piano technique with your student’s current repertoire is the ideal way to teach.
For some teachers, knowing which advanced repertoire to choose and how to approach teaching it can be difficult. We’re here to help!
Within our TopMusicPro community, we have a course from the fantastic Janna Williamson, all about Teaching Advancing Pianists.
The course covers historical context, performance practice tips, an outline of suitable pieces for your advanced students, a deeper look at how to teach specific pieces, and even more advanced piano technique tips.
I hope you’ve found this article on teaching advanced piano technique helpful!
Here’s a free download of my exercises, as sheet music.
If you’re a TopMusicPro member, no need to enter your email, you can find this download now in your Resource Library.
For everyone else, please enter your details below:
Let me know what your favourite exercises are for advanced students!