What should my practice schedule look like?
Regardless of which level you are in, your practice routine will look very similar. Each week, you will choose one of the technical requirements for your level (click on the Technique page to see what scales you should choose from and pay attention to the speed you should be shooting for). Then you will also be working on one or two songs, again, depending on your level and what you can handle personally. Some people prefer working multiple songs for the variety, but some people find it stressful. Do what works for you, but make sure you are pushing yourself! The more time you spend on the piano, the more progress you will make. Each video lesson is meant for one week, so over the course of one week, you should be seeking to master the specific skills mentioned in that video. The pattern is typically: notes, then technical aspects of the song, then becoming more comfortable putting it all together and memorizing. As an early beginner, 10-15 minutes of practice each day is appropriate. That time should go up as you learn and grow. By the time you are in Grade 2, you should be spending 30 min per day minimum if you want to see progress. Sometimes that might look like 45 min the first day or two, when you are initially learning the song, then less each day as you get more comfortable. You should also be doing a few pages of theory each week.
How do I know if I'm ready to move to the next level?
Moving from Early Beginner
For early beginner, you should have finished the entire "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" and the technical requirements for that level. You should be comfortable finding notes, counting, and know the basic terms for dynamics and notation. When you are ready to move from early beginner, you have the choice of going to the "Older Beginner" curriculum (using John Thompson's First Grade Book) or moving directly into Royal Conservatory (Prep A, Prep B, or Grade 1). John Thompson's will give you a little more time to study notes and patterns without having to move around the keyboard or work with timing. Royal Conservatory will immediately begin stretching you. By the end of your beginner book, if you could sight read each song and not have to practice at all to get it right, I would recommend moving to Royal Conservatory. If it is still taking days to practice, I would suggest John Thompson's for a few months to transition.
Moving from Advanced Beginner levels
When you are thinking about moving to the next level, either within advanced beginner or into intermediate, I would ask these questions:
- how long does it take me to fully complete a song in my current level? If this is longer than a month, I would not recommend moving up yet.
- how many songs have I completed in each section? You should have completed at least three songs in each: List A, B, C, and Etudes.
- can I play the scales and triads from memory? Quickly, smoothly, and confidently? If not, I would not recommend that you move up.
- have I completed the theory book that corresponds with my level? If not, I would not recommend that you move up.
If you have fulfilled all of the above requirements, then YES! Move on to the next grade. I would recommend scheduling an in-person advancement assessment lesson to confirm that you are ready. The rate for these lessons is $30 and will be done either at my home or via video chat. Make sure that you get the repertoire and etude books and corresponding theory for your next level in advance so you will be ready to go. Since I am continuing to build the content available, if you do not schedule an advancement assessment, please also send me a message so that I am able to post what you need.
Moving from Older Beginner levels
Once you have gone through John Thompson's Grade 1 book successfully, you will be ready to start Royal Conservatory, Grade 1. You do not need to have completed every single song, but you do need to work through all of the new technique and notation that is introduced. I have specifically posted videos for those, so if you have completed all the videos, you should be ready to move on. I recommend scheduling an in-person advancement assessment lesson to confirm that you are ready. The rate for these lessons is $30 and will be done either at my home or via video chat. Make sure that you get the repertoire and etude books and corresponding theory for your next level in advance so you will be ready to go. Since I am continuing to build the content available, if you do not schedule an advancement assessment, please also send me a message so that I am able to post what you need.
What if I need extra help?
If you need extra help, I would recommend upgrading your subscription to include a monthly, in-person lesson at my home, or via video chat. Assessment and one-time lessons can be scheduled at a rate of $30 for a half hour. Please email me to set that up.