I sometimes wonder if piano is the hardest to make progress with in the early stages; two clefs to manage; no doubt violin teachers would contest this statement!
On the subject of pianists listening to themselves: they play solo the vast majority of the time. This is very different to singers (in bands, choral societies or operettas etc) or brass players (ensembles) who simply have to learn to play in time with other people. In other words: they HAVE to learn to listen to the playing of others.
As a piano teacher I find it hard to get piano pupils to listen to their playing. They default to watching their hands and/or reading the page. They have a tendency to become type writers...... That's why its good to do aural work, as found in prep for the exam boards' aural tests.
Scales are a great way to develop finger strength and dexterity. However, with standard fingering (eg right hand 123,1234,123,12345 - ascending) finger 5 gets a raw deal over 2 octaves, whilst 123 gets used EIGHT times if ascending and descending. Therefore an exercise using only 4 and 5 or 3,4,5 is good. Eg start on a high C and play cba. bag, agf, gfe, fed, using 345. Do it in short doses though! Once at the start of practice and perhaps at the ned of practice as well.
Sitting piano exams inevitably involves performing. Thus its not just about knowing the pieces well at home in private - its about having sufficient performance-capability in front of strangers (e.g. examiners). Adult beginners are particularly prone to this problem.
Getting pupils to play cross rhythms is not easy: Very few pupils can do it naturally so I get them to play C major contrary- LH in 2's & RH in 3's & visa versa. also: a visual diagram produced with a ruler can show how these 2 rhythms look in actual time. It helps but it needs working at!
I am now preparing my first entrant for the London College Leisure play assessments. They are the same standard as "grades" but 4 pieices are required - not the usual three. She'll do the ABRSM grade another time. It gives her something to aim for. Playing pieces well is not enough for some pupils: they need an event: a concert, a festival or an exam in order to get motivated to practice.
My skype pupil Calum, living up in Scotland, achieved 142/150.
Full marks for sightreading, aural and a piece is a fantastic achievement. Well done Calum!
Got my first pupil preparing for the ABRSM jazz piano grade 1 - yippee!! Have been looking forward to this for 2 years.
The practice of scales is good but the 5th finger gets a raw deal: eg C major Left hand 2 octaves up & down- finger 5 only used twice: fingers 2 & 3 both used 8 times ie four times more than 5th finger. Try the following: (LH) cde def efg fga etc using only 543.
Piano and keyboard teacher based in Eccleston, south Lancashire, England.