Music Students Taught the Traditional Way Versus How Joseph Teaches

ScenarioA student who is taught the traditional wayA student who is taught by Joseph
What instrument does the student need? An acoustic piano is required. Annual tuning is required. Takes 2-3 persons to move the piano. A keyboard with full sized keys and a sustaining pedal is the minimum. Most students upgrade to a (portable) digital piano after a year of lessons with Joseph. There is no annual tuning and the instrument can be moved around e.g. bring the instrument to a family member’s house for the student’s performance.
How about music exams?Most students in Ireland, the UK, and Asian countries enter for annual music exams by examination boards e.g. RIAM, ABRSM, and TCL.

The student will learn at least three exam pieces per year, learn the scales and arpeggios for the grade, practise sight-reading and aural tests especially before the exam.
Totally optional. Joseph is of the opinion that at least one student concert per term, monthly open mic sessions, performing for friends and family, and recording your own pieces on video for e.g. your own Youtube channel/Facebook page are more enriching and enjoyable experiences than exams.

However, where a student wishes to take exams of his/her own accord (and not forced by the parent to do so), there are various non-traditional exam options e.g. Trinity College of London’s Rock and Pop exams, ABRSM performance assessments, etc.
Tunes learnt during lessonsAs the focus of the lessons is to learn to read notes, depending on the student’s note reading ability, the first few years of lessons tend to focus on simple sounding tunes which are based on the notes mastered by the student.As the focus of the lessons is to get the student to play and perform music as soon as possible, students are taught relatively difficult sounding music by rote (i.e. by imitation) which are usually attempted by a student who has 1-2 years of traditional piano lessons.

Students are taught chords from the very beginning so that they can play along to music.

When students learn to read notes, the focus is on the right hand melodies (i.e. treble clef) and students are taught to create their own left hand patterns. This is a more creative process compared to playing using sheet music which dictate what the left hand plays.
The student wants to play a song that s/he likes.Find/purchase the music sheet if it is available and learn the notes.

Oh no, the notes, the rhythms and the key signatures are too difficult for the student. The left hand part is too difficult.

The piano teacher may not be too keen to spend lesson time to teach the music that the student like.
Maybe start by comping to the tune with chords from the internet. See if the student can pick out the melody by ear and figure something out for the left hand. Or the student can find the fake sheet/sheet music and create his/her own arrangement.
It’s someone’s birthday and the student is asked to play Happy Birthday on the pianoThe student doesn’t have the notes to Happy Birthday. Even if there’s notes, s/he needs to sight-read the music. Depending on the student’s sight-reading skills, the song request may or may not work out.

Even if the student is good at sight-reading, the student will need to go online, assuming there is wifi available, to find a music sheet for Happy Birthday and print out the music as it’s too small on the phone screen. If there is no printer, perhaps the computer/piano can be moved to where the piano/computer is so that the music sheet can be read from the screen?
The student can try to play it by ear. It may just take a minute.

Or … the student can search for the chords (or try to figure them out) to Happy Birthday and comp along as others sing Happy Birthday.
The student is at a relative, friend’s place, or public space and there is a piano waiting to be played.The student does not have his/her music books or sheets and can’t remember any pieces. Or maybe the student can remember bits of a tune.

Or … the student can play her/his three exam pieces which s/he have memorised as s/he has been practising them for almost a year now.
The student can play his/her party pieces which are memorised and replayed frequently so that s/he gets better at performing them each time.
It’s Christmas time and the family wants to get together to sing Christmas carols.

There is a talent show and a friend who is a singer asks the student if s/he can play the piano accompaniment
Sure, the student can get the notes and try to sight-read them. Oh, the notes are too high or too low? The student can try to find another version of the song in a lower/higher key.Sure, the student can get the chords to the tunes and comp along. Oh, the chords are too high or too low? The student can transpose the chords to a lower/higher key which may just take a minute or two.

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