The 'PJC Practice Champion' Rewards Scheme
Saturday, April 30, 2022 | News
The 'PJC Practice Champion' Rewards Scheme.
I am so excited because after months of planning, tomorrow (May 1st 2022) I will be launching the brand new ‘PJC Practice Champion’ Reward Scheme.
At their upcoming lesson, every student will be receiving a blue booklet with a chart inside. By collecting stamps on their chart, students can earn increasingly exciting prizes such as stickers, sweets, musical stationary, certificates, musical jewellery, sheet music of their favourite songs, manuscript books to write their own music, and even a trophy.
They can earn their stamps through the practice and theory exercises that they do at home, receiving a keyboard stamp for every day they practice the minimum recommended time, a clock stamp for every day they practice double the minimum recommended time, and a stave stamp for every day they do one of the suggested theory exercises. They therefore have the potential to earn up to 21 stamps per week!
You can log their practice time either through the practice log on our online portal, or just via a quick WhatsApp message to me before their lesson each week. They will then receive their stamps in lesson. N.B. This is all honesty based, and we ask parents to do their best to make sure that students are truthful about their practice time in order to inspire them properly.
Our PJC Practice Champion will normally run from September to September. This is to ensure that students continue to be inspired over the August Holiday to keep up their practise, knowing that prizes and awards await them in September when they return to us! Our first Practice Champion chart will run from 1st May 2022 to the 1st September 2022.
In order to make practising at home as exciting and easy as possible, I have also produced a Piano Practice Sheet and a Theory Exercises Sheet for the Orange Book, Blue Book, and Intermediates Stage of our PJC Programmes. These have been included as PDFs instead of print outs as there are lots of links to our PJC Piano Practice Guide for Parents Videos, and many online quizzes in order to make our students' practice more interactive. These will be sent in an email to parents as well as being available on our online portal under 'Online Resources'. Feel free to print these out if that is easier for you and your child.
One example of the Practice Suggestions Sheets.
Orange Book- Stage 1.
I hope to send out some more information regarding the project over the next few weeks, including a video to entice your children with what they could win, and an FAQ. So if you do have any questions about how this is meant to work, please do get in touch!
I hope you find this useful and your children are inspired and enthused to progress their learning to the next level!
Our Biggest Ever Announcement...
Monday, October 18, 2021 | News
I am writing with some exciting news...
Probably THE most exciting news I have ever shared in my whole 16 years of teaching!
I am officially opening my own PJC Music School Premises!
Where is this new premises?
It is in Yeadon- 36 Kirk Lane, LS19 7ET, and we finally signed the lease today!
This picture is a mock-up of what the front of the school could look like!
Which lessons will be moving there?
The plan is to move all our Horsforth lessons on MONDAYS and WEDNESDAYS to this premises (it is less than a 10 minute car journey from The Old Ball at Horsforth Roundabout).
We will also be moving the Baildon lessons on TUESDAYS to the new premises
(14 minute drive from The Malt Shovel at Baildon Roundabout).
So Sundays are staying at Baildon, then?
SUNDAYS will be staying at Baildon for at least the time being, maybe indefinitely. However, students will still get the opportunity to attend our lovely premises for make-up lessons and to perform in the recitals or workshops that we discuss below.
(If you are a Sunday parent and would rather your child have their lessons at the premises in Yeadon, please do let me know and we can discuss options for this. Conversely if you’re a Tuesday parent who would prefer to stay close to Baildon, please do let me know and we can see if there’s a space on Sundays.)
When is the moving date?
This has been a LONG time coming; we originally went to see this venue in September 2020, but with Covid delays and Brexit supply problems, it has been put back and put back continuously.
But the wait has been worth it- after all the work we've done with it, it is starting to look absolutely amazing and I'm so happy to announce that our official moving day is Monday 1st November!
As of this date, all Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday lessons will take place at our new, Yeadon premises.
We are having a celebratory grand opening party throughout the afternoon and early evening on Thursday 28th October- I hope you and your family drop in at some point to share a drink and a cake with us and have a little nosey round. Please put this date in your diary if you can make it, more details to follow soon!
What’s so great about this new premises then?
I know I should really start off by talking about all the amazing benefits it will offer to our students, however in all honesty, the best thing about this new place (in my opinion as a working mother of two!) is the benefits it will have for our parents!
Introducing... The PJC Family Room
Drum roll please……..Our new building has it’s very own WAITING ROOM for parents, grandparents, younger siblings etc.
Yes that’s right- parents can come for their 50 or 90 minutes per week and sit in a nice café-style environment. There will be a self-serve coffee station with fancy coffees, juices, cakes and confectionery (which we won’t be charging for- just asking for reasonable donations to keep this lovely luxury turning over.) We’ll be having WiFi and plug sockets so that you can get some work done, or just take the opportunity to read a book and relax, or meet up with a friend and have a catch up! As a parent, I have to say, that I’m actually very jealous that I’ll be teaching- I wish my boys’ other after school activities allowed me to do this while they were learning!
Fab Student Facilities
There will be one large room, half of which will have brand new keyboards, all upgraded to 76 key semi-weighted Yamaha beauties! These are all ordered and ready to put up when the room is finished. The other half will include a fully weighted 88 key piano for recitals and exam practice (I have yet to pick which I’m going to buy but it’s very exciting deciding!) and a more open space where singing and games will take place.
As well as this, there is a further room where our Music Theory will take place, as well as Aural and some singing. This will also have a piano, as well as tables for writing.
There is also a brand new fitted W.C. in the back which means unlike Horsforth, our students can escort themselves to the toilet. So safeguarding the welfare of our students will go hand in hand with more independence.
Our Own Performance Space
The wall between our waiting room and the large music room is going to be a sound-insulated movable wall, which will allow us to open up the two rooms into one large L shaped room. This will allow us to host little recitals, giving us an easy way to give our students performing opportunities on a regular basis.
There will be Saturday Brunch or Afternoon Tea Recitals for our students to gain experience performing in a more relaxed nature, in front of their friends and family, while they sit at a table enjoying tea and cakes!
Once students are more confident at performing in front of an audience, they can graduate to taking part in more serious afternoon and evening recitals, where we can set the chairs out in rows and have a wider selection of students perform in a slightly more formal format.
This new set up opens up potential for us to hold events in the future that are longer and larger than just our 50-90 minute lessons. Whether they are one-off day workshops or holiday clubs, the sky is the limit.
The building we have leased is the old ‘Harland’s Music Shop’ on Kirk Lane in Yeadon.
It is less than a minute to Aldi and only 3 minutes from Morrisons, and I’m sure many parents will take advantage of the lesson time to get their weekly shop done!
It is next to Kirk Lane Park/Nunroyd Park, so if there are younger siblings who wish to play in the playground or ride their bikes during the summer months, this is ideal! For those who have never been before, it is a beautiful park to have a look around anyway!
I know that there’s a tradition from some of our parents of nipping to the pub for a quick pint during their child’s lesson- don’t worry, we’re just down the road from a really large selection of both traditional and trendy pubs and bars!
There is plenty of on street parking, both on the main road Kirk Lane, and off the several side streets.
There is a really large pavement area just in front of the building entrance. We plan to keep this area free from parking and use it as a ‘drop off’ station for parents who are not staying, allowing a safe drop off space for our students right next to the front door!
An Exciting Adventure
The opening of our new premises is another wonderful step on our successful journey. I'm so excited in its potential to increase the progress, enjoyment and opportunities for our learners, and bring all our students and their families closer together as one big PJC Family!
Love as always,
The PJC Intermediates Programme
Thursday, June 17, 2021 | Uncategorized
Our PJC Intermediate Programme is the next level up after completing the Young Beginners Programme.
They are 90 minute lessons open to students studying ABRSM Grades, Initial Grade to Grade 5.
Each lesson consists of specific sections:
Singing and Aural Practice
Scales and Arpeggios
The Intermediates Programme will allow our students to take their ABRSM Music Theory Exams. All students will need to take Grade 5 Theory by the end of their Intermediates Programme, as ABRSM does not allow anyone to take Grade 6 unless they have already taken Grade 5 Theory. Once our students have completed the Intermediates Course, and have reached Grade 4 on Piano and/or Voice, AND Grade 5 Music Theory, they can progress to a PJC Advanced Programme, where in addition to Grade 5-8 on Piano and/or Voice, we will offer an additional extra of taking GCSE and then A level Music should they wish.
Singing and Aural
The singing part of each lesson will allow students to reinforce their music theory, working holistically together as we did in the Young Beginners Programme, understanding scales, keys, chords, arpeggios, triads and much more. Any student who wishes to take Grade 1 and above in their singing exam will have the opportunity to work on repertoire, technique, tone and performance skills. All students will learn sight singing (even students who don’t wish to take singing grades) as it features in the Aural part of the Piano Exam from Grade 4 and above. This part of each lesson will also give an opportunity for regular practice of the other skills that will be examined in their Aural tests such as singing echos and analysing music.
Now our students have reached Grade Initial-4 on the Piano, I will be able to give more demanding and exciting challenges in relation to each composer, and more importantly connect the context of each composer in time, period, style and genre, building up a wealth of knowledge which will help them with their Grade 5-8 Aural Exam, and any GCSEs or A level Music they may go on to take in the future.
Piano Pieces, Sight Reading and Scales/Arpeggios
These will have focused set times each lesson, ensuring our students continue to make incredible progress consistently.
Unlike the Young Beginners Programme, which is £74 a month for a 50 minute lesson per week, the Intermediates Programme works out at even better value, at only £98 per month for a 90 minute lesson per week.
If your child has reached Initial Grade and wishes to move up to our Intermediates Programme, please get in touch and we will find the best class for them, keeping as close as possible time to their original lesson time. Students are welcome to stay in the Young Beginners Programme until they pass their Initial Grade, in which case they will need to move up to the Intermediates Programme to start Grade 1.
The most recent ABRSM exam certificates from some of our Intermediate students
A mini recital during an Intermediates Lesson
An Intermediates Group enjoying a Music Theory Game together.
As always, if you have any questions at all regarding the Intermediates Programme, please don't hesitate to get in touch. ❤️🎹🎤
The PJC 'Fast Track' Programme
Monday, August 24, 2020 | Progress
The PJC 'Fast Track' Programme
One of the most frequently asked questions from our parents is how best to support their child with their practice. At PJC, we are so committed to providing outstanding progress for our students at fantastic value for money, and our 'PJC Fast Track Programme' works in addition to our Young Beginners Programme or Intermediates Programme and is designed to provide an opportunity to accelerate the rate of progress of our students by providing bi-weekly support for students and their parents to help with their practice at home!
How Will the Fast Track Programme Improve Progress?
The PJC Fast Track Programme improves student progress in three different ways:
1) It provides expert support and feedback twice weekly.
Students can send audio or video recordings of their practice up to twice a week, and receive feedback on these pieces within two days. Specific areas of weakness or any errors can be addressed, and PJC can use this to inform planning for the student's next lesson.
2) It allows students to move through pieces at home.
If a student sends a recording of a piece played well, they can have their pieces 'ticked off' at home, meaning they can move quicker through their books because they are not having to wait till their next lesson to get their pieces approved and stamped. This means they can spend their subsequent lesson learning next steps instead of spending time demonstrating what they have practiced.
3) It encourages regular and consistent practice in our students.
Students are motivated by the frequent deadlines, and by the regular encouragement they receive with their practice. Students and parents alike can ask for specific and focused help on any areas they are struggling on.
How much quicker is the progress they will make?
On average, students progress up to three times quicker than those on the Young Beginners or Intermediates Programme alone.
How much is it?
Young Beginners £10 per month
Intermediates £15 per month (automatically upgraded to Exam Prep the month before an exam at no extra charge).
Exam Preparation Month £35 (unlimited feedback in the month before an exam).
Who should be joining the Fast Track Programme?
The Fast Track Programme is brilliant for any student who wishes to make quicker progress through their books and exams. In order for the programme to be effective, students should practice at least twice a week on most weeks, and either have the ability to record themselves and send it each time or have a parent sitting with them when practising who can send recordings and receive feedback.
How does this help students who are working towards ABRSM Exams?
Our Fast Track Programme applies to ABRSM Piano and Singing Grades. As the pieces get more difficult, students have the opportunity to check in twice during the week with any queries, or ask for help with any difficult passages. It is also an excellent opportunity to showcase what I have asked them to work on in the previous lesson, and the feedback can then include instructions to tackle further specific sections of the pieces. It also provides the ability for the student to demonstrate anything they have been working on that they do not get time to show during lesson time. For Singers specifically, students would need to be able to record themselves singing both unaccompanied and with the backing tracks I have recorded on the online portal.
In the month before an exam, the amount of recordings can increase from twice weekly to unlimited at no extra charge, so long as a student is on the Fast Track Programme for four months minimum. Students often bombard me with videos in the lead up to an exam in order to achieve the best result (and I love it!). If students want to only take part in the Exam Preparation one month before the exam, this is charged at £35 for the month.
Logistically, how will this work?
You or your child will send me their audio or video recording either via WhatsApp. PJC will respond within two days. The format the feedback takes will change depending on how best to help the student, it may be written, audio, video or may include a photo or link to something external.
Can I do a trial?
If you want to take part in the Fast Track Programme, you must commit to paying for the month ahead, but you can cancel this service at any time, there is no notice period.
How do I Sign Up?
Just send us an email and we can add them to the Fast Track Students list and adjust your invoices.
As always, any questions at all please don't hesitate to get in touch. ❤️🎹🎤
Welcome Information for Young Beginners!
Monday, August 24, 2020 | Welcome Information
Hello and welcome to our PJC Family! We're so looking forward to meeting you and your child at their upcoming free trial lesson.
Please read the information below before you arrive to the first lesson. If you have any questions not answered in the information below, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Terms and Conditions
Please sign the terms and conditions before your child attends their trial lesson. Please click this link to be directed to the form.
Using the Calendar
You should have already received an email to set up your password for our online portal.
Your child is now signed up for their chosen lesson slot and you should be able to see this on the calendar once you sign in.
Watch out for the different locations- Purple slots are for Yeadon LS19 7ET and Green is for Baildon BD17 6SZ.
If you need to cancel a lesson for whatever reason, you will be issued a 'make up credit'. You can use this credit to sign up for any other group lesson that has an available space. Please note, as in the policy, lessons cancelled within 24 hours notice will receive no makeup credit.
We have a full blog post on how to use our make up credits here.
Yeadon Venue Information
Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays
PJC Music School, 36 Kirk Lane, Yeadon, LS19 7ET
There is plenty of on street parking around the premises, but please only use the pavement directly outside of the building for drop offs, not for parking. For more information about our new, Yeadon premises please read our blog post here.
Baildon Venue Information
11 Bramham Drive, Baildon, BD17 6SZ
There is on street parking at our Baildon Venue as it is a home studio. Please arrive at the blue front door and give a nice firm knock.
Your child will be met by PJC and brought into to the Music Room. (Please don't arrive early as unlike our Yeadon premises there is no waiting area.)
On the first day, please feel free to drop your child off quickly, or come in to see the room, say hello and introduce yourself.
Can Parents Stay?
Parents are not allowed in the music rooms during lesson time. From my experience, children focus better, relax easier and have much more of a good time when their parents are not there, even if that means that the first few minutes are a little bit scary.
For younger children, please don't worry if you child is upset when you leave them, we are completely experienced in handling this, and students are always happy in no time at all.
Don't worry about purchasing anything before the lesson. Students will receive their Starter Park at their trial lesson. This includes:
First Piano Book
PJC Book Bag
PJC Laminated Flowchat and Cheat Sheet (to help parents support their children at home)
You can also order PJC Uniform for an additional price.
The T Shirts are available to order for £10 each in our PJC colours blue, pink, and orange and have the PJC Music School Logo on the back. They are available in black, white or RAINBOW GLITTER text (which most of our students go for!) Our Hoodies are available in blue or pink with either white matt or rainbow glitter text and are £20. As an extra, you could also get your child's name on the front for £2.
Just send PJC an email to order yours today.
Practice at Home
As well as our PJC Flowcharts, we have lots of video guides in our online portal to support you with your child's practice at home. Just go to: 'Online Resources', then 'The PJC Piano Practice Guide for Parents'.
If you already have a piano or a keyboard to practise at home then fantastic! If not, please don't feel that you need to go out and buy a piano! It would be great if you could purchase or borrow a keyboard so that your child can practise all the wonderful things they will learn in the lessons. I have written a detailed blog post here helping parents with the daunting task of finding the right keyboard or piano.
We also have our PJC 'Fast Track' programme for an extra £16.50 per month, which provides bi-weekly support for practice at home.
This programme allows pupils to move through their first two piano books at an even quicker rate, and results in superior progress in ABRSM Exams. Please get in touch or read our blog post to enquire whether your child is suitable for our Fast Track Programme.
Again, please do get in touch if there are any questions not answered above or if you need support with using the online portal.
Many thanks, and see you soon!
Covid-19 Risk Assessment
Thursday, August 20, 2020 | Covid-19
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have put the following measures in place to ensure our students and their families are as safe as possible on our return to face to face lessons. Please could you take the time to read the information below as there are several big changes:
UPDATED NOVEMBER 2021
♩ Both our venues now have keyboards around the edge of the room, facing the walls instead of each other.
♩ This has created a large space in the centre of each room, allowing students to sit/stand more socially distanced for any group discussion or activity.
♩ There will be compulsory hand sanitising on entry and exit for all students.
♩ Students' temperature will be checked on arrival using a no-touch infrared thermometer.
♩ We will not be asking our students to wear masks, however please feel free to send your child in one if you wish.
♩ All keyboards, headphones, stools, door handles etc. will be sterilised between lessons.
♩ Students must bring their current music book, a pencil and an eraser to each lesson in a bag. Special PJC equipment has been provided for our students and charged to parent's accounts to cover the cost of these.
♩ In order to enable social distancing and allow time for cleaning between lessons, our Young Beginners Lessons will reduce from 55 minutes to 50 minutes.
♩ Parents are asked NOT to bring their children to lesson if they display any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19. Any student who shows signs will be sent home immediately and asked to get a test ASAP.
♩ During this pandemic, we are waiving our 24 notice requirement for receiving make-up credits for anyone who cancels because of Covid-19 Symptoms. Please just cancel as normal on the system and send me a text or email to explain why and I will add the make up credit back to your account. Please note, your child will need a negative test result if they wish to return before the 14 days isolation period.
♩ Although no one under the age of 18 is now required to self isolated if they are contacted as a close contact with someone who has contracted Covid-19, we ask parents to please ensure the student takes a lateral flow test on the morning of their lesson should this be the case.
A Complete Guide to Make-Up Credits
Wednesday, August 28, 2019 | Make-Up Credits
A Complete Guide to Make-Up Credits
At PJC Music School, we are really proud of our make-up credit system. It means we can offer parents the flexibility to work music lessons around their busy family lives while ensuring that their child never misses out on that valuable lesson time! This blog is written to give our parents a detailed explanation of how to use the make-up credit system in a step-by-step guide.
With dentist appointments, school plays, swimming galas, Grandparent visits and holidays abroad, we know that our parents' schedules change every week. Using our online portal, any lesson cancelled with at least 24 hours notice will credit the account with a make-up credit. This can be used to sign up for a make-up lesson at a future date.
When you first signed up your child for music lessons at PJC, you will have been sent a ‘Parent Login’ email, directing you to set up your password. After this, you can go to www.pjcmusicschool.com on any page and enter your username and password in the login box in the side bar (on your phones there is no sidebar so just to scroll down till you reach it!) This will take you through to the online portal. If you can’t remember your password, please contact PJC and we will reset and send you out a new parent login email.
Marking your child’s absence:
Once you reach the online portal, you should automatically be taken to the calendar. If not, click on the left-hand side bar and the calendar is the second option down. In this example account, Leopold Mozart can see that his son Wolfgang Mozart is currently registered for the Monday at 4pm class.
Wolfgang can’t attend the lesson on the 9th September. Leopold can mark him as absent on the calendar by clicking on this lesson and clicking ‘cancel attendance’ with the red cross.
The system will give you an option to send PJC a message as to why you are absent. This can be useful for both parties but this is not obligatory.
The original lesson will now have a red head instead of a green one.
Leopold cancelled Wolfgang's lesson with at least 24 hours notice so he now has a make-up credit and can register him for another lesson. He could choose to do this now, or if he wasn’t sure which lesson was best, he could save it for later as the credits stay safely logged on the system. If he goes to the ‘home’ page and scrolls right down near the bottom he can see how many credits he has to use.
Choosing your make-up lesson
Not including the lessons your child is already registered for, lessons only appear on the calendar when there is a space available. With parents frequently cancelling and rescheduling their children’s lessons, lesson times on the calendar will appear and disappear regularly. You can sign up to a lesson with at least 12 hours notice, after which time the lesson registration will close.
When choosing your child’s make up lesson, just watch out for the differences in colour and age:
PURPLE is for lessons at Horsforth School,
GREEN is for lessons at Baildon.
You can use your make-up credit at either venue.
Just make sure the class you are applying for is age appropriate. There are several lessons in the week that have students age 8-14. This would not be a good fit for a 5 year old, as there is a much more grown-up atmosphere in these lessons with less games and longer stretches of time at a task. Just click on the lesson and it will tell you in the description the age range of the student in that lesson.
Registering for a lesson
Leopold can’t make any of the Horsforth make-up times, so he’s going to register Wolfgang for a 10am Baildon lesson on Sunday. All he has to do is click on the lesson and click ‘Register’ with the green tick.
The system will show a list of the possible future lessons. Ignore these and scroll down to click ‘Yes’.
Wolfgang is now registered for his make-up lesson. The make-up credit will stay logged in the system until PJC takes the register in the lesson. Success!
We used to have a termly expiration date on our make-up credits, which we extended to a yearly expiration date. However, we have since decided that in order to make our parents’ lives as easy as possible, there is now no expiration dates on our make-up credits. In return, we ask our parents that if they are booking make-up lessons in the considerable future, that they are courteous and understanding if these need to be rescheduled. Please note that make-up credits are a wonderful bonus we offer to our parents and must be used during full paying months. They cannot be stored up and used instead of a monthly payment, nor be added on at the end of a notice period.
Students from our Horsforth lessons getting on great with the Baildon regulars during one of their make-up sessions.
Your Child’s First Make-Up Lesson
Your child may feel a little apprehensive when attending a different lesson for the first time, with a different set of students and possibly a different venue. Don’t worry about this- it’s completely normal and all of our groups make newcomers feel completely welcome. My favourite thing about our make-up credits is how it enforces our PJC Family ethos. Students from all our Young Beginners classes start getting to know each other as they start attending different days and times, and soon it becomes a case of ‘Hey- I remember you from when you came to our Wednesday class a few weeks ago!’
A Final Plea on Behalf of our Parents...
In order for this fantastic system to work effectively, it’s really important that parents mark their child’s absence on the online calendar when they know they are going to be away. Even if you are not planning on taking advantage of the make-up lessons, please try and find the time to login and cancel your child’s attendance. Not only does this help with planning for the lesson, it opens up the slots to allow parents to use their make-up credits. We sincerely thank all of our parents for this contribution to our PJC Family Community!
PJC Music School offers high quality Piano and Singing lessons to students aged 3-14 in our Young Beginners Programme in Baildon and Horsforth. Visit www.pjcmusicschool.com/Group-Lessons for more information or search pjcmusicschool on Facebook or Instagram.
Piano Buying Guide - It's Not All Black and White
Saturday, October 20, 2018 | Keyboard, Piano, Music, Music Lessons,
Piano Buying Guide- It's Not All Black and White!
You've given your child the incredible gift of music lessons and now face the daunting task of looking for an instrument for them to develop their skills at home. Here is a step by step guide on how to choose the best instrument for your child's stage in their musical journey...
First Month of Lessons
When signing their children up for our Young Beginners Lessons, parents often ask me ‘Do they need a keyboard to start?’ The answer is ‘Not necessarily right away’. Although having an instrument to practise on at home is obviously favourable, the first month of lessons for our really young students (ages 3-5) is always focused on understanding their way around the keyboard. We recommend practice in the form of students showing their parents what they have learned in lessons, and this can be done on a toy keyboard, or even an iPad app- you could easily encourage your children to show you how they find Middle C and the other note names using these. Older students aged 6+ are taught about posture, technique and positioning from very early on, so the need for a decent instrument is more pressing here in order to ensure faster progress.
There are many apps available which will allow your younger child to demonstrate their first few lessons of knowledge.
First Year of Lessons
After the first few weeks, students should begin to get into the habit of practising regularly on a decent instrument. The main question parents should ask themselves here is, should they-
a) buy a cheaper instrument that may only last for a year or two.
b) invest now and be prepared for when their child is at a higher standard.
The most important goal is that your child has an instrument to practise on as soon as possible so either of these options is fine as long as it’s not delayed. Parents who prefer option B should read the information below on ‘Grade 1 and Beyond’. Parents who prefer option A read on…
What do I NEED in a keyboard for my child?
Touch Sensitive Keys/Touch Response
This means that the keys change volume depending on how much force you play with, replicating an acoustic piano. This is essential for the development of your child’s playing, as they will need to practise their dynamics (loud & soft) from quite early on in their musical journey.
If you purchase a keyboard with fewer keys than this, the range becomes very limited and it won’t be long before there are not enough keys on the keyboard to play the pieces they are working on (especially with older children). When you’re buying, it should tell you how many keys are on the keyboard but if you’re buying second hand or from a friend or neighbour, make sure you include the white AND BLACK keys when counting how many keys you need.
Adjustable Keyboard Stand
From early on in their lessons, PJC students are encouraged to use good posture and technique. Your child should be sat at the instrument with their knees just in front (underneath) the keyboard. The height of the keyboard should be so that their hands and elbows are at the same level, creating a perfect horizontal line (if you placed a pencil on your child’s forearm from wrist to elbow it should rest perfectly without falling). You don’t need to spend a fortune on a special seat; an adjustable keyboard stand would do the trick for about £15-£20.
When a student's posture is correct, they are then able to achieve the perfect 'claw like' position with the hand while playing.
What do I NOT need to worry about?
‘Songs’ (Inbuilt demo tracks)
‘Styles’ (Backing beats)
‘Voices’ (Instrument Sounds)
Light up keys
These devices can look exciting and sound impressive but by having lessons, your child is learning something more special than flamboyant gadgets- the ability to create music themselves and eventually play and compose anything they want! Although many keyboards come with these anyway, you certainly shouldn’t let these influence your decision when purchasing.
How much should I spend?
It is good idea to buy a good quality keyboard second hand than a cheap new keyboard. Adults often buy keyboards with the intention of learning, and then give up; selling it on for half the price. It’s also very common that they have purchased a stand and sometimes even a bag or headphones that they include with the price, saving an extra £15-£50!
My advice for keyboards is go for Yamaha and Casio as they are well made and produce a good quality sound. Don’t just buy based on the brand alone though, make sure that it has minimum 61 keys and touch response. Stay away from the super cheap brands that come as a bundle such as ‘Gear for Music’ as the quality is poor and they tend not to last.
In PJC group music lessons we use all Yamahas, the best and most up to date being the YPT340s.
Grade 1 and Beyond
As soon as your child progresses to graded examinations, the keyboards above will no longer cut the mustard. All students are examined on acoustic pianos (where the pressed keys cause a hammer to hit the strings). This is a completely different feel to the keyboards discussed above, and students need to be prepared for this. However, although having an acoustic piano is a great benefit, it is not necessary for students to practise on, and buying a digital piano or an electric stage piano could even be the better choice for you.
Do I buy Digital or Acoustic?
Again this all depends on how much you’re wanting to spend. If you buy a piano, remember that it will require at least yearly tuning (about £60 per tuning). There are some digitals that look and sound like an acoustic, retailing at about £3-4K. My strong advice is to stay well away from these. Acoustic Pianos have a very long life in them and digitals have an expiration date. If you’re going to spend that much on a piano, make sure it’s acoustic!
An upright piano of excellent quality retail at about £3-4k new. I always recommend Yamaha and Kawai pianos, as I prefer their tone.
In PJC lessons when a student reaches a milestone piece, they perform their mini-concert to their group on our Yamaha Baby Grand.
Buying a second hand acoustic piano is like buying a second hand car- it’s only as good as how well it’s been looked after. Unless it is dirt cheap and wouldn’t hurt your pocket too much if it was a disappointment, I would go through a reputable dealer rather than buying online. This way, you can make sure the piano has been fully checked over, maintained, and you’re getting a fair price for it. I wholeheartedly recommend Graham at GSG Pianos who I have always trusted implicitly to give me the best deal. You could get a decent quality second hand piano for £600-£700, but £1,000 is more your average benchmark. It is worth noting that there are buying schemes for children under 18 at certain retailers where you can buy a piano over 10 months on 0% finance so enquire about this before purchasing.
Another warning when buying a second hand piano online. Occasionally, pianos are so old that tuning them correctly would break the strings, and the piano is tuned a semi-tone or even a tone lower than concert pitch. This isn’t so much a problem unless your child develops ‘perfect pitch’. I had a friend at Music College who had this, but having learned on one of these old pianos, her ‘perfect pitch’ was actually a semi-tone out. It drove her crazy and after a while, she quit her degree before finishing. Check that the one you are looking at is tuned to concert pitch by downloading a tuning app (often used for string instruments) and playing the notes into the phone or tablet.
If second hand acoustics are like cars, think of second hand digital pianos like televisions. Digital Pianos have a limited shelf life, often of about a decade. Technology moves on and once the parts are not available, the instruments becomes obsolete. Digital Pianos retail new at about £800- £1,500. Any less than £600 and you start to lose quality, any more than £2k, and you should start to to be spending that money on an acoustic which will stand the test of time. You can pick up a digital for £500 second hand. Stay away from digitals from China, which are mass produced and poor quality. Stick with good brand names with long guarantees. Yamaha, Kawai, Roland are my top three.
A Grade 3 student performing at a PJC Summer Showcase on a Roland Digital Piano.
A Final Note ♪
In the same way that you don’t need a brand new car to learn to drive or the latest 4K technology to enjoy your favourite programme, you don’t need to invest in a top range instrument for your child to learn, enjoy and achieve when it comes to the piano. The best thing you can do as a parent is to encourage and support them with regular practice. As their skills develop, the instrument does become more significant, but nothing is as important as the time and effort put into their playing, and the encouragement and support they will receive from you.
With over a decade of outstanding results, PJC Music School provides group piano and singing lessons to young beginners Aged 3-14. For more information, contact Phillippa here.
Three Parenting Attitudes to Childhood Music Lessons
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 | Music, Parenting, Music Lessons
Three Parenting Attitudes to Childhood Music Lessons
Whether you’re a grade 8 musician or don’t know a crotchet from a quaver, your child could benefit from music lessons. Local Head of Music and mum of two, Phillippa of PJC Music School explains how your experience of music (or lack of) can influence your child.
After twelve wonderful years of teaching music both to my private students and in secondary schools, I have realised that when it comes to music lessons for their children, there are three types of parent:
1.The ‘pass it on’ parent
This type of parent was lucky enough to have music lessons themselves when they were younger, and wants their own child to experience the joy of being able to sing or play an instrument. They have fond memories of being in ensembles at school and making friends that grow out of the shared experience of rehearsing and performing together. They understand how music shaped them in their own lives; giving them confidence, a sense of identity and pride. They want their own children to understand the amazing benefits of hard work and to feel that satisfaction of seeing themselves improve. They recognise that their intelligence, success and interpersonal skills are a reflection of those music lessons and they want to pass on this incredible gift!
2. The ‘give them what I never had’ parent
I see a lot of these. Parents who, for whatever reason, didn’t get the opportunity to learn an instrument as a child and this makes them even more eager to give their own children those chances. This type of parent gets the most joy out of seeing their little ones progress. From the moment their child surpasses their own ability, the pride and awe that these parents experience is really very moving to witness. They really appreciate it when I send them videos of their child playing or singing in lessons, they cherish the moments when they see them performing live and they are always blown away when they bring home a piece of music that they have composed themselves.
3. The ‘but I’m tone deaf!’ parent
Now, this is an interesting one! This attitude almost always stems from fear. The parent might have had a bad experience with music lessons in the past, been told they weren’t musical or felt inferior and gave up quickly. This limited belief about their own musicianship is subconsciously transferred onto the next generation. The parent is fearful that their child won’t enjoy the lessons and won’t succeed or thrive in that environment. At the first sign of hesitation or difficulty from the child, the parent doesn’t encourage them to continue, but instead reinforces the idea that ‘our family are not musical’. To these parents I ask you this; what musical path would you have taken with another teacher or an alternative teaching style? What if you were consistently encouraged instead of criticised; given a safe and supportive learning environment with the freedom to express yourself, make mistakes and really enjoy your music? Would things have been different?
I am eternally grateful to my own parents, who were both in the ‘give them what I never had’ category. When my eldest son turned 4, I realised I had become a ‘pass it on’ parent. With this new found understanding of what would be the best learning environment for my own children, combined with over a decade of getting to know the wants and needs of my students and their families, I was inspired to create a brand new program of lessons in my music school.
The ‘Young Beginners’ program teaches piano and singing to ages 3-12, with a fun, engaging, group-based learning style. These hour-long weekly sessions allow enough time to develop real skill, technique and repertoire while the variety of games and activities in this group dynamic enables focus and enjoyment with a love of music at its core! With this strong foundation, I am confident these students will progress through my music school from enthusiastic young beginners to creative and passionate grade 8 musicians- and perhaps one day will go on to be ‘pass it on’ parents themselves.
Places are available on the ‘Young Beginners’ program from September and take place in Baildon and at Horsforth School. Pre-book now and get one lesson FREE.
Contact Phillippa at PJC Music School here