I had a big decision to make when I was a junior in high school.
I’d just started teaching piano students. The big question was...
Would I follow in the footsteps of my own piano teachers... or would I divert to a more student-centric, friendly and gracious approach?
At the time, severity was the rule of the day. They rapped your hands if you made a mistake. And they only taught the classics... nothing else. If you wanted to learn any other musical style you were on your own.
I distinctly remember the day I took a movie theme I'd bought to my lesson for my teacher's feedback. She told me she would under no circumstances help me learn it. No matter that I’d bought the music with my own money... or that it was part of the current cultural paradigm.
Why on earth would she not help me learn one song I’d bought with my own money and requested her help on? I didn’t understand. (Still don’t.)
For teachers of the day, it was their way or the highway. Students and their parents had little choice but to comply if they wanted instruction.
So what did I do?
I snubbed the methods of that day
That’s why when I started teaching my own students during high school, I made a point of helping students learn the musical styles they want to play as soon as they were able... as well as introduce them to styles every pianist should learn.
Music should be fun. It’s far more fun if you get to play music you love, or styles you’re naturally attracted to.
The fact is that most people who learn to play piano will not become professional pianists. So why not let students have a say in what music they learn for their own enjoyment?
If you’re an adult who took piano lessons as a child and hated it, it’s quite possible that it’s because piano teachers back then used harsh teaching methods and only taught classical music.
I invite you to come back for a more gracious and approachable style of lessons! And I promise I’ll help you play music you want to play.
Promoting success with every lesson
I firmly believe that at least half my job as a master piano teacher is to be a cheerleader... to encourage and help students get past the challenges inherent in learning an instrument. Life is hard enough without a harsh learning environment.
This orientation is truly one of the things that sets me apart from the crowd. I’m very affirming to my students and will do everything in my power to help them succeed... while still maintaining high standards of musicality.
When I have to correct (and it does come with the territory), I may say something like, “Wait, are you sure that’s the right note there?” Or “Does that sound right to you?”
As they gain a little more experience, I often ask the student to tell me what they think they did well in playing a particular song... and what they think they need to improve.
Some techniques are naturally more challenging and take extra practice to succeed at. Knowing that a student might shy away from the hard stuff at home, we work on it together in the lesson. The goal is for them to gain enough confidence that they’re okay with doing it alone at home.
I do everything in my power to help my students understand music and succeed at it.
How I develop successful students
I’m an enthusiastic and approachable teacher who always gives you my best knowledge and expertise... based on nearly 30 years’ of breaking down music concepts into understandable chunks and encouraging people on their musical journey.
In addition, I always give my full professional attention throughout your lesson.
Some piano teachers may charge less, but are not fully present with their students. I never snack, attend to family matters, or take phone calls or texts while teaching. If I want students to focus and learn, I don’t want to be the cause of their distractions.
Over nearly three decades as a piano teacher, I’ve learned how to clearly explain concepts with relatable examples... and have shaped hundreds of students who love and enjoy music for a lifetime.
I’m passionate about music – and about its value to people in all stages of life. That’s why I go to such great lengths to make learning as fun as possible for my students.
That’s also why I teach students how to practice effectively. Because success breeds success. Once you learn a song, you’re inspired to learn more. You're encouraged by your progress.
In a nutshell, I believe in making piano fun, embracing a success mindset, giving students music choices, and making their lesson time the best 30 minutes of their week.
I teach a balance of musical styles and incorporate theory (and other musical skills) into the context of the music they play.
The decision I made as a high school junior has provided me a lifetime of joy as I’ve had the privilege of working with many fantastic students who learned to play and enjoy piano well.
Shorten your learning curve, work with an "A" level teacher, and love playing piano.
Carol Parks is the founder of Allegro Piano School. She calls the OKC area home now, though she's lived all over the country. When she’s not teaching piano, she loves to hang out with family, watch and play sports, go for long walks, travel, or curl up with a good book.