Are you an adult who used to play piano when they were younger, but had to stop because ‘life’ got in the way? Or perhaps the way in which you were taught caused you to reject it at the time, but you’d like to re-explore it?
Merriam School of Music has more than 700 adult students presently, and whatever the reason for your interest, we’re ready to help you achieve your goals.
We offer courses specifically tailored to an adult learner. Adult students generally have different priorities than young learners, learn at a different rate (generally faster), and therefore require highly personalized lesson planning.
There are two types of lesson available to adult learners: private one-on-one instruction, or group coaching in a band setting (“Band Chops”).
The right expectations
Adult students learn piano, and enjoy piano, in very different ways than a young learner. Playing should be a joy, and a release from the everyday…it shouldn’t be a part of the stress or expectations of a day. That doesn’t mean that playing piano won’t come with it’s share of hard work – but the reasons for the work are one of personal satisfaction, not academic ones.
We’ll always make sure that we’re tailoring our lesson structures to meet your expectations and goals, not ours.
The right repertoire
What’s the best part of learning to play the piano? Getting to play the songs you love! Imagine sitting down to play that BIlly Joel or Elton John tune you’ve always wanted to play…or maybe that Chopin Nocturne you’ve always loved hearing.
We get it. If you spend all of your time learning scales, theory and harmony, and practicing the same song over and over – one you may not even like – this isn’t going to be very fun.
Getting you some enjoyable, quick ‘wins’ so you can feel great, and maybe even show off a little, is what we’re all about.
The right teacher
Not every teacher can switch gears back and forth between 8 year olds and 45 year olds. Being able to communicate in a different manner, quickly change priorities and goals, and most of all, relate to why you’re back at the piano again, takes a special type of educator. We don’t pair our adult students with just any teacher – our team of adult educators has been picked because of years of successful track records.
Many adults are seeking personal enjoyment, social opportunities, and methods of mindfulness and relaxation when they choose to learn a musical instrument. They are often less interested in exams, public performance, or highly regimented learning styles. Both our private courses and group coaching course seek to deliver comprehensive skillsets in a manner that stays relevant to adult learners.
Learn a selection of recognizable repertoire
Set low-pressure performance goals that are fun and uncompetitive
Connect you with other adults to enhance the social aspect of learning
Give you the option of progressing more technically, or “keeping things simple”
Group coaching (Band Chops): Each class takes place between one teacher and up to 8 students, each on a different instrument. All bands are hand-selected by the Band Chops coordinator.
Private: Each class takes place between one teacher and one student, for either 30 or 60 minutes.
The classes will occur at the same location, time, and day of week throughout the year, except for holiday periods, or make-up weeks.
Levels / Ages offered:
Adult lessons are offered at all levels and all genres. Speak to an Admissions Officer about the options available to you, and to discuss what might be the best fit for you and your needs.
Adult Pianos Lessons
|Length:||30 / 60 min|
|RCM Exam Compatible:||Yes|
|Start Date:||Throughout the year|
|Genre:||Classical, Jazz, Pop, Blues|
Merriam School of Music applies a holistic curriculum to many of its courses, including beginner piano lessons. This involves integrating the standard requirements commonly found in exam systems like the RCM (Technical requirements, Ear Training, Repertoire memorization) together with other commonly accepted areas of musical literacy.
All levels of private piano study taught at Merriam School of Music will receive training in the following nine areas of study:
Repertoire / Memorization
Students at all levels will be given a selection of repertoire from multiple eras of music (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, Pop, Jazz, Blues) to study and perfect.
Technique / Rudiments
Students are taught a wide range of technical rudiments. Each level of the Merriam Curriculum has an increasing difficulty rating for these rudiments. Generally, they include: scales, arpeggios, modes, 3 and 4 note chord shapes
Students are taught to recognize melodies, intervals, and harmonic progression by ear. This significantly aids in the speed of repertoire learning, as well as enhances the memorization process, and creates a greater versatility in ensemble or band settings.
Students at every level are taught to recognize and play in real-time: individual notes, chords, melodic passages, and full two-clef writing
As young as 4 years old, students begin the process of crafting their own melodies and basic harmonic progressions. It is the musical equivalent of young school students writing their own short stories. It provides an outlet for early creative thoughts, and reinforces the relevance of the skill build for students. There are several opportunities throughout the year to perform and share these compositions.
Students will learn how to compose melodies and rhythms in real-time (often referred to as improvising) across multiple genres. Like composition, improvisation increases the number of situations and opportunities that students can apply their knowledge, and creates conversational-type application of the musical language.
Music is increasingly created with, and enjoyed through technology. Students are given the opportunity to connect with modern music technology as a part of most performances, as well as the classroom learning environment. Technology is presented as a tool to further their explorations of rhythm, composition, and improvisation.
Applied Harmony (vs. written harmony only)
This approach treats the study of harmonic progression as directly connected with the study of performance, rather than a separate academic approach not connected with performance. Students learn to understand the harmonic motion of the pieces they are playing, increasing their depth of understanding and interpretation of those pieces. It also gives them an advanced understanding of how harmony influences improvisation and composition.
Applied Rhythm (vs. written rhythm only)
Studying rhythm in an applied sense vs. isolated requirements will increase students’ capacity for contemporary playing, as well as a stronger sense of pulse across all genres of music. It also encourages the use of rhythm as a compositional and improvisational component.
Compatibility with Royal Conservatory of Music Examinations
As the course material at Merriam overlaps and expands beyond the RCM requirements, RCM exam preparation is still possible while studying the Merriam curriculum. Please speak to your Academic advisor and teacher about your intentions to participate in an RCM and/or Merriam exam at the start of study.
Merriam currently employs approximately 140 teaching professionals. Roughly 20 of those have extensive experience and training in coaching adult learners.
Merriam’s teaching staff come from a diverse background, but all hold post-secondary degrees or diplomas in music performance and/or pedagogy. There are many graduate-level music teachers, as well as several doctorate-level teachers.
Each of our teaching candidates go through 3 months of vetting, and more than 80 hours of annual re-training. They also undergo semi-annual peer review, and are monitored by a department head to ensure effective application of the curriculum, and a consistent student experience.
Merriam School of Music is presently one of the most difficult private music learning institutions to attain a teaching position at. Of the more than 200 applications we receive annually, fewer than 10 are accepted to our staff every year.