Beginner Pianos Lessons

Merriam School of Music currently offers beginner piano lessons in two formats:  group piano classes and private piano classes.  Students’ ages and interest will determine which is the better fit.

Priority is given to student engagement through the gamification of the learning environment, specialized technology tools, and social interactivity so that the experience is fun and relevant.  Students who make it through their first year of instruction are more than 8 times as likely to continue to a higher level, so a highly regimented structure of activities is employed to help parents and teachers form good practice habits, and climatize young students to the challenges and rewards of learning a musical instrument.

Generally, we recommend group piano classes to students between the ages of 4-8, particularly if they have no or little experience with music lessons.  For students older than 8, or those who have already had at least a year of private instruction, private instruction may be a better fit.

Merriam School of Music welcomes more than 750 new beginner piano students each year, and is a leading institution for piano instruction in Canada.


Beginner Piano Students at Merriam School of Music, regardless of whether they are in group or private classes, will be taught a comprehensive set of skills that can be applied to either a classical or contemporary focus.

The long-term goals of our courses is to leave students with a knowledge base and skill set which is understood at an applied, linguistic level.  This is contrasted with the more common memorization / regurgitation model which is less likely to be retained or used after the students’  initial study period is complete.


Group:  Each class takes place between one teacher and up to 8 students, with at least one parent accompanying each student.

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:

Beginner Piano Lesson students can be any age, as young as 4 years old.  For students between 4 and 8, group lessons have demonstrated a greater success rate.  For students older than 8, or students who have had previous private instruction for at least a full year, private lessons are generally recommended.

Beginner Pianos Lessons

Length:30 / 60 min
RCM Exam Compatible:Yes
Locations:Oakville, Vaughan
Start Date:Throughout the year
Term:40 Lessons/Year
Admission:Open admission
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

Ear Training

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.

Sight Reading

Students at every level are taught to recognize and play in real-time: individual notes, chords, melodic passages, and full two-clef writing

Basic Composition

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.

Technology Integration

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.


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MERRIAM School of Music Locations

MERRIAM School of Music

(905) 829-2020
 Monday - 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM
 Tuesday - 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM
 Wednesday - 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM
 Thursday - 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM
 Friday - 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM
 Saturday - 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
 Sunday - 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

MERRIAM School of Music

(905) 660-9503
 Monday - 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM
 Tuesday - 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM
 Wednesday - 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM
 Thursday - 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM
 Friday - 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM
 Saturday - 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
 Sunday - 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM