Merriam School of Music offers a comprehensive lesson offering in the area of classical piano music. This generally refers to piano music written between the late 1600’s – early 1900’s. Common “classical” composers include Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Brahams, Liszt, or Rachmaninov.
The Merriam School of Music offers courses beginning as early as 4 that begin to expose students to repertoire from this era, and as early as 6, students can begin specializing in this study.
Merriam offers it’s own examination system, named ‘KEYFEST’, for the certification of progress and results tracking. We also prepare students for Royal Conservatory of Music examinations should they want to include them as a part of their study.
Students of Merriam School of Music’s Classical Piano courses, regardless of level or age, will be taught a comprehensive set of skills that equip them for both future entrance into classical music schools, or completion of either / both the RCM and KEYFEST exam systems. The skillset is broader in scope than what RCM examinations require, meaning that a student can study the Merriam Curriculum while preparing for an RCM exam, if that happens to be a goal.
The long-term goals of our courses is to leave students with a knowledge base and skill set which encourages a high performance level, while also building musicality for a mature interpretation and sense of satisfaction.
Each class takes place between one teacher and one student, for either 30 or 60 minutes.
Parents may request to attend the class with their child, although we leave that decision up to each individual teacher. Please keep in mind that our rooms are fully monitored and every classroom has large open windows to the hallway so that parents can always monitor what’s happening.
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:
Merriam School of Music offers classical piano study at all levels, although we recommend a group format for at least the first 2 years of study. Students in private study can learn with no prior experience, all the way to extensive professional experience.
Merriam offers 3 distinct levels of teacher experience and qualification, so that we can adequately cater to the wide range of learning styles, difficulty levels, and ages who seek piano study with us.
Classical Pianos Lessons
|Length:||30 / 60 min|
|RCM Exam Compatible:||Yes|
|Start Date:||Throughout the year|
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.
Instructors play an important role in the success of a music lesson. Along with curriculum, good at-home practice habits, and the right facilities, teachers form a critical pillar in the delivery of effective music training.
The Merriam School of Music employs classical piano instructors who exhibit high levels of all of the following qualities:
- Ability to apply structure and discipline to the lesson
- Keep students on track over the course of the year
- Apply the Merriam Curriculum principles without sacrificing performance level
- Have achieved and maintained a high level of performance themselves
- Have achieved at least a Bachelor or equivalent post-secondary degree in music
- Have demonstrated that at least 80% of their students return year after year (almost 50% more than the industry average)
We receive and solicit for more than 200 applications per year for our teaching positions. Fewer than 5% of those applicants meet the above criteria.