21 ace ways to start piano lessons

Do you have a favourite question or activity that you start piano lessons with?

start piano lessons

One of our Curious Piano Teachers asked this question recently and between us we came up with 21 ideas. We’d love to hear about some of your favourite ways to start lessons so do share in the comments.


#1. ‘Now, what have you enjoyed practising this week?’. Blank stare means they’ve got no idea what is in their notebook, haven’t done a scrap or can’t think of the name of what they are working on so that’s a great heads up for me.

#2. ‘Tell me something exciting that happened to you this week’.

#3. ‘How has your week been?’ then something personal like…’how was your birthday party? Did you enjoy cubs?’

#4. ‘Tell me what you have been working on this week on the piano’.

#5. ‘How has your piano week been?!’ At first they weren’t sure and would often just talk about clubs/school etc but most are happy to share what experiences they had with music/at their piano that week.

#6. ‘How’s your day been so far?’

#7. ‘What’s your favourite piece this week?’


#8. ‘Let’s do some improvising’…followed by….’would you like to show me what you’ve been doing this week?’

#9. ‘I have a new song for us to sing today’.

#10. When I need to get a move on: ‘There’s a sticker dot here calling your name to complete this piece – shall we hear it?’ (for 40-piece challenge).

#11. ‘Let’s do some improvising’.

#12. When it comes to pieces: ‘ooh, you were going to work on getting that bit hands together this week weren’t you – how’s that gone for you?’.

#13. I have 3 highlighter pens: blue for brilliant, green for getting there and pink for think. I ask the pupil to highlight their practice notes from last week according to what’s gone well. Whilst they do this I keep busy elsewhere so that they have space.

#14. ‘What have you enjoyed playing on the piano this week?’ or ‘what have you been playing at home?’ The answers are sometimes surprising!

#15. Written on a post-it note is the latest concept, for example phrases. I say to the pupil: ‘Here’s the answer. What could a question be?’


#16. ‘Play something to me.’

#17. ‘What are you desperate to show me today since last week’s lesson?’ Good practisers are truly desperate to show! Non-practisers own up… Troubled ones tell me their troubles… and we get stuck into work…

#18. ‘I’ve got such a long list of exciting things to do in lesson today I don’t know which to start with you – you choose!’ (cue 3 choices…)

#19. These days I’ve been going with ‘what would you like to play for me?’ It allows them to play something they’ve enjoyed previously, something they’ve made up themselves, or something they’ve been practicing. I also ask (most pieces have duet parts) do they want to play it alone or with me.

#20. For older / advanced students: ‘what would you like to focus on today / what do you think you need help with?’

#21. ‘Where would you like to start?’

Well, that should have given you a few ideas for how to start piano lessons for the next few weeks! We’d love to hear about some of the ways you get lessons off to a positive start.

Huge thanks to all the piano teachers whose ideas contributed to this blog post. It was put together by Dr Sally Cathcart, Co-Director and Founder of The Curious Piano Teachers.

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3 thoughts on “21 ace ways to start piano lessons

  1. carrel

    It sounds great to ask things like to students, it makes students more enthusiastic about learning. This approach to students, so that they feel close to the music teacher. I like when my teacher asks me something about my days or they joke around, this makes us not too tense when we will learn to play the piano. clavis.nl

  2. Joy Smith

    I love this … Here is the answer, what could the question be?’. Brilliant!

    Two favourites of mine at the moment are:

    1. What are you most proud of this week? Would you like to show it off to me?

    2. What sort of day have you had? Shall we improvise in that way, the style of the day??

    1. Sally C

      Oh, I like your idea of improvising according to the type of day they’ve had. Thanks for sharing Joy.


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