Third Street Music School's Piano Department welcomes students of all ages and levels. New students age five and under, or students with prior playing experience, will have the opportunity to meet with the Department Chairperson for placement.
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Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it."
- Tom Lehrer
Students may opt for Suzuki approach-based lessons which pair individual instruction with a weekly Repertoire Class that immerses the student in the world of music with a group of their peers, or a traditionally taught class for those over 5, who have begun to read words.
Instruction for piano is available in focused, one-on-one individual lessons; in shared partner lessons where two students of a similar level learn from the same teacher; and in larger group lessons that place 3-5 students in front of electronic keyboards.
Class Types: Traditional & Suzuki Instruction Methods
There are many methods for teaching music; furthermore, all instruments and voice can be taught traditionally. The most effective teachers bring the best of what they have learned through their own training and experience and develop an approach that enables them to respond to the needs of each individual student. In general, the traditional approach to music study integrates note reading and playing with a customized repertoire based on the student’s needs and interests.
The traditional approach is best suited to adults and children over the age of five who have already begun to read words. Parent/guardian participation in a child’s lesson, though desirable, is optional with the traditional method of instruction.
The Suzuki Method of instruction is available for piano, violin, viola, cello, string bass and flute. As much a life philosophy as it is a method, The Suzuki Method of instruction was developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki in Japan after the end of World War II . Dr. Suzuki believed that all children are innately musical, that they can excel musically and that a “beautiful heart,” sensitivity and discipline can be achieved through hearing and playing music when started early in life. The Suzuki Method is most effective when started with very young children.
Here are some hallmarks of the Suzuki Method:
- The method is based on the way children learn their native language—by listening and imitating. Pieces are learned by ear (without reading music) and played from memory. Note reading is incorporated later on in the child’s training, when the child is beginning to read words.
- Parent, teacher and child are all active participants in the learning process. Parents must be willing to learn the instruction method and make a commitment to attend lessons, group classes and performances. Parents are also required to participate in at-home practice.
- The curriculum uses a common repertoire which is organized by books of advancing levels, starting with Book 1. The common repertoire enables students to play with each other and creates an international community of Suzuki learners.
- In addition to individual, partner or group lessons, young Suzuki students are required to attend a weekly repertoire class. The purpose of this class is to review and reinforce pieces learned in lessons while developing musicality and ensemble playing skills, often using games to highlight important technical points and encourage music reading. Repertoire classes also promote development of musical rapport among students.
Classes in Piano Improvisation introduce piano students to the basic elements of jazz that will prepare them for a more formal program of jazz study. Across four levels of guided study, students are exposed to the core elements of a typical jazz program that combines individual study, ensemble performance and theory, focusing on chord voicings, jazz scales, swing rhythms and more. Placement into a Piano Improvisation Level is at the discretion of the Piano Department Chair, and accelerated pathways through the program are available to students who demonstrate advanced aptitude for study.
Jazz Theory & Improvisation
One key element common to almost all jazz styles is improvisation. A strong base in jazz theory, performance and improv can also provide an excellent background for other popular styles of music. Third Street offers an a class in Jazz Theory & Improvisation which complements participation in band and jazz ensembles for students of any instrument.
NEW! Piano party
A fun beginning piano class for our youngest musicians ages 2.5 - 3 years with an adult! Children spend class singing together, playing musical games, drumming and trying out their songs on the piano. By the end of the semester, children will sing and play such songs as “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Hot Cross Buns.” Though designed as a prelude course to individual Suzuki lessons, this is a wonderful preparation for all piano methods.
NEW! Piano Fun for Adults
For those new to the instrument or second-time around, this stress-free group class allows you to move at your own pace. Tuesday night students are invited to join other adult music students for a wine and cheese reception!
Third Street Music School offers many performance opportunities to its students, including Music Hours, Studio Recitals, Department Recitals and more. Click here for details on these fun and fulfilling opportunities.
Students are encouraged to join and play in one of the School's many ensembles. Ensembles available to piano students include Chamber Ensembles, Jazz Bands, Rock Bands and Piano Instrumental Ensemble.
The Eda McFarlane Clark Piano Certificate Program
The Eda McFarlane Clark Piano Certificate Program, based on The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program, is a rigorous curriculum that charts student progress through two preparatory stages and ten levels of achievement. Students who participate in the program will have performance opportunities, receive external adjudication, and will be awarded a certificate of achievement at the completion of each level at the year-end Honors Concerts. Those who complete the highest levels will have a well-rounded music education.
This program is free and open to all piano students who take individual instruction at Third Street. Click here to read the guidelines. If you are interested in participating, talk to your teacher or the Piano Department Chairperson, Joan Forsyth. Current participants, click here to view the 2016-17 results.
The Music Development Program
Initiated by the Royal Conservatory of Music (Canada), The Music Development Program is part of an effort to establish a standardized course of music study throughout the United States. Periodic, non-competitive assessments (examinations) are a core component and help to measure each student’s progress. Third Street is a Founding School and Assessment Center for the Music Development Program. Click here for more details about the program and to register for an assessment.
The Piano Olympics are a fun way for students to strengthen skills and gain a sense of accomplishment. Students are divided into teams by skill level and age, and compete for their adopted “countries” with prizes given to all participants. The emphasis is on participation, preparation and team spirit. The Piano Olympics conclude with an international reception. This program is free to all students enrolled in piano instruction.
Piano Monster Concert
A Piano Monster Concert is for large piano ensembles of up to 16 players who play with a conductor. Piano students of all ages and levels are invited to perform in the Monster Concert on the last Saturday Music Hour in June. Students may sign up for a piece at their sight-reading level.
100 Days of Sight Reading Challenge
This program is designed to motivate and encourage students to develop their note reading skills. It is a free program and all Third Street piano students are invited to participate regardless of their age or level. The students are given a list of suggested repertoire based on their level, however, any materials appropriate for their level can be used. The main goal is to motivate students to practice and develop their music reading skills. Students use a form to keep record of their practice each day.