David  Marsh

         David Marsh Organist
         Piano Lessons, Organ Lessons, Concert Artist

General Lesson Plan

This is an example only. Every student gets their own lesson plan.

1- Introduction to the Piano Keyboard and Treble and Bass Clef

The purpose of this lesson is to get the student acquainted with the very basic fundamentals of music reading, and to start developing an understanding of how written music can be played on the piano keyboard. Also discussed are the names of the notes on the piano keyboard. The homework for this lesson focuses on memorizing both the treble and bass clefs (where the notes on the staff are), and memorizing the location of notes on the piano keyboard.


2- Music Theory: Rhythm

Rhythm is a very important part of music; without it, music could not exist. For some students, rhythm can be difficult to learn. It is crucial that the student grasp this information, for without it- learning to play the piano will be next to impossible to accomplish.


3- Music Theory: Half Steps; Whole Steps; Scale Degrees

This lesson builds a very important foundation for the understanding of more difficult concepts discussed later in the lesson plan. Having an understanding of half steps, whole steps, and scale degrees will help the student understand chord construction and classical analysis procedures discussed later in the lesson plan.


4- Music Theory: Major Scales and Natural Minor Scales

Sometimes, it can be difficult for the student to understand why learning scales can be important. Not only do scales help in establishing finger and hand strength, but (when taught correctly) also help in developing hand independence. Similarly, this lesson teaches key signatures indirectly, which will help a lot when we get to composition, analysis, and improvisation.


5- Assignment of First Song

During this lesson, the student’s first song will be assigned. The fundamental concepts of the piece will be discussed, and practice advice will be given to help the student learn the song faster. It is important that the student constantly work on memorizing any assigned song; it will help them drastically when it comes to performance, because the fourth song assigned will be a piece that is recital ready. Practicing memorizing music this early in the lesson plan will help when it comes to memorizing more complex music.


6- Review of First Song; In-Class Study of First Song

This lesson will focus on evaluating the student’s progress from all of the practicing done the previous week. Difficult concepts and passages will be addressed, and further goals will be set to help the student learn the song in an efficient manner.


7- Music Theory: Chord Theory and Construction

During this lesson, we will introduce the concepts of chords and how they are constructed. Chords will be very necessary to understand once we reach jazz piano, classical analysis, improvisation, and composition. Basic chords are taught here, more advanced chord structures are taught later in the lesson plan.


8- Music Theory: Introduction to Ear Training

Unless the student already has perfect pitch, this lesson is crucial. We will start the process of training the student’s ear so that they may play what they hear, and play what they hear in their mind. This is also very important when we reach improvisation and composition later in the lesson plan.


9- Assessment of First Song; Assignment of Second Song

During this lesson, I will evaluate the student’s progress with their first song. Hopefully, the song will be memorized. We will also pick a second song for the student to learn. It will be slightly more difficult and slightly longer than the first song.


10- Review of Second Song; In-Class study of Second Song

This lesson will focus on evaluating the student’s progress from all of the practicing done the previous week. Difficult concepts and passages will be addressed, and further goals will be set to help the student learn the song in an efficient manner.


11- Piano Technique: Assignment of Hand and Finger Strength Exercises

It is important that the student start developing hand and finger strength. This will help the student be better prepared for more difficult pieces where precision is an absolute must. This will also help further advance hand independence, which is just as important to playing piano as any other topic that can be learned in this particular area of study.


12- Assessment of Second Song; Preparation for Third Song

During this lesson, we will assess the student’s progress with their second song. We will address any further problems that the student may have that have the potential to hinder future success. We will also pick a third song, and begin to shift focus to learning the third song, which will be more difficult and longer than the second song.


13- Assignment of Third Song; In-Depth analysis of Third Song

This lesson we will be focusing on the underlying basics of the third song. We will look through it and attempt to identify any problems that the student may have this coming week. It is important that the student remain attentive to detail during this lesson, as the third song will be the most challenging piece assigned thus far.


14- Review of all Concepts Discussed so Far

Today will be a more laid-back lesson, as we have dedicated the entire duration of the lesson to a question-and-answer session. It is important that the student have questions. If the student feels that they do not have any questions, the following question will be asked: “So you have perfect understanding of everything that we have discussed the past thirteen lessons?”. In the event that they do in fact have absolutely no questions and do have excellent understanding, we will devote this time to working on the third song together.


15- Music Theory: Ear Training Continued; In depth study of Third Song

Today, half of the lesson will be dedicated to ear training. It is important that the student develop a good ear, as it will make music much more enjoyable, and help in further lessons later on in the lesson plan. For the last half of the lesson, we will continue our in- depth study of the third song.


16- Music Theory: Introduction to the Circle of Fourths

This is one of my most favorite lessons to teach. Today, we will be learning about the circle of fourths. The circle of fourths (which is the circle of fifths backwards) is important to understand because it can help the student get a better understanding of scales, key signatures, chord construction, chord progressions, relative minor keys, and much more. It is because of the circle of fourths that scales have not been stressed; understanding the circle of fourths will teach the student every major and natural minor scale (the 24 scales).


17- Jazz: Introduction to Improvisation

And here we are with another one of my most favorite lessons to teach. Today, we will begin learning about different improvisational techniques and strategies when faced with difficult music, or faced with the situation of “We have a Piano! Why don’t you play something for us?”. Improvisational skill coupled with ear training equals the ability to play almost any song desired, just as long as the player has heard it before. Understanding the circle of fourths is critical to this lesson.


18- Jazz: Introduction to Complex Chords

The understanding of complex chords is another are that I love to teach. Complex chords give color and beauty to music, and understanding how to build these chords will give the student much enjoyment in learning their next song.


19- Assessment of Third Song; Preparation for Composition

Today the third song should be completely learned and memorized. We will assess our progress with the third song, answer any questions, and prepare for the next topic of discussion: composition.


20- Introduction to Music Notation in the Context of Composition

Knowing how to write down what you hear in your head is a very handy skill to have. Today, we will focus on learning more complex methods of music notation so that we can begin writing our own songs. Writing down the music you hear in your head is a very satisfying thing to accomplish. This will also help with future homework assignments relating to writing your own song.


21- Classical Piano: Preparing for Fourth Song

The fourth song will be a classical piece. The art of playing classical music can be boring to many students, so in this lesson I will be introducing interesting concepts that will help the student find more enjoyment in practicing and perfecting the fourth song.


22- Assignment of Fourth Song; in depth analysis of Fourth Song

The fourth song is a classical piece of piano literature, and requires a certain level of skill to be accomplished. The fourth song will not be out of reach for the student, but certainly slightly difficult for the student to practice and memorize. The fourth song will be considered a recital piece. While I do not require students to participate in Soli Studios Recitals, I do heavily encourage it, and this piece would be excellent for the student to have memorized and recital ready.


23- Assessment of Fourth Song; In-Class Training on Fourth Song

Today we will continue our musical journey with the fourth song. Difficult concepts will be addressed and the lesson will be structured so that the student will develop questions that I may answer.


24- Assessment of Fourth Song; In-Class training on Fourth Song

Today we will continue our study of the fourth song. Difficult concepts will be addressed and progress will be made with the song in the area of memorization.


25- Completion of Fourth Song; Begin Memorizing For Recital Purposes

The title says it all! Today, the student should have the fourth song learned. This week, the student should focus on memorizing it.

Above is a Six-Month overview. Lessons 26 and up are not shown here, for reasons of simplicity.

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