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Talking Piano Lessons with Christie Peery

Christie Peery piano lessons ArtistWorks:  How long have you been teaching piano lessons? 

Christie: I started teaching piano when I was 9 years olds - so (not to give away my age or anything)  31 years.

AW:  What age do you recommend people start taking piano lessons?

Christie:  5 years old if a parent can sit and practice with the child daily.  8 years old if the child is going to mostly do it on their own.  The most important training for Classical piano is the first few years when muscular and musical habits are formed.  These things can be learned later, but poor habits are hard to break and strong old habits make you sound like a genius. 

AW:  If someone has already been taking piano lessons with someone else, is there anything they'll need to know about the Peery Method and your style of teaching?

Christie:  The Peery Method is a very structured, step by step way of teaching.  The piano lessons start out very specific so that proper form and technique is learned.  This gives the students the tools needed to be able to make any sound they want as their playing ability increases.  It really takes the ceiling off of how any person can play - talented or not!  As the piano lessons progress there is more flexibility in the approach and we talk more about principles rather than exact ways of how to play something.  The Peery Method also offers a unique certification system so it is easy to know what to practice next and when you have mastered a skill or a piece.

online piano lessons with Christie Peery

AW:  What can a classical piano student expect to learn in your online piano lessons at ArtistWorks?

Christie:  They can expect to gain a strong classical foundation, to increase their finger control, articulation and touch, they will fine tune their ear and be able to better hear and perform phrases and shapes in music which can then better express character and emotion in music.  They will also become better sight readers, learn basic keyboard theory and learn how to chord and sing.  They will enjoy meeting the other piano students at ArtistWorks and witnessing their progress.  My students are very good to each other and motivate each other through their piano journey.  It is one of my favorite parts about my online piano school.

AW:  For people just starting to learn piano, what are some things they should know before starting piano lessons?

Christie:  You need to commit to practicing every day - or at the least 5 days a week.  Practicing piano is like brushing your teeth.  You can't expect much good to come from not brushing for weeks and then spending hours brushing at a time.  A little bit a day goes a long way!  You need to be patient with yourself.  Because you are with yourself every day it is easy not to hear progress.  But you are progressing!  And with my online piano lessons you can hear and see your progress because all of your video lessons are there are on your student page.  It is very motivating to have this record of progression to refer back to.

AW: You teach piano online as well as in person - is there a difference between your online piano lessons and your in person piano lessons?

Christie:  Video piano lessons are useful because you can hear and see me perform an item as many times as you need.  You also get to hear other students perform the same assignment and you get to hear my comments to them.  This process really trains great musicians because you are hearing and assessing right from the beginning.  Video lessons also encourage you to do your very best.  With in-person lessons it is easy to go to a piano lesson unprepared, only to find yourself in the same position the next week.  With video lessons you don't send in the video until you have made progress.  You can also improve just by watching the videos and other students learn.  Some people are too busy to go to a weekly lesson or they get too nervous.  The online piano lessons provide great flexibility to give the student the opportunity to learn in the way it best fits their life.

AW:  What materials do your students need before taking piano lessons online with you?  Can they download them from your website?

Christie:  You can start doing lessons right away without materials, but there are materials needed to use the full curriculum.  Think of it as you would in person lessons - you purchase books to take to your lesson.  That is the same with my online piano school.  The lesson plan can be downloaded, but the repertoire and sight reading books need to ordered.  I recommend that students order the physical materials as soon as they join, even though they can get started without them.

AW:  In your online piano lessons, can your students use an electronic keyword if they don't have a full piano?

Christie:  Many of my students use electronic keyboards.  Of course the better the instrument, the more you will get out of your lessons.  With Peery Piano Online you are learning how to make a wide variety of different sounds on the instrument.  A poor instrument will not respond as well to these subtleties and you may not hear a difference in your playing, which is why a good instrument is useful.  I recommend a keyboard with weighted, touch sensitive keys and a full 88 key keyboard with pedals.

AW:  You've been teaching piano online at ArtistWorks for 3 years now - has it changed your approach to teaching piano?  Is there anything that your students have taught you?

Christie: I am a true believer in the power of video to teach music!  It is much more effective than the written or spoken word.  You can talk all day long about how something should sound or look, but when you demonstrate the student understands instantly.  I have been amazed with my students.  I have had children, adults, piano teachers!  All willing to learn and with the goal of playing their very best.  I am blown away with their progress.  Sometimes I get a video of a student and their playing sounds like a professional concert pianist - when only months ago it sounded like an amateur.  Learning the right tools unlocks their inner musicality and my students are amazingly musical!

AW:  What are some common issues you notice in watching your students' videos?

Christie:  I see a lot of tension in arms and wrists.  This limits the sounds you can make at the piano immensely.  It also is not healthy to play with tension.  I also see a lot of poor hand position.  The thumb is especially tricky and so important to get in the right place!  But with Peery we address and correct this from the very first lessons.

AW:  What is the advantage to taking piano lessons online this way vs. skype piano lessons?

Christie: Price is a huge advantage.  My skype lessons are $160/hour whereas you can get piano lessons at my online piano school for much cheaper.  My online piano school keeps a record of your lessons - both your playing and my response to you - so you can refer back to them at any time.  All of the videos are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There's a wonderful social aspect and warm community of fellow learners who support each other and cheer each other on.

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piano lessons with Christie Peery

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