A good piano teacher is essential to guide a student towards his full potential in music.
While there are natural abilities in terms of musicality, intellect and coordination skills, much of it is cultivated by hard work and good training.
Many years ago, a young beginner student started lessons who was not able to sing in tune. 'Tone deaf' as many would call it. 'Unmusical'? This student was diligent and when trained systematically was singing in tune in months. With training, his ear was developed and he was able to complete his ABRSM grade 8 with high distinction and continue on to diploma studies.
Feedback and encouragement from a knowledgeable and passionate teacher are important when learning piano.
Those who learn without adequate feedback and encouragement soon run into difficulties.
While learning piano, many habits are being formed at a subconscious level. Such habits include:
Depending on the natural musicality and psychomotor skills of the learner, students without adequate feedback and help from teachers are likely to form poor habits.
At the early levels, good habits in reading, listening, muscular coordination and self-awareness are necessary to lay a good foundation for more complex playing later on. When left unchecked, habits may worsen with practice and will cause problems later on.
When problems surface and seem 'unsolvable,' students end up discouraged and sadly feel that they are simply 'not musical.' Many give up altogether while a few give 'one last chance' by changing piano teachers.
Correcting poor habits is essential to students who started poorly and wish to advance in playing piano.
As poor habits are a result of years of misguided practice, they are not that easy to correct.
However, with a good teacher and a diligent student, such habits can usually be corrected to a good degree.
It's never too late
When poor habits are left uncorrected, many students start to fail exams in grades 6 to 8. I had a few of these students (who failed exams with their past teachers) take lessons with me. Their piano playing skills needed extensive relearning with loads of practical feedback and encouragement. After 1-1.5 years of focused and arduous work many could achieve at least a merit at ABRSM grade 8 level.