Five Essentials to Cover in a First Piano Lesson

Through the 18th century, there was but one instrument that reigned supreme for both amateur music lovers and professional critics alike – the piano. Invented solely by one man, Bartolomeo Cristofori, the piano was intended to be a better version of the harpsichord, which didn’t allow the musician much control over the volume. As it was called, the piano – or the pianoforte– soon became a leading instrument in Western classical music. It was renowned for its deep, rich notes and calming yet electrifying melodies. 

The piano is capable of gradations both soft and loud and can create symphonies incredibly intricate and beautiful. To the professional pianist, playing the piano is another mode of speech. It’s a way to express themselves in ways more eloquent than words. However, getting to the stage where playing the piano is as natural as breathing is a long, arduous process. First, you’ll need a piano! Visit pianos shops to learn which piano will be the right fit for you. Next, you’ll need lessons. While each piano lesson is undoubtedly important, the first lesson holds immense significance. If you’re looking to start your journey of becoming a piano maestro, keep reading below. We’ll cover the five essentials that the first piano lesson needs to have. 


Beginning to play the piano can be exciting yet daunting simultaneously. The piano isn’t something you can learn in a month, which can scare many prospective students. The first piano lesson’s most essential step is a proper introduction to both the teacher and the instrument. If the student isn’t comfortable with either of the two, there can be no future lesson progression. It can help teachers get some background on the student – whether they’ve played the piano before or why they chose this instrument. 

Furthermore, it’s vital to introduce new students to the piano. Show students the progression of notes from high to low and spot patterns in the black and white keys. Explain to them how the piano works, or give them some history of the instrument. It’s also essential to introduce the piano notebook. This notebook is the best place for jotting down songs, assignments, and theory pages to help the students retain lessons better. The piano notebook can be exceptionally helpful with online lectures and helps give lessons the necessary structure. Introductions are vital for online music classes for adults who are beginners. They can make the process feel natural and help both student and teacher connect better. 

The musical alphabet 

Before learning to read, we need to understand the alphabet. The same rule applies to learning the piano. Before we know how to play, we need to memorize the musical alphabet. Although the musical alphabet has only the first seven letters, it can take beginners a while to spot each sound. That’s why it’s vital to get students started on learning the alphabet from the first lesson. Learning to read music allows you to understand chords and musical signatures better. Musical students need to know how to say the musical alphabet on skips, or backward or forwards starting at any random letter. Flashcards are a helpful way of getting students acquainted with the alphabet.

When teaching the musical alphabet, students need to play all the musical alphabets on the piano. However, it’s essential to start small in the first lesson and let the students feel accomplished not to lose motivation. 

Rhythm activities

We often hear the term ‘rhythm’ thrown around, but not many know what it entails. Rhythm plays a vital role in all forms of music and helps give the various notes structure. Without rhythm, you would have an off-beat, unharmonious melody that hurts your ears more than satisfies them. Understanding rhythm allows you to express yourself fluently through your melodies. Playbacks are an effective way of getting students used to the rhythm. The teacher can play a short piece and ask the student to echo. Rhythm percussion instruments are also valuable for helping students understand different beats and how they can replicate them. 

Understanding rhythm doesn’t just help students in the musical realm. Instead, it can help improve their cognitive development immensely and improve attention span and executive functions. 

Rote learning a piece

Before students can independently play a piece by themselves, they must learn how to rote-learn music pieces. Rote learning is crucial because it can help new students feel like they’re progressing fast and can keep them motivated for the future. Classical music has different tempos, and rote learning allows them to replicate the ritardando, notes, beat, and form. 

That might seem like a challenging task, but it’s something most students can easily accomplish in the first lesson, whether they have prior experience or not. While it’s essential to start with a simple piece, you also don’t want to start with something so elementary that the student doesn’t feel like they learned something. You can give students a longer piece to follow for homework assignments to better understand all the beats and tempos. 


Homework is a vital part of the first piano lesson for various reasons. It teaches students that working on their piano skills isn’t just for the duration of the classes. Instead, it’s something they need to focus on throughout the day. Homework instructions need to be as precise as possible to help the students accomplish as much as they can on their own. Homework can entail replicating whatever the student played in the first lesson independently or brushing up on their music theory.

Furthermore, homework can also help students outline how much they need to practice each day too quickly. A weekly schedule is also helpful and can show students just how much they can progress each week. Of course, feedback on any homework assignments is essential. It offers students that they need to take each project seriously and helps them feel accomplished.


The first piano lesson can be a breeze if you cover these essentials. These tips can help both students and teachers feel more comfortable during lessons and collaborate on honing their piano skills. As in any teaching process, both students and teachers can learn much from each other and grow as musicians. Once you’ve mastered these basics, you can quickly fulfill your dreams of becoming the next piano prodigy. 

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