You’ve studied Piano Pedagogy, so now let’s talk about Piano Geragogy:
The PEDAGOGICAL model is teacher directed. We choose repertoire that is appropriate to the child’s level, and teach them musical concepts in a preconceived sequence.
The GERAGOGICAL model is student directed. Lessons are driven by student needs and goals. Older adults often come to lessons with the desire to play a particular song, or piece, or style of music that they love. If they want to learn the Rhapsody in Blue on their first lesson, we say great! We write out or find a simple arrangement of the theme with which they can play with the right hand right away. If they haven’t learned to read music, we write letters next to the note heads and use a letter strip behind the keys,  and we help them to play the rhythm by ear. Or we show them the keys and let them imitate. We don’t say, “that’s too difficult,” but rather we find a way to make the music they love accessible to them. We refer to ourselves as piano coaches. We keep an open mind, and encourage, respect and facilitate their musical dreams!



1) Older adults come to you to learn to PLAY the piano. Get them to PLAY right away, and teach them music theory and technique gradually. Make it FUN to play in your studio! It’s ok if the rhythm isn’t perfect for awhile.  WE ARE NOT MOLDING VIRTUOSOS! We are nurturing piano lovers. 


2) Don’t be too much of a stickler on fingering; see what is most comfortable for your student. And don’t make them count everything! Sometimes using their ear to help play a familiar song is much more fun and accurate for beginners, than trying to count all the eighth notes.


3) Extra songs should be introduced alongside the UPPER HANDS PIANO pages. I like the ”easy” Fake Books published by Hal Leonard, such as Your First Fake Book, The Easy Standards Fake Book, and The Easy Sixties Fake Book. Write in the notes your students don’t know, next to the note heads (not above them!), and write in simple 3rds and 4ths next to the chord symbols, until they’ve learned to read chord symbols. Simplified classical pieces are great too; just write in the letters where needed. Let them choose several things they like, then you find the easiest amongst their choices to play first. Remember, if the rhythm seems too challenging to count, let them use their ear. Singing or saying the lyrics can help them play songs they know with fairly accurate rhythm.


4) Students should summarize new concepts, objectives, and strategies aloud; they should take their own lesson notes and write down their own assignments at the end of the lesson.  At the end of the lesson, go back and play the 3-4 most difficult passages to make sure they remember how to practice them.


5) The brain takes at least 6 hours to process new motor-skills, so don’t expect your students to learn new finger techniques quickly, especially if they are first time beginners.


6) Create a comfortable environment for your students. The ideal temperature for learning is about 70 degrees, and the room should be brightly lit with as much natural light as possible.

Older adults are often particularly sensitive to glare, and noisy surroundings.


7) Some older adults are hearing impaired and may have difficulty distinguishing between the letters E, C, B, G and D when you say them. Try pointing to the letters or notes with a pencil, for example, when you are calling out keys for pentascale exercises.


8) Approximately 70-90% of new information is forgotten within 18-24 hours of the lesson. Implore your students to practice that evening before going to bed, and the next morning, to maximize memory retention. This is the most important practice session of the week!


9) Students will best remember what they have learned at the beginning and end of the lesson; Ask them to warm up on exercises before they come, so that you can start with new material and important concepts soon after they arrive. Take a short break every 15-20 minutes to stretch, take deep breaths, have a quick snack, or take a drink of water. 45 minute-lessons are usually optimal for older adults. It has been my experience that after 45 minutes, learning can begin to decrease.


10) Even though they usually learn at a faster pace than young beginners, adults over 50 are sometimes more self- conscious, and have higher self-expectations. Remind them often of what they have already accomplished, and encourage them wherever you feel it is warranted. Remember what it’s like to be a beginner and praise them for their courage to try something that is so daunting. When you are looking for what they have done well, instead of focusing on just what went wrong, you will find much to compliment!


11) It would be great if you and your students would subscribe to our blog on our website and LIKE our Facebook page (Facebook.com/UpperHandsPiano) to get new information on Music and the Brain. Gaining a better understanding of how the brain processes musical information will support and quicken the learning process.

How to teach piano to older adults. teach Adult piano students. 
How to teach piano to older adults. teach Adult piano students. 
How to teach piano to older adults. teach Adult piano students. 
How to teach piano to older adults. teach Adult piano students. 
How to teach piano to older adults.  t
teach Adult piano students.