People ask me what a consultation lesson is, why is it free, so on and so forth, so I thought I would very quickly outline my thoughts behind this. When a prospective student or parent sends me an email asking about piano lessons in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, there are so many questions that arise for both parties. The consultation lesson is the opportunity to answer these questions, meet with the student/parents, access the logistical feasibility (piano, student’s address, commuting time) and give both parties a chance to see if this would be a good musical match.
A consultation lesson is also the chance for the student to sample an actual piano lesson with me – it replicates a normal piano lesson in that I do nothing differently. There are nerves and awkwardness, to be sure, as with any first encounter, but these quickly vanish once I get down to musical and technical matters, even with beginners and children with no previous experience of piano lessons. The only requirement for studying with me is that the student already have a sufficient interest in piano lessons to justify owning a piano – digital or acoustic is fine, as is a full length keyboard, especially in the very early stages. Some piano teachers are very strict about the “no keyboard” policy; but for very young children or those who cannot afford to splurge on a digital piano or acoustic piano while their child decides whether they like the lessons or not, a mid-range keyboard is often a good starter option. In any case, the consultation lesson can address all these issues and provide a safe space from which to explore introductory musical matters in students from beginners right up to diploma level. My teaching style remains unchanged in subsequent lessons, which is why I offer the consultation lesson – so that parents of very young children can observe my teaching, while older students can decide for themselves if my teaching is what they seek at this stage in their pianistic development.
The consultation lesson is also the time during which we talk about fees, terms, dates and times, missed lesson policy and other matters to do with my teaching practice. Parents and students can ask questions about anything they like, and the lesson ends with me providing enrollment and registration forms in advance of the first lesson of term.