Why should I enroll my child in music lessons?

Please visit the Why Music? page of my site to watch a short video on the importance of music education. Preview: it makes kids smarter, improves attention span and emotional control, enhances memory, develops coordination and fine motor skills, fosters self-expression, and increases test scores. 

What is the best age for my child to start private piano lessons?

From birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops more than at any other time period in his/her life. Musical experiences in early childhood ignite all areas of development: intellectual, social and emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. Exposure to music in the early years is critical. So, when should you start exposing your child to music lessons or programs? Right now!

0-4 years old: Find a Kindermusik program or other group music class that involves parent participation. Listening to and creating music together is a wonderful bonding experience for you and your little one.

3-4 years old: If the student already has an older sibling taking private lessons (exposure to music instruction, the observation of siblings playing/making music), consider 15 minute lessons. We will learn basic musical concepts such as high/low, fast/slow, short/smooth, loud/soft using songs, singing, movement, and instruments. If this is your first child, try Kindermusik.

5+: Let’s go! The free trial lesson will determine whether or not your child is ready for private lessons, and how long those lessons will be. Some students may start with 15 minutes. 

What does the cost of a lesson cover?

  • Lesson time + travel time

  • Travel costs (gas, mileage, etc.)

  • Lesson preparation

  • My training and experience:

    • BA Music, University of Michigan

    • MA Journalism, UNSW

    • Yamaha Music Education Certifications in two countries

    • Various early childhood educations courses and seminars

    • 12 years of experience teaching music

  • Continuing education and memberships: In order for me to be the best teacher possible for your student, I make it a priority to stay current with the latest educational trends, methodologies, and developments. This may include seminars, podcasts, and fees for teacher associations such as the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC), the California Music Educators Association (CMEA), and the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME).

  • Other expenses associated with teaching include photocopies, stickers, prizes, office supplies, paid apps used during the lesson, etc.


What sort of instrument do I need, and where can I get one?

I cannot stress enough the importance of having a quality instrument, and here’s why:

  • Technique: proper technique simply cannot be experienced on a substandard instrument, and if your child learns on such an instrument, it will do permanent damage to the way he/she plays. And ,as you know, habits are hard to break.

  • Experiencing the full range of 88 keys: make sure your instrument has at least 61 keys – anything less is just a toy.

  • Tone and quality of sound: your instrument absolutely must have weighted keys, so that your student can associate levels of volume with levels of touch (not buttons).

I am not an expert on the most current developments in musical instruments, and as such, I strongly recommend that you contact David at Greene Music (in Miramar) at 858-586-7000. The best thing to do is to go into a piano showroom with your student and let them experience different instruments! Noel has a background in music education and is an expert at matching families with instruments. I am part of the Greene Music “teacher network,” so if you tell them that Ms. Mariah sent you, you will receive a discount. Again, I am not an expert in instruments, so I want to send you to someone who is.

What do I need to have for in-home piano lessons?

  • A quality instrument

  • A designated space for your instrument and for music books

  • An adjustable bench or chair – this is imperative for proper piano playing technique and you will need something that can go up and down as your child grows.

  • A chair for me (on the right side if possible)

  • A small area that I can use for my teaching supplies would be ideal, such as a small table or a shelf next to the teacher chair.

How often and for how long should a student practice? What are some practice tips?

My Mission Statement: to instill a love and appreciation of music in every student through comprehensive music education

  • A love and appreciation of music will inspire intrinsic motivation, meaning a student will practice because he/she wants to practice, not because of nagging or threatening. Instead:

    • Ask your child to play a song for you, and give him/her your full attention. 

    • Use the word “play” instead of “practice.”

    • Try not to use timers or set time goals. See your child’s Play Book for specific musical goals and work towards those, not “practice for 20 minutes.” Instead, “Your book says to play with your right hand on page 1 and your left hand on page 2. Can you do this well?” It may take 2 minutes; it may take 20.

    • Give plenty of positive reinforcement.

  • Try to have your child play each day, even if it’s just playing one song one time.

  • When we focus for long periods of time, our brains gradually begin to switch off, resulting in a decline in performance and memory. What I refer to as “brain breaks” replenish attention and motivation and encourage productivity and creativity. As such…

  • Practice in smaller chunks rather than one big session. If it’s not too intrusive to your routine, allow your child to sit down at the piano and play when he/she is inspired to do so. It’s ok to practice a song/scales/theory/etc. for 10 minutes, and take a 1 minute “brain break” to stretch, get a glass of water, snack, etc., before continuing to play.

  • Every student is different and every week will vary. Some weeks might be so jam packed with baseball, dance class, and family visits that your student hasn’t had much time to play. That’s ok! We will catch up in our weekly lesson and re-adjust our goals.

  • Consider finding a time each day to play, and use it in relation to another activity, such as “after dinner” or “before you watch your favorite show.” Older students may want to set a specific time in their schedules to set aside for playing.  

  • Achieve musical goals, not time goals.

What does “comprehensive music education” mean?

All of my piano lessons are music lessons. We learn to play songs on the piano, of course, but we also learn music theory, music history, ear training, sight reading, and instruments of the orchestra. Most of what we learn, in fact, is transferrable to other instruments, so your student will be ahead of the game should he/she choose to join a band or orchestra down the road.

Are there opportunities to perform? 

Yes! See the events page for more details. 

I used to take lesson when I was much younger, but it's been a long time and I'd like to learn again. Do you teach adults? 

Yes! It’s never too late to learn, and if you’ve taken lessons before (even decades ago), you may surprise yourself at what you remember. Muscle memory is a powerful thing!