About Piano Playground

Piano Playground is a piano studio in Seattle that partners with Seattle Public Schools to offer engaging piano study to students of all demographics.  Our mission at Piano Playground is to have every student succeed at learning to play piano.  The private lessons are creative in nature and highly interactive. Students love coming to their lessons each week; they love their instructors and the process of learning piano! Our primary focus at Piano Playground is to provide a learning environment that encourages exploration, experimentation, creativity, and joyful learning, as well as a program of study that is meaningful to students so they have motivation to continue learning piano.  Student retention is very high with over ninety percent of students remaining in their lessons.

Piano Playground offers a balanced curriculum of learning piano repertoire from various genres, piano duets, theory, ear training, improvisation, composition, and technical study through fun and rewarding lessons.  Each student's unique personalities, interests, abilities, and learning styles are an essential part of the customization of each student's lessons.  Instructors at Piano Playground have on average over ten years of teaching experience, are very sensitive to the needs and unique interests of each student, and specialize in teaching the beginner and intermediate levels. All students of varying backgrounds and abilities are welcome to enroll in lessons at Piano Playground; students with special needs and disabilities are encouraged to enroll.  

 

Philosophy

The curriculum at Piano Playground is based around the idea that children are intelligent and capable, and will learn best when they are intrinsically motivated and engaged with their learning.  Self-expression is a major goal for each student as they learn to express their emotions and life experiences in a positive way through their playing, as well as through creating their own music by improvising and writing original compositions.  Excitement for learning and self-motivation form naturally as students pursue musical projects and activities they find most interesting.  We believe that every child is musical and has much to benefit from piano study.  

 

Curriculum

The curriculum at Piano Playground is child-centered and developmentally appropriate.   Students play an active role in their piano education and are encouraged to take ownership of their learning by participating in activities that are most compelling to them.   The lessons offer a safe place to explore and experiment with music and apply theory concepts by having students develop their own original composition ideas.   Students learn from a balanced curriculum including learning pieces from a diverse repertoire -  including folk, blues, jazz, classical, pop, movie themes, and international - and they play a large part in selecting which pieces to learn, depending on their interests.  All students learn healthy playing technique, note-reading strategies, music theory, ensemble playing, ear training, music history, improvisation, and how to write original compositions.  A wide variety of methods are used to teach different concepts, including method and repertoire books, games on the ipad and computer, percussion instruments to learn rhythms, clapping, duets, and students teaching other students.   Students use Finale software to create original compositions that can be written for solo instruments or a full symphony orchestra.  They enjoy hearing their ideas played back by the instruments, which aids their creative process.   Students regularly play duets with their friends and siblings, and through the practice learn how to play as a team with others which prepares them to play in a group with other musicians.   There are numerous performance opportunities throughout the year for students to share what they have learned with family and friends, while giving back to the community.  

There is a summer recital in August, a couple of performances at Mockingbird Bookstore in Green Lake, as well as a couple of workshops during the year, including the popular Video Game Workshop hosted by MacDowell Colony Fellow, Brent Watanabe.  There is a Halloween soiree where students wear costumes and play spooky piano pieces, enjoy treats, and have a visit from a Beethoven ghost installation who conducts them as they play (see photos page!).  There three or four performance opportunities at local retirement and nursing homes during the holidays, including a large holiday recital.  In the spring, students participate in a community service concert as well as the large end-of-school year recital.  Some students participate in Music in Action which is a ribbon festival where piano students from around Puget Sound compete with each other in various music categories. 

 

Private Lesson Logistics

Students enrolled in private lessons register for 30-, 45-, or 60-minute lessons, which are typically held once per week. Beginning level students start with 30-minute lessons and after about six months move to either a 45- or 60-minute lesson.  Lessons are held at the studio in Green Lake or at your home.  Many parents find in-home lessons to be very convenient and work well with their busy schedules, especially if they have other children to watch over.  Many siblings are enrolled in lessons and stay at the studio and wait as the other has their lesson; they stay busy practicing on a digital piano with earphones, playing music theory games, or composing. 

 

Piano Lessons in After School Programs

Piano Playground offers private, partnered, and group piano classes as an enrichment option in after school programs throughout Seattle.  Most of our partnerships are with elementary schools and are focused on instilling a strong piano and general music foundation among students aged 5 through 12.  Students learn the basics of rhythm, notation, ensemble playing, piano topography, and expressive techniques while learning pieces they love to play!