The challenge of engaging new piano students in recent times
While thinking about how to engage children and adults to learn piano, I realized that it could be a good idea to think about it counting on the fact that in this generation we have a lot of new resources, advantages or disadvantages that old generations didn’t have, and this might have caused some differences when it has to do with music learning and engaging. Mostly after the Covid-19 pandemic, the digital and virtual world started to get stronger, and this affected education as well. Regarding piano learning, I observed that a lot of people started trusting apps like Simply Piano much more than they used to. In fact, around 400000 people download this app every month (Simply by JoyTunes, n.d.). Furthermore, I could say that most of my new piano students in the last 2 years started first with apps like Simply Piano, Yousician and similar ones.
These facts give me some information:
A lot of people actually have the wish of learning piano (if not, they wouldn’t download these apps). These apps make it more accessible to them.
Some people who maybe want to learn piano and never do it, maybe make the step to go for it because downloading these apps is cheaper and easier than having to search for a piano teacher and pay for all the lessons.
This leads me to think: what does Simply Piano have that is so attractive? I believe that being aware of this might help to reflect on how to engage new piano students and to understand what people look for. This could be useful to maybe apply some of these things to my piano teaching or, at least, rethink about the engagement approach. These are some of the advantages of Simply Piano:
It reaches everyone by publicity on social media. In consequence, everyone knows about it.
It is very well designed for amateur pianists and very beginners, as it first gives you the option to choose your goals with piano to have a more personalized experience.
From the very beginning, it gives you the option to learn very well known songs and pieces that keep you motivated.
You can use it as much as you want and the amount you pay per month remains the same: €20 approx.
With the same subscription, you can get up to 5 profiles that you can share with your family and friends. (Liran, 2022)
If I had to adapt these advantages to live lessons and engagement of live piano lessons, some procedures would have to be adapted.
For example, to reach as many people as possible, I would share how learning the piano looks by posting it on social media and make publicity. In this publicity or in the content I share, I would have to make visible that personalization is one of the strongest points. This could be done by showing students with different demographic conditions and with very different learning processes which would be personalized depending on their age, wishes, needs, etc.
Regarding the possibility Simply Piano offers to create up to 5 profiles with the same account so that your family or friends can use it, it could be adapted to live lessons as well. This proposal by Simply Piano is a perfect initiative to attract students and make the network grow. But to adapt this to live piano lessons, we would have to take for granted the money issue and focus more on the engagement. What Simply Piano wants to achieve with this initiative is reaching more people and getting more adepts by offering this great advantage, as these users will be happy with the experience and recommend it to more people. This way, the network will grow. Some possible ways to adapt this initiative to physical piano lessons could be:
Inviting the students’ family or friends to watch some lessons (this way, there could be a higher possibility that more people start being more interested by seeing the process). To go further, it could also be possible to offer a deal such as “if you come and watch 3 piano lessons, you get the possibility to try a piano lesson with a lower price”.
Teaching two students with similar levels at the same time.
Teaching several students at the same time on several digital pianos with headphones while I listen and teach one after the other. When I teach one student, the others could practice my feedback.
On the other hand, after searching information and statistics about piano students' engagement and thinking, I came to the conclusion that actually a lot of people are interested in music or piano. This shows that the lack of interest is not the problem. Maybe the problem might be focused on the engagement itself and being able to make it look more appealing so people really make the step to apply for lessons or want to learn it. ABRSM United Kingdom reveals this data:
“Seven in every 10 children (69%) in the UK say that they currently play a musical instrument – a considerable increase over time compared with previous ABRSM research (...). Of these, just over half are currently taking instrumental lessons. (...) It is worth noting that the phrase ‘play a musical instrument’ will mean different things to different children. So this statistic will encompass everything from children playing simple percussion at a basic level to those learning and working towards their Grade 8 exam.” (ABRSM:, n.d.)
Overall, it looks like there are some topics to think more deeply about in order to reach a more ideal situation in which learning piano is a more attractive activity and it looks more accessible, and also to keep the motivation and interest of people who are already piano students.
However, there is another question that comes to my mind when I evaluate those students who first used apps like Simply Piano: is everything a benefit in these kinds of apps? Of course, as a piano teacher I must say “no”. It is clear that these apps have multiple benefits but, as a teacher of these students who used those apps before, I recognize some problems which I need to solve:
These students got all the content from these apps, but they didn’t have any personal feedback about the way they played, so they are not able to judge the way they play.
They don’t have a clear study method and they are not able to plan their study, as they have been taught how to play but not how to study.
They have to unlearn wrong techniques.
They lose their belief in success quickly. With Simply Piano, these students felt that it was just enough with playing the correct notes.
Regarding this last point, a question comes to my mind: is playing the correct notes making music? From my point of view, playing the correct notes might be more connected with the logical part of the brain but not with the creative one, which is essential to create music. The message I always try to transmit when I teach is that playing the piano (or music in general) requires your creativity, musicality and imagination. Unfortunately, apps like Simply Piano can’t teach you this part. However, this should be a boost for us piano teachers to manifest our strong points and emphasize that we are able to cover these shortcomings.
ABRSM: (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2022, from https://gb.abrsm.org/en/making-music/4-the-statistics/
Liran. (2022, October). Learn with your Family (Multiple Profiles). https://hellosimply.com/. https://piano-help.hellosimply.com/en/articles/2749747-learn-with-your-family-multiple-profiles
Simply by JoyTunes. (n.d.). Simply Piano: Learn Piano Fast Statistics on Google Play Store. Retrieved November 5, 2022, from https://mobbo.com/Android/App/com.joytunes.simplypiano/5603124
Thank you so much for reading. Feel free to share your point of view in the comments!