Peter Walsh’s new book The Non-musician’s Guide to Parenting a Piano Player seeks to offer valuable advice to parents – but does he strike the right notes?
Guest Reviewer: Roberta Wolff
Peter Walsh is an experienced pianist and educator. His work includes running a large studio for young pianists, teaching workshops, holding masterclasses, recording and performing in both Australia and Europe.
Drawing on this diverse experience Peter writes this, his first book, ‘The Non-Musician’s Guide to Parenting a Piano Player’. The book provides practical and insightful advice for parents about to embark on piano lessons for their children.
After reading this book parents will be able to make informed choices regarding teachers and instruments and will be in a strong position to support their child, regardless of age or ability, when piano studies begin.
The Non-Musician’s Guide to Parenting a Piano Player is split into three parts. Following a preamble, Peter begins at the musical epicentre with an often overlooked but crucial chapter, “Fostering an interest in studying the piano”. From here the author moves on to discuss how to go about choosing the right teacher and how to create a positive learning environment. Peter focuses on the qualities to look out for in a good teacher and the role of the parent once lessons begin.
Choosing the right instrument is a minefield for many parents; Peter handles this very clearly, covering each type of instrument available and giving a list of pros and cons for each one. This gives parents the opportunity to choose according to their own criteria.
Part two covers core methodology. Parental support between lessons is hugely beneficial to students and in this section Peter provides non-musician parents with exactly what they need to know to support their children at home. He explains the practice process and what to look for and listen out for while a child is practising. He also pre-empts common pitfalls like indifference to scale practice and metronome use by explaining these topics.
Part two is completed with a chapter covering the other skills young pianists need to study as part of their training. This comprehensive section provides parents with a broad knowledge on every aspect of the musical training which their child’s teacher will be including in lessons.
Part three contains a FAQ section and a handy glossary of music terms.
Quite simply, the value to be gained from piano lessons will be very much increased when following the advice in this book. There are also many sections in this book which make it a suitable aid for an adult beginner. As a teacher myself I would recommend this book to other teachers, particularly new ones. In advising a potential student to purchase and read this book a teacher can be sure that clear expectations will have been succinctly communicated from the start.
The author has struck a very good balance between educating parents, offering sound advice and relating personal experience and common scenarios in a light-hearted manner. This makes the book both an enjoyable and an instructive read.
I highly recommend this book to parents of piano students and piano teachers alike.
The Non-Musician’s Guide to Parenting a Piano Player (ISBN 9781530391547) is available to buy on Amazon UK here.