Multiple sites at the moment offer "more" than your traditional piano lesson. It semi-amuses me and semi-upsets me, as in some cases, they're comparing their lessons to an unqualified neighborhood teacher who had lessons in high school for a few years and is trying to earn a bit of spare cash or something (who is becoming obsolete). So you teach theory and technique in addition to songs? Welcome to the rest of us. In fact, if you don't teach at least these three things, there is something very missing with your studio, as the three complement each other and expedite the learning process.
"Contemporary" music theory has a special set of problems: many teachers assume kids learn theory better with digital games, as they're bombarded with messages about how to connect with the digital generation. Some teachers will have students work theory on a tablet for half an hour and use that to check off the music theory box without making sure their students are truly understanding and applying what they learn in their pieces--I've gotten transfer students like this, and it takes a bit to catch up. Including theory in lessons means writing on staff paper, playing with the concept on the piano with technique and/or improv, looking for it in repertoire, transposing the concept to multiple keys on the piano, and USING the vocab associated with the concept in lessons frequently so the student understands its context.
This is the problem with some "fun" piano lessons. How do you know assure the concepts are understood outside the game? While I'm sure most teachers implement this very well, I'm still concerned that some may be less thorough. Another problem with "fun" piano lessons is the instructor has obviously already assumed that music cannot be left to its own devices and still be considered enjoyable to students. Whatever happened to the inherent joy of exploring the keys? The joy of learning and showing off your first song? The elation of finally mastering a tricky spot? Our brains are wired to be rewarded when curiosity is satiated. Maybe the bells and whistles provided more initial intrigue; I'm not an expert on that. I just . . . my students practice without needing games. Heck, the youngest ones (5-year-olds) crave lessons--and I don't bring any fancy games. I just let the kids be kids at the piano, exploring the groups of black keys and all the notes in between; improvising however they want; setting up experiences for curiosity to be piqued and satiated; relishing in satisfaction of learning new songs; and they love it.
So what is "more than your traditional piano lesson"? The trend is returning to overall musicianship, rather than just theory, technique, and rep--so adding ear training and sight reading, for example, does expand to a bit more than the wallow we sat in for a hundred years while wishing Chopin would resurrect. An irony here is that the real, old piano lesson back in the 17- or 1800s would have included more improvisation than nearly any piano teacher dares approach now. The good news? We're finally starting to return to our roots--not the slate foundation of a museum, where the god-like composer dictates all, but the earthy roots of what has drawn people to music for centuries: the ability to improve and create.
Hey, it's Michelle. After spending SO much time in school catching up on what I should have known before college and getting sidetracked by learning maybe it wasn't such a bad thing I didn't learn a ton of "traditional" piano after all, I'm passionate about quality piano teaching and seek to dispel "pedagogy" being synonymous with "tradition," something that has happened far too long in the piano world. Let's do this together!