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Choosing a piano class at Build

Story added 28th Jul 2016

Choosing a piano class at Build

Choosing a piano class at City lit

So you’ve decided to learn the piano? Or maybe you’re returning to playing after a break of many years? Either way, welcome to City lit! We have a full range of piano classes and so there’s sure to be a class that’s right for you here in the heart of Covent Garden.


Group Learning

Learning in a group is great fun. You will find lively discussion, theory quizzes, individual exercises and good company in your class.  

  • Piano/keyboards classes are taught in our digital piano suite with one digital piano per student and headphones for private playing - so expect to be busy playing throughout the class. Limited to 15 students per class.
  • Piano workshops are taught on a single acoustic piano and limited to 12 students per class. They take place on Yamaha or Steinway pianos. You will present your pieces in front of the whole class and listen and observe each other in performance.


Buying music

You will need to buy your own music books so please budget for an extra £12 (approx.) per term. And if you go to our local independent bookshop, , as a City lit student you will get a 10% discount: just show proof of your course enrolment at the music checkout counter.

Where possible the relevant books are listed on each course outline. Please read this carefully before you book.


Buying a piano

Many students ask us advice on buying a piano. There is a quick guide on our instrumental blog post:


Classes for absolute beginners

If you are an absolute beginner, new to playing the piano and new to reading music notation, then it’s easy: just start at the very beginning with our Piano/keyboards foundation: module 1 and work through each of the classes in the order listed below.

Remember: you are welcome to repeat a module before moving on to the next one if you need more time to consolidate your learning. Your teacher can advise you if you are unsure.

The full sequence of classes listed from foundation to advanced is at the bottom of this blog entry. Use this as your guide. Notice that each year is split into three terms (modules). These can start at any time (not just September) so check the dates carefully before you book. Intensive courses have only two modules per year.

Many courses operate at multiple times. There is a drop-down menu on the website so check this is set to the correct time for you before you enrol.

If you have any questions please email us and we’ll be happy to help.


Choosing the right level for returning pianists

If you have existing piano skills you don’t need to start at the very beginning: you may  join us at the correct level for you.

  • Piano/keyboards classes have detailed descriptions on their course web-pages. Read these carefully.
  • If you can already play at an approximate grade 2-5 standard but feel you are too rusty to be sure of your exact level, you may wish to consider our popular Piano: return to playing class where you can study in a mixed-ability environment for a term (or two) while you refresh your skills and study a piece of your own choice alongside a mixture of theory, listening activities and technical practice. Then you will find it easier to choose the correct workshop in future. 
  • Piano workshop levels  correspond (roughly) to an ABRSM grade. So for example, Piano workshop 3 classes are learning grade 3 standard repertoire. If you look at you will get an idea of what each level is learning to play. 

Please check the individual course outlines for more details of the books you are requested to buy for each class as this will often give you the most clear indication of the level of a class.


Changing classes

If you choose the wrong class you may transfer immediately to a different course; just email the music office and explain your reasons. NB: Transfers may only take place in the first three weeks of a course.

If you begin to find the level is unsuitable later on in your course then don’t panic, there will still be plenty to learn but you can choose a more appropriate module the next term. That’s the idea of the short course modules, they allow flexibility because everyone learns at different speeds.

If you have any doubts at all: please come to a drop-in guidance session. Bring some music, play us a piece and we’ll help you choose.


The sequence of piano classes at City lit

The first four years of piano tuition take place in the digital piano suite

Piano/keyboards foundation: module 1 / module 2 / module 3 

  • from complete beginners to simple hands-together pieces

Piano/keyboards 1: module 1/ module 2 / module 3

  • from simple hands-together pieces to grade 1 level repertoire

Piano/keyboards 2: module 1 / module 2 / module 3 

  • achieve fluency at a grade 1 level and then begin some grade 2 studies

Piano/keyboards 3: module 1 / module 2 / module 3

  • achieve fluency at a grade 2 level and then begin some grade 3 studies

Also – check early bird options for 1-hour 8.15am classes.


Then we make a transition to playing acoustic pianos or to different styles of music

Piano: transition to workshop A

  • uses a mixture of digital and acoustic pianos
  • consolidate grade 2 skills and learn new grade 3 skills

Piano: transition to workshop B

  • main focus is playing on an acoustic piano 
  • consolidate grade 2 skills and learn new grade 3 skills

Please also search on our website for Keyboard harmony courses and intensive classes (2 hour sessions), Pop piano, Latin piano and Jazz piano study.


Piano workshops function like a ‘masterclass’. Everyone prepares a piece to play in front of their group in the class. These are for classical repertoire.


Piano workshop 3: three modules per year

Piano workshop 4: three modules per year

Piano workshop 5: three modules per year

Piano workshop 6: three modules per year (also suitable for level 6/7)

Piano workshop 7: three modules per year

Piano workshop 8: three modules per year


Advanced classes (post grade 8 standard)  are taught on a Steinway concert piano. Many of our students repeat  these classes to keep their skills sharp and to enjoy meeting other pianists and exploring new repertoire.

Piano Repertoire: three modules per year

Piano: advanced workshop:  three modules per year

Piano Masterclass

  • Short, occasional courses hosted by a visiting tutor. A superb chance to get together with other pianists and explore a specific part of the repertoire.
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