Ideas for Teaching a Beginning Hearing Impaired Student

Hi Diane,
Would love your advice!
I have been asked to teach an 18 year old hearing impaired piano student who loves music and trying to play the piano. He has not had sound instruction so far and uses a “hunt and peck” method for reading all notes. My feeling is that he should start from the beginning and learn to read notes , etc the correct way. It would be a lifetime of enjoyment for him.
By the way, I adore your passion and your willingness to share it with everyone. Absolutely love you!

—Carol C.

Dear Carol,

I have taught many students with hearing issues, but they have been older than the student you describe. In fact, one of my most advanced students has quite serious hearing issues and uses hearing aids except when he plays the piano.

I would start by trying to figure out what he already knows.

  • Can he play any chords?
  • Does he sound out a melodies by ear?
  • Does he know the names of any of the notes? For instance, where middle C is?

Older beginners are often especially tricky, because they have such a combination of knowledge and lack of it.

If he can hear well enough that he loves music and is interested in playing, I don’t think that hearing issues would change the way I’d approach his learning. I would use the Beginning Piano Repertoire Books as a starting place. These are part of series that’s designed for an absolute beginner with a simple, clean presentation that can be used with any age. The Repertoire book includes a CD of accompaniments that I wrote and recorded to help make the beginning stages more interesting.

To work on Sight Reading I’d use my Sight Reading Flashcards because they’re the easiest way to get a student making an immediate keyboard response to notes on the page.

Please check back in with me and let me know how he’s progressing and if you have other specific questions that arise. I’m here to help!