A 6-Module Course for Mastering Your Piano Journey
“I wanted to finally, satisfyingly, be able to answer my most frequent question from students: I’m stuck and I don’t know what to learn.” — Allysia van Betuw
Hi! I’m Allysia van Betuw. I am the the creator and host of PianoTV. My videos have been viewed over 7 million times.
For over 15 years, I’ve been teaching piano to people of all ages and levels, from three-year-old beginners to retired adults.
Over the years, I’ve talked to countless adult piano learners who are stuck or unsure of what to learn at the piano. They’re strongly motivated to learn, but the amount of information on what to learn is overwhelming.
I created this course as a way to distill my years of experience into something concrete — to take out the guesswork and shine a light on what a long-term piano path might look like.
Every person’s piano path is unique, and there’s no one right way to do things. There is, however, the risk of getting stuck and plateau’ing. My goal is to ensure that doesn’t happen to you.
In this course, I will share with you what I’ve found to be most effective for me and for my students, while giving you plenty of options to explore what makes the most sense for you.
The Design Your Own Piano Path course allows you to take control of your piano education. It will help you understand your own playing level, how to choose appropriate pieces to practice, which collections are crucial for any piano player to explore, what concepts you should be learning at each level, and much more.
Instead of spending your time researching and figuring out what to do and what to learn, wouldn’t it be easier if you had clear guidance and a precise plan of what you should be doing?
With the guidance of this course, you’ll be able to stay focused and motivated, knowing that you are growing every week, and becoming the piano player you’ve always wanted to be.
This course is designed to be used for many years — your companion and guide on your piano learning journey. My goal was to create a resource that you would be able to refer to again and again. Let’s get started!
This course contains 6 modules.
You can go through the material at whatever pace you like. For my coaching students, we go through one lesson per week, so the program takes six months.
A self-directed student could go through this course in as little as six weeks – it depends on your goals, motivation, and time available.
Here are the 6 different modules:
Module 1: Getting Started and Creating a Practice Plan
Module 2: Finding Your Level and Tracking Progress
Module 3: Expectations and Music Exploration
Module 4: Categories of Piano Music
Module 5: The Four Skill Levels
Module 6: Creating a Lifetime Plan
For an in-depth look at each module, scroll down to the next section.
What This Course Is All About
This course is unique — I haven’t seen anything like it out there. It’s the kind of resource I wish I’d had when I first started teaching other students and teaching myself. Instead of giving you a set curriculum, it allows you to chart your own course.
Most piano courses are methods; they give you music and you follow along. With this course, you take charge of your own musical destiny and make sense of the wide spectrum of repertoire, from Baroque to modern music.
Of course! As a piano teacher, I love it when my students are informed about the journey. A piano teacher helps with the week-to-week stuff – choosing what to learn, how to play your pieces more effectively, and so on. This course involves a broader perspective. As such, the two mesh very well together.
Anyone who’s interested in aligning their practice with musical schools (ABRSM, RCM and so on), and who enjoys a balanced palette of music from all eras (including classical!). If you have 0% interest in learning music that was written before 1950, this probably isn’t the course for you. There are plenty of great jazz and blues teachers out there who I encourage you to check out instead!
If you’d eventually like to be able to play a Beethoven sonata or a Bach fugue, this will be up your alley. That said, we do discuss modern music in this course as well!
A traditional music path involves plenty of sight reading. Being able to interpret a Bach fugue by ear is a skill that a very rare few possess. The only way 99.9% of us will ever be able to play a high-level piece like that is by building our technique and developing strong sheet music reading skills.
For those of you solely interested in learning piano by ear, this isn’t the course for you!
Here are some of the things this course will help you with:
When I began teaching, I dove in head-first – within a couple of months, I had around 40 students!
Though I enjoyed teaching in those early days, it was also pretty stressful. I had no idea what I was doing. Yes, I shadowed my piano teacher to learn the ropes, but I didn’t have a sense of direction with teaching. My students would show up week to week, and we’d work on some pieces and enjoy each other’s company, but there was no aim. No sense of how long it takes to learn a book or advance a level, no sense of the long-range.
My students did okay. They kept coming back – largely, I think, because we bonded and developed a relationship with each other – and they showed progress. But there were nagging thoughts that wouldn’t leave me alone – am I doing this right? Are they on the right path? Will they be able to hit a grade 8 or 9 level in high school? Am I genuinely, truly helping them on their piano journey?
I kept teaching and started to get really involved in the RCM curriculum. I would encourage my students to take exams, and I began exploring Classical music in more depth (my piano path was largely pop-based as a kid). I started to get a sense of how music schools (RCM, ABRSM) structured their curriculums, and so I began working with it more.
Our lessons started to have more purpose and structure, which eased some of my anxiety. These kid’s parents were entrusting the musical education of their children to me, after all. I wanted – needed – to do my absolute best for them.
But other problems started cropping up. My students groaned their way through music theory, and don’t even get me started on history. We spent most of our lessons playing through pieces, and so the many other elements of a music education – sight reading, ear training, listening to music, theory and history – got totally neglected. Or worse – shoved to the side, kept as a totally separate thing from regular piano lessons.
I love history and music theory. I wanted my students to be enthusiastic about them too! I wanted their piano education to be more about playing notes from a page. I wanted it to be about the music.
So I started designing my own curriculum, making a plan for each standard year of piano lessons. The kinds of things we’d learn at a grade 1 level, grade 2 level and so on.
In this curriculum, I’d make note of concepts I’d like to teach, and find pieces of music that demonstrated those concepts. As an example – if I wanted to teach cadences, I’d teach grade 1 students Mozart’s Minuet in F major since it has many types of cadences. That way, they could learn the music but also get a theory lesson embedded within it. We’d also learn a little about Mozart, so they’d get some history, too.
This started working well. Instead of things like history, theory and composition being totally separate from piano lessons and their music, it was all connected. I felt their education was becoming more balanced and rich.
I kept refining this approach over the years. As my YouTube channel started to grow, I began receiving frequent emails (at least weekly!) from an enthusiastic adult student who didn’t have a sense of what they should be learning. Was there a course I could recommend? A path that they could travel?
I’d always recommend method books, followed by going through the grade levels, but this wasn’t very useful advice. It told them the “what”, without telling them the “why”. It didn’t give them an understanding of where they were at in their journey, or where they were going.
Inspired by these frequent emails, I began turning the curriculum I developed, as well as the best of my insight as a teacher for 10+ years, into a structured course. Before releasing the course, though, I wanted to share this content via private lessons to see how it landed with adult students in the real world.
I wanted to give adult piano learners the ability to take charge of their own journey. I wanted to share everything important to learn at each level of piano, key books and collections, planning/structuring suggestions, and much more. I wanted to finally, satisfyingly, be able to answer my most frequent email question – “I’m stuck and I don’t know what to learn.”