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A Silicon Valley Startup That’s Disrupting Piano Lessons

Learning how to play the piano is something that many parents want to help their children achieve. Unfortunately, the traditional structure of private lessons once a week has become severely outdated, with the majority of students dropping out in the first three years of study. This outcome is most often attributed to students not engaging or practicing piano frequently enough, a misaligned curriculum, and environmental issues like the lack of parental support or an encouraging social community.

Co-Founders Julian Toha and Phong Le of Oclef
Julian Toha and Phong Le, Co-founders of Oclef

As a result, there’s a demand for new methods of teaching that will develop the next generation of children learning piano. Silicon Valley Startup Oclef is meeting this demand with its innovative approach to piano lessons.

Oclef’s success is based on a simple, but powerful premise – ‘Piano Every Day’. Their course structure, designed for children aged 7 and above, acknowledges that students need daily engagement when learning piano in order to succeed.

Oclef students get an unlimited pass, allowing them to engage with a variety of classes, depending on their stage of learning. Parents and students are encouraged to work together to develop a flexible schedule around their availability and their interests. This design results in the average student taking class 6 days a week at one of their schools in the SF Bay area or through their live online portal.

What makes their piano classes special, you ask? Oclef has developed a stage-by-stage class structure that’s perfectly suited to the way children engage with piano.

Oclef Student

For example, the introductory class (Keynote Piano Class) is based on an acknowledgement that parents are a child’s first teachers. Both the student and their parents are involved at this early stage and are taught the Oclef Method for reading music. With enhanced confidence in reading music, students can practice better, and develop a strong foundation.

Stage 1, which focuses on reading, is followed up by three more stages.

Stage 2: Tools and Strategy in Problem Solving

Stage 3: Critical Thinking and the Art of Performance

Stage 4: Independence and Teaching

As the student gets more advanced, they will move up to the specialized Kaizen Piano Class. This is a class that is designed to defeat the boredom and distraction kids often deal with when they practice piano alone. Students are taught clever ways to practice piano more efficiently, and they get to learn from other students about what strategies work for them.

Once students master a piece, they have the opportunity to perform it in one of the 25 recital opportunities – per month. These performances are rated and constructively critiqued by peers and professors. Oclef tracks performance ratings, efficiency ratings and engagement scores of all it’s students in Stages 2-4. This data-driven approach helps professors make more informed decisions when it comes to customization of the students curriculum and courses.

Oclef student at piano

To round out their learning, students also get comprehensive lessons on music theory, composition, pop music and film scoring. In these classes, they get to work with other students to perform presentations, challenges, and compositions. This is just one example of how Oclef leverages its community to be supportive of students’ social development. This is a stark contrast to isolation experienced by piano students enrolling in the once a week traditional design.

While Oclef does a lot differently when it comes to piano education, 1-on-1 private lessons is still recognized as an important part of learning. Private lessons are included in tuition for students in stages 3 and 4, and they get to benefit from the instruction of a Professor who designs a custom curriculum for them.

The traditional way piano is taught to children has failed to evolve. The Oclef approach disrupts the norm and makes learning piano a much more dynamic (and effective) exercise for kids who want to learn to play the piano, develop their mind and enjoy the experience.

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