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Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

Posted by flyleft (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 13, 06 at 17:15

Hi--my daughter's wanting to learn piano. I have many years of serious playing under my belt but I have no idea what's current in beginning piano pedagogy. I have only the vaguest impressions of Suzuki, and I'd be interested in exploring *other* options besides it. I'd like to teach her for at least the first 6 months if possible. So what is considered best practice in beginning piano right now? Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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ps RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

Well flyleft, I did find one series highly recommended, although I'd be curious what other more recent teachers have to say about it: it's called the Music Tree Series by Frances Clark.


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

John Thompson is classic. It was terrific years ago, and my sister (who's a music teacher in the Branford, Ct. Middleschool) has just started her two sons on it, so I don't think it's missed a beat after all these years! :-)


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

I remember that one myself, along with ____Fletcher, which I was brung up on :)

I'll look at it again today...along with the Music Tree series. I was just thinking that the beginner series from my childhood might very well look like my mother's Czerny exercises did to me, ykwim? Should be interesting to compare.


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

My 6-yo son is doing his lessons with a teacher using Alfred's Premiere Piano Lessons series of books. I really like the approach and he's picking it up quickly.


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

John Schaumm was another good series.


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Post Script

Czerny exercises

I remember them, and not favorably, either!! :-) (not that they weren't good-- just that I hated having to play them!!)


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

spacific & Bill, thanks for more of them. Alfred's has a rec, then; I'll look at those too :)

And Bill, you know I still have my mother's ancient piano books, I tote them around and just can't bear to get rid of them. The idea of her learning, back in the 20s and 30s as a little girl, from those books, long before her legs could touch the pedals...even if we never use them at all, they're staying with us! :)


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

I don't know how old your daughter is, but I would suggest the following:

1. Wait until she's old enough to read at grade level or above. Music notation is a language in itself, one that she will learn to read. Our piano teacher insists that the child be at least through with second grade.

2. Is she willing to practice for at least 20 minutes a day?

3. I would contact your local organization of music/piano teachers for recommendations. If you child learns one method, say Suzuki, eventually they must move to a more classic approach to learning. By classic I mean that she'll need to be able to read music, count, etc.

4. Several music teachers I know swear by the Farber series. It's the one we use. Our teacher supplements with pieces of music that are appropriate for my daughters level. These pieces are then performed at formal performances (see next item).

5. Look for a teacher that will enter your child in various competitions, recitals and festivals. Although it might sound like undue pressure, these schedule performances really help focus the student by making them prepare a couple of pieces per event. My daughter has a Fall festival, a Jazz festival, a Sonatina festival, a Christmas concert, a Sacred music festival and finally a end-of-year recital scheduled for the 2006-2007 school year. Festivals are just groups of piano students (in our case, the piano students of all the teachers who belong to a certain professional group). My daughter is already working on pieces for the Jazz and Sacred festivals that will take place next year, 2007.

6. See if your prospective teacher has any upcoming student performances. My daughter's teacher made a DVD of her spring recital, so we can watch her performance whenever we want to. One of our teacher's students is brilliant. He played, by memory (no sheet music) a 12 minute Rachmaninoff piece (Hungarian Rhapsody?) that brought tears to my eyes. Incredible! His matchless performance really confirmed that we were heading in the right direction with our teacher. And he was one of 25 fabulous students. All of them were excellent for their levels.

7. Ask what your prosepctive teacher's students are doing as they graduate from high school. Many of my teachers students at least minor in music in college.

8. You get what you pay for as a general rule. We pay about $95 a month for weekly 45 minute sessions plus an additional 15 minutes of theory. We also take national music theory tests each year.

Flyleft, I think whatever methods worked for you are probably what is still working. It's dedication that matters the most. Be careful about methods that don't teach music theory and reading music from the beginning. Playing by ear or with other non-traditional notations can be hard to "un-learn" later on, especially for different learning styles. Good luck!


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

Hello,

I do not have specific piano experience to share (other than drawing on my own lessons as a kid) but I have a son who started out on trumpet and a daughter that plays oboe and another who is a book 1 Suzuki violin student. My experience as a Suzuki parent verses the earlier two budding musicians has been like night and day. With the trumpet and oboe, I would shuffle the kids to a quiet room for practice and make sure I heard some tootling for 20 to 30 minutes. That was my part in their practice routine. With Suzuki however, parents sit through the lessons, take notes, and then practice with the child making sure correct techniques are used.

I don't think that the Suzuki philosphy works with every instrument. It is especially well suited of course for strings but I believe piano is the other instrument for which it is well suited. The Suzuki philosphy is that you didn't learn how to read or write at the same time you learned how to speak and you don't need to learn how to read or write music to begin learning how to play an instrument. What I have found with my little violinist is that she is learning musical notation naturally as she progresses due to her natural curiosity. She is also learning counting as she goes along. I can not speak highly enough of my Susuki experience. I think it would be a shame for my kindergartner to have to wait another two years--and could read well--before she was able to benefit from the obvious enjoyment she gets from music.


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

EEEK!! I don't get followups sent to me, and I spaced checking on this thread for some reason...

cup, THANKS for your great help. DD's a completely fluent word reader, but I think the sticking point is @2. That's why I'm going to start with her myself and see if she's interested before I drop some more serious $$ (we spent $500 on cello rental and lessons this spring...) on more lessons.

ctremodler, glad to hear about your experience with Suzuki. Hope your daughter continues to get pleasure out of it. There's something so heartwarming about all those little Suzuki kids meeting, putting their violins under their chins, and starting to play the same song together--I've seen it a few times and it's like they say "hey" in words, then continue the conversation in music :). Very bonding.


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

Cup, don't know if you'll pick this up, but you seem to have lots of knowledge in this department. What can one do if they don't want to wait until 2nd grade and are not too keen on Suzuki?
Email me privately if you wish, thanks.

Lisa


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

Sprout,

In addition to my class of undergraduate and graduate piano students at the university where I am a piano professor, I also have a large class of pre-college students, and these days, a little crop of 5 and 6 year olds. If a child wants lessons, can sit still for 45 minutes, then start them, assuming (shall I put that in caps?) the parent sits through the lesson and works daily (also in caps) with the child. The gold standard these days for beginning methods books is The Russian School of Piano Playing published by Boosey and Hawkes. Faber isn't bad, but Alfred or Bastien are extremely slow--even a non-pianist can look through these books and know that the left hand does nothing but play a few chords. The goal of your piano teacher should be to get the child to early intermediate literature in 9 to 12 months. That means things lilke Anna Magdalena Bach and simple sonatinas.


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

This is very helpful, vedazu, thanks.


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

Thank you so much for that, Alfred and Bastien seem to prevail around here, I'm so glad to know what to look for now.
A little daunted by those caps of course! there's just so much to do between school and dinner and bedtime these days.

Lisa


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

You're welcome! It's my favorite topic--feel free to keep asking questions! Veda


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

A little levity here, but have you considered a blind Stride or Barrelhouse piano player as a tudor? Someone who knows Ma Rainy, Betsy Smith, Scot Joplin,Eubie Blake, Prof. Longhair,Duke, Gershwin? Ah, you get my point.


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RE: Any recommendations for beginner piano pedagogy?

I hardly see any of those as Tudors. ;) And you left out Teddy Wilson, who definitely deserves consideration as royalty...

Anyway, I definitely take your point, and our listening ranges across the spectrum. It's not that I haven't looked. There's one jazz pianist I know with whom I could possibly get my daughter situated, but I'm not in love with her hand positions when she plays (very idiosyncratic) and I'd prefer that if my DD comes to such a hand position, which actually looks painful sometimes, that she comes to it herself rather than trying to copy her teacher. I don't know anyone else who would introduce jazz/blues/etc. to her in a structured way.


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