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#1230427 - 07/12/09 01:55 PM Need teachers' input on methods  
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chasingrainbows Offline
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NJ
Hi, I'm returning to teaching and was interested to learn what method books you use for beginner students (children). I know the Faber PA are quite popular, although browsing through some others, I liked the layout of Bastien a little better. I grew up on Schaum and loved the music, but truthfully, am not too familiar with current method series. I'd love to hear about your preferences and the reasons. Thanks!


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#1230437 - 07/12/09 02:32 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Morodiene Offline
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I like the PA quite a bit, although I'll use Hal Leonard to change things up a bit. I only use the method books for the first few, then I switch into repertoire books. No method is really perfect, but I like the pacing that these two offer students, and the kids seem to enjoy the music. I'm not fond of relying too much on hand positions, so I do avoid Alfred and Bastien.


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#1230443 - 07/12/09 02:44 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Morodiene]  
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Ebony and Ivory Offline
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I have used Alfred, Bastien, Noona, PA, and others. They really all do pretty much the same thing for the young beginners (<8 or so) IMO. Some move along quicker than others do.
Alfred and Bastien rely heavily on finger numbers, so if I'm using those books, I do a lot of marking out of them.
I have had a few kids move out of those too, they move a little slowly for older beginners.

PA is my favorite, but I do use them all. I try real hard to convince parents to buy 2 different kinds for their kids, so that the kids don't realize if one is further along than another. I can just tell the kids "these books are all different, a 3 in one is like a 2 in another" so they don't feel behind.

I also use "fun" books and "repertoire" books along with them as soon as I can. I never have them buy the theory books, I have all those worksheets in a file that I hand out (2 a week until they have gone through them all).


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#1230463 - 07/12/09 03:47 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Ebony and Ivory]  
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Iowa City, IA
I use Piano Adventures, but every now and then I toy with trying out Piano Town. (If the store in town stocked it, I'd probably put a few students in it.)

That being said, the most important thing about choosing a method is knowing how to use it. Why are things presented in the way and order that they are? What should be accomplished with each piece? Do you agree with how new concepts are presented? Are you familiar with compatible supplementary materials? Is there a reasonable amount of support in the local stores and community? Online? (Something I like about Piano Adventures is the PianoTeaching.com website and forums there.)

I like Piano Adventures for all of those reasons - I know how it works, I'm comfortable with the pedagogy, it does a good job of preparing students for the standard literature, it's always in stock at the local store, I have written some of my own supplementary material that is compatible (as I write this, I'm working on a set of rhythm worksheets for levels 1 and 2.) Piano Adventures also does a good job of preparing students for our state and local festivals.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1230510 - 07/12/09 05:07 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Hi, Welcome back to the fold!

I'd been using a mix of Francis Clark, Noona, and Bastien for years, then one day, not so long ago, Keith Snell and Diane Hidy came to town and told us all about Piano Town, a series they had jointly developed. I took the plunge and never looked back.

The method assumes your accomplished as a pianist, have the fundamental knowledge, and generally understand sound pedagogical procedures. What unfolds is a straight forward presentation introducing the student to piano (and the illustration and words to many songs directly relate to materials they're studying in school, which helps). Students get what they need when they need it.

Of course, many teachers prefer to lead the student on the voyage of piano discovery not using a method. Good for them. I'm a member of the, "Why reinvent the wheel?" school of teaching. If something works, and works well, take advantage of it.

Depending on student, you can transition to a repertoire series sooner or later, without leaving out important basics.

Hope this helps you.

John


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1230526 - 07/12/09 05:35 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Morodiene]  
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chasingrainbows Offline
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NJ
Originally Posted by Morodiene

I'm not fond of relying too much on hand positions, so I do avoid Alfred and Bastien.


Thanks, Morodiene. What do you mean about relying too much on hand positions? Are you referring to Middle C method?


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
#1230529 - 07/12/09 05:38 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Ebony and Ivory]  
Joined: Sep 2006
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chasingrainbows Offline
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NJ
Originally Posted by Ebony and Ivory
I have used Alfred, Bastien, Noona, PA, and others. They really all do pretty much the same thing for the young beginners (<8 or so) IMO. Some move along quicker than others do.
Alfred and Bastien rely heavily on finger numbers, so if I'm using those books, I do a lot of marking out of them.
I have had a few kids move out of those too, they move a little slowly for older beginners.

PA is my favorite, but I do use them all. I try real hard to convince parents to buy 2 different kinds for their kids, so that the kids don't realize if one is further along than another. I can just tell the kids "these books are all different, a 3 in one is like a 2 in another" so they don't feel behind.

I also use "fun" books and "repertoire" books along with them as soon as I can. I never have them buy the theory books, I have all those worksheets in a file that I hand out (2 a week until they have gone through them all).


Hi, thanks for the response. I agree about moving ahead to other fun books and repertoire books. I want to be able to provide the best beginning instruction without losing their interest (such as, not actually playing staff notes until about page 32). I was distracted by the finger numbers in some of the methods.

Thanks for the tip about using more than one method with kids and using worksheets instead of theory books. Do you make up your own?


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
#1230531 - 07/12/09 05:41 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Kreisler]  
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chasingrainbows Offline
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NJ
Thanks Kreisler. I've taken some of your questions into consideration. Quick access is important for me, as well as the pace of the series, popularity among colleagues, presentation, etc. I am so easily overwhelmed by too much information, so narrowing down methods will make my decision much easier. I'm intrigued with Piano Town and will look into that. Thanks again.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
#1230533 - 07/12/09 05:42 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Kreisler]  
Joined: Sep 2006
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chasingrainbows Offline
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chasingrainbows  Offline
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NJ
Originally Posted by Kreisler

I like Piano Adventures for all of those reasons - I know how it works, I'm comfortable with the pedagogy, it does a good job of preparing students for the standard literature, it's always in stock at the local store, I have written some of my own supplementary material that is compatible (as I write this, I'm working on a set of rhythm worksheets for levels 1 and 2.) Piano Adventures also does a good job of preparing students for our state and local festivals.


And thanks for this info, I think I am definitely going to use PA. I like the idea that there's a website to refer to as well.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
#1230536 - 07/12/09 05:44 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
Joined: Sep 2006
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chasingrainbows Offline
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chasingrainbows  Offline
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NJ
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Hi, Welcome back to the fold!

I'd been using a mix of Francis Clark, Noona, and Bastien for years, then one day, not so long ago, Keith Snell and Diane Hidy came to town and told us all about Piano Town, a series they had jointly developed. I took the plunge and never looked back.

The method assumes your accomplished as a pianist, have the fundamental knowledge, and generally understand sound pedagogical procedures. What unfolds is a straight forward presentation introducing the student to piano (and the illustration and words to many songs directly relate to materials they're studying in school, which helps). Students get what they need when they need it.

Of course, many teachers prefer to lead the student on the voyage of piano discovery not using a method. Good for them. I'm a member of the, "Why reinvent the wheel?" school of teaching. If something works, and works well, take advantage of it.

Depending on student, you can transition to a repertoire series sooner or later, without leaving out important basics.

Hope this helps you.

John


Hi John, thanks for the welcome back! I think I referred to Piano Town to the wrong person, but in any event, thanks for the info. I will definitely look into that series. It sounds wonderful, however, as you said, it is more useful for the student with some musical background. I assume you still use the methods you referred to for the beginning students?


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
#1230632 - 07/12/09 09:15 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: chasingrainbows]  
Joined: Mar 2006
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
No, I no longer use the other methods. For most students I use Piano Town. For a very few select students, I use Jane Tan's method (hard to come by). It's been a while since I've looked at PA, but my recollection is that Piano Town is slightly faster paced, but does have considerable depth with supplemental material for the slower student.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1232615 - 07/16/09 06:18 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
Joined: Jul 2009
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Jennifer Eklund Offline
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Jennifer Eklund  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 162
SoCal
Even as an author of my own series of method books, I rarely use more than the first 3 or 4 books and try to transition my students to outside repertoire as soon as possible. It really depends on the age of the student when choosing a method.

I like a "no frills" approach and so do my students. They would prefer fun and familiar songs that make practicing easier over dancing frogs and other silly pictures.

Good luck to you!


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#1232652 - 07/16/09 07:43 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Yes, PA tends to move a bit slow, but then those that are capable just take on more pieces at a time and progress faster. I had one boy who really wanted to stay in Hal Leonard through Book 4 for some reason. I usually move them out at 3. He was very shy and I think he liked familiarity. Ever since he's been out into repertoire books, however, he is cruising and really enjoying it!


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#1232733 - 07/16/09 11:40 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Jennifer Eklund]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Olympia, Washington, USA
Hi Jennifer,

Don't know if anyone's welcomed you or not, but if not, let me be the first, and if someone's already done so, just let me add my welcome anyway.

As you're down "south" in California, I'm wondering if you know Keith Snell at all or if your paths cross. Who's your publisher?


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1232882 - 07/17/09 10:45 AM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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Jennifer Eklund Offline
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Jennifer Eklund  Offline
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Posts: 162
SoCal
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Hi Jennifer,

Don't know if anyone's welcomed you or not, but if not, let me be the first, and if someone's already done so, just let me add my welcome anyway.

As you're down "south" in California, I'm wondering if you know Keith Snell at all or if your paths cross. Who's your publisher?



Thanks for the welcome! I'm in Orange County, been teaching full time for 15 yrs, and currently finishing my MA in Musicology.

I self-published my Piano Pronto series a couple years ago which has it's good and bad sides. Both Alfred's and Mel Bay were interested in the project but then the economy took the big slide and that was that. I am currently in limbo with another publisher working on a "composer specific" series which should be released in the fall.

~Jennifer Eklund


FREE 90-page eBook of sheet music: www.pianopronto.com/specialoffer

Piano Pronto Music Books: www.pianopronto.com

BA in Piano/MA Musicology


#1233074 - 07/17/09 06:11 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Jennifer Eklund]  
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Minniemay Offline
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Keith Snell actually lives in central California.


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#1233118 - 07/17/09 08:30 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Minniemay]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Help us out here, where exactly is Central CA? From where I sit (on my piano bench), all of California looks pretty much south. Thanks.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1233130 - 07/17/09 09:15 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: John v.d.Brook]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
Help us out here, where exactly is Central CA? From where I sit (on my piano bench), all of California looks pretty much south. Thanks.


Ha. cool

Central California goes from Bakersfield to Fresno.

I don't think Keith Snell is in California, unless he moved here recently.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#1233131 - 07/17/09 09:27 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: AZNpiano]  
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dumdumdiddle Offline
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California
Unless you're 'Central Coast' California.... Pismo Beach - San Luis Obispo - Paso Robles - Monterey.

Keith's website says he splits his time between New Mexico and England.


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#1233183 - 07/18/09 12:01 AM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: dumdumdiddle]  
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Minniemay Offline
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CA
He lives about 20 miles from me. Just moved here a few months ago.


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#1233193 - 07/18/09 12:42 AM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Minniemay]  
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John v.d.Brook Offline
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Thanks,

Last time I talked with him, he was on the move, but I kind of had the feeling he like being in CA.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#1233270 - 07/18/09 09:04 AM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Morodiene]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Yes, PA tends to move a bit slow, but then those that are capable just take on more pieces at a time and progress faster. I had one boy who really wanted to stay in Hal Leonard through Book 4 for some reason. I usually move them out at 3. He was very shy and I think he liked familiarity. Ever since he's been out into repertoire books, however, he is cruising and really enjoying it!


I think PA is realistic in its pacing. It has plenty of supplementary materials for the voracious players.

A local "music school" made the switch to PA. Maybe at last I'll get some decent transfer students who aren't stuck to their 5-finger positions. eek


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#1246211 - 08/09/09 01:11 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Mike in Illinois Offline
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My daughter took lessons at a Music Center/Music school in Northern Illinois for 3 years (age 7-10). She started as a beginner, and all of her books were from the Bastien series.
Every thing she played only covered two to two and a half octaves, even after we moved and she continued lessons with a local teacher who worked in the Bastien Method for another year and a half or two. She was never introduced to scales and as I recollect she never learned any notes beyond the limits of the Grand Staff.

Accidentals were added even before knowing the location of notes in both clefs, two octaves up and down from middle C. I am not familiar with all the various methods out there, but what I've seen seems to be geared toward quick results as opposed to depth. It reminds me of the time when I taught social studies in public school, and new textbooks were being examined. They were nearly two grade levels below the old ones that were being replalced.

My piano approach would be to stay in the key of C until the student knew the notes in the base and treble clefs two octaves on either side of middle C, then proceed to the key of G. Consider Czerny Op. 599 (Practical Method for Beginners on the Pianoforte) and Op. 823 (The Little Pianist).
These books stay in the key of C until a multitude of examples are explored. It would seem that any pupil completing these two books would be far in advance of any of the contemporary methods. Of course a child under the age of eight would probably require a primer level before moving to Czerny.

My daughter studied piano for about 5 years. Had she been taught a method that employed Czerny or paralled it, she would have easily doubled her pianistic ability in the same amount of time. Are children/beginners less musically/pianistically literate than 150 years ago?

#1246229 - 08/09/09 01:43 PM Re: Need teachers' input on methods [Re: Mike in Illinois]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by Mike in Illinois


My daughter studied piano for about 5 years. Had she been taught a method that employed Czerny or paralled it, she would have easily doubled her pianistic ability in the same amount of time. Are children/beginners less musically/pianistically literate than 150 years ago?


Well, this may be the case that many piano students are less musically literate than 150 years ago. However, you can't look at that statistic -- if in fact it is true -- without considering other factors. Piano pedagogy has come a long way in recent years and many children have benefited from the new method books available. However, this can contribute to a one-size-fits-all mentality on the part of the teacher. I agree that your daughter would have most likely been able to learn more in her 5 years' time had she been taught differently. Sticking strictly to method books is detrimental for the student no matter which method you choose. The best teachers supplement with their own materials or other books.

Other factors when comparing students of today to those of 150 years ago include the amount of time devoted to piano study. Back then, students would not just get 30 minutes or even 1 hour per week. It was much more time-consuming on the whole. Most students and parents today would not agree to lessons more frequent than once a week unless they thought the child was a prodigy or the parents wanted the child to compete. This is a huge factor, and probably contributes more to the seemingly less-literate students of today.


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