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#1252499 - 08/20/09 10:31 AM Intermediate level transfer student question
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
I have a newer student. 14 years old, home schooled, very polite and motivated. LOVES piano. His previous teacher taught him a lot classical music. The teacher was young.

He came to me at a level four Thompson. He knows the whole hymnal and plays for his church. I am teaching him to improvise those hymns.

What he doesn‘t know is the difference between staccato and legato, crescendos etc. His Rhythm is and instinctive but has never worked with the metronome or worked rhythm problems. He could not play scales and could not tell you the key signature names. He can, however play the hymns in any key .

Usually theory is taught and applied as the student progresses through the method books. I am looking for a theory workbook that can take him from the beginning theory to where he is now without the elementary pieces that progress with it.. Does anyone have a suggestion?
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.

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#1252511 - 08/20/09 10:42 AM Re: Intermediate level transfer student question [Re: Mrs.A]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1654
Loc: northern California
Take a look at the Julie McIntosh Johnson theory series. A friend of mine in Music Teachers Assoc. says that's one they recommend. I started using it for my students a few years ago and love it. I have a transfer student similar to yours. I put her in level #3 theory and so far so good. She has "holes" in her technique, too. I put her in a Snell etudes book along with Alfred Masterworks classics for repertoire and that seems to be going well.
Piano Teacher

#1252513 - 08/20/09 10:45 AM Re: Intermediate level transfer student question [Re: Mrs.A]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
Loc: California
Snell Theory is very thorough and detailed.

Also, Julie Johnson's 'Basics of Keyboard Theory' and 'Fundamentals of Piano Theory' by Peggy O'Dell. You can google them to find out who sells them online. We use them for MTAC's Certificate of Merit programs.
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

#1252518 - 08/20/09 10:50 AM Re: Intermediate level transfer student question [Re: Barb860]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 15449
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I like the Keith Snell fundamentals in Piano Theory books. The cover concepts very well and offer many opportunities to practice the newly learned concepts, with lots of overlap between the books. I woudl definitely start this student at ground zero just to make sure nothing is lost in the gaps.

I would also start working with him on scales, chords and arpeggios right away. Lastly, to brush up his rhythm, not only do lots of drills and flash cards and work on paper, but also have him count out loud for everything new he plays. Write in the counting for everything and make sure he lines up the counting with the correct note or rest. Doing this approaches the rhythm in 3 ways: 1) aurally, because he will be counting out loud and he will be hearing how his playing lines up with the counts, 2) visually because he will write in the counting and see how they line up vertically with the counts, and 3) kinesthetically he will be doing the physical act of speaking while lining it up with the physical act of playing the notes in time.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#1252539 - 08/20/09 11:09 AM Re: Intermediate level transfer student question [Re: Morodiene]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I wonder, Mrs. A, if you don't have on hand from different publishers materials that you could use to work with this student. OVer the years, I've found that I like some publishers presentation of concpets better than others, and I use the graphics along with the instructional steps to write/draw our own theory as we go along. A blank page is the start with pens in either your hand or the students, or both. I feel that when the information is drawn by the student, it is a better understanding of the theory than just looking at a printed page and interpreting when is already seen. Create from within!

About the student's lackings: I see a great deal of ability already and great potential for him and for you. The lackings seem to be about his control of the piano keyboard - touch - duration of note values. He probably needs "hand's on" attention to details in reading the music which would require shorter sections of slow and detailed instruction in the systems of music making. You will probably have a very long list of your short and long term goals for him, and the setting of the priorites of what comes first is a very big part of that.

Again, as it pertains to theory, I like having a 3 ring binder into which we insert the pages being learned with the new information being placed as the last, top page. If we had covered 10 lessons, the order would be lesson 10, then in front of that, lesson 9, lesson 8, etc. Most books read front to back - this information and lesson content would be organized with the most recent lesson first as you open the book - easy access.

I'd be interested in hearing about your choices and progress so I encourage you to share this with us and the results. I think you'll enjoy this student immensely!

#1253257 - 08/21/09 10:02 AM Re: Intermediate level transfer student question [Re: Betty Patnude]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Thank you everyone. I will begin looking.

Betty, this student does have a lot of potential. The parents transferred because they want their son to participate in auditions. He started early spring and this summer he participated in his first audition. (no theory, just performance) We spent the first months doing nothing but prepareing for this event. He used one piece he learned for recital with his previous teacher. (Ballade by Burgmuller) It was difficult “relearning” the technique. It was my mistake allowing him to play a piece he already memorized incorrectly.

In the end It was a good experience for him. He learned that every detail counts when playing for an adjudicator. I was afraid he was beginning to think I was OCD about wrist/finger staccatos, crescendos fermattas…poor kid.. He did very well..PHEW!

Now that the audition is over (and he got his first trophy) I need to organize and maximize his piano education. Like you said I have many long and short goals. I think putting those goals in writing and sharing with the parents is important. It may not look like he is progressing very quickly as we work on the fundamentals. They are smart parents.

My thinking is, because he is home schooled, finding a good theory book that he can self study would be the best use of time. He is also dedicated enough to do the work

You asked what I already use. I use Faber and the theory books progress with the levels. (lots of little theory books) Those won’t work for obvious reasons. I have Grace Vandendool Keyboard theory and Basic Music Theory by Audrey J. Adaire. And some college level text books. I was looking for an all inclusive workbook. He will have to learn the order of sharps all at once rather than progressively. Same thing with intervals, I IV V chords. etc…if that makes sense. I have no doubt he will catch up quickly. This forum has provided some good leads

I already sent him home with Bastien Scale books. Did I mention he never played a scale ?- Didn‘t know what a scale was! As I understand it, his previous teacher took him through Thompson only and much of what this student does is self taught.

He is very excited about piano lesson. It wouldn’t surprise me if this student went all the way. Not as a concert pianist but he enjoys music as a whole. I could see him pursuing music in college, improvising jazz, learning other instruments. His parents report that he got “hooked” after this last audition - which was held at the university music department with 2000 other music students.

This week one of my previous, very successful piano students- who is now a young adult. Stopped by to visit. Don’t you love that when it happens? I called this new piano family and she went over to their house to play an impromptu mini recital. They were impressed and she enjoyed it too.

I will keep you informed. Thank you everyone for the encouraging notes. I appreciate all the valuable ideas information shared on this forum.
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.

#1253294 - 08/21/09 10:55 AM Re: Intermediate level transfer student question [Re: Mrs.A]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
He sounds like me! My teacher also took me all the way through Thompson without ever mentioning scales or theory. And I play hymns well, too! It was hard learning theory later - very easy to get overwhelmed. Don't make the assumption that he can handle a lot just because he plays well, or that he *should* already know something. If these are new ideas, be gentle.

That said, I second (third?) Snell. Great books. Since you are already familiar with Faber, you can also pull out ideas from there when you hit a weak spot. For example, Faber has you marking staccato and legato: Have your student copy a page of a book he already owns (maybe a level 2 Thompson, for example - something "easy") - and re-marking parts of it as staccato or legato and try playing it that way! Or mark intervals. Or find scales and partial scales, or different key signatures....
piano teacher


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