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#1262494 - 09/04/09 04:22 PM Two sisters new at piano
Gisele Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Schenectady, Saratoga Counties...
I start teaching piano to 2 sisters in about a week and a half. They are aged 7 and 9 and have never played the piano before. My instinct is telling me to have them use different books to work from. I don't want them bored of listening to their sister playing the same pages. What is your opinion/experience on this? Thanks,

Gisele Sum, gsum82-piano@hotmail.com
Piano and Theory Teacher
Principal Church Organist and/or Choir Accompaniment

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#1262520 - 09/04/09 05:23 PM Re: Two sisters new at piano [Re: Gisele]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Definitely use different courses. Just because they are sisters doesn't mean they will learn the same way or will proceed at the same pace.
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

#1262866 - 09/05/09 10:27 AM Re: Two sisters new at piano [Re: Minniemay]
Karisofia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 201
Loc: Wisconsin
I generally use different material with siblings. And I institute a "leave your sister's music alone" rule. That comes from my childhood when I learned things more quickly than my younger sisters. They would become discouraged if I played their pieces.
Private Teacher
Local Association President
The Achievement Program Center Representative

#1262886 - 09/05/09 11:26 AM Re: Two sisters new at piano [Re: Karisofia]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I've used separate method books with siblings in the past. But I noticed that consistently the one using Faber and Faber PA always did better! (And the other got frustrated, or even dropped out.) So now I use PA with both. I have a standard "agreement" in place with them ahead of time - that it is not a competition. That I expect them to have different strengths and weaknesses. If one is older, I explain right away that I will probably move that person faster on purpose, just so they aren't in the same place at the same time.

Currently I have two sets of twins. They have been doing everything in tandem all their lives, so they seem used to the idea that one of them might learn one thing faster, and another will do something different well. They each have to have their own theory books. And I use different supplemental material for each. I tell them they are "allowed" to help each other, with two exceptions. I want them to do their theory on their own, and they aren't allowed to try their sister's supplemental piece until after I have checked it off. They all seem to understand. I am also going to attempt, for awhile at least, to keep them at the same point. They are all new students so I'll have to report back later how this goes.
piano teacher

#1263217 - 09/05/09 10:00 PM Re: Two sisters new at piano [Re: Lollipop]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 15119
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I ask the mom or dad in this case, because they know them very well. Do they compete or are they good friends? If one learned faster than the other, would that cause issues? If the answer is yes, they compete and it would cause issues, then you know to use two different methods. You also have put forth your best case for the mother so she understands why two sets of books would be necessary, thus bypassing any objections on her part. I like PA, but I also like Hal Leonard (although they changed Lesson Book 3 a bit and made it easier and I don't much care for that).
private piano/voice teacher FT

#1263369 - 09/06/09 09:55 AM Re: Two sisters new at piano [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7639
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Although I've never had siblings begin piano at the same time, I've certainly encountered them two years apart. As others have mentioned, I use different materials for them. Students usually take possession of their music, so it's best to not recycle. My sisters hated the handmedown school and music items, and I can't blame them. They deserve to have something new and fresh when they begin to learn piano.

Almost always, you'll find different learning styles and speed, but you won't know at the outset which will be the best match for the each student. You can increase your odds by a discrete conversation with mom or dad, by asking probing questions.

It's a good idea to be familiar with more than one series/method even if one becomes your primary. For me, I use Piano Town as my primary, and keep an emergency set of Faber's and Bastien's methods on the shelf just in case. If I find a student extremely high on the learning ability scale, or displaying real musical sensitivity, then I ease them into Jane Tan's method, because we'll focusing on sound issues anyway (so using her methods will make this easier).
"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

#1263930 - 09/07/09 10:15 AM Re: Two sisters new at piano [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I used to use Bastien as my second method. I had used it prior to discovering PA, so was familiar with it. What I discovered was that kids who were going to be competitive would do so regardless of what method. So students compared whether or not they had to "repeat" a piece, or how fast they finished a unit, or a whole book, or how many compliments I gave at the lesson... If competition is going to be a problem, it won't matter what method you use. (I even have children - or their parents - who keep track of my other students' progress, especially if they happen to be friends or classmates outside of studio.)

So instead, I've chosen to deal with the competition aspects head-on, rather than try to subvert them.

And occasionally, I find a little bit of competition to be useful.
piano teacher

#1264631 - 09/08/09 01:47 PM Re: Two sisters new at piano [Re: Lollipop]
Gisele Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Schenectady, Saratoga Counties...
Thanks for the reassurance and the warnings of the sisters' possible competitiveness. I never even thought of that possibility, as my siblings and I were almost a decade apart, so this never happened at our home.

I agree that each will probably like to use their own books so they don't feel like they are playing hand-me-downs.

It will be good practice for me too, learning to teach from 2 different series.

Gisele Sum, gsum82-piano@hotmail.com
Piano and Theory Teacher
Principal Church Organist and/or Choir Accompaniment


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