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#1316987 - 12/02/09 07:25 PM How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures?  
Joined: Mar 2008
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ToriAnais Offline
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ToriAnais  Offline
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Ok I'm going to edit this to get rid of my opinion, as it's getting lots of views and no replies, and i'm POSITIVE lots of you out there must have ideas on this. My opinion really means diddly squat as I haven't been teaching that long. Only just over a year.

SO. How fast and/or slow should children of about 7 move through piano adventures - I'm mainly talking the primer and level 1. How many pieces per week, how many weeks on each piece, how many months to get to the end of the book/s, etc.

I'm also wanting ideas on the "ideal" way for them to progress, for best outcomes. I.e. have you found with a child who lingers and plays each piece for a month they do better ultimately than the kid who perfects each piece in a week and then flies onto the next one? Do you go back and play the old duets weeks/months later for reinforcement?

Last edited by mitts_off; 12/02/09 08:26 PM.

Piano teacher since August 2008.
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#1317035 - 12/02/09 08:50 PM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: ToriAnais]  
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Morodiene Offline
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I think the ones who fly through, as long as they accomplish what they should, tend to do better. There's no need to force them to linger, these pieces are pretty easy if you just put in the time. I've had students move between the Lessons & Performance books about 3-4 pieces per week total, and this is pretty normal. Once we've moved on, I encourage them to continue playing their favorites at home, but I don't usually revisit any of them.


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#1317071 - 12/02/09 09:41 PM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: Morodiene]  
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J Christina Offline
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For the moment, I agree with Morodiene, but I do know piano teachers that have their students fly through the primer in 3 months, and 4 months for levels 1, 2 and maybe 3. Their students end up being the 9 year olds playing mozart sonatas, and such. It depends on how you teach...which takes time, research and observation.

Good luck!

#1317075 - 12/02/09 09:48 PM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: ToriAnais]  
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Crayola Offline
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I think this totally depends on the student. I've used the PA series for the majority of my students and it's interesting the wide variety represented. And it has very little to do with age. I have a 4th grade girl who has taken over a year to complete the primer. She's now towards the middle of level 1, but usually I'll introduce one song at a time, and review it for 2-3 weeks. I try to introduce at least one new thing each week, either from PA or from her technique book, or Christmas book.

On the other hand I began a four year old boy in My First PA, and he flew through the book, and is now in level 2B, and only in 1st grade. He also goes through classical repertoire books, so in one week is usually working on 2-3 PA songs, and 2-3 classical pieces. Usually he'd pass a song in 1-2 weeks, but now as the pieces are more complex, it often takes a little longer.

I think the beauty of private lessons is that you can tailor it to each child's learning capacity and their natural abilities. Some kids really are able to spend a lengthy time on each piece and really polish it beyond the correct notes and rhythm. Others I keep them on the piece until they get the gist before moving them on. IMHO, each song is a tool to develop something new or reinforce something. Once they get the idea and can accomplish the main purpose of the song, they are ready to move on, unless of course, they must polish the piece for an exam or recital.


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#1317222 - 12/03/09 02:35 AM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: Crayola]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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There is definitely a range. I go pretty fast, assigning 7-8 pages per week, but I've had kids who S T R U G G L E their way through PA.

I think we should customize piano-teaching to suit the unique needs of each student. There is no set time frame for each method book.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
#1317333 - 12/03/09 08:22 AM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Lollipop Offline
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Georgia
Parents usually ask me, as they want to know how often they have to buy new books. My average student who practices regularly but not excessively (say 4 or 5x per week) goes through PA primer in about 8 months, and takes about a year for level 1. I had one student who took it seriously and practiced effectively, and was able to complete a unit per week - finishing the primer in less than 3 months. Six or seven months later she was finishing level 1 (then she moved away frown ).

I generally start out assigning Unit I and part of Unit II of the Primer at the first lesson (because students are eager to actually play something). In the Primer book, I adjust until they are passing everything I assign in one week (or occasionally, two). For most, it generally is one or two pages in lesson book, with corresponding pages in the other three books.

For some, (who don't practice!) it might mean one page in only one book. I had one student who took two years to finish the Primer - we did almost all her practice at lessons. (She finally quit, for other reasons.)

As far as when to pass them on a piece, I try to identify what concept or technique or note the particular piece is trying to teach. I pass them on the lesson piece when they demonstrate they have learned that concept, even if everything else isn't absolutely perfect. The nice thing about PA is that it repeats concepts often, so they get reinforced. Almost all of my young students have a "light bulb moment" when stuff begins making sense. Up to that point, I'm careful to go slowly enough to let things sink in.

The other thing I try to guard against is developing a "good enough" mentality. Periodically I choose - or they choose - a piece to memorize and polish. They understand then that working on a piece for more than one week is not because they are doing anything wrong, but because making it perfect takes time.



piano teacher
#1317469 - 12/03/09 11:22 AM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: Lollipop]  
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This is very helpful to me. I've never taught anyone piano, and was asked to teach my niece (6 years old). I got Piano Adventures because it seemed easy to follow in terms of lessons, and have been teaching her for about 4 months. I've often wondered how it should be going--I've found it goes best if I have her play the pieces for one week only, as long as she can get through them and seems to understand the concepts. Otherwise, it seems to me she would just tend to memorize rather than learn the notes. I sort of rushed through the primer until we got to the point where the staff is used, and she could really learn to read music. I'd been thinking she's about at the level to choose one song and polish it. I'm glad to know we seem to be more or less on track. I'm an advanced pianist but not a teacher; of course, I'm not charging for the lessons and hope I'm doing more good than harm!

#1318032 - 12/04/09 02:31 AM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: Lollipop]  
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by Lollipop
I had one student who took two years to finish the Primer - we did almost all her practice at lessons.


Gee, that sounds like the kids I used to teach at one of those music schools. The recital program had at least 15 Faber pieces. Some weren't even memorized...


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#1318044 - 12/04/09 03:40 AM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: AZNpiano]  
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While I agree there's no set time frame for finishing any particular book, and shouldn't be, any time a student is progressing very very slowly (like two years to finish a primer book) it makes me think there must be better ways we could use the lesson time. They really have to be missing the point completely to take that long to get to the end of such a little book, even if their only practice is at their lessons. At some point I think we have to give up on the book if it's not working, even if it means lessons without books at all.


(I'm a piano teacher.)
#1318050 - 12/04/09 04:20 AM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: david_a]  
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What to do with kids who only practice in their lessons is something I've been thinking about lately david. I find it so frustrating to have a very competent, interested child, who never practices. I have one girl who LOVES her piano lessons, and the other week, in a moment of frustration, I said to her "I might have to speak with your mother and tell her she is wasting her money on your piano lessons and not to give them to you any more" and she said "no!!" in a desperate voice, and gripped at my arm and looked up at me with big saucer eyes and begged me not to. This was mean of me I know, but it just makes me mad that she could be progressing fast if her mum would just take 10 minutes out of her day a couple of times a week and sit down with her. But, given this is unlikely to change, I think they do need a different approach. I don't want her to be slogging her way through the primer in a year and a halfs time.


Piano teacher since August 2008.
#1318122 - 12/04/09 09:01 AM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: ToriAnais]  
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Lollipop Offline
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Georgia
The little girl I mentioned literally did not touch her (grand) piano all week, most weeks. She was in daycare after school, or at relatives' house, and multiple other activities - tennis, soccer, kumon, etc.

Every once in awhile she would bounce into lessons saying, "I practiced!" which would mean she actually touched the piano once, probably either immediately after the previous lesson, or immediately before the current one.

I had lots of conversations with the mom about "wasting money" etc. If they just quit paying me a regular fee and just gave me 5 bucks every time I heard "I'm a single mom", I could retire now. I kept the child simply because I felt like I was one stable thing in her life. She was intelligent, and a very sweet girl, and probably could have done well enough with regular practice.

She made real progress in the weeks leading up to a recital when piano became a priority, and always played wonderfully then. After her first year of little progress, I made her some flashcards and explained to the mother that I would not take her on to another page in her books until she knew her notes. That helped. Once a month or so, we'd spend a lesson re-learning the notes.

After numerous no-shows, last minute cancellations, late payments, etc, Mom got mad at me for not being flexible enough and quit. Said she was a single mom and didn't need the stress. I think she expected me to beg her to stay and was surprised when I told her I thought it a good idea, as I felt it was too stressful for her daughter and for me, too.

If anybody knows a better way to teach a student like this, I'd be interested in hearing about it. But quite honestly, I hope I don't have another situation like this one ever again.


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#1318159 - 12/04/09 09:45 AM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: Lollipop]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Lollipop, sounds like it was for the best. The time you gave that child I'm sure will be precious to her. I, too, have a student who took a school year (she takes summers off) to get through the primer book. Now we're in Book 1, and the goal was to get halfway through this by Christmas. She took a while to get back into practicing (and by that, I mean 3-4 days a week, sometimes only playing one song), so I don't think we'll be meeting our goal. She is a wonderfully creative child, and very sweet. She loves to sing, too. It's her personality that keeps me teaching her. She loves lessons and is always willing to try. For these reasons, I will keep teaching her, no matter how slow she progresses.

For some students, it's not all about excelling at piano.


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#1386766 - 03/02/10 06:36 PM Re: How fast SHOULD kids move through Piano Adventures? [Re: ToriAnais]  
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It all depends on the kid's ability to learn. My kid started at 4, finished primer level in 1 month, level 1, level 2 in two months, at 9 months, she is at level 4. On the other hand, one of my friends' kid, is still at level 2 after 2.5 years of learning. Kids with super talent can finish 6 levels in one year, kids don't practice can stuck at a level forever. On average, primer level 4 months, each level afterwards a year.



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