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Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1743122
08/30/11 07:36 AM
08/30/11 07:36 AM
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If she's already at the end of JT 3rd level, she's well into intermediate level pieces, and pretty much past the benefits the Alfred Premier series offers to beginners.

I learned using JT. My mom was my initial teacher, and that is what she knew. When I started with outside teachers, they let me stay with JT since we had all the books, but added much supplemental music, including the later Schaum books, Hanon, Dozen a Day, and lots of sheet music. I have no trouble with over-dependence on finger numbers, perhaps because of the amount of supplemental music my teachers used. The first time I heard someone say JT had finger numbers on every note, I actually had to go and look because I'd never noticed!

The things I liked about JT were the early introduction of various key signatures, and a good selection of classical/traditional pieces. Even in the early books, I loved the pieces. When I need supplemental music for students, I often flip through JT to remind myself of pieces I love at a certain level, then find them in another book or sheet music.

I did try teaching out of JT for my adults some years ago, and felt they moved too fast for most people. I've tried a variety of "adult" series, and none of them are perfect. The next adult student I get, I will try Premier. I'm happy with what I've seen of it, working with children, and don't think it is a juvenile as some of the other series.


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Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: Lollipop] #1743618
08/31/11 02:13 AM
08/31/11 02:13 AM
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Hello, Lollipop,
Sounds like you have a very good idea about the JT series. Do you have any idea about the books vs the ABRSM / Trinity exams ( at least the boards with 8 grades)? Would you more or less say that the 2 fisrst books are grade 1 and 2, then, the 3 last books 2 grades each, so the end of the 5th and last JT book is equal to grade 8? The 3rd grade JT books has Beethovens menuet in G - which is grade 4 exam piece from ABRSM. Fur Elise, is in my opinion more difficult and is a grade 3 piece ( not in the JT books ) Any comments on this? Thank you so very, very much. Best regards Rune

Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1743662
08/31/11 05:10 AM
08/31/11 05:10 AM
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Hi Runedubai,
I am myself new here.
I think your estimate is correct in general, I have JT 1, 3 and 4 books.
After I saw your question and browsed through the Thompson grade 4 book I see that there are pieces in there varying from grade 4-7 (with a majority on grades 5-6). The Beethoven sonata opus 2 first movement is actually on the grade 8 list of one of the boards (LCM I think). There are also pieces that are grade 4 like the F major Prelude by Bach on page 30,the Mozart rondo from K 545 is probably grade 6 (maybe 5), so there is some variance.

As far as the JT grade 1 book is concerned, 99% is in five finger position, while the exam boards grade 1 exams have scale passages, and bigger intervals than only 5ths. I think one can start preparing for a grade 1 exam only after completion of the JT grade 1 book.
I don't have the JT grade 2 book, I have JT 3 and I think you are right saying it is about grade 3/4 (mostly 3).

And I actually think Fur Elise would be on grade 4 if it were on a British exam syllabus.
Hope this helps.

And maybe I should introduce myself. I am a relatively new piano teacher in The Netherlands with only 5 elementary/early intermediate students (6 if you count my husband who recently started to learn...), hoping for more to students to come, but I guest the economy is tight and unsure for many people.

So hi and thank you to everybody on this forum, I have been reading and learning a lot here in the past year.

Last edited by Prins; 08/31/11 05:31 AM.
Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: Prins] #1743697
08/31/11 07:52 AM
08/31/11 07:52 AM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
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Welcome to the forum. Be sure to identify yourself as a piano teacher in your signature block, so in the future, other readers will know your professional status.

In the USA, we work with students who have wide ranging abilities, not just the top 1%, as is true in some cultures. It's my impression that the NL is similar to us in that regard. Our methods have to pace student progression accordingly. Some of the methods have a very slow, but comprehensive pace, while others move along rather quickly, but again, without skipping needed technique and development.

The Netherlands has some interesting music publications, but I've not had an opportunity to view any of your methods. I have examined several published by Schott, over in Germany, and the one by Fritz Emonts looks to to be an order of magnitude better than the JT series. You might want to examine it as an alternative for your foundation teaching.

Best regards,

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
Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1743699
08/31/11 07:59 AM
08/31/11 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
In the USA, we work with students who have wide ranging abilities, not just the top 1%, as is true in some cultures.


Fascinating! How many lessons are the 99% allowed before being rejected? Or is there some method of pre-testing so that only the 1% ever actually get to sit on a piano stool? Where does this happen - some totalitarian state with a highly-productive music-education system?

Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1743990
08/31/11 04:45 PM
08/31/11 04:45 PM
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Rune - I am not familiar with the various levels, so I can't compare JT with anything else, sorry.


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Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: John v.d.Brook] #1744278
09/01/11 03:02 AM
09/01/11 03:02 AM
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Thanks for the welcome, John!
I have not yet noticed how I can amend my signature block. I will look at it later.
In the Netherlands the American methods are very popular, esp. the ones that are translated into Dutch, I use Hal Leonard (Dutch version), and Piano Adventures Accelerated books 1&2 (not translated) for the teenage students, and a lot of supplementary music books.
I know of the Fritz Emonts books, my former teacher uses them for clever students age 9/10 and up, but I don't. They are quite expensive but they last a while as they are quite thick and thorough, and look beautiful. Maybe I will study them for future use, I found the beginning section (yellow pages book 1), a bit confusing myself and am not sure how to teach this, that and the price has held me back.
I do not use Thompson as a method but I have the books.

Last edited by Prins; 09/01/11 03:05 AM.
Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: Exalted Wombat] #1744293
09/01/11 04:12 AM
09/01/11 04:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
Fascinating! How many lessons are the 99% allowed before being rejected? Or is there some method of pre-testing so that only the 1% ever actually get to sit on a piano stool? Where does this happen - some totalitarian state with a highly-productive music-education system?

I really don't think John's quote deserves such a sarcastic response.

I have several students who are in the top 1%, and they are of course great fun to teach; however, I have come to accept the bottom-dwellers as well. I have a handicapped student who probably will never play his way out of level 2, but that doesn't mean I reject the student. He works hard and makes some limited progress, yet he advances faster than some of my other students who have full use of their faculties. Those are the ones I want to reject!


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Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: AZNpiano] #1744297
09/01/11 04:41 AM
09/01/11 04:41 AM
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Quote
Quote
Quote
In the USA, we work with students who have wide ranging abilities, not just the top 1%, as is true in some cultures.
Fascinating! How many lessons are the 99% allowed before being rejected? Or is there some method of pre-testing so that only the 1% ever actually get to sit on a piano stool? Where does this happen - some totalitarian state with a highly-productive music-education system?

I really don't think John's quote deserves such a sarcastic response.


Really? Look at it again! It can only be a joke, so I treated it as such.

Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: Exalted Wombat] #1744914
09/02/11 02:37 AM
09/02/11 02:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
In the USA, we work with students who have wide ranging abilities, not just the top 1%, as is true in some cultures.


Fascinating! How many lessons are the 99% allowed before being rejected? Or is there some method of pre-testing so that only the 1% ever actually get to sit on a piano stool? Where does this happen - some totalitarian state with a highly-productive music-education system?

Ahem: perhaps you are too young to remember how it worked in the Soviet Union? Or too naive to think it STILL works that way in other places? smile

I think John's comment may have been a slight exaggeration, to make a point, but a joke?

No.


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Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: Gary D.] #1745026
09/02/11 09:47 AM
09/02/11 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted by John v.d.Brook
In the USA, we work with students who have wide ranging abilities, not just the top 1%, as is true in some cultures.


Fascinating! How many lessons are the 99% allowed before being rejected? Or is there some method of pre-testing so that only the 1% ever actually get to sit on a piano stool? Where does this happen - some totalitarian state with a highly-productive music-education system?

Ahem: perhaps you are too young to remember how it worked in the Soviet Union? Or too naive to think it STILL works that way in other places? smile

I think John's comment may have been a slight exaggeration, to make a point, but a joke?

No.


I was never in the Soviet Union. (Were you?) I was fed lots of propaganda about it in the 50s and 60s. In the UK we heard both opinions, in America I suspect the anti opinion dominated :-)

They certainly had an enviable reputation for fast-tracking talent, and producing world-class performers and atheletes. Did this imply a ban on social-level piano study for those less talented? It's unusual for a pyramid to lack a base.

Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: Gary D.] #1745037
09/02/11 10:01 AM
09/02/11 10:01 AM
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Olympia, Washington, USA
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My comment wasn't meant as judgmental, but historical. I didn't feel EW's response merited a reply, because of the tenor of the reply. And it's entirely possible that he/she may not be familiar with the varying Asian cultures and those of some S American and Eastern Block nations, especially their economic status during the previous century.

My Chinese exchange student pretty much confirmed that the practice is still quite prevalent there. I have heard from international colleagues (albeit now 2nd hand information) that the practice is still quite common in many S. American countries, where there is a small middle class, and financing lessons is a big deal. Eastern block nations reportedly selected top students in each discipline early in school, and then focused on developing their abilities. Is 1% an accurate number? Perhaps not. Maybe it's 0.1%.

And, FWIW, Germany still uses tracking in education, separating students beginning with 5th grade. Students are placed in either the Gymnasium (university track), Realschule (white collar and trades) or Grundschule (blue collar, farming, etc.). About 1/3 of the students get to attend the Gymnasium. In larger towns and cities, the Gymnasiums are further sliced by genre. Science and technology, social studies and arts, and sports! In each, there are extra classes which take students to higher levels and in the arts school case, private music instruction is included! There are also some general gymnasiums, usually servicing more rural populations.

Piano lessons are a luxury for most people. You need a large middle class with surplus income and free time. It probably helps to have a culture which supports the arts to some degree as well.


"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
Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1745099
09/02/11 12:20 PM
09/02/11 12:20 PM
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Yup - my daughter attended a math/science gymnasium in Germany for grades 9-11. Also in the town we lived (40k people) were Gymnasiums for social studies, music, and a Catholic gymnasium. My daughter went to the math/science because we figured that would be the easiest for her studying in a foreign language. Even at her school, though, every student took music, every year. But she was a star at the annual Christmas concerts, as most of the truly talented musicians were at Max Reger Gym.

Part of the reason why I accept students who are (or start out) less serious is because I want music to be accessible to a broader segment.

Same daughter is headed to China in the morning, to live for a year, to teach English. Although she is taking her violin with her, and has a performance degree, folks (who haven't even heard her) have discouraged her from having any expectations of playing, as they already have many, many talented violinists and "don't need her."


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Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1745115
09/02/11 12:55 PM
09/02/11 12:55 PM
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I don't think there is a perfect system. For example, as John wrote:
Quote
Piano lessons are a luxury for most people. You need a large middle class with surplus income and free time.

I suppose the "need" is from the perspective of a teacher who needs to have a large enough customer base. But from the student perspective, a student who does not have the income, then regardless of how dedicated or talented, that student is locked out of lessons or likely to only access poor teaching. (Because an excellent teacher will also gravitate toward this same viable customer base). Meanwhile, this same phenomenon creates the frustration that many teachers here describe: the well-off families who subscribe to lessons for the wrong reasons, and treat it frivolously. Or for whom things like high grades in exams is a social status thing. Or the need to market yourself toward some "niche market" - all of which probably forces some compromise to actually teaching music because something has to give. Our system is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.

I never lived in the Soviet Union either. I'm told that children with promise were selected at an early age (7?) and then were given a thorough education in music. I assume that this was free or made affordable, so we don't have this money-barrier. A student who made it to university level did not crash into a sudden road block of huge university fees forcing him to drop out at that stage. If the state paid for that education, then they promised the same number of years of service (playing music) to the state afterward. What I don't know is:
- whether the selection process actually worked, or whether kids were missed or the wrong ones identified
- whether it happened everywhere geographically
- whether the parents of non-selected kids could still hire a private teacher so those children had access to lessons
- whether the non-selected students in regular schools had access to at least some amount of music and art education

My thought is that different societies had different systems, and they probably all had glaring problems, but maybe we can pick up the positive ends of those differences and try to create something better.

Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1745121
09/02/11 01:14 PM
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The education system in Germany has undergone several changes. Originally you had the various types of schools outlined by John, and kids were identified and streamed around grade 5 I think. Canada has streaming in grade 9 with courses going toward university, non-university, with math. etc. tagged by a number to identify the stream. In France I think the streaming happens in grade 7 which is a very stressful year since the results make or break the future.

At that point (Germany) the kids were in one of those types of schools, the Gymnasium being toward academics and university, while the "Technische Hochschule" might also be university but toward things like engineering. Ability rather than geography mattered. Germany had to scramble because of reunification - this was costly among other things. On the heels of this came the European Union. The education system seems less universal now since a few years, because the funding for these schools seems to have shifted partly to a regional tax base. So an academic-minded bright kid living in a poor worker district or small village might not get streamed to Gymnasium, because there is no Gymnasium in that region.

Some of the things in the German system really impressed me. For one, in our system here one gets the feeling that the non-university streams are "the same, but less, and less worthy". Over there it seemed fully thought out. An example is the dental hygienist whose high school subjects supported the type of math. etc. she would need in her profession, and where art working with 3D sculpture type things using various materials gave her a facility for creating denture molds. There was an apprenticeship program where the dentist training her also had to report a set of teaching criteria (avoiding blatant using of trainees as "gofers") and there was a back and forth of both school and training. I wondered, however, whether such a person might become over-specialized and not have the flexibility of our North American jack-of-all-trades facility.

Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: keystring] #1745153
09/02/11 02:22 PM
09/02/11 02:22 PM
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Oh, they still have them (the three branches of schools). My grandchildren attend German schools. My daughter keeps us abreast of problems issues on a weekly basis! And trust me, there are plenty!


"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
Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1757050
09/22/11 12:13 AM
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I wonder how this became completely nonsense, with German schools, Sovjet Union and so on. Who cares? Until this came, I think the posts were educational and interesting. I am sure the are blogs out there both for german schooling and Sovjet Union. Hope that somebody will continue with constructive music comments, because it was rather good and I think to blog about John Thompsons's modern course for piano, which still is used by so many is an important topic. I do not mean to offend anybody, so please do not take it up wrongly. Best regards Rune

Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1757074
09/22/11 01:47 AM
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Hi Rune,

I want to mention that I do like John Thompson's method books very much. I played the devil out of them when I was young. The books does present material in an old school way. I find the compositions and teaching material thorough. I even still use the pictures to show technique to my students. There are many changes in today's methods. I like the changes that we have nowadays, however, I still like the JT books, too. The books are steep. Learning supplemental pieces may help fill in some of the gaps.


Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)
Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1757113
09/22/11 05:36 AM
09/22/11 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by runedubai
to blog about John Thompsons's modern course for piano, which still is used by so many

Perhaps it is because a lot of piano teachers will use what they used while growing up?? That's why Beyer and Czerny are still being used in a large part of the world.

But, honestly, JT is seriously outdated as a method. It has many pedagogical problems, and it moves way too quickly for most students. Please take a look at Alfred Premier. It is SO good compared to JT. I'm seriously tempted to switch all of my beginner students (on Hal Leonard and Piano Adventures) over to Alfred Premier.


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Re: Help from piano teacher needed regarding John Thompson [Re: runedubai] #1758563
09/24/11 04:46 PM
09/24/11 04:46 PM
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Just like any other method, it takes a closer look sometimes to understand what the basic foundation being presented is. JT, as far as repertoire goes, is heavy on style. The compositions are solid and directly line the student up with good technique that is important in the development of the serious music student. I find that to be somewhat lacking in some of the contemporary method books. Piano Adventures is also pointed toward style. I like the Alfred Premiere books very much as the student is given a good dose of common sense technique right from the start.

I used to have a large library in my studio (now at my home), and, for example, if I needed a quick piece to encourage wrist staccato, I'd grab a copy of JT's 1st book and turn to "The Woodpecker".

There are some clever references to pieces by the masters if you listen closely.

Of course, anything from an age gone by is going to appear archaic. But, let's not be too hasty to write off our forbearers. I played the heck out of certain Chopin Waltzes, too: does that mean I shouldn't teach them?

How about Bartok's Mikrokosmos? Ever notice what is the same in Mikrokosmos' first pieces and Czerny's Op. 299, for example?

I have used Czerny's Op. 299, and Op. 599, and another, (books are packed up right now), for beginners and early to late intermediate. Not exclusively, of course. There is a reason why I do this. Let's see if anyone wants to figure out what that is on their own. ;~)

These pieces, as well as the pieces in early Suzuki collections, give a perfect opportunity for teaching theory.

In these books, one can teach everything a student needs to know about how dominant chords work in music. You can have them transpose these pieces into all keys without too much of a struggle. Plus, it's great material for learning basic accompaniment. I get on either end of the student and play a simple accompaniment along with them. They learn accompanying figures, too. The opportunities are there to work out quite a thorough lesson. I can imagine that teachers of his day were accustomed to being highly creative during their student's lessons. I like that.

In fact, I usually don't use method books at all! :-))


Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)
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