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#1974986 - 10/18/12 02:39 AM Several easy ones or fewer more challenging ones
newinstru? Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/12
Posts: 113
Loc: SoCal
The thread about going ahead in the music has prompted me to ask this question. My daughter's teacher has encouraged my daughter (8 yrs old ...... Just started Helen Marlais' book 1.....has had lessons for six months) to go ahead in her book if she wants to. She gives her 6 or 7 pieces from the books a week. She learns them quite quickly. I do think it has helped her note reading, but I'm wondering.....is this typical? Or would you tend to assign fewer pieces that are a little more of a challenge?

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#1975000 - 10/18/12 03:30 AM Re: Several easy ones or fewer more challenging ones [Re: newinstru?]
AZNpiano Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 7033
Loc: Orange County, CA
So, your 7- to 8-year-old daughter has just spent 6 months on the Succeeding at the Piano Preparatory Book. Honestly, that's just about normal progress, if not slightly below normal. Most of my students blow right through that book in 2-3 months. Is your daughter having 30-minute lessons every other week? Also, have you been using the accompanying CD? The CD is extremely helpful.

I'd have to say that what you are describing is fairly typical among average students. 6-7 "easy" pieces per week is just about right. Helen Marlais interwove difficult and easy music so that the entire book is not one giant uphill climb. In fact, I think Alfred Premier picked up on that concept of cyclic pacing as well. Both series do a wonderful job teaching all the basics in a logical fashion. In contrast, John Thompson assumed all children are prodigies.

Thus, the best thing for you is probably to trust the book's author (who based her writing on the latest pedagogical research) and let your daughter's teacher continue teaching her way. I'm sure the teacher will appreciate a less "hands-on" parent at this point of your daughter's musical journey.
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

#1975073 - 10/18/12 08:35 AM Re: Several easy ones or fewer more challenging ones [Re: newinstru?]
Crayola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 299
Loc: Chicago, IL
You may have reason to be concerned if you're asking this same question 2-3 years down the road. If your child is playing early or intermediate classical music and is passing several pieces each week, that would be a problem, as the music will become more challenging, and there will be more focus on tone and technique and mastery of various skills. Perhaps at this stage in the game, quantity IS quality. I would only be concerned if she's being passed while playing them poorly.
Independent Piano Teacher, NCTM
Member of MTNA and ISMTA

#1975430 - 10/18/12 10:16 PM Re: Several easy ones or fewer more challenging ones [Re: newinstru?]
pianogirl87 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 108
Loc: New Jersey
I've never used the Marlais book (though I do have it in my pedagogy library). But honestly, with all methods, it all depends on what the student can handle. If your daughter can play and pick up pieces quickly, there's no reason why she shouldn't be learning that many pieces. Especially if some pieces are easier than others. Most likely, as she advances, the number of pieces will go down, due to the fact that music is more challenging and there is more to focus on with each piece.
Pianist/Accompanist/Piano Instructor

#1975436 - 10/18/12 10:36 PM Re: Several easy ones or fewer more challenging ones [Re: newinstru?]
newinstru? Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/12
Posts: 113
Loc: SoCal
Thank your everyone. I've decided to continue on, but just a little faster as she needs a little more of a challenge. I've had her do a few extra, with the encouragement and blessing of the teacher, and although it's only been a few days it seems to be working out nicely.

Edited by newinstru? (10/18/12 10:36 PM)

#1975459 - 10/18/12 11:29 PM Re: Several easy ones or fewer more challenging ones [Re: newinstru?]
MaggieGirl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 625
I have no idea about the book or number of pieces.

I just thought I'd share - my daughter gets one or two pieces that have to be worked on. For example her recital piece. She has had it memorized for over a month but it requires a lot of polish. So at every lesson there is a "project". Then there is another piece that takes usually two lessons to pass. Finally there are etudes and book pieces. Those - she usually gets new ones with each lesson.

It is important to her teacher that she have a "repertoire" of memorized pieces so it is expected she memorize almost all of her music (there are exceptions for simple book pieces that are covering a skill that she does well).

I don't know why it's important that she memorize music that she doesn't perform for recitals, but it has been nice for someone to ask her to play and she can have a mini concert.

Anyway, I wonder if "more" isn't necessary, just a piece or two that gives your child stretch.

Edited by MaggieGirl (10/18/12 11:31 PM)

#1975499 - 10/19/12 02:16 AM Re: Several easy ones or fewer more challenging ones [Re: newinstru?]
newinstru? Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/12
Posts: 113
Loc: SoCal
Maggie, it sounds like your daughter is further along than mine. Mine is in the beginning of Helen Marlais' book 1, and will get her first recital piece soon. Thank you for sharing your experience. Sounds like she is working on several things at once too.

#1975603 - 10/19/12 09:52 AM Re: Several easy ones or fewer more challenging ones [Re: newinstru?]
MaggieGirl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 625
Not by much! She started piano just over a year ago. This is how her teacher has been teaching since the very beginning. Her first recital was last November - less than 6 months of playing. It was a simple piece that she started working on with her after 2 months.

#1975890 - 10/19/12 07:04 PM Re: Several easy ones or fewer more challenging ones [Re: MaggieGirl]
newinstru? Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/12
Posts: 113
Loc: SoCal
I like the idea of your daughter doing her regular (if I'm reading you right) pieces that she learns quickly, and then having one or two that take a little longer. And I like the repertoire idea too.

I initially posted because I think I was a little frustrated with my daughter's progress. Though no prodigy, she is quite capable. She wasn't self motivated to go through her books, I wasn't pushing or always making sure she practiced enough. We are both much more consistent now, practice is good, I'm having her do more that the teacher requires, and that seems to be okay.

I posted shortly after she got her next book, and I was irritated, looking front to back, at what seemed to me LOTS of pieces to get not very far technically, or theoretically. Bottom line, I grew up with John Thompson ( in the beginning), and all these different little books, with lots of little songs to learn every week were bugging me. I like simple.

Anyway, that's the background, and I wasn't looking for Thompson per se, after reading some opinions on here about it, but maybe something .......... also, I thought the music in her books was boring, although since I've been having her do more she has been liking it more. I also think, that even though I'm bugged, all those little songs have been good for her note reading. So I am biting the bullet and plowing through.

Thanks for your story. I'm always learning..........


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