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#2027331 - 02/05/13 10:14 AM Question from student and teacher.  
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Snoopy329 Offline
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Hi all. I originally posted this on the adult beginners forum but was told I should post it here.

I've been lurking for the past 6 months here at pianoworld and all over the internet trying to weed thru the mountain of information on learning piano both for myself and my two sons.

I have a few questions and would like some opinions but, I guess I should give a little background on myself first since I am going to be a regular poster here. I am 37 years of age. I've had a passion for music ever since I was a little boy but, I had a father who would never let me take music lessons. Fast foward to age 21, I decided to take up piano. My piano teacher said I was an "adult prodigy". Unfortunately, after only 1 year, I had to give up lessons due to much stress in my family life and personal life. In that 1 year though, I learned many different pieces from various composers (bach, debussy, chopin, mompou,) and had begun to learn Chopin's Etude in C. I never learned any theory or scales, arpeggios etc...

Fast forward to now. Six months ago I decided to take up piano again because I finally have some free time and have the support of my wife. The main reason though is because I want to teach my 2 sons. I live in a small town and the options of music teachers is a handful. In fact, its only 3 and I have not heard very good things about their "results".

In 6 months, I have learned the 12 major, minor and harmonic minor scales and am playing them at 360bpm. Major arpeggios and their inversions at 300bpm. I have done some hanon exercises (which I love) and am reading every theory and technique book I can. Regarding scales, I am not comprimising evenness for speed. I am a perfectionist and don't do things unless I do them right. I could be doing my scales faster but, then I start compromising smoothness and sync. I began at 60bpm and only moved up when I felt I had total control at that speed.

So questions... What grade level would my scale speed be according to the ABRSM? I can't figure out how they do it at their website.

I have been teaching my oldest son for 5 months and he is already playing his 6 major and 6 minor scales at 180bpm. He just turned 7. He knows all his major triads in both hands and plays his broken chords in c and d major. He's learned over 30 children's songs in his 5 finger position (some jumps and crossovers) and plays the entire main theme of Beethoven's Fur Elise (the official version). I am leaning towards beginning him and myself on the "Celebration Series Perspectives Piano Repertoire" Grade 1. I would like the opinion of teachers and members regarding this and welcome any suggestions regarding repertoire and curriculum and anything else. Thank you all in advance.

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#2027339 - 02/05/13 10:30 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Chris H. Offline
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ABRSM grade 8 requires all scales to be played at a minimum speed of 88bpm. You only need to do 8 out of the 12 keys for this particular exam.


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#2027351 - 02/05/13 11:02 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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I have some concerns. Your original teacher seems to have focused on the material itself - the pieces and scales. There are two main focuses that a teacher can adopt, which the senior teacher Martha Beth Lewis called "product" and "process". "Product" focuses on the finished product - the piece, the scale, the exam. "Process" focuses on shaping the student and skills in the student and focuses on things like - reading skills, technique, approaches to pieces, understanding what you play through applied theory. The two overlap because you cannot play a piece well without having some technique (though you can skip reading skills). You cannot work on technique and reading skills without also working on a piece. But the "product" part can get sacrificed, and/or the student can get part of it and not be aware of what he has been taught.

Your teaching of your son has also been on the product side since you listed all those pieces and scales. You cannot transmit process since you yourself probably did not get much of it.

I was also seen as a "prodigy" when I began lessons on my first instrument and I advanced a ton of grades in my first year. Some years later I backtracked because I needed this other part much more, and it was also there much less than thought. For example, I could feel and sense things in the music, and produced them by hook and by crook, while the lack of technique put tension into my body. I could anticipate where the music would go and it wasn't caught that I didn't really know my notes or had any normal way of reading music. So though I reached about grade 7, and then stopped the instrument (couldn't take lessons anymore), I am resuming at the very beginning to patch the holes.

What would you define as the purpose of studying piano for yourself and your son? What role do the ABRSM exams or standards play in that ultimate purpose? These are things we (including teachers in some cases) do not ask ourselves, and should.

#2027357 - 02/05/13 11:15 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Btw, the Celebration series is part of the RCM program, and goes hand in hand with technique in the technique book and the benchmarks set out in the RCM syllabus for exams.

It may interest you to read the musings of Elissa Milne, whose compositions are part of the AMEB system in Australia, and who has some definite thoughts on music learning and teaching. She has new perspectives and her Little Peppers series is also an out-of-the-box approach trying to get to other sides of music (learning). It's heavy reading at times, and there's a lot of it, but personally I find it worthwhile.
E. Milne's blog

#2027362 - 02/05/13 11:30 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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Even if there are no local teachers, don't overlook skype for lessons.

If you are largely self-taught, now teaching kids, it would be good to have a professional's input, to avoid you passing on unhelpful habits to the children. If there is talent with you or the children, all the more reason to get professional help.

#2027674 - 02/05/13 08:57 PM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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I also recommend reading Elissa's approach to teaching. I take a very similar approach myself. It's always tempting to keep aiming for the stars (a harder piece, a higher grade), especially as a parent, but it can be so much more beneficial for students to experience an extensive range of styles, moods, keys etc. before moving on to the next "level." This is where the really musically enriching progress is made!

I also highly recommend looking at Irina Gorin's videos on youtube for an example of excellent technique training for children. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL607C4AF1CFB0A2A0


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#2027765 - 02/06/13 12:12 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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One quick questions... BPM are beats per minute. So if you play quarter notes (a beat practically) at 330 that's reasonable. But if you're playing 16th notes or something like that then it's insane at that speed...

#2027791 - 02/06/13 01:39 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Nikolas]  
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
One quick questions... BPM are beats per minute. So if you play quarter notes (a beat practically) at 330 that's reasonable. But if you're playing 16th notes or something like that then it's insane at that speed...

The OP is referring to quarter notes (one note per beat), while Chris is referring to 16th notes (four notes per beat).


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#2027797 - 02/06/13 01:45 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Originally Posted by Snoopy329
I have been teaching my oldest son for 5 months and he is already playing his 6 major and 6 minor scales at 180bpm. He just turned 7. He knows all his major triads in both hands and plays his broken chords in c and d major. He's learned over 30 children's songs in his 5 finger position (some jumps and crossovers) and plays the entire main theme of Beethoven's Fur Elise (the official version).

Stop right there. This is an insane regimen for a boy who just turned 7. Are you sure you're not trying to live vicariously through your son by over-compensating him with the piano experience that you didn't get when you grew up?

Please go get a qualified piano teacher. Now.


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#2027801 - 02/06/13 01:53 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Nikolas
One quick questions... BPM are beats per minute. So if you play quarter notes (a beat practically) at 330 that's reasonable. But if you're playing 16th notes or something like that then it's insane at that speed...

The OP is referring to quarter notes (one note per beat), while Chris is referring to 16th notes (four notes per beat).
Phew... Ok... Cause I did stop reading right there and thought that it's insane to begin with...

#2027951 - 02/06/13 09:24 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Snoopy329
I have been teaching my oldest son for 5 months and he is already playing his 6 major and 6 minor scales at 180bpm. He just turned 7. He knows all his major triads in both hands and plays his broken chords in c and d major. He's learned over 30 children's songs in his 5 finger position (some jumps and crossovers) and plays the entire main theme of Beethoven's Fur Elise (the official version).

Stop right there. This is an insane regimen for a boy who just turned 7. Are you sure you're not trying to live vicariously through your son by over-compensating him with the piano experience that you didn't get when you grew up?

Please go get a qualified piano teacher. Now.


I concur. It seems a bit heavy on technical exercises and light on repertoire that will build up specific skills in playing piano. A good teacher knows what music to introduce so that they can progress without any holes in their education. Do you?


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#2027979 - 02/06/13 10:37 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Morodiene]  
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This is why I am always hesitant to post on forums because some people tend to get nasty even though I try to be nice and welcome all opinions.

Did it ever occur to you that my son enjoys this "regimen"? Did it ever occur to you that I can't keep up with how fast he learns? Did it ever occur to you that he is the one who is always asking me to learn new things? Did it it ever occur to you that he completes his regimen in 15 minutes and only when HE wants to practice it? Did it ever occur to you that he has figured out the scales he knows on his own? Did ever occur to you that some people don't have an extra thirty or forty dollars a week to pay for a teacher? Did it ever occur to you that I have no desire for him to be some great concert pianist or anything close to that but just give him the beautiful gift of music at an early age so it becomes engrained in him and let him do with it what he wishes? So maybe I am not living vicariously through him? Did it ever occur to you that I am a good father and care for my son's happiness and am not forcing any of this on him?

Not everything is black and white and don't assume to know the specifics of a persons situation or life just by a few lines you read on a forum. Just because someone has a degree in something doesn't necessarily mean they know what they're doing. It takes a lot more than just regurgitating what you have been programmed/trained in to be an effective teacher. And no, even with reading these few more lines I have written here, you still don't know the specifics.

Post away. I won't be reading it.

#2028038 - 02/06/13 12:43 PM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Originally Posted by Snoopy329

Post away. I won't be reading it.


I didn't think so.


Pianist and piano teacher.
#2028062 - 02/06/13 01:24 PM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Chris H.]  
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Originally Posted by Chris H.
Originally Posted by Snoopy329

Post away. I won't be reading it.


I didn't think so.


*snicker*


Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#2028067 - 02/06/13 01:29 PM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Originally Posted by Snoopy329
This is why I am always hesitant to post on forums because some people tend to get nasty even though I try to be nice and welcome all opinions.

Did it ever occur to you that my son enjoys this "regimen"? Did it ever occur to you that I can't keep up with how fast he learns? Did it ever occur to you that he is the one who is always asking me to learn new things? Did it it ever occur to you that he completes his regimen in 15 minutes and only when HE wants to practice it? Did it ever occur to you that he has figured out the scales he knows on his own? Did ever occur to you that some people don't have an extra thirty or forty dollars a week to pay for a teacher? Did it ever occur to you that I have no desire for him to be some great concert pianist or anything close to that but just give him the beautiful gift of music at an early age so it becomes engrained in him and let him do with it what he wishes? So maybe I am not living vicariously through him? Did it ever occur to you that I am a good father and care for my son's happiness and am not forcing any of this on him?

Not everything is black and white and don't assume to know the specifics of a persons situation or life just by a few lines you read on a forum. Just because someone has a degree in something doesn't necessarily mean they know what they're doing. It takes a lot more than just regurgitating what you have been programmed/trained in to be an effective teacher. And no, even with reading these few more lines I have written here, you still don't know the specifics.

Post away. I won't be reading it.


Did it ever occur to you to let us know more information? You ask for opinions based on very limited knowledge, so we gave it. And I still question if what he's doing is good for his musical development, whether he enjoys it or not. Who is to say he wouldn't enjoy something different, perhaps even more? Why is it a wrong thing to suggest a professional work with him?


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#2028105 - 02/06/13 02:14 PM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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I've run into parents with limited piano experience who pose as their kids' teachers. More often than not it is actually destructive than productive, and by the time the student got to me the damage takes more time to undo than to simply start over from scratch.

Not all parents are as good as Leopold Mozart, mind you! And you've already said your son is outpacing you. Hang it up already.

If you are truly serious about your son's piano progress, go get a professional piano teacher. Drive 50 miles each way, if you have to.


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#2028111 - 02/06/13 02:25 PM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Originally Posted by Snoopy329
I would like the opinion of teachers and members regarding this and welcome any suggestions regarding repertoire and curriculum and anything else. Thank you all in advance.


I bolded as a reminder.

I'm not sure teaching your own kids is ever a good idea. I would never attempt it myself.



gotta go practice
#2028294 - 02/06/13 07:33 PM Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Originally Posted by Snoopy329
Post away. I won't be reading it.

I bet he is still reading it . . . . . what do ya think?

(Just in case) --
Did it ever occur to you, Snoopy, that the sum-total of highly successful years teaching, represented by only those teachers who contributed to your thread, span a couple of lifetimes? So, when all these highly experienced teachers seem to agree, and with an opinion contrary to yours, well I guess that makes you right . . .

Is it the phase of the moon, or what???


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
#2028599 - 02/07/13 09:20 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Oh come off it Ed, despite all those qualifications and years of experience all us teachers are clearly hacks. I bet none of us mastered the works of Bach, Debussy, Chopin (etudes no less) and Mompou all within the first year of study. Not to mention playing our scales at 360bpm. My metronome only goes up to 208.


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#2028609 - 02/07/13 09:44 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Funny, I made a suggestion above which seems to have been ignored by the OP.

#2028618 - 02/07/13 09:59 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Originally Posted by ten left thumbs
Funny, I made a suggestion above which seems to have been ignored by the OP.


Apparently it wasn't the response they wanted to hear.


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#2028633 - 02/07/13 10:27 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Exactly.
It doesn't matter who you are or how qualified you are as a teacher, since you didn't say exactly what the OP wanted, then it's a big NEVERMIND to you!

Still, I like reading what you all have to say, so thats a "thank you" from me.
smile


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– Roald Dahl

#2028639 - 02/07/13 10:37 AM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Snoopy329]  
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Thankyou!

#2028782 - 02/07/13 02:53 PM Re: Question from student and teacher. [Re: Chris H.]  
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Originally Posted by Chris H.
Oh come off it Ed, despite all those qualifications and years of experience all us teachers are clearly hacks. I bet none of us mastered the works of Bach, Debussy, Chopin (etudes no less) and Mompou all within the first year of study. Not to mention playing our scales at 360bpm. My metronome only goes up to 208.

cool
Nice one!



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