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Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2531689 04/18/16 09:30 AM
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I am a piano parent to a 7 year old. Took a year of organ lessons as a young child but never stuck to it. Looking back, I was probably one of those nightmare kids piano teachers complained about who rarely practiced and fidgeted about during lessons. We started my son on a Craigslist Casio keyboard we got for $20. Six lessons in, we realized the keyboard could not do the dynamics and my son would get frustrated. We had little to no experience as music parents. We were walking around Costco one Sunday and ended up walking out with a Yamaha Clavinova. It was a wonderful digital. However, one day, my husband accompanied his cousin to a conservatory where they were hosting a piano sale. The difference between acoustic and digital pianos sounded significant, even to our novice ears. The richness of the sound, the depth and tone was striking. We had my son play the pianos and agreed that even though our Yamaha digital could sound like a Bosendorfer according to it's technical specifications, it didn't matter because it still sounded like a digital piano masquerading as an acoustic. We ended up upgrading again to a Kawai GM 12 baby grand piano. Our piano journey from cRaigslist keyboard to a Kawai acoustic took a very short 6 months. Sometimes, I think we should have gone straight to an acoustic from the keyboard but it is what it is and I did not know any better nor was I aware at that time of the wonderful resource that is this forum. Anyway, to make a long story short, the 7 year old continues to play and having such a wonderful instrument at home eventually made me decide to take lessons as an adult!

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Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2531709 04/18/16 10:31 AM
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Doreen-

I'm not sure I'm a good piano parent just a very enthusiastic one but that was a very sweet compliment. In any case, if you had told me that I needed an acoustic prior to starting lessons, my son wouldn't have started even if that meant a sub $1K piano. A sub $1K piano even in your $250 piano example is probably more like $600 as a buyer ($250 to purchase $250 to move and $100 to tune). But more than that it's also a big commitment in terms of allocating space in the house. We had to get rid furniture so that the piano would fit in the house. The other issue that I had to deal with was my husband who assured me that piano lessons would be a "passing fad". It wasn't an unreasonable thought that he had either as my kids have "tried many different activities" that didn't stick including (soccer, gymnastics, karate and basketball).

At the outset, I was willing to commit in terms of dollars and space was $X per lesson and a sub $100 keyboard but that was about it. I'm sure that parents who are willing to invest in an acoustic upfront are more willing to stick with lessons for a longer period of time but I think you are missing an important demographic. There are many otherwise highly educated people who have had very limited exposure to piano and they won't invest until they have had a taste of piano as it's just too overwhelming.



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Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2531720 04/18/16 11:10 AM
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Suzuki piano is alive and well in my Canadian city and many other Canadian cities.
What is happening when the student is in volume 1 of Suzuki: the student is learning to play be ear, learning to create a pleasing tone on the piano, learning to play with melody-accompaniment style (LH quieter than RH), and learning to play with good posture and hand position.
At Group Classes the Volume 1 students learn about theory and beginning music reading skills.
When my students begin reading music, they use a separate book - Methode Rose. They are still regularly listening to the recording of whatever volume they are in, and also using the score to learn new pieces. The time when reading abilIty catches up to playing ability varies from child to child.

Doreen, I think you could continue with the Suzuki method that you love and make some alterations to how you teach reading.
Some of my students start ther reading book before they finish Volume 1 - especially those who are older than 7. But they still listen to the volume 1 recording.

Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2531739 04/18/16 11:50 AM
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Piano2, thanks for the post. It prompts many questions. Is Suzuki piano generally a group teaching approach - and if so, with how many pianos used during a lesson? Are there two lessons a week, one in group format and one individual? Is there a typical age at which the Suzuki child piano student becomes a non-Suzuki piano student?


Also, are there group lessons in Suzuki in your community for adults? Or do adults mix with children?

Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2531766 04/18/16 01:11 PM
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Thanks so much everyone for your comments.

Pianomom I really value your insight. Piano is such a hard instrument because of its size and cost. I am glad your son is continuing to play. I may reconsider my stance on buying keyboards because of you insight. I would really want people to get a real piano within a certain time period.

My goal is to bring the joy of music (specifically piano music) to as many people as possible. So if that means if more kids start with keyboards and continue, than kids who give up piano because they never get a real piano, or never start in the first place because they can only get a keyboard. Then starting with a keyboard would be good. I would just want the kids to get a piano before very long. I have had a few people say they would never want to get a piano because they don't have the room for it in their home. In these cases I really think they should consider another instrument.

Piano2

I am so glad you are doing Suzuki where you are in Canada. We once had a more thriving Suzuki community here but now not so much.

I love to write music so I ended up writing my own method which I use with my students now. But I am highly influenced by Suzuki and his teaching philosophy. He was just such a loving man. He really believed in teaching to and from the heart.

Maybe someone can give a brief overview of the method, training, and how the lessons are set up. There seems to be a lot of interest.

If anyone is interested in Suzuki himself and his ideas "Nurtured by Love" is a great book. It is required reading for Suzuki teachers.

Thanks so much,

Doreen












Doreen Hall
www.palomapiano.com
Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pianoMom2006 #2531793 04/18/16 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
I'm sure that parents who are willing to invest in an acoustic upfront are more willing to stick with lessons for a longer period of time but I think you are missing an important demographic. There are many otherwise highly educated people who have had very limited exposure to piano and they won't invest until they have had a taste of piano as it's just too overwhelming.


Well said, but not only that.

Of course it could be pocket change for some, but for the average families with average house hold income, purchasing a grand or even just an acoustic upright is a major family decision, not just financially.

That decision will inevitably associated with a high degree of expectation (consciously or not), transforming to pressures to the kids, to the level possibly not healthy. Some families can manage this well, many might not.

We started with a Casio digital piano (with weighted 88 keys), with zero expectation, purely for fun. I taught them Mary had little lamb, that they still play.

In 6 months or so, we move to a middle range Yamaha Digital, which everyone still loves.

Later on we got a Yamaha U1 as the main practice instrument, for the pieces that needs a sostenuto pedal, we use the digital.

A grand is not on our agenda yet, as our house layout is not suitable for a grand, we are not at the stage to scarifies our sofa and XBox for the grand, yet. We probably would need to get another house first.

Our teacher, who plays at a very high level, does not have a grand at home. (However, she does teach on a grand in the music school).

Of course our personal journey is anecdotal. What I am trying to say is, to start kids with a high end acoustic of course is technically correct, and if you are targeting the top 2%, sure, no reason not to insist.

But if you want to include the rest of us (bottom 98%), in addition to the technical consideration, you also need to include other consideration, to guide the families on board, in a graduate fashion.

Six year old beginners with nice grands at home is ideal, but we don't live in an ideal world. Embracing families that start with a $500 Casio digital, in the climate of declining interest of classical music, may not be a bad idea. What important is to help them to get to the next level at the right time.

Also I want to echo Peter from the west coast. In Vancouver, there are also no rent to own for new (or nice) acoustic pianos. The ones that are available to rent, are way older than 15 years, which the author suggested to avoid.


Last edited by The Monkeys; 04/18/16 03:07 PM.
Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2531817 04/18/16 04:37 PM
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.

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 04/18/16 10:41 PM.

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Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
The Monkeys #2531871 04/18/16 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by The Monkeys

Six year old beginners with nice grands at home is ideal, but we don't live in an ideal world. Embracing families that start with a $500 Casio digital, in the climate of declining interest of classical music, may not be a bad idea. What important is to help them to get to the next level at the right time.



Can't agree more. For the vast majority of piano students studying the classical piano today, when fewer and fewer people bother to care about classical music, if their lessons and practice make it more likely for them to appreciate and enjoy classical music, it's success.

We rented an acoustic piano for 6 months. Not because I thought my kids might quit, but because it takes considerable time to find the "right" piano (there are thousands of threads on this topic next door). We then bought an upright that we loved. Had it for six years, then bought a grand piano that we love. But honestly, a good piano makes learning easier by only this much, a well tuned upright piano can help anyone go a long way.

Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2531901 04/18/16 10:12 PM
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Hi everyone,

My Suzuki students have 1 individual lesson per week, and about 10 group classes throughout the school year. For Group Lessons, I have 3 pianos in my studio: 2 uprights and a digital. Many of the pieces we play are duets or trios, with doubling of parts. I have access to a Music Room with 5 pianos, but it is a far drive from my house. My groups have 6-8 students.

Many Suzuki students continue with the 7 Suzuki volumes and after they are completed, they move to the RCM repertoire (levels 9-10).

There aren't a ton of adult Suzuki piano students that I'm aware of. The Group Class program is designed for children and teens, and so generally adult students wouldn't attend. Many adults that take lessons do so because they are interested in learning along with their child. I guess if there were enough adult students interested in having group classes, we would accommodate the request. Our program, as it stands now, is geared towards the 3-19 group.

Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
childofparadise2002 #2531906 04/18/16 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by childofparadise2002
But honestly, a good piano makes learning easier by only this much, a well tuned upright piano can help anyone go a long way.

It depends on what you mean by "a long way." And there are different kinds of uprights, in different states of acceptability. There are some stencil pianos that should not be called pianos, and no matter how in-tune they are, they might as well be firewood.


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Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
piano2 #2532037 04/19/16 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by piano2


I guess if there were enough adult students interested in having group classes, we would accommodate the request. Our program, as it stands now, is geared towards the 3-19 group.


Where is your Suzuki program located, piano2? Canada is rather large.

Last edited by Peter K. Mose; 04/19/16 10:15 AM.
Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2532065 04/19/16 12:29 PM
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In Edmonton, Alberta.
You can check out edmontonsuzukipiano.ca

I studied Suzuki piano as a child in southwestern Ontario.


Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2532072 04/19/16 12:56 PM
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Thanks for this. If you fit the norm, you must be under forty!

Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2532237 04/19/16 09:42 PM
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Nope - I'm a little bit older than 40.

Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
Peter K. Mose #2532518 04/20/16 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Thanks for all this insight and background, Doreen. Most interesting!

Heather, to what extent does Suzuki work inform your present teaching? Do some students elect a "Suzuki path" and others not?

I am 100% a Suzuki teacher. I do use a lot of supplemental repertoire. And the more advanced you go, the more similar Suzuki and traditional become -- the Suzuki students can read pretty well by then, the traditional students can play with good tone and phrasing, and both (we hope) are using recordings for inspiration but not for the purposes of copying. So I think for my advanced students I am not that different from a traditional teacher.

Just an update to the reading question -- by the time I started my teacher training I was told that the Suzuki approach to introducing reading has been changing precisely for the reasons mentioned. Many great teachers and teacher trainers feel that early book 2 is too late to introduce reading and are introducing it as soon as the students know how to play by ear and have some understanding of how to follow text. (I like to wait until they really can read short sentences in English, which means some of my very young students do get to book 2 before they're reading.)

My own Suzuki teacher in the late 1980s started me with reading sometime around the middle of Suzuki book 1.

Of course we don't need to work on intonation (pitch) at the piano. That is the piano technician's specialty. But we do need to work on physical technique, beautiful singing tone, legato and staccato, shaping phrases, and balance between the hands. I don't know how to teach all that while a student is trying to read at the same time. While they're struggling to read they aren't really paying attention to their use of hands and arms, and they can't really listen very well either. I feel strongly that physical technique, beautiful sound, beginning artistry/musicianship and playing by ear are so fundamental to making music at the piano that reading can wait until the basics are established.
After all, written music only arose as an aide-memoire to keep track of music that got too long and complicated to remember by ear all at once.

(I do think a good reading curriculum (at the right time) is invaluable -- I started using the Marlais-Olson books this year and I really like them.)


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

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Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
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Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2532572 04/20/16 11:41 PM
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But don't some adult amateurs also want to study with you? Some of whom only own a 76-key electric piano? Do you send them to a colleague?

Re: A Blog for Piano Parents
pavane1 #2532797 04/21/16 08:33 PM
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I teach adult students and enjoy it very much.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
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