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Stumped on what to do next
#2575677 10/02/16 09:39 PM
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I am stuck on what I should do next with one of my students.

This is a transfer who came to me last year, having "completed" most of piano adventures 2B. We finished that up, and did just a few pieces out of RCM Prep B, as I wanted to get his reading up (previous teacher didn't focus on reading). Because of attention issues, getting through enough during a 30-minute lesson was difficult. Thus, progress was slow. Progress was also slow because he didn't do his sight reading assignments.

This year I switched to Daniel McFarlane's Blast Off for sight reading. I tried to get him to read a couple measures out of Boris Berlin's "Marching Trumpets" but he complained it was too hard, and I believe him.

We've run out of easier pieces in Prep B. I'm considering going back to Piano Adventures 3A just for a little more structure.

The other issue is Mom has requested that we switch back to 30-minute lessons so that I can go back to their house instead of them coming to my studio. I've switched to 45 minute lessons this year, which I feel are much more successful. I don't feel pressured to get things done quickly, he gets more to work on during the week, and gets stuff to work on if there is an issue with comprehension of something. Despite the attention difficulties, he wasn't ever less focused at the end of the lesson that at the beginning.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2575735 10/03/16 04:03 AM
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Why don't you switch to a different set of method books, one with a much slower pace?

And then supplement with lots of engaging music at this level. The 2B/3A split is always tricky. That's when kids' performance gap widens. You can always supplement, supplement, supplement--but at some point it just feels like we're going around in circles.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2575933 10/03/16 08:30 PM
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If I'm understanding the last part of your post correctly, the mom wants to go back to 30-minute lessons so you can drive to their house? Is that even an option? I thought you switched to 45 minute lessons and you weren't driving to people's homes? In which case, the answer is "No, that's not an option." And the point out all of the benefits you see specifically from their child moving to 45 minute lessons in your studio.

Regarding what to do, AZN has good advice: use a different method book that better suits their needs. You can check in Alfred (I haven't used these at all) or Hal Leonard, which I believe goes at a slower pace. And lots of supplements - especially ones that are in styles they like.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2575963 10/03/16 11:00 PM
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Could you just play review pieces for a while? Taking known pieces and making them better? I like review pieces with every student for different reasons. For the "new pieces are too hard" student, it helps build musicianship while giving them the comfort of something they know. Then at some point eventually THEY get bored and ask for a new piece as well wink


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2575974 10/03/16 11:42 PM
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They had a choice at the beginning of the year to either have me come to them or them come to me. My returning students still also had the choice for 30 minutes. I've found keeping different rules for new vs existing students can create conflict.

I don't know if Piano Adventures was a bad fit. It's just that the previous teacher didn't teach the concepts. He enjoyed playing around with chords in the book and playing songs like "Pumpkin Boogie". . Getting him to play with better technique/polish pieces is hit or miss. I feel bad assigning the same rep for weeks on end too.
I put his older sister in Hal Leonard adult.

He has s great ear, and used to figure out how to play his older sisters' music.

As for supplementing, I don't have a good set of "go to" pieces. I don't like the idea of buying individual sheets.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2575994 10/04/16 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
He has s great ear, and used to figure out how to play his older sisters' music.

That is a double-edged sword. Of course it is a blessing to have a great sense of hearing (you can't fix tone deaf!), but somewhere in the learning process a good ear can be a hindrance--and sometimes it could camouflage other areas of weakness!!

Originally Posted by Arghhh
As for supplementing, I don't have a good set of "go to" pieces. I don't like the idea of buying individual sheets.

[facepalm]


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2575996 10/04/16 03:56 AM
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If only there were a book of beginner's repertoire that is both easy enough to use with new beginners, yet sophisticated enough to use as revisionary material...

*cough* check my signature *cough*

Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2576109 10/04/16 03:57 PM
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Hey, I got a facepalm! Not sure why though confused

Ben, I was all set to give him Magic Beans) because I really liked complexity and sound of the pieces relative to his level. It got a lukewarm reception when I presented a few of them to him. Maybe it was the way i presented it or maybe lukewarm is the best I can expect.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2576145 10/04/16 07:35 PM
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Hey - thanks for trying anyway smile Is it possible that they look too complicated to him? The thing is with those pieces, is that several of them are really intended to be taught by rote, as they are much easier to play than they look.

Re: Stumped on what to do next
Ben Crosland #2576149 10/04/16 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Ben Crosland
Hey - thanks for trying anyway smile Is it possible that they look too complicated to him? The thing is with those pieces, is that several of them are really intended to be taught by rote, as they are much easier to play than they look.


I hadn't thought about that. It's definitely possible. They really are great little compositions. I have a few copies of them, and I'm sure I'll use them soon.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2576210 10/05/16 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
Hey, I got a facepalm! Not sure why though confused

I was reacting to your assertion that you don't have a set of go-to pieces for supplementary material. That should be in every teacher's arsenal.

But, then, perhaps your student in question won't find anything interesting.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
AZNpiano #2576256 10/05/16 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Why don't you switch to a different set of method books, one with a much slower pace?

And then supplement with lots of engaging music at this level. The 2B/3A split is always tricky. That's when kids' performance gap widens.

You can add adults to that list. For my wife and I, getting into 3A and playing well was the hardest thing either of us have had to do.

Our teacher spent extra time helping us with the transition, thank goodness.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2576284 10/05/16 10:11 AM
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FWIW- A few pieces that were successful for my son after Faber 2B were Peter in the Wolf from Faber Fun Time Classics Level 3A-3B. He also enjoyed another supplemental book called "Teacher's Choice for the Young Pianist" by Alan Small. While some of the arrangements are strange in the book, he liked Greensleeves and Star Spangled Banner for example.

My son's teacher took him out of Faber for 1 year after level 2B (finished 2014-2015 school year) and brought him back this year in 3A (2016-2017 school year).



Last edited by pianoMom2006; 10/05/16 10:14 AM.

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Re: Stumped on what to do next
AZNpiano #2576303 10/05/16 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
As for supplementing, I don't have a good set of "go to" pieces. I don't like the idea of buying individual sheets.


Aren't there a lot of free materials that could work for this, from IMSLP or other sites? For instance, I don't know where these pieces fall in the levels of method books, but maybe something useful: http://classicalsheetmusicgratis.org/wp-content/uploads/KABALEVSKY-24-Pieces-for-Children.pdf


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
AZNpiano #2576740 10/06/16 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Arghhh
Hey, I got a facepalm! Not sure why though confused

I was reacting to your assertion that you don't have a set of go-to pieces for supplementary material. That should be in every teacher's arsenal.

But, then, perhaps your student in question won't find anything interesting.


AZN, would you be willing to divulge your go-to supplementary material?
I am building my go-to supplementary material based off of my own music collection, but my elementary level pieces include things with titles such as Circus Parade and Marching Band. .. Meh.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
hello my name is #2576780 10/07/16 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by hello my name is
AZN, would you be willing to divulge your go-to supplementary material?

That's a trade secret.

No, not really. The go-to composers list: Martha Mier, Melody Bober, Dennis Alexander, Kevin Olson, and Timothy Brown. They understand how to compose for students with limited talent and ability.

I can't get more specific than that, or else people will literally steal trade secrets. Ha ha ha.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2578710 10/14/16 05:07 PM
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Hi there Hello my Name Is.

I am just an adult student, so the situation may be quite different from your student(s), but I thought this thread from a few years back might give you some ideas about non-method book pieces that some teachers assign in the early years.

Link to PW ABF thread

When you look at the lists of pieces in my posts keep in mind I requested some of these....mainly the old jazz standards taken from a book of Easy Piano arrangements by Dan Coates... plus all of the ones marked "*" were one week throw-aways...just get what you can out of it for a week then toss it aside and move on. Some of the throw-aways were assigned, others I picked out of books I had.

Looking back, my teacher was pretty smart in giving me enough of what I "thought" I wanted to whet my whistle, all the while building a decidedly classical training track. I could go on about this, but probably best if you just have a look.



Last edited by JimF; 10/14/16 05:12 PM.

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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2580340 10/20/16 01:55 PM
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Blast Off is a series of etudes, so I wouldn't think they would be motivating pieces for a student. You might explore the individual pieces or collections at www.supersonicspiano.com, which are very motivating and downright fun for students, especially the Castle Escape collection. I agree with folks who mention that the jump from PA 2B to 3A is a big one. Supplement music needed!

Last edited by Barb860; 10/20/16 01:56 PM.

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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Barb860 #2580469 10/21/16 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Barb860
Blast Off is a series of etudes, so I wouldn't think they would be motivating pieces for a student. You might explore the individual pieces or collections at www.supersonicspiano.com, which are very motivating and downright fun for students, especially the Castle Escape collection. I agree with folks who mention that the jump from PA 2B to 3A is a big one. Supplement music needed!


Interesting that 2B to 3A is a large jump, because elsewhere I've read that Piano Adventures Accelerated 2 to 3A was a lot of review.

My student has been enjoying the Blast Off series. There are a lot of repeating patterns, it kind of sounds like real music (unlike the Sight Reading and Rhythm Every Day series), and because he is confident with it he puts in the effort to keep reading without giving up.

I will look into the other Supersonics music. I've already spent a ton of money this year on new books to teach from though. Would they be a big jump, reading-wise to the Blast Off series?

I've also just started him in level 2 of the new Alfred Premier all-in-one method. I love the idea of still getting theory and technique in without having to switch books. We'll have to wait to see if this level is too difficult.


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Re: Stumped on what to do next
Arghhh #2580501 10/21/16 07:34 AM
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Oh..one other thing my son's teacher did last year is she supplemented with a lot Christmas music. Between Nov and Dec she told me that she wanted him to learn as much Christmas music as possible and she took a break from the regular method books.

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 10/21/16 09:27 AM.

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