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Average progression in method books? #2679972
10/05/17 07:54 PM
10/05/17 07:54 PM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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I have a 9 year old girl who has been with me for almost 3 years and is just nearing the end of PA Level 1. I have supplemented her learning with pop music that she likes, holiday music, and other fun pieces. I doubt if she practices more than 1 day a week. Is there on average, a time period, of, e..g., 6 months that students complete a lesson book? I know it depends on the age of the student, practice time, and level of intelligence, but in general, what is your experience?

Once my students finish level 3, I usually stop using method books.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2680079
10/06/17 09:42 AM
10/06/17 09:42 AM
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Boynton Beach, FL
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Usually it's one level per school year that I've seen, except the Primer level they tend to go through that in 6 months.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2680103
10/06/17 12:03 PM
10/06/17 12:03 PM
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Here's my son's rough progress...4 years of lessons with daily practice of about 1 hour each day.

Faber Series (Completion)
Level 1/Primer- Age 7
Level 2- Age 8
Level 3 (Other Method Book)- Age 9
Level 3(A)- Age 10
Level 3 (B)- Working through it

FWIW- My son has a very high IQ. Teacher thinks he's doing well and that matters to me.

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 10/06/17 12:08 PM.

Yamaha G2
Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2680249
10/07/17 05:46 AM
10/07/17 05:46 AM
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Orange County, CA
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This question has been raised before. I think my previous answer is 3 months per book up to 2B, and then they slow down significantly after that. But apparently I get all the smart students from scratch and all the dumb students as transfer wrecks.

I've had students who spent over a year on 2A. They were also some of my most challenging students in terms of intelligence and attitude. I recently accepted a transfer student who has been taught by the "copy me" teacher for three years, so I'm taking her way, way down to 1B. Another transfer wreck has spent over a year with me now, and I think he practiced a total of 48 minutes in the past year. Even he is making more progress than my worst of the worst students.

A lot of the bad teaching comes from teachers (or pushy parents!!) who tried to push the students too far ahead too quickly. Students with low intelligence and/or low interest should be going at a MUCH slower pace, and any attempt to accelerate them through a level in 3 months will result in transfer wrecks.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: pianoMom2006] #2680250
10/07/17 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
Here's my son's rough progress...4 years of lessons with daily practice of about 1 hour each day
Faber Series (Completion)
Level 1/Primer- Age 7
Level 2- Age 8
Level 3 (Other Method Book)- Age 9
Level 3(A)- Age 10
Level 3 (B)- Working through it

FWIW- My son has a very high IQ. Teacher thinks he's doing well and that matters to me.


In terms of Level 2, my son skipped 2A. So level 2 above is only 2B.


Yamaha G2
Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2680876
10/09/17 05:21 PM
10/09/17 05:21 PM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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hi pianomom, how old is your son? If only I had students who practiced an hour a day! Does he practice on his own or with prodding? smile

In all fairness, this particular child has worked on songs in a Faber Popular Song book, as well as other music I provide that she is interested in. She also worked on Roar but despite my praise and efforts, she stopped working on it when she almost finished the song. She is happy with one or 2 short pieces a week and a Dozen a Day exercise. She always promises to "do her best" but seems in no hurry to move ahead.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2680877
10/09/17 05:22 PM
10/09/17 05:22 PM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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Morodiene and AZN, thanks for the input, which was very helpful. I believe that lack of practice and initiative is part of the issue.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2681945
10/13/17 09:46 PM
10/13/17 09:46 PM
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I wish we would think of "how long have you studied piano" in terms of "how many practice days have you had," not "how long has it been since you started."

It seems obvious to me that someone who practices 1 day a week will take 7 years to accomplish what an every-day practicer can accomplish in 1 year.
I wish it were that obvious to everyone.

Last edited by hreichgott; 10/13/17 09:47 PM.

Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
Cabaret (whole show)
12+ variations from classical ballets
Verdi: Stabat Mater
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Tangos and other fun music for piano duo

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: hreichgott] #2682391
10/15/17 04:01 PM
10/15/17 04:01 PM
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chasingrainbows Offline OP
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Heather, it's obvious to teachers, but not so for most parents/students, or our students would be putting many more hours of practice a week.

I play part of Rustles of Spring for potential students, with the disclaimer that I could play that after a year and a half of lessons, and 3 hours of practice a day.

You've given me an idea at the next meet and greet. I can also add that the ability to play such a piece might be possible in 8 years with one practice session a week. smile


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: hreichgott] #2682561
10/16/17 11:25 AM
10/16/17 11:25 AM
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Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
It seems obvious to me that someone who practices 1 day a week will take 7 years to accomplish what an every-day practicer can accomplish in 1 year. I wish it were that obvious to everyone.

I wouldn't make that generalization. You are assuming that everyone starts from the same point and has equal ability. After observing hundreds of students with wildly different aptitudes, I can no longer defend your generalization.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2682672
10/16/17 06:54 PM
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I don't use method books, only my own materials.

But I expect any serious student to be playing non-method-book materials after a year, maximum.

The most important lesson is the 1st one.

The most important month is the first month.

The most important year is the first year.

There is a "honeymoon" period with each student, meaning that if that student starts full of excitement about what is going to happen, if you can't get over the first and major hump in a relatively short period of time, things usually do not work out.

We are competing with computer games and apps. Things have to happen fast. If they do not, we lose them.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: Gary D.] #2682760
10/17/17 04:37 AM
10/17/17 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
But I expect any serious student to be playing non-method-book materials after a year, maximum.

Not necessarily. Some kids need more help, and some kids need a TON of help. I've seen kids who needed a year (or more) in one level of method book. And these kids need to be kept in method books for as long as possible. They can be serious students, just not very brilliant ones. I don't mind working with these kids if they are willing to put in the work.

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Things have to happen fast. If they do not, we lose them.

I don't quite have that problem here. Parents stick their kids in piano lessons here like it's a mandatory activity, even if the kids show zero interest. And then the parents keep them in lessons for years. I don't even know why they bother. Some of these kids are beyond hopeless.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2682823
10/17/17 11:10 AM
10/17/17 11:10 AM
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AZN, I have had the same experiences as you. I emailed the parent of the subject of my post, outlining the progress so far and where I think the child should be at this point. I asked how many days a week the child practiced, and asked the parent what her expectations are. A week passed - no response. Parent came to the lesson, said she knew nothing about music. She said the child practiced 3 x a week, 10 minutes a practice. Not remotely enough and of course, all of the practice expectations have been explained to parents often, but it is what it is. The parent said she would make sure the child practiced more, but the child lacks initiative and only really works on pieces she likes.

AZN, do you work in a music store?


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2682875
10/17/17 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
AZN, do you work in a music store?

Nope. I'm talking about private students. Almost all of these are the proverbial Transfer Wrecks from local "music schools." I understand that only the wrecks would transfer out, since there's no reason to transfer if the lessons are going well. But when you see the sheer number of wrecks coming out of these places, you start to wonder about the quality of "teaching" at these so-called music schools.

One of the WORST wrecks got through Piano Adventures primer through 4. She was in book 5 when she came to me. She was belligerent. She hated piano. And her mom wanted her to take the piano test CM??? I was tempted to sign her up and just let her fail, but she quit before the registration deadline. This was one of the few times that I actually cheered when the student stopped lessons. It was a relief.

Another awful Transfer Wreck came to me when I was already teaching his older brother privately. His mom kept him at Yamaha for three years for reasons beyond my imagination. The kid can't read anything. He can only imitate, and his imitation wasn't very good to begin with. Again, his mom transferred him to me because she wanted him to take the CM test. I dropped him all the way down to the Preparatory Level. Lessons dragged on for three more years and three more dreadful CM levels.

I think the ultimate Transfer Wreck was this girl who has taken six years of lessons and still cannot read bass clef. She could read treble clef VERY slowly. I questioned her mother, only to find out that the family is completely clueless about music, and they thought that the "music school" must be well qualified because they had a storefront and managed to stay in business for many years. I had to try to contain my laughter.

There are more examples. I think I have enough anecdotes to fill a novel.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: AZNpiano] #2682879
10/17/17 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

I don't quite have that problem here. Parents stick their kids in piano lessons here like it's a mandatory activity, even if the kids show zero interest. And then the parents keep them in lessons for years. I don't even know why they bother. Some of these kids are beyond hopeless.

I have to stress that the difference between your area and mine is night and day.

The average beginner here starts out on a cheap keyboard, absolute minimum outlay.

I have a few months, no more. In those few months I have to show the parents that there is a reason to invest in a better keyboard, and I have to show the kids that music is not like school. This is not a punishment. It's not like taking out the garbage, or doing the dishes. It's not a daily chore.

What I tell each kid: "I want to get you hooked on this. I want it to be just like your game machine. I want you to sit down to do this for 10 minutes, write down your time and find out an hour just went by. I want the reading to happen FAST. I want the learning of chords to be FAST. I want you to start experimenting and get lost because it is FUN."

Well, that's not going to happen for all of them, obviously. But I have three early teens right now, at least, who tell me that this is exactly what is happening. They are putting in over 300 minutes each week, and I'm not asking for it. I just ask them to write down their minutes.

Three of these guys - they all happen to be guys by the way - have fathers who are professional musicians.

There is another who is moving very fast, and he's a basketball player.

My teaching is not built around endless drill. It's about reading, getting those reading skills really fast, then learning how music works.

My best students right now are Haitian and Jamaican, by the way. Not necessarily poor families - really poor families can't afford lessons at all - but quite obviously not privileged.

Mommy and Daddy in my world don't buy grands, even after their kids are doing pretty well, and I can tell you for a fact that lessons aren't going on for years if the kids don't:

1. Like me.
2. Like lessons.
3. Demonstrate that they take lessons seriously
4. Show unusual progress.

That's MY world.

Last edited by Gary D.; 10/17/17 02:51 PM.

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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: AZNpiano] #2682880
10/17/17 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
AZN, do you work in a music store?

Nope. I'm talking about private students. Almost all of these are the proverbial Transfer Wrecks from local "music schools." I understand that only the wrecks would transfer out, since there's no reason to transfer if the lessons are going well. But when you see the sheer number of wrecks coming out of these places, you start to wonder about the quality of "teaching" at these so-called music schools.

One of the WORST wrecks got through Piano Adventures primer through 4. She was in book 5 when she came to me. She was belligerent. She hated piano. And her mom wanted her to take the piano test CM??? I was tempted to sign her up and just let her fail, but she quit before the registration deadline. This was one of the few times that I actually cheered when the student stopped lessons. It was a relief.

Another awful Transfer Wreck came to me when I was already teaching his older brother privately. His mom kept him at Yamaha for three years for reasons beyond my imagination. The kid can't read anything. He can only imitate, and his imitation wasn't very good to begin with. Again, his mom transferred him to me because she wanted him to take the CM test. I dropped him all the way down to the Preparatory Level. Lessons dragged on for three more years and three more dreadful CM levels.

I think the ultimate Transfer Wreck was this girl who has taken six years of lessons and still cannot read bass clef. She could read treble clef VERY slowly. I questioned her mother, only to find out that the family is completely clueless about music, and they thought that the "music school" must be well qualified because they had a storefront and managed to stay in business for many years. I had to try to contain my laughter.

There are more examples. I think I have enough anecdotes to fill a novel.

Transfer wrecks:

The fact is that in the US anyone can teach piano.

ANYONE.

The fact is that anyone can charge any amount.

ANY AMOUNT.

Of course we are going to get transfer wrecks. We get students "studying" with teachers who know absolutely nothing about teaching who often can't play anything.

BUT:

You can turn these students around if the reason for failure is not coming from them. Granted, the longer they have "studied", the harder it is. On the other hand, sometimes they know absolutely nothing, and you can start them like beginners. The only problem is that they may be so discouraged or altogether turned off by the whole concept that they have already totally given up.

Transfer wrecks don't last long if they already hate playing. But some of them turn out to be among my best students.

Some of my worst students are students who start with me but have parents who absolutely refuse to accept any responsibility for anything other than dropping them off, and SOME of these parents - for reasons I just don't understand - keep bringing them for a long time when they are learning nothing. Or maybe some of these kids learn something from me about life, the ones who are shuttled from home A to home B and can't even practice in home B because there is no instrument there.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: AZNpiano] #2682884
10/17/17 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Not necessarily. Some kids need more help, and some kids need a TON of help. I've seen kids who needed a year (or more) in one level of method book. And these kids need to be kept in method books for as long as possible. They can be serious students, just not very brilliant ones. I don't mind working with these kids if they are willing to put in the work.

You call such students "serious"?

REALLY?

Sure, there are some kids who like music but who are just slow, and I work with them. If they like me, if they like music, and if they keep coming, I don't turn them away.

But are you telling me that serious students, the ones you start, who are not tiny tots, the ones who put in good time and obviously like music, these kids are still stuck in method books after a year?

ONLY method books?

Good God.

I'd have to quit teaching tomorrow if it were like that for me. frown

If you are talking about the really young beginners, then it's different. They are going to develop much more slowly, until they are a bit older, but then you have time. For instance, you talk about not teaching pedal to the kids who are so young and so small that they can't reach the pedal.

Of course.

You can't start out with 7 chords when a child is only able to play an open 5th. You can't start out on reading drills, lightning speed, when a child can't count 5 lines yet, does not know the alphabet from A to G, doesn't know finger numbers and can't read directions.

But over 8, still in a method book after a year, is a slow student and probably will never play anything well.

It's like having an 8 year-old struggling to read Green Eggs and ham.

Last edited by Gary D.; 10/17/17 03:06 PM.

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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2683181
10/18/17 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
hi pianomom, how old is your son? If only I had students who practiced an hour a day! Does he practice on his own or with prodding? smile

In all fairness, this particular child has worked on songs in a Faber Popular Song book, as well as other music I provide that she is interested in. She also worked on Roar but despite my praise and efforts, she stopped working on it when she almost finished the song. She is happy with one or 2 short pieces a week and a Dozen a Day exercise. She always promises to "do her best" but seems in no hurry to move ahead.


He's 10. I prod him most days still unfortunately though one day he practiced a piece on his own without prodding for 2 hours- I was shocked. Sorry for the delay- I haven't been on PW for a few weeks.


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: Gary D.] #2683228
10/19/17 03:21 AM
10/19/17 03:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
You call such students "serious"?

REALLY?

Sure, there are some kids who like music but who are just slow, and I work with them. If they like me, if they like music, and if they keep coming, I don't turn them away.

But are you telling me that serious students, the ones you start, who are not tiny tots, the ones who put in good time and obviously like music, these kids are still stuck in method books after a year?

ONLY method books?

Good God.

I'd have to quit teaching tomorrow if it were like that for me. frown

There was this one student. He's not the brightest specimen on Earth, and his siblings are way ahead of him in terms of mental capacity and fine-motor skills. But he's the only one who truly loved piano in the family. Every lesson with that kid reaffirmed my job as a teacher, but the parents pulled the plugs on lessons.

There's another boy who has had to date four years of lessons. I've attempted to take him outside method books several times, but he has too many physical issues to deal with--and he's in the slower segment of his grade level. He likes piano, and is quite cheerful. Parents don't mind the slow progress, and in fact chose NOT to put him on the testing track. Why can't all parents be this enlightened??


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Re: Average progression in method books? [Re: AZNpiano] #2683295
10/19/17 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

There was this one student. He's not the brightest specimen on Earth, and his siblings are way ahead of him in terms of mental capacity and fine-motor skills. But he's the only one who truly loved piano in the family. Every lesson with that kid reaffirmed my job as a teacher, but the parents pulled the plugs on lessons.

I know about your good students. I've heard them, thanks to things you've shared, and the good ones are excellent. They also play advanced music.

I think we are talking about very different things.

I always have some students who come to lessons full of enthusiasm, so I guess I don't mind working with them. But they don't do much work, and they just can't focus very well. Parents take little or no responsibility.

Those students may be where my fast learners are for several years, and they may never get beyond the lower levels we are talking about.

For me this is like having someone who at the end of elementary school is still struggling with Green Eggs and Ham. Sure, it happens, but that's not where you expect a kid to be in 6th grade.

Here's what I think of as being close to the end of method books. These are cliches, not where either of us wants to be for long, but these things are necessary for me because my students like them. About half of them you won't teach because you don't like the music:

Theme of Fuer Elise (meaning the A them as written, but not yet getting to the B and C section - that comes later for me, in three stages.)

First Bach Prelude from WTC. I teach the chord structure in this, in a very different way, and it is very important because I teach it a lot like a jazz chart, with chord symbols and analysis.

Ivan Sings (part of a much larger collection of Ivan songs by Khatchaturian.)

Several pieces by Kabalevsky.

Simplified version of the Chopin C Minor Prelude. I teach this in three stages, first with no key signature and most of the notes but with the fourth note of the large chords omitted.

Same thing, key signature.

Same things, extra notes added, as Chopin wrote it.

Chopin E Minor Prelude.

Some other simple Bach pieces.

In other words, I get away from the kind of "made up" pieces that show simple skills but that really aren't very interesting. I include in this the things I write myself. By a year to a year and a half I am mostly done with anything I write and into standard literature.

As I said, it could take me YEARS to get there with people who are either very very slow or people who don't do any work. But it's agony.
Quote

There's another boy who has had to date four years of lessons. I've attempted to take him outside method books several times, but he has too many physical issues to deal with--and he's in the slower segment of his grade level. He likes piano, and is quite cheerful. Parents don't mind the slow progress, and in fact chose NOT to put him on the testing track. Why can't all parents be this enlightened??

I have zero kids like that. Zero. If they move that slowly, the parents stop lessons.

I have one girl I worked with for several years. The parents were both very intelligent, but the girl was simply horribly slow. They stopped for a "break" around July last summer, and they never even called back to tell me why they stopped. I figure they replaced me, thinking I don't know what I'm doing. But friends of theirs started lessons much later, and their girl, younger and smaller, is one of my best students and is playing advanced stuff.

The students I keep work well for me. It's a chicken/egg thing. People in my area don't have a lot of money for the most part, and those who do and who want results with no work pick someone else.


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