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Skips Vs.Steps desperation #2746839
06/25/18 12:52 AM
06/25/18 12:52 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 5
M
Melodies Offline OP
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I have been a full time piano teacher for almost 10 years and the most perplexing to me is why so many students have a hard time recognizing skips vs. steps vs. repeated pitches. At first, I thought that I was unlucky in attracting students with this disability, however, after seeing this as common pattern hundreds of students later, I am guessing that I have a sample size large enough to reflect that of the general population.

I have tried many things to try to remedy this, I will give a student 5 options to verbally communicate to me the direction of pitches, step up, step down, skip up, skip down, or same in a given piece. I will time their ability to do this, and record it in their lesson book. This generally engages the student temporarily, but in general, I rarely see noticeable positive long term results.

What is going on here? To me it seems like the easiest thing in the world. Concrete examples, I have a 7 year old student with a year under her belt who it takes around 2 minutes to get through Allegro in PA Primer to verbally express skips vs. steps etc..I also have a 13 year old who I have been teaching for 7 years. We were just working on Ice Skaters in PA Adventures level 2B, the first phrase of the piece starts with E, G, A, A . Without me saying anything he is hitting F and going to a 4th pitch instead of repeating the A! The latter student may have some form of ADD but why do so many students have this problem?!

This issue is a complete mystery to me. The slightest amount of help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2746844
06/25/18 01:35 AM
06/25/18 01:35 AM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 2,510
Israel
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Nahum Offline
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Israel
Originally Posted by Melodies


This issue is a complete mystery to me. The slightest amount of help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Hypothesis: continuous using the smartphone spoils the eyesight. It may be necessary to increase the size of the music text.

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2746850
06/25/18 01:49 AM
06/25/18 01:49 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,564
Orange County, CA
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Welcome to the forum! Glad to know somebody beside myself is teaching intervallic reading.

My experience has been the exact opposite of yours. About 90% of my students pick up steps and skips almost immediately, and I know I'm not even trying. It is, like you said, something so ridiculously obvious, that you'd have to be mentally challenged NOT to understand it. The remaining 10% have some sort of challenge, but only a handful of students truly struggled. These are my observations:

1) Students who are too young. They can barely recognize shapes or recite their alphabet. Abstract concepts like repeat/step/skip are beyond their mental capability. Usually kids who are 7 will grow out of it.

2) Students who are "transfer wrecks," meaning they started with awful teachers who taught them by rote, by finger numbers, by middle C hand positions, or any number of ineffective teaching methods. This is by far the most prevalent reason for the failure of intervallic reading--the kids have already been programmed to "read" music another way, that they always fall back to the wrong way. Two of my current students started at a local "music school" that teaches do-re-mi and middle-C position, so sometimes when they see a D in the R.H. they immediately press down finger 2--even if their hands are not in middle-C position. They already associated finger number 2 with D in the R.H., and it's a very hard habit to overcome for kids who are stuck in that position.

Now, you did say that you have dealt with hundreds of students. Are you in an area where kids just take piano for fun and don't take it very seriously? You can probably afford to start "weeding out" the students who are obviously not trying. There's not excuse for the lack of effort. However, if you do have students who try hard and still struggle, you may consider slowing down. My First Piano Adventures books go at a V-E-R-Y slow pace, but some students need that level of slowness in order to understand things. And don't be afraid to repeat concepts over and over and over and over again. Don't assume quick mastery for all students.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Nahum] #2746852
06/25/18 01:52 AM
06/25/18 01:52 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,564
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Melodies


This issue is a complete mystery to me. The slightest amount of help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Hypothesis: continuous using the smartphone spoils the eyesight. It may be necessary to increase the size of the music text.

I'm assuming that the smartphone reference is a joke. But obviously you haven't seen how HUGE the font size is in these beginner books. You'd have to be LEGALLY BLIND not to be able to tell lines and spaces. The notes and the staffs are massive, in thick, dark print!


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2746864
06/25/18 04:03 AM
06/25/18 04:03 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 5
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Melodies Offline OP
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"My experience has been the exact opposite of yours. About 90% of my students pick up steps and skips almost immediately"

That might roughly be the case in my situation as well. There is a wide spectrum, however, as to the degree of the capacity of the students' ability in this regard. I find it baffling that some teenagers who I have taught for years still have this issue.

"1) Students who are too young. They can barely recognize shapes or recite their alphabet. Abstract concepts like repeat/step/skip are beyond their mental capability. Usually kids who are 7 will grow out of it."

Oddly, age doesn't seem to be an issue in my case, I have taught 5 year olds who immediately understand the concept and I still teach teens who struggle with it.

"2) Students who are "transfer wrecks," meaning they started with awful teachers who taught them by rote, by finger numbers, by middle C hand positions, or any number of ineffective teaching methods. This is by far the most prevalent reason for the failure of intervallic reading--the kids have already been programmed to "read" music another way, that they always fall back to the wrong way. Two of my current students started at a local "music school" that teaches do-re-mi and middle-C position, so sometimes when they see a D in the R.H. they immediately press down finger 2--even if their hands are not in middle-C position. They already associated finger number 2 with D in the R.H., and it's a very hard habit to overcome for kids who are stuck in that position."

Yes, I am acutely aware of what you are referring to. I ditched the Alfred method because of this, I don't like the constant finger numberings in PA either.

"Now, you did say that you have dealt with hundreds of students. Are you in an area where kids just take piano for fun and don't take it very seriously?"

Good question. Most of my students don't take piano nearly as serious as I would like. By exclusively relying on word of mouth to attain new students has helped weed out some.

Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply AZN Piano!

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2746893
06/25/18 08:10 AM
06/25/18 08:10 AM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 103
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NM
Steps, skips, and repeats are a bit difficult for beginners because the music is going up and down and the keyboard is going left and right.

I think it is a communication (listening?) break down. I've started using a whiteboard (with the staff on it) and circle magnets (as noteheads).
We see the 5 repeated notes. We play the 5 repeated notes. We take away the book then try to put it on the board. Some cannot make the connection with what we have done and place the magnets in strange places. I then correct the magnets and "OH!"

This extra step helps many students. If there is a problem area that they get stuck on, we pull out the whiteboard again.


Private Piano Instructor M.M.
Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: NMKeys] #2746917
06/25/18 10:20 AM
06/25/18 10:20 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 53
Canada
pianist_lady Offline
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Originally Posted by NMKeys
Steps, skips, and repeats are a bit difficult for beginners because the music is going up and down and the keyboard is going left and right.

This can be a huge issue for some students. I didn't realise what a problem it could be until an older beginning student was actually able to verbalise it-- she had trouble playing descending steps (fingers playing right to left) while reading music left to right. I'm sure I missed this difficulty with earlier students, but now I'm very attentive to it.

I usually have beginners draw arrows or lines between the notes to show up, down or same. This can be done with off- staff notation and continue as they transition to the staff. Similarly, the students will circle all of the skips in pieces all the way through the primer level and into Piano Adventures 1 until they get to larger intervals. My students' pieces are always very colourful because I get them to circle, colour or highlight anything they need to pay attention to. Usually this helps learn to engage with the score and to notice details instead of skimming over them.


Private piano teacher
B. Mus., M.Mus. (piano performance & pedagogy).
Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2746978
06/25/18 03:37 PM
06/25/18 03:37 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,363
Boynton Beach, FL
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There may be a visual tracking issue. With some students who either have ADD/ADHD or jut seem to be struggling, I will use a pencil to point at the note as they play. I try to point the note ahead of time so that prompts their eyes to move along.

This also helps with students with dyslexia or confusion about reading left to right and playing descending notes that require to play to the left on the piano. Getting them to separate up/down and reading from left to right usually works itself out in this way. I haven't had a student get stuck on this for too long if it happens.

Having them sightread and sing their songs first may help (you can sign with them) to associate the up/down/repeat option with what pitch they are singing, and the left-to-right determines when you sing it.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2747041
06/25/18 07:06 PM
06/25/18 07:06 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 15,965
Canada
keystring Offline
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I dyslex left-right, up-down visually. But I can hear when a note is higher or lower as sound. Why does piano teaching seem to be almost 100% visual, judging but what I often read?

Also, is this reading also paired with recognizing notes - i.e. D is the note housed between the two blacks: the note right below the ledger line, hanging from it, is the D right in front of you? So that a student has two points of reference, and not only intervals (go to the right, go to the left)?

In fact, I still dyslex, because that is an LD I happen to have. But I can also reference sound, and use that extensively. The reliable senses I possess are hearing and touch. For some reason, feeling my way to the right or left does not create the confusion that visual orientation can.

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2747059
06/25/18 08:17 PM
06/25/18 08:17 PM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 161
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Andamento Offline
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I've never seen a better series of method books for helping learn interval reading securely than Piano Safari . I started using it a couple of years ago, and I love that they stay with a certain interval or limited range of intervals for a whole unit before introducing reading pieces with wider intervals.

If you'd rather stay with a method you're familiar with, you might consider supplementing your regular series with Piano Safari's sight reading and rhythm cards, which follow the same order as the method book's introduction of intervals:

1. 2nds & Sames
2. 3rds (mainly, but also incorporating some 2nds and sames)
3. 2nds & 3rds, starting on landmark notes
4. 2nds & 3rds, starting on various notes
5. 3rds & 5ths
6. 2nds, 3rds & 5ths
7. 4ths & 2nds
8. 2nds, 3rds, 4ths & 5ths

Starting in Level 3 of the series, 6ths, 7ths and 8ths get introduced, but the focus in that level is more on different key signatures: CM, am, GM, em, FM, dm.

I think the key to strong grounding in intervallic reading is to stay with a predominance of a certain interval, such as the above, for longer than most method books stay on a new interval. I've seen methods where a new interval is introduced about every four or six pages or something. It's too much for a lot of students to process in the early stages. Piano Safari's units average somewhere around 20 pages, so there's ample material for reinforcing intervallic reading before adding a new interval.

That also gives more opportunity to hear what, say, a fourth sounds like, and what it feels like on the hand in a five-finger position. There's plenty of time to connect the visual, aural, and tactile before moving on to a mass of intervals that can become very confusing if the student isn't grounded in the earliest-learned intervals beforehand.

All this to say that you could supplement with other books or your own compositions, too, mainly targeting whatever new interval is your most recent focus.

Good luck! I sympathize with your predicament--I've been there. smile

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: NMKeys] #2747098
06/26/18 01:42 AM
06/26/18 01:42 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 5
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Melodies Offline OP
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Originally Posted by NMKeys
Steps, skips, and repeats are a bit difficult for beginners because the music is going up and down and the keyboard is going left and right.

I think it is a communication (listening?) break down. I've started using a whiteboard (with the staff on it) and circle magnets (as noteheads).
We see the 5 repeated notes. We play the 5 repeated notes. We take away the book then try to put it on the board. Some cannot make the connection with what we have done and place the magnets in strange places. I then correct the magnets and "OH!"

This extra step helps many students. If there is a problem area that they get stuck on, we pull out the whiteboard again.


Yes I am very aware of the left, right, up,down confusion. Interesting approach with the whiteboard. Thanks.

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Andamento] #2747099
06/26/18 01:48 AM
06/26/18 01:48 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 5
M
Melodies Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Andamento
I've never seen a better series of method books for helping learn interval reading securely than Piano Safari . I started using it a couple of years ago, and I love that they stay with a certain interval or limited range of intervals for a whole unit before introducing reading pieces with wider intervals.

If you'd rather stay with a method you're familiar with, you might consider supplementing your regular series with Piano Safari's sight reading and rhythm cards, which follow the same order as the method book's introduction of intervals:

1. 2nds & Sames
2. 3rds (mainly, but also incorporating some 2nds and sames)
3. 2nds & 3rds, starting on landmark notes
4. 2nds & 3rds, starting on various notes
5. 3rds & 5ths
6. 2nds, 3rds & 5ths
7. 4ths & 2nds
8. 2nds, 3rds, 4ths & 5ths

Starting in Level 3 of the series, 6ths, 7ths and 8ths get introduced, but the focus in that level is more on different key signatures: CM, am, GM, em, FM, dm.

I think the key to strong grounding in intervallic reading is to stay with a predominance of a certain interval, such as the above, for longer than most method books stay on a new interval. I've seen methods where a new interval is introduced about every four or six pages or something. It's too much for a lot of students to process in the early stages. Piano Safari's units average somewhere around 20 pages, so there's ample material for reinforcing intervallic reading before adding a new interval.

That also gives more opportunity to hear what, say, a fourth sounds like, and what it feels like on the hand in a five-finger position. There's plenty of time to connect the visual, aural, and tactile before moving on to a mass of intervals that can become very confusing if the student isn't grounded in the earliest-learned intervals beforehand.

All this to say that you could supplement with other books or your own compositions, too, mainly targeting whatever new interval is your most recent focus.

Good luck! I sympathize with your predicament--I've been there. smile


Thank you for the detailed response. I will look into Safari. It is still baffling to me as to how this is a significant issue.

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: pianist_lady] #2747100
06/26/18 01:55 AM
06/26/18 01:55 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 5
M
Melodies Offline OP
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Melodies  Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2018
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Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Originally Posted by NMKeys
Steps, skips, and repeats are a bit difficult for beginners because the music is going up and down and the keyboard is going left and right.

This can be a huge issue for some students. I didn't realise what a problem it could be until an older beginning student was actually able to verbalise it-- she had trouble playing descending steps (fingers playing right to left) while reading music left to right. I'm sure I missed this difficulty with earlier students, but now I'm very attentive to it.

I usually have beginners draw arrows or lines between the notes to show up, down or same. This can be done with off- staff notation and continue as they transition to the staff. Similarly, the students will circle all of the skips in pieces all the way through the primer level and into Piano Adventures 1 until they get to larger intervals. My students' pieces are always very colourful because I get them to circle, colour or highlight anything they need to pay attention to. Usually this helps learn to engage with the score and to notice details instead of skimming over them.


Yes left right vs up and down issue was a Eureka moment for me. Arrows seem like a good idea however, I feel like it might be a crutch. I will try. Thank you.

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2747133
06/26/18 06:20 AM
06/26/18 06:20 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,210
Florida
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Eloise Ristad , in the book ‘A Soprano On Her Head’ devotes a chapter to teaching the relationship between interval reading, notation and the keyboard, I remember one of the things she did was to draw the staff in a vertical orientation so that the lines, and notes, would match up with the piano keys. You might want to give her book a read to see if there’s any useful ideas for you. I am not a teacher but I found her teaching concepts interesting


Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2747161
06/26/18 09:58 AM
06/26/18 09:58 AM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 161
USA
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Andamento Offline
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Originally Posted by Melodies
Originally Posted by Andamento
I've never seen a better series of method books for helping learn interval reading securely than Piano Safari . I started using it a couple of years ago, and I love that they stay with a certain interval or limited range of intervals for a whole unit before introducing reading pieces with wider intervals.

If you'd rather stay with a method you're familiar with, you might consider supplementing your regular series with Piano Safari's sight reading and rhythm cards, which follow the same order as the method book's introduction of intervals:

1. 2nds & Sames
2. 3rds (mainly, but also incorporating some 2nds and sames)
3. 2nds & 3rds, starting on landmark notes
4. 2nds & 3rds, starting on various notes
5. 3rds & 5ths
6. 2nds, 3rds & 5ths
7. 4ths & 2nds
8. 2nds, 3rds, 4ths & 5ths

Starting in Level 3 of the series, 6ths, 7ths and 8ths get introduced, but the focus in that level is more on different key signatures: CM, am, GM, em, FM, dm.

I think the key to strong grounding in intervallic reading is to stay with a predominance of a certain interval, such as the above, for longer than most method books stay on a new interval. I've seen methods where a new interval is introduced about every four or six pages or something. It's too much for a lot of students to process in the early stages. Piano Safari's units average somewhere around 20 pages, so there's ample material for reinforcing intervallic reading before adding a new interval.

That also gives more opportunity to hear what, say, a fourth sounds like, and what it feels like on the hand in a five-finger position. There's plenty of time to connect the visual, aural, and tactile before moving on to a mass of intervals that can become very confusing if the student isn't grounded in the earliest-learned intervals beforehand.

All this to say that you could supplement with other books or your own compositions, too, mainly targeting whatever new interval is your most recent focus.

Good luck! I sympathize with your predicament--I've been there. smile


Thank you for the detailed response. I will look into Safari. It is still baffling to me as to how this is a significant issue.


Hi again, Melodies,

I meant to add to my earlier post that the Piano Safari authors recommend a little bit of marking intervals with a colored pencil to assist in first reading them. On their website they have a series of mini essays outlining their philosophy of teaching, and how and why it works. This MiniEssay is helpful in explaining their interval-marking system. Students choose a different color for each interval, but only mark select intervals, to simplify a little bit of the reading experience.

They describe it better than I just did. smile

Anyway, I was concerned that marking intervals with colors would be a crutch, too, which would make it harder to read music later when the marking would be stopped. But, like in their testing of this idea, I also found that, in the long run, it strengthened reading skills.

So I can wholeheartedly recommend the approach described in MiniEssay 12, despite my initial reservations.

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2747183
06/26/18 12:38 PM
06/26/18 12:38 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 4,704
*sigh* Salt Lake City
malkin Offline
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Back in the medieval period of the mid-seventies, I was employed as a tutor for "disabled students" at a junior college in California.
When asked what his career aspirations were, one of my students told his counselor that he wanted to be a rock star and she enrolled him in music theory. Having stated on my application that I had some background in music, I was assigned to help him with the work for this class. The only tool I had was a paper keyboard and his textbook.

This fellow was unable to touch the paper keys moving to the right (or left) reliably.

Yes, you read that correctly. He could not take his right hand and move it continuously to the right while tracing a line on a paper keyboard.

I worked with him for one semester. I learned a lot.


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

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Andamento] #2747197
06/26/18 02:08 PM
06/26/18 02:08 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 53
Canada
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Originally Posted by Melodies
Arrows seem like a good idea however, I feel like it might be a crutch. I will try. Thank you.


I don't find that the arrows become a crutch, as most will catch on pretty fast and stop needing it. And after they have been working with skips for awhile, I will usually ask the student if they would like to circle the skips before playing or just read the music. Then if they miss any, we go back and circle those. Eventually they become less dependent on the markings.


Private piano teacher
B. Mus., M.Mus. (piano performance & pedagogy).
Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Melodies] #2747371
06/27/18 07:18 AM
06/27/18 07:18 AM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 29
Sydney, Australia
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I’ve been teaching piano for decades and I can honestly say that I’ve never had problems with students distinguishing steps and skips.

For very young students (4 to about 7), I use My First Piano Adventures, which as AZNpiano pointed out, moves slowly. I like that because, for less-able students, it leaves a lot of room to work on drilling and revision of all kinds (including about reading on the staff); gifted students move through the books super-fast which develops a powerful sense of competence and confidence.

Two questions:
* Have you tried flashcards? I truly believe just about any problem to do with note-reading can be resolved with flashcard drills. (Eg. Show a card. ‘Is this a skip or a step?’ [“That’s right, because it’s going from line to line.”] Show a card. “Can you point to a step in these two bars of music? Do the notes go up or down?” etc etc.)
* Do you get students to do written/theory/notespeller work. I believe that writing musical notation trains different parts of the brain to those engaged when reading and playing, so it creates a ‘deeper’ knowledge of how to recognise musical patterns, sight-read etc etc.
-Paul


Piano teacher, journalist, AMEB examiner.
Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Andamento] #2747443
06/27/18 11:54 AM
06/27/18 11:54 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,564
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by Andamento
I've never seen a better series of method books for helping learn interval reading securely than Piano Safari . I started using it a couple of years ago, and I love that they stay with a certain interval or limited range of intervals for a whole unit before introducing reading pieces with wider intervals.

I'm not familiar with that series, so I checked out some of the writings at their website. I agree with almost everything the authors say, except that they embrace rote teaching to a degree.

I think rote teaching should be the last resort. It IS a teaching method, but I'd try it only when all else fails.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: AZNpiano] #2747463
06/27/18 12:38 PM
06/27/18 12:38 PM
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Posts: 161
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Andamento
I've never seen a better series of method books for helping learn interval reading securely than Piano Safari . I started using it a couple of years ago, and I love that they stay with a certain interval or limited range of intervals for a whole unit before introducing reading pieces with wider intervals.

I'm not familiar with that series, so I checked out some of the writings at their website. I agree with almost everything the authors say, except that they embrace rote teaching to a degree.

I think rote teaching should be the last resort. It IS a teaching method, but I'd try it only when all else fails.


I agree with most of the authors' ideas, as well, AZN. The thing I like best about using a little bit of rote teaching with beginners is that they get more exposure to playing patterns across a wide area of the keyboard. Those pieces sound and feel more interesting to play, and get the students out of a tiny range of keys that can get boring after a while.

I'm interested to know more about your philosophy behind using rote teaching as a last resort to try only after everything else fails. In that case, would you recommend a rote-only approach for a while, or a combined rote-playing and interval-reading approach? You present a lot of good ideas in your comments here -- could you clarify your reasoning behind this one?

Thanks, and my apologies to the OP for taking this thread in a different direction. wink

Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: Andamento] #2747690
06/28/18 02:58 AM
06/28/18 02:58 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,564
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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AZNpiano  Offline
7000 Post Club Member
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,564
Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by Andamento
I'm interested to know more about your philosophy behind using rote teaching as a last resort to try only after everything else fails. In that case, would you recommend a rote-only approach for a while, or a combined rote-playing and interval-reading approach? You present a lot of good ideas in your comments here -- could you clarify your reasoning behind this one?

The reason is a simple one: It's far too easy for kids to fall back onto rote learning (or what I call the "copy me" method) because it doesn't require thinking. It's imitation. And by the time they get around to learning notes, they resist.

My reasoning is based upon dozens of transfer wrecks, some of which are so wrecked beyond recognition, that I can't salvage them. They either quit lessons, or we keep going with "copy me." This happens because their previous teachers neglected to teach note reading and relied heavily upon rote learning.

Of course I use "copy me" as well, for kids doing level 7 music. I demonstrate. Students imitate my playing. Not that I want a clone, but there are some aspects of technique or style that just can't be adequately described by words. For rank beginners, I also demonstrate in segments. Even for kids in the primer book, I don't play through the entire piece until they have demonstrated to me that they could read through it by themselves.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Skips Vs.Steps desperation [Re: AZNpiano] #2747859
06/28/18 03:40 PM
06/28/18 03:40 PM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 161
USA
A
Andamento Offline
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Andamento  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 161
USA
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Andamento
I'm interested to know more about your philosophy behind using rote teaching as a last resort to try only after everything else fails. In that case, would you recommend a rote-only approach for a while, or a combined rote-playing and interval-reading approach? You present a lot of good ideas in your comments here -- could you clarify your reasoning behind this one?

The reason is a simple one: It's far too easy for kids to fall back onto rote learning (or what I call the "copy me" method) because it doesn't require thinking. It's imitation. And by the time they get around to learning notes, they resist.

My reasoning is based upon dozens of transfer wrecks, some of which are so wrecked beyond recognition, that I can't salvage them. They either quit lessons, or we keep going with "copy me." This happens because their previous teachers neglected to teach note reading and relied heavily upon rote learning.

Of course I use "copy me" as well, for kids doing level 7 music. I demonstrate. Students imitate my playing. Not that I want a clone, but there are some aspects of technique or style that just can't be adequately described by words. For rank beginners, I also demonstrate in segments. Even for kids in the primer book, I don't play through the entire piece until they have demonstrated to me that they could read through it by themselves.


Thanks for that, AZN. It sounds like we do a lot of the same things, including not playing through a whole reading piece for beginners.

I know what you mean about transfer students coming in who can hardly read. Fuer Elise is a popular one that gets butchered when they've been taught it by rote. I wish teachers would say no to teaching that one before students are ready to read the whole thing and have the skills to interpret it musically.

That said, I feel the judicious use of a rote piece once in a while with beginners -- using music that is only slightly above their reading level -- can add interest and vitality to the piano-playing experience. Too much of it is definitely a problem, but finding a balance between reading in a narrow range and learning patterns across a wider swath of the keyboard makes for a more enjoyable experience, I've found. The kids play rote pieces with more expression, which is great.

Last edited by Andamento; 06/28/18 03:45 PM.

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