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Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic #2770865
10/09/18 05:16 PM
10/09/18 05:16 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 5
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waffle queen Offline OP
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waffle queen  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2018
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I have a student who came to me using the Alfred Prep course. I am not experienced in using the Alfred courses so I am interested in finding out from other teachers what the transition is like from the prep course to the basic course.

Did your students find the transition easy? Did they find faster pace of the Basic course difficult to adjust to? Are there concepts or skills in the basic course that the prep course didn't cover prior to the transition point? I know the Alfred website says a smooth switch can be made from the prep course to the basic but I'm interested in what other teachers have found.

There are three points of transition which I am interested in:
Prep B to Basic 1B
Prep D to Basic level 2
Prep F to Basic level 3

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Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: waffle queen] #2770868
10/09/18 05:25 PM
10/09/18 05:25 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,699
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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AZNpiano  Offline
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Orange County, CA
At this level, it's not too late to start over. Switch the student over to a method book that you are more comfortable with.

I have a lot of problems with the old Alfred books. I can't believe it's still in print. And there are teachers who still use it. Even the folks at Alfred know there are problems with it, so they came up with a new system Alfred Premier, which is WAY better than old Alfred.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: AZNpiano] #2770881
10/09/18 06:15 PM
10/09/18 06:15 PM
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waffle queen Offline OP
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waffle queen  Offline OP
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
At this level, it's not too late to start over. Switch the student over to a method book that you are more comfortable with.

I have a lot of problems with the old Alfred books. I can't believe it's still in print. And there are teachers who still use it. Even the folks at Alfred know there are problems with it, so they came up with a new system Alfred Premier, which is WAY better than old Alfred.


Thanks! Can you explain more about the problems with the Alfred course?

And which method books do you use? I use Hal Leonard but I'm not happy with it after level 2.

Last edited by waffle queen; 10/09/18 06:17 PM.
Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: waffle queen] #2770941
10/10/18 12:50 AM
10/10/18 12:50 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,699
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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For most kids, I use Alfred Premier and Piano Adventures. For the slower kids I use Hal Leonard. Hal Leonard 3 is terrific; 4 and 5 just barely okay. I don't think the folks there spent much energy after level 3 since most kids either quit piano or move to repertoire books by then. In contrast, Alfred Premier's levels 4, 5, and 6 are scintillating.

I don't like the music in old Alfred. The writing is not very inspired. Also, the multi-key approach doesn't promote fluent reading.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: AZNpiano] #2770984
10/10/18 07:27 AM
10/10/18 07:27 AM
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waffle queen Offline OP
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waffle queen  Offline OP
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
For most kids, I use Alfred Premier and Piano Adventures. For the slower kids I use Hal Leonard. Hal Leonard 3 is terrific; 4 and 5 just barely okay. I don't think the folks there spent much energy after level 3 since most kids either quit piano or move to repertoire books by then. In contrast, Alfred Premier's levels 4, 5, and 6 are scintillating.

I don't like the music in old Alfred. The writing is not very inspired. Also, the multi-key approach doesn't promote fluent reading.


Thankyou : )

Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: waffle queen] #2771296
10/11/18 04:45 AM
10/11/18 04:45 AM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 87
United States
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RyanThePianist Offline
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RyanThePianist  Offline
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United States
I will second the support of Alfred Premiere. I'm a rather new teacher, so I decided to look into Premiere because my professor who has a D.M.A. in piano suggested it over all others in one of my seminar classes where we studied different methods. All my students ages 6 and up use Alfred Premiere with the exception of one who uses Piano Adventures due to sibling rivalry. I love the organization of concepts and the inspired musical arrangements in Premiere. Every new concept is introduced in the most logical way possible I feel, and in the way easiest for kids to grasp. Some of my favorite features are starting on black keys, introducing concepts with "simple" concept pieces then introducing a more "difficult" song to put it all together, landmark reading (using "Treble G" or "Bass F" to read nearby notes), emphasizing bass clef first, introducing rests early on, and of course the supplementary books. My beginning students really only need the theory book and flashcards, and they feel confident in what they've learned!

It was just my luck that a student of mine left his Basic Alfred 1A on my table during his trial lesson. I had the opportunity to look through it for a week, and I must say... I also can't believe the book is still in print and on the same shelves as Alfred Premiere at my local music stores.


BA Music, Biology Minor

1990 Yamaha G3
Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: RyanThePianist] #2771526
10/11/18 04:30 PM
10/11/18 04:30 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,699
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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AZNpiano  Offline
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Orange County, CA
Originally Posted by RyanThePianist
It was just my luck that a student of mine left his Basic Alfred 1A on my table during his trial lesson. I had the opportunity to look through it for a week, and I must say... I also can't believe the book is still in print and on the same shelves as Alfred Premiere at my local music stores.

You have to realize that a lot of piano teachers are older and they are "creatures of habit." They will use the same books they've used for the past 30 years.

The good publishers will continue to churn out new and improved editions, which is what Alfred did with the Premier books. Piano Adventures made a 2nd edition, which had some questionable changes, but at least they are not being stagnant.

If you want to know what teachers are still using after five decades, just check out John Thompson. I can't believe that thing still exists. It's just about the worst way to teach piano. My first teacher used that with me as a second supplement, and even at age 9 I could tell something was wrong with it.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: waffle queen] #2771553
10/11/18 05:06 PM
10/11/18 05:06 PM
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waffle queen Offline OP
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waffle queen  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 5
Thanks RyanThePianist and AZNpiano.

I am going to look at the Alfred Premier course to see if I can transition my student across.

Any hints of what level to look at? She is more than halfway through Alfred Prep B and I will probably let her finish it then move her across.

Also, do you use the full course for each level (technique, performance, theory)?

AZNpiano ... what were the questionable changes to Piano Adventures' second edition? I haven't taught this method but use the sight reading books and some of the other supplementary books.

Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: waffle queen] #2771690
10/12/18 02:09 AM
10/12/18 02:09 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,699
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
7000 Post Club Member
AZNpiano  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,699
Orange County, CA
Piano Adventures 2nd edition changed some music significantly, and not in a good way.

You should start Alfred Premier from scratch. There's so much on intervallic reading that needs to be nailed at first. If you skip that section, then students will struggle further down the line--or not, some kids just intuitively get intervals without prompting.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: AZNpiano] #2771739
10/12/18 07:52 AM
10/12/18 07:52 AM
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Posts: 5
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waffle queen Offline OP
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waffle queen  Offline OP
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Thankyou!

Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: AZNpiano] #2771781
10/12/18 09:47 AM
10/12/18 09:47 AM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 95
Texas
Dr. Rogers Offline
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Dr. Rogers  Offline
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Posts: 95
Texas
Originally Posted by AZNpiano

If you want to know what teachers are still using after five decades, just check out John Thompson. I can't believe that thing still exists. It's just about the worst way to teach piano. My first teacher used that with me as a second supplement, and even at age 9 I could tell something was wrong with it.


AZN, could I trouble you to elaborate on what problems you find with John Thompson? This is an honest question on my part. (You know I have a great deal of respect for you, and consider you one of the sanest posters on this forum.) I'm one of those old fogie teachers that still uses it (albeit with a lot of supplemental material), and with great success, I might add. I looked at Piano Adventures, Alfred Premier, and Little Mozarts. Honestly, they make me want to claw my eyes out. (Well, I do use a little bit of Little Mozart as supplemental materials, but I don't think I'd ever use it as a primary method.)

I do have a few quibbles with John Thompson Modern (I've never used Easiest or Little Fingers). But I find that even those drawbacks can still be turned to positives:

  • Too many fingerings at the beginning of the book - thankfully that doesn't last long. I take this as an opportunity to explain the importance of sight reading and note recognition, and how one can cheat with writing in fingerings. The early supplemental material is focused on sight reading.
  • Over-emphasis on position playing - again, teachable. How thinking in terms of "positions" might not be the best approach, but rather to think in terms of chords. This leads to early introduction of basic triads, which I have found to be very helpful, and naturally leads into intervals.
  • Over-emphasis in the prose (but not the music) of patterns - once more, a great teaching opportunity. Take advantage of patterns where they exist, but don't use them as a crutch. Beware of combo-breakers (which Thompson puts in, because I think he realized that reliance on patterns isn't healthy).


I should point out that I don't use it with really young students. The youngest student that I've used it with was 11, and she actually requested it. The reason she wanted it, and a big reason I like it so much, is that it's very much a sink-or-swim method. From the first page of Modern, he throws you in the deep end to swim with the sharks. Early emphasis on musicality - phrasing, dynamics, etc. My adult students, especially, really appreciate all this. I should also point out again that I heavily supplement any method book that I use.

Now, a lazy teacher could probably do a lot of damage using JT. Should piano methods be teacher-proof? If that's even a remote concern, then there is a serious crisis of piano pedagogy. (And, indeed, from what I've read on here, it sounds like there is. I just noticed a new "Piano School" that opened in the past few months - a big room with about a dozen electric pianos. They're going for a completely different clientele.)

Maybe I've just been lucky with the students who come to me. My rates (though not outrageous) aren't cheap so I generally get the crème de la crème, serious parents and serious students (both children and adults) who want serious piano instruction. These are overachievers. I have only gotten one transfer wreck, and he quit after one lesson (didn't want to go back to basics). I'm very lucky that I have another income stream, so I can keep my studio focused on quality rather than quantity. I expect a lot from my students - and generally, they deliver. (I realize that it's a luxury to be able to run a studio this way, and I certainly mean no disrespect to teachers who must of necessity have a higher volume.)

Quote
... some kids just intuitively get intervals without prompting.


I've never had a student who didn't grasp them immediately. Again, maybe I'm just lucky, but the idea of having to explicitly each intervalic reading to anyone over the age of seven (just throwing out a number) rather boggles my mind.

Last edited by Dr. Rogers; 10/12/18 09:50 AM. Reason: Added comment regarding intervalic reading.

Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
Re: Transition from Alfred Prep to Alfred Basic [Re: waffle queen] #2771857
10/12/18 02:33 PM
10/12/18 02:33 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,699
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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AZNpiano  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,699
Orange County, CA
John Thompson is hopelessly outdated. I don't know if they took out that little blurb on minstrel shows in the latest edition, but that could potentially offend some people.

I also don't like teaching simplifications of music. I'd rather teach actual music by actual composers.

The biggest problem is that the pace is far too fast. The book predates intervallic reading, so there's no instruction on that. And there's no instruction on swing rhythm or anything "modern."

Lastly, you really enjoy the music? There are maybe a couple of nice tunes in JT. Not worth the price of the whole book.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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