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Adult only wants to learn chords? #2771015
10/10/18 10:37 AM
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I would normally not take on this kind of student, however, in a weak moment, agreed to start with him. He wants to learn how to play along with his children who play instruments and accompany hymns. My question is, wouldn't it also be necessary to learn all the scales?


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771057
10/10/18 02:01 PM
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This is similar to my students' mother who wants to take up piano ONLY to play guitar chords. I told her no.

Students like this don't understand music very much, and since their goal is so singular in nature, they won't do anything else you ask them to do.

Sure, you can make him learn all the scales. He'll quit in a month.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771074
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Not at all necessary to learn scales for what he wants to do. What he wants to do is actually quite easy -- playing a very few chords very slowly.

Find out what hymns he wants to play, look online, and get them in lead sheet form. Pick the first hymn he wants to play, and teach him just the chords it needs. Have him get a book that teaches lead sheet playing (Scott Houston is the most popular), and just add the chords he needs for the next hymn, and the next one, and so forth. You may see him 3-4 times and answer some questions.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771086
10/10/18 02:58 PM
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Ack, I can't edit my post.

I wanted to add that this problem is very common for guitar teachers. Most of those students can't read lead sheets, either. They can't even read basic music notation or treble clef. They just want to play a few chords with their favorite "songs." They can't keep time, so the only way they know when to change to a different chord is to match up the chords to the lyrics. They can't keep counts. Their sense of rhythm is purely from memory of how the song goes.

In short, teaching these students will be a nightmare for anybody with common sense.

There are Youtube tutorials that cater to this kind of students, so let them have their "free" lessons online.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: AZNpiano] #2771090
10/10/18 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
This is similar to my students' mother who wants to take up piano ONLY to play guitar chords. I told her no.

Students like this don't understand music very much, and since their goal is so singular in nature, they won't do anything else you ask them to do.

Sure, you can make him learn all the scales. He'll quit in a month.


You have found me out! smile


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: JohnSprung] #2771091
10/10/18 03:14 PM
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John, I think he already knows how to play a few basic chords. The hymns he showed me are like a lead sheet, with only the vocal line and chord indications above each line. I'm more concerned about the 7chords, the dim and augmented chords, etc. If I didn't know my scales, I would have been lost learning all the chords.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771095
10/10/18 03:23 PM
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This was how I 'learnt' guitar as a kid - without a teacher, and just to accompany myself and friends singing pop songs. I used the chord pictograms in the songbooks to learn common chords in the keys of C and G major, and D minor and A minor, which was enough to cover the tessitura of anyone who could sing more or less in pitch. (I didn't take into account those who couldn't sing in pitch wink ).

Nothing wrong with that, as I wasn't intending to play Recuerdos de la Alhambra anytime soon. (Not ever, in fact).

An adult who just wants to learn piano chords for hymns doesn't need a teacher - there're plenty of YT videos for that sort of stuff. He needs to learn some theory instead......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771106
10/10/18 03:53 PM
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I have a few guitar-playing friends who are self-taught on piano. They have little to no theory knowledge and play guitar (chords) by memorizing hand positions, so that translates over to their piano playing. "Accompanying hymns" is basically block chords in both hands in some sort of rhythm, and they are satisfied with that. Your student can easily look up chord locations/positions online and learn/play them by rote. It's surface level, straightforward book learning, and I personally wouldn't be satisfied with teaching that way. (I've dabbled in guitar - I memorize LH positions too but also understand how chords and positions relate to each other. My RH technique, ability to hit only the desired string(s) and manage different strum patterns, is weak!)

How about other ways to play chords besides blocks? Suppose he graduates to LH accompaniment and RH melody, are you going to want to teach how to play the vocal line? With "proper" pianistic fingering or hitting the right keys at the right time "by any means necessary"? What about improvisation, introductions/endings, filling in the transitions between vocal phrases? Just a few things to think about for exploring this route.

Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771167
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
John, I think he already knows how to play a few basic chords. The hymns he showed me are like a lead sheet, with only the vocal line and chord indications above each line. I'm more concerned about the 7chords, the dim and augmented chords, etc. If I didn't know my scales, I would have been lost learning all the chords.


In that case, just point him to the Scott Houston book. Dim's, Aug's 7's' b5's, etc. are handled with simple keyboard picture diagrams. He'll be happy, and out of your hair.


-- J.S.

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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771400
10/11/18 10:59 AM
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Thanks, John. He's bringing his "books" to the first lesson. Will keep you posted!


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: AZNpiano] #2771475
10/11/18 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Ack, I can't edit my post.

I wanted to add that this problem is very common for guitar teachers. Most of those students can't read lead sheets, either. They can't even read basic music notation or treble clef. They just want to play a few chords with their favorite "songs." They can't keep time, so the only way they know when to change to a different chord is to match up the chords to the lyrics. They can't keep counts. Their sense of rhythm is purely from memory of how the song goes.

In short, teaching these students will be a nightmare for anybody with common sense.

There are Youtube tutorials that cater to this kind of students, so let them have their "free" lessons online.


Is keeping pulse difficult for students in general? My son's piano teacher told me that one of her goals for my son this year was to improve his rhythm and he's in his 6th year of lessons. Now each week, he's spending a lot time clapping. Is that something that most (good) students have to do for a long time?

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 10/11/18 01:47 PM.

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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: pianoMom2006] #2771492
10/11/18 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
Is keeping pulse difficult for students in general? My son's piano teacher told me that one of her goals for my son this year was to improve his rhythm and he's in his 6th year of lessons. Now each week, he's spending a lot time clapping. Is that something that most (good) students have to do for a long time?

It depends on how complicated the music is. I still use clapping/tapping exercises for students all the way up to level 10 music. This is especially true for polyrhythm and syncopation and sometimes hemiola.

What kind of music is your son playing? If the music contains a lot of dotted rhythms and triplets and swing rhythm, then maybe he'll need some clapping exercises.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: JohnSprung] #2771498
10/11/18 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

Not at all necessary to learn scales for what he wants to do. What he wants to do is actually quite easy -- playing a very few chords very slowly.

Find out what hymns he wants to play, look online, and get them in lead sheet form. Pick the first hymn he wants to play, and teach him just the chords it needs. Have him get a book that teaches lead sheet playing (Scott Houston is the most popular), and just add the chords he needs for the next hymn, and the next one, and so forth. You may see him 3-4 times and answer some questions.


I'll quit teaching period before I resort to recommending anything Scott Houston does. I loathe the man and everything he stands for.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771499
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I'm not against teaching chords, and in fact I teach them to every student. No, scales do not help you much with chords.

But at some point we have to stop humoring people who know nothing about music and don't understand why learning just one thing is a dead-end way of learning.

I don't know one adult with a bit of knowledge who does not read music who has not told me they regret not learning to read and would do something about it, if they could.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: Gary D.] #2771523
10/11/18 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
But at some point we have to stop humoring people who know nothing about music and don't understand why learning just one thing is a dead-end way of learning.

The story of my life.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: mostlystrings] #2771532
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Originally Posted by mostlystrings
I have a few guitar-playing friends who are self-taught on piano. It's surface level, straightforward book learning, and I personally wouldn't be satisfied with teaching that way. (I've dabbled in guitar - I memorize LH positions too but also understand how chords and positions relate to each other. My RH technique, ability to hit only the desired string(s) and manage different strum patterns, is weak!)

How about other ways to play chords besides blocks? Suppose he graduates to LH accompaniment and RH melody, are you going to want to teach how to play the vocal line? With "proper" pianistic fingering or hitting the right keys at the right time "by any means necessary"? What about improvisation, introductions/endings, filling in the transitions between vocal phrases? Just a few things to think about for exploring this route.


I plan to demonstrate different ways to play chords but that won't take much time. He is interested in learning proper technique and fingering as well.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: Gary D.] #2771533
10/11/18 04:39 PM
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Gary, he wanted to learn how to play a B major chord (or all chords in the scale), wouldn't knowing the scale and key signature help him to quickly play it? How would you teach that chord, by steps, or intervals?


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: AZNpiano] #2771547
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
Is keeping pulse difficult for students in general? My son's piano teacher told me that one of her goals for my son this year was to improve his rhythm and he's in his 6th year of lessons. Now each week, he's spending a lot time clapping. Is that something that most (good) students have to do for a long time?

It depends on how complicated the music is. I still use clapping/tapping exercises for students all the way up to level 10 music. This is especially true for polyrhythm and syncopation and sometimes hemiola.

What kind of music is your son playing? If the music contains a lot of dotted rhythms and triplets and swing rhythm, then maybe he'll need some clapping exercises.


He just finished last week Swing Low, Sweet Chariot a piece near the end of Faber 3B. His teacher is just having his clap his pieces more now and that is helping a lot.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771552
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I'm using clapping / tapping / singing when I feel the rhythm is too complicated for me to integrate it directly to the piano. Rhythm is not my strong side, so I need to do more work on that. I wouldn't be worried about your child needing to do it.

It is better to do what is necessary than to think we shouldn't have to resort to it because X-Y.
If it helps him, so let him continue this way. smile


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771563
10/11/18 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Gary, he wanted to learn how to play a B major chord (or all chords in the scale), wouldn't knowing the scale and key signature help him to quickly play it? How would you teach that chord, by steps, or intervals?

I start with C, have students of all ages just play up and down triads: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim, that way, root position, both hands ASAP, use pedal. They know that just the letter is major, m is minor, dim is diminished.

Then we add one sharp at a time, one flat at a time, this way:

C G F D Bb A Eb E Ab Db Gb B.

By about the third key I usually switch to 7 chords, like this:

Imaj7 IIm7 IIIm7 IVmaj7 V7 VIm7 VIIm7b5 Imaj7

Same idea, C first, then G, F. Call out the names. m7b5 is also half-diminished.

One key at a time, then when each key starts to flow, next key.

I also start with B major scale first, both hands, and I NEVER have any resistance because it's so easy to play and actually pretty fun to race up and down the piano. So in a way I am starting scales at one end, all sharps/flats, chords at the other end (all white notes) and we meet in the middle. If you think about it, the hardest keys are the ones with 3 or 4 sharps or flats because they are about half and half, so more confusing.

I would let any student who wanted to try it play B major in chords. Just use every available black key and leave B and E alone.

I don't teach scales or chords by key signature, because that's a notational construct. I teach Gb/F# as all the black keys plus F and B. Of course that would be either E# or Cb, but that's only on paper.

I do present scales on paper, but most of the time my students just use the notation for one look because they move right to hands and keyboard. Plenty of time to cover how it looks with things like Clair de lune, Liszt Consolation, Minute Waltz (key of Db) and many pieces in keys that must be read. I often put a spotlight on a key according to something a student wants to learn. I have a teen who was wild about "Love Like You", so we found the tune notated, fixed it (lots of errors) and studied the chords and scale that goes to it (in the key of Eb.)

I have never had a student balk at reading once that student found out how easy the idea behind reading is. People want to play what they love, and if playing what they love works better with reading, and you show them how, they will learn to read.

Other students love to read but are afraid of theory/chords and resist because they don't understand how easy theory makes real life playing.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: Gary D.] #2771584
10/11/18 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
[]
I'll quit teaching period before I resort to recommending anything Scott Houston does. I loathe the man and everything he stands for.


The Houston book is what I started with when I came back to the piano 8 years ago. Fortunately I didn't see his TV shows until much later. He does some really bad hand contortions on TV, I'll grant you that. But he says to find fingerings that are comfortable for you. His chord symbol to keyboard diagram thing -- much like the guitar folks use -- seems to have done no harm. And for the OP's student, it's a quick way to what he wants. You may disagree with him wanting it - just to be able to play a few chords.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771639
10/11/18 08:48 PM
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Not sure if your student reads music already?
If so you could try the Chord Play books by Forrest Kinney. The student learns how to harmonise melodies using different accompaniment styles. It starts with primary chords and then gets to more complex harmonies.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: JohnSprung] #2771682
10/12/18 01:27 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

The Houston book is what I started with when I came back to the piano 8 years ago. Fortunately I didn't see his TV shows until much later. He does some really bad hand contortions on TV, I'll grant you that.

That's part of what I hate, because he has a rep and people will copy him. That's a really bad thing.
Quote

But he says to find fingerings that are comfortable for you.

OK, but that's what I did as a student because my teachers were awful, and I spent a very long time fixing that when I finally got a teacher who had some knowledge.

And the whole thing of "you don't need the bass clef" hurts people who are fully capable of reading both clefs. He demonizes traditional reading.

I fully support the idea of playing by ear, and I depend on my ear to get things that are not written down. You have guys like Brubeck who could not read, and he was a fantastic musician who wrote really great music. But I'm not convinced he could not read. I'm convinced he was missing the right teacher who could open up that world for him.

I heard Paul McCartney talking the other day on a podcast about not being able to read music, and he said it simply is not his world. But do you think for one moment that he does not regret never having learned to read music?

The "tricks" Houston uses to teach a first piece, like Silent Night, are the exact same things I use. Everyone has to start somewhere with chords, so root positions come first, then inversions. Major and minor first, then 7 chords and 6th chords plus aug. and dim., and so on.

Just please don't tell someone that this is all he needs and that he won't be very sorry later on for having skipped everything else.

That's all I'm saying.

Plus those of us who do the hard work of actually teaching, day after day, resent these glitzy hawkers who claim to do everything we do better and that you can get it all with almost no work.
Quote

His chord symbol to keyboard diagram thing -- much like the guitar folks use -- seems to have done no harm. And for the OP's student, it's a quick way to what he wants. You may disagree with him wanting it - just to be able to play a few chords.

I use a keyboard chart with all beginners. What I do is no different. I'm not arguing against what works, only saying that any system that does not mainstream skills eventually becomes a deadend system. You were undoubtedly intelligent enough to use his tricks and then springboard from them to something that is more useful in the long run.

Last edited by Gary D.; 10/12/18 01:28 AM.

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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: pianoMom2006] #2771693
10/12/18 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
He just finished last week Swing Low, Sweet Chariot a piece near the end of Faber 3B. His teacher is just having his clap his pieces more now and that is helping a lot.

Okay, if it helps, keep doing the clapping exercises.

BTW, your son's progress is quite slow. And I'm being nice here. It's actually a lot worse than slow. You need to get a new teacher.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: AZNpiano] #2771810
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
He just finished last week Swing Low, Sweet Chariot a piece near the end of Faber 3B. His teacher is just having his clap his pieces more now and that is helping a lot.

Okay, if it helps, keep doing the clapping exercises.

BTW, your son's progress is quite slow. And I'm being nice here. It's actually a lot worse than slow. You need to get a new teacher.


I know it may seem unfathomable but we are actually really happy with his teacher and his progress- even if PW teachers think he's moving at glacial speeds. Progress can be measured in many ways- level is just one.

Last edited by pianoMom2006; 10/12/18 11:22 AM.

Yamaha G2
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: pianoMom2006] #2771860
10/12/18 02:41 PM
10/12/18 02:41 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
Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
I know it may seem unfathomable but we are actually really happy with his teacher and his progress- even if PW teachers think he's moving at glacial speeds. Progress can be measured in many ways- level is just one.

You are absolutely correct. And of course on an Internet forum I don't have all the information. Your situation might be a unique one due to a variety of possible factors.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: Gary D.] #2771887
10/12/18 04:17 PM
10/12/18 04:17 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,470
Reseda, California
J
JohnSprung Online content
Unobtanium Subscriber
JohnSprung  Online Content
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J

Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,470
Reseda, California
Originally Posted by Gary D.

Quote

But he says to find fingerings that are comfortable for you.

OK, but that's what I did as a student because my teachers were awful, and I spent a very long time fixing that when I finally got a teacher who had some knowledge.

And the whole thing of "you don't need the bass clef" hurts people who are fully capable of reading both clefs. He demonizes traditional reading.


I started with what I found comfortable, and later changed a lot of my fingerings after watching some Taubman/Golandsky videos and some from Robert Estrin and a little Graham Fitch.

I do read and write the bass clef now. It's not a matter of never needing it, it's just that you can play a lot of tunes and have a lot of fun until you get good enough that the bass clef is worth using. Paradoxically, I find that the bass clef is most valuable for playing fewer notes in the bass than are included in the chord symbol. Less is more down where things get muddy.

It's not that you never need these things, it's that you can prioritize and pick things up later as you need them.

I don't know about McCartney and Brubeck, but I know that Irving Berlin could write notation, though he rarely did. He hired people to write things down for him. A single signed page in Berlin's handwriting was appraised at $10K - 15K. McCartney certainly was rich enough to do that, too.


-- J.S.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771888
10/12/18 04:24 PM
10/12/18 04:24 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 257
Quebec city, QC
CadenzaVvi Offline
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CadenzaVvi  Offline
Full Member

Joined: May 2018
Posts: 257
Quebec city, QC
Simply because it happened to me, I want simply to say: I was really happy with my first teacher and really sad when he moved out of town. But then, when I've started my lessons with my actual teacher, I realized how much my former teacher overlooked a lot of things. Now, I consider that it was a real gift from destiny that I had to change teacher.

I'm not saying that it is your situation. But it might worth thinking about it.
The problem with music is that you don't know a lot of what you don't know. So it is hard to be aware of what could be wrong.

Then, it also depends on your goals.
You don't have to answer me. I leave the reflection to you, since you know what is your precise situation and objectives. smile


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Beethoven, sonata op. 49, no. 1, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771997
10/12/18 10:59 PM
10/12/18 10:59 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,389
Florida
cmb13 Online content
Silver Level
cmb13  Online Content
Silver Level

Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,389
Florida
I don't see why you would have a problem teaching chords to an adult who only wants to learn chords for basic play. Unless you're so busy and have a backlog and can pick and choose your students, then why not?

There really can be a lot to learn here, and a lot to teach. I (a student, not a teacher....so take it with a little grain of salt) would think that in this setting you could teach chords in a particular key, then move on to inversions, broken chords, arpeggios, chord progressions, ii-V-I, IV-V-I, iii-vi-ii-V-I, etc. Spreading the chords between the hands, then even move on to base notes and lines. Expand to a few other keys. Then yes, I'd incorporate scales, as they fit with the learning of chords nicely, and help in teaching which chords go together.

If you're not careful, your adult student might want to take it further, learn a few melody notes to go with the chords, learn to read rhythm and some basic melodies, and next thing you know, you might have a real student on your hands. It becomes addictive!

How's this for a challenge, see if you can get your adult student so hooked that by the time he/she has all of the above down, he/she's your best student?


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 20, Posthumous, in C-Sharp Minor
Pachelbel Canon in D
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: cmb13] #2772025
10/13/18 02:57 AM
10/13/18 02:57 AM
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
Originally Posted by cmb13
How's this for a challenge, see if you can get your adult student so hooked that by the time he/she has all of the above down, he/she's your best student?

Instead, the student will quit lessons when he finds out he can't possibly memorize more than seven chords in any key.

The last time this stupidity happened to me, the student wrote out the lyrics of the song and wrote the chords under the words. He didn't even know the song's rhythm. Can't be bothered to find out how many beats for each chord. Each lesson was excruciating.

This is a very common problem. Ask any guitar teacher how many times kids ask for the fastest way to learn four chords so they can play their favorite song. And then they quit lessons as soon as they find out guitar is far more complicated than four chords.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
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