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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: Gary D.] #2771584
10/11/18 05:16 PM
10/11/18 05:16 PM
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Reseda, California
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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.


-- J.S.

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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771639
10/11/18 07:48 PM
10/11/18 07:48 PM
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Canada
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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.


Private piano teacher
B. Mus., M.Mus. (piano performance & pedagogy).
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: JohnSprung] #2771682
10/12/18 12:27 AM
10/12/18 12:27 AM
Joined: Aug 2008
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South Florida
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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 12:28 AM.

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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: pianoMom2006] #2771693
10/12/18 01:21 AM
10/12/18 01:21 AM
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Orange County, CA
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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.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: AZNpiano] #2771810
10/12/18 10:20 AM
10/12/18 10:20 AM
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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 10:22 AM.

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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: pianoMom2006] #2771860
10/12/18 01:41 PM
10/12/18 01:41 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,907
Orange County, CA
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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 03:17 PM
10/12/18 03:17 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
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Reseda, California
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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.

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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771888
10/12/18 03:24 PM
10/12/18 03:24 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 313
Quebec city, QC
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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
- (Classical piece TBD)
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
- Pozzoli, E.R. 427, etude no. 6
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2771997
10/12/18 09:59 PM
10/12/18 09:59 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,063
Florida
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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?


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: cmb13] #2772025
10/13/18 01:57 AM
10/13/18 01:57 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,907
Orange County, CA
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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.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2772072
10/13/18 07:33 AM
10/13/18 07:33 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 2,063
Florida
cmb13 Online content
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Maybe; personally, I'm a very curious person, and a little obsessive. When I started to learn piano, I had no interest whatsoever in classical music. Couldn't tell Bach from Debussy. As I learned more and more, my curiosity had me delving deeper and deeper, and now I'm hooked! I'll bet there are others out there....


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Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Bach Goldberg Aria
Bach WTC Prelude D min
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2772255
10/13/18 09:34 PM
10/13/18 09:34 PM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 490
Toronto, Canada
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The most I'd go is to play by lead sheets. Learn to read the melody line or play the melody by ear and fill in with left-hand chords.

When it comes to hymns, I play out of a regular hymn book from church so I force myself to learn the pieces as 4-part harmonies: L doing the bass & tenor, R doing the alto & soprano. A lot of hymns have the chord symbols on top. I wouldn't play just the chords without the right-hand melody. Every church hymn has a music scale attached to it either major or minor. I'd learn the associated scale and the number of sharps & flats associated with that scale as well.

Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2772272
10/13/18 11:41 PM
10/13/18 11:41 PM
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California
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Also thought of the ChordPlay books by Forrest. Also check out the non-classical forum.

No he doesn't need a teacher persay, but it's always helpful to have someone guide you when you're new at something. Plus if he has the money to burn, why not. If he didn't say upfront "I don't want to learn how to read", I think you ought to still teach him to read music, but have more emphasis on theory/chords/ear-training than you might typically, so you are sure he will reach his goal. I didn't have that kind of training much, apart from theory books, so I had to learn a lot on my own (lots of a-ha moments as to why theory actually is not just to torture us for exams and can be useful lol...).. I also learned by watching others how to make a leadsheet sound good.. fun bass lines, common progressions, how to achieve different sounds/styles, this sort of thing, as well as practiced training my ear (anticipating the change to a V or a IV chord for example). It is kind of another world it seems, as I learned nothing of the sort in my piano lessons. Books like the Chordplay books make some of the process more systematic and teachable.

Oh yeah, if he has hymns that he wants to play, or a particular book that he wants to be able to play out of, have him bring that so you can find out what skills he's going to need. I play out of a hymnal that is written in SATB. Because I can sight-read well, I can play it, but it's a longer road there I think. Another lady who plays piano but can't sight-read as well knows theory so she writes in the chords ahead of time and plays that way. Works for the purpose.


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: AZNpiano] #2773385
10/17/18 03:37 PM
10/17/18 03:37 PM
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Owen Sound, Ontario
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
...
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.


Do you mean all the students that want to just learn chords are all the same and beyond teaching? How can you say categorically they all have this negative attitude of not wanting to learn anything else? I would suggest they probably don't know exactly what they want, but learning chords is the basis of it.

They still need to be taught how to keep time, when to change chords and how to count. Rhythm will be a big part of teaching this way and where you come in. I agree with CMB13 that there is a lot to be taught.

My Dad taught this way exclusively his entire teaching career to help feed the family. It's why I still play at all to this day, though I've since taken interest in other methods too. It gave me a strong start for understanding how to play piano in not so specific terms, as it did many other students over the years.

It is crazy to single out this group to sink or swim. They can benefit from the one on one help absolutely just as much, and they need the help.

Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: Greener] #2773409
10/17/18 04:59 PM
10/17/18 04:59 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
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Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by Greener
My Dad taught this way exclusively his entire teaching career to help feed the family.

Oh, he is not alone. LOTS of teachers do this out of necessity. Two teachers in my area recently switched from teaching mostly classical to teaching almost exclusively "piano for fun."

You can always give the customers what they want, even when it is not the best thing for them.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2773412
10/17/18 05:12 PM
10/17/18 05:12 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,399
Owen Sound, Ontario
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Most Adults are in it for the fun and it is not up to you to decide what is best for them.

They'll just get the training from somewhere else. You can under estimate them if you wish. Seems like missed opportunity to me.

Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2773470
10/17/18 10:41 PM
10/17/18 10:41 PM
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California
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Hey chasingrainbows, for the 7 chords you really just have to teach the shape, if you don't want to go into scales and such.. actually I'm not really sure how scales would help much. I play 7 chords on lead sheets based on memory of the way the spacing looks on the piano and the sound is feedback to know I'm doing it right. Plus the 7 chord isn't that important anyhow if you're just trying to sing along, ha... just play a regular chord, you'll just be missing a little pizzaz.

Not everyone has money that they want to spend on piano lessons I suppose, and I'd say the best thing for them is whatever is in line with their goals.

Anyhow I don't see why you'd have to skip basics like rhythm and notation, etc.... I think if you explain why you are teaching what you teach and they trust that you're the expert on this kind of thing and are hearing them and planning something totally in line with their goals, they'll hopefully stick it out through some of the boring stuff. Like, hey, if you learn a-z you'll definitely be able to do mnop, and it'll be much easier to do mnop, versus if i just teach you mnop that's all you know of the alphabet. And let him decide. If he wants to play a lead sheet and he wants to play the melody line, he's going to have to learn how to read anyhow.


Piano Teacher in Training
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: hello my name is] #2773499
10/18/18 02:00 AM
10/18/18 02:00 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,907
Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by hello my name is
Not everyone has money that they want to spend on piano lessons I suppose, and I'd say the best thing for them is whatever is in line with their goals.

Right, but have you worked with people like this? Who come to you saying they just want to learn X, Y, and Z? Even though they really should learn A through W before they get to X, Y, and Z?

Would you teach students like this to read bass clef? Or basic notation and rhythm? You probably would, but what are the chances the student is willing to learn all that?


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Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: chasingrainbows] #2773544
10/18/18 06:51 AM
10/18/18 06:51 AM
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Texas
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I've had some curious requests from students before. I try to accommodate them the best I can, but I insist that they must work on some basics in addition to whatever specific thing they are wanting to do. A few cases in point:

  • A gentleman who could read pitches just fine on both clefs, but had never learned note values and was totally clueless about time signatures. He didn't play an instrument, but he sang a lot at church and had realized that his lack of music theory was holding him back. I taught him music theory for two or three months, his sight-singing improved by leaps and bounds, and his goals were met. Last I heard, he was still singing up a storm.
  • A lady who wanted to play the introduction of a certain John Prine song on the mandolin, with a fixed deadline (family reunion). I relish a good challenge. I made her start from the beginning with some very basic music theory, the basics of mandolin technique, and SCALES (especially in the key of the song she wanted to play). She didn't like the scales of course, but she quickly saw the wisdom in practicing them, as mastery of the appropriate scale made the song almost trivial! She performed at her reunion and her goal was met. I don't know if she has continued to play or not.
  • A gentleman who had some very basic bluegrass banjo knowledge but wanted to perform a pop song featuring the banjo (an introduction and a cadenza) at some church event. I insisted that he work on basic right hand patterns, especially those needed for the song. He resigned himself to the boring pattern work, but as with the mandolin lady, he quickly saw the practical application.


(Note: My studio, and my personal practice, is all 100% classical piano now. It used to be about 50/50 piano and "folk" instruments. In a shameful past life, I wandered away from classical and spent several years as a competitive banjo player. The prodigal son returned to classical piano full time some years ago.)

Last edited by Dr. Rogers; 10/18/18 06:52 AM. Reason: Trying to fix the bullet points.

Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
Re: Adult only wants to learn chords? [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2773549
10/18/18 07:25 AM
10/18/18 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers


(Note: My studio, and my personal practice, is all 100% classical piano now. It used to be about 50/50 piano and "folk" instruments. In a shameful past life, I wandered away from classical and spent several years as a competitive banjo player. The prodigal son returned to classical piano full time some years ago.)


grin ha


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