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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: keystring] #2943912 02/07/20 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by dogperson
hi michael
Welcome to the forum!
I hope one of the teachers on this forum can answer your question about how Alfreds and Fabre method books compare as to grading. Alas Keystring and I are not teachers so we don’t have the experience of teaching from the two series.

Dogperson, I have in fact done some music teaching at this point. Other than that, I am a trained and experienced teacher outside of music specializing in the formative years. Method books are like textbooks in that they are teaching tools, and how they are used is at least as important than which books to use.

I am sure that any of the teachers here would answer as I have tried to. To know where you are at requires looking at what you are doing, how you are doing it, and listening to what you are doing.

When a novice asks a question, it may be the "wrong question", because there may be other factors at stake. It has happened to me more than once where when I asked a question, a teacher taught me something that seemed to have nothing to do with my question, but ultimately led me to what I needed, which either made the question moot, or answered the essence of it. I don't know if you have had the experience as well. wink

Quote
The OP has now heard now five times about getting a teacher without having his question answer. Does someone know the answer?


The answer is probably that it is not the right question to ask. A piece being slated as level X or Y in two different books doesn't tell us what either book teaches, that will go into the playing. My guess is that if the "adult" book has the piece earlier, that it probably skips some important things.


My post was not intended to imply that you were not qualified to provide the information that you did; it was useful to the OP. I only hoped that someone who had taught using these method books could answer the question about comparable difficulty between Fabers and Alfred. No intent more than that.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: dogperson] #2943934 02/07/20 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
The OP has now heard now five times about getting a teacher without having his question answer. Does someone know the answer?

I ignored the question on purpose because it is completely irrelevant.

Can you do long division by hand without having the multiplication table memorized? Of course you can, but the process will be stupidly slow and painful. I actually saw a classroom full of such students when subbed for my colleague for one class period. This is what happens when you try to do something more difficult without having mastered the foundation.


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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: TimR] #2943940 02/07/20 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by TimR
I'm an example - self taught, full of awkward habits (though I made some progress by videoing myself and trying to imitate good players).

But it's not because I didn't have a teacher at all. I went through several, all of whom were willing to correct my wrong notes assuming I couldn't hear them - totally wrong; none of whom were skilled enough to work on those habits even though I asked.

That argument is not germane to the situation we have here with the OP. Maybe you wouldn't have to suffer so much if you had started with a teacher in the first place?

Of course not all piano teachers are equipped to deal with damaged goods; the same argument can be made about not all piano students are equipped to learn piano.

I think I'm pretty capable as a teacher who reverses bad habits in students, yet I still find myself battling problems YEARS after the student has come to study with me. Add to that problem students who don't practice, don't listen, and don't have an IQ of 49--then you can see the type of uphill battles I'm facing every day.


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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: AZNpiano] #2944031 02/07/20 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I ignored the question on purpose because it is completely irrelevant.

I suspect that your reasoning was the same as mine. That is why I wrote that if teachers do write in, they would say similar to what I tried to. Asking about levels of a piece or a method series, misses the whole issue of what goes into learning. A given piece can be "taught" without playing being taught, and the result in what the student has learned to do and know is what matters.

Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: keystring] #2944061 02/07/20 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I ignored the question on purpose because it is completely irrelevant.

I suspect that your reasoning was the same as mine. That is why I wrote that if teachers do write in, they would say similar to what I tried to. Asking about levels of a piece or a method series, misses the whole issue of what goes into learning. A given piece can be "taught" without playing being taught, and the result in what the student has learned to do and know is what matters.

This whole "levels" thing is random and arbitrary, and people who don't know much about piano repertoire can easily get confused by making assumptions, such as "if I mastered 2B then I can play everything in 2A."

I can easily make a comparison between method book series, or tell the OP where the piece fits exactly, but what good would that do?


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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: AZNpiano] #2944069 02/07/20 07:18 PM
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I thank everyone for commenting on my post. I did not mean to create a hornets nest.

It is not surprising that the responses have been to get a teacher. And I agree. There are a lot of pitfalls involved in self-teaching yourself piano. As a matter of fact if someone were to ask me about learning piano, I would say get a teacher. There is no doubt having an experienced pianist with teaching experience is an advantage. They will immediately pick up on improper technique and help you correct it. The motivation of an adult is to learn to play there favorite piano pieces. As such, many, if not most, adults will rush to get through the basics and never master proper technique. Are you doing a retardando as indicated on the sheet music, are you accenting a note that has the accent symbol over it (^), are you paying attention to dynamics (Piano, Forte, Mezzo-forte, crescendo, decrescendo) and playing the notes accordingly, are you holding the note with a formata over it a little longer, is your tempo at the proper speed, are there any breaks in the tempo as you play, are you paying attention to the sound coming from the keys, are you getting a good staccato, are you getting a good legato. etc. etc. Many adults who self-teach themselves give up in frustration, like my wife’s sister.

Let me tell about how I practice. I look the practice piece over to get acquainted with it; paying close attention to the notation. I will practice the left hand alone. I will practice the right alone. I will practice both hands together after I am doing will with single hand only. I start playing the piece at a slow tempo, and gradually increase to the proper tempo as my fingering gets better. When both hands are playing well I then begin focusing on the finer points of the piece (dynamics, accents, retardando, crescendo, decrescendo, formata, etc.). I will not progress to the next practice piece until I have mastered the preceding practice piece no matter how long it takes. I even spent 6 hours one day practicing. Much of it just getting the fingers of both hands to play C Major and G7 chords together. I do not have very agile fingers and I was having a very difficult time getting my fingers to play those chords in succession. I practice scales, I practice from the fingerpower book, I practice Hanon, I practice Leschetizky. These have all helped in strengthening my fingers and improving my technique generally. I also share my recordings of practice pieces with my wife’s sister for her feedback. She is an accomplished pianist. Video would be better and I have been seriously considering doing that.

The reason I made the post is that teaching a young student starting as young as 5 or so years old is not the same as teaching an adult for a variety of reasons. Therefore, the curriculum for a younger student is designed differently from the curriculum as taught to an adult. Wether the curriculum is from Faber, Alfred’s, Neil A. Kjos, or another source, it generally covers ten levels, with perhaps a preparatory level. Adult courses are not set up anything like that. The Alfred’s course I am using, Adult All-In-One Course, has three levels, which in no way shape, or, form corresponds to the first three levels of the curriculum designed for the younger student. So I was curious about the difficulty level of the Tarantella by Frank Lynes as compared to the difficulty level of where I was at in the Alfred’s course I am learning. The Tarantella has to be at least a little bit above the level I was at when I started learning it. First off, my method book had not even introduced staccato yet. Secondly, playing staccato in the left hand and legato in the right hand is difficult. At least for me. Third is the proper tempo for a Tarentella; it is a pretty fast tempo. The tempo was much faster than anything I had played before.

I can tell you this. Learning the Tarantella helped my technique a lot. My fingers and wrists have become much more relaxed and my technique has become more fluid.

I am going to try and add a recording of the Tarantella to this post to share with you. I am also going to try and a rendition of the Tarantella performed by Christopher Brent as a point of comparison, as well as a link pointing to the sheet music. By the way, I am not saying my playing of the Tarantella was perfect. I just think it is very good. However, I continue to work on the piece.

Again, I want to thank you all for your comments.

[video:yahoo]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS4OL4d_9Fo[/video][video:yahoo]https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QzC1s-BMHd0[/video][img]https://michaelkravchuk.com/free-piano-sheet-music-tarantella-op-14-no-8-frank-lynes/[/img]

Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: MToledo] #2944153 02/08/20 02:44 AM
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I wasn't telling you to get a teacher. I was telling you that self assessment is difficult when you are just starting out. If you have a source (eg your wife's sister) you can get feedback. I wrote about my experience with my teacher because that is a source for feedback. I was saying that sometimes I think I played very well but it turned out not to be the case. You also see many such examples on youtube. Obviously the person thought it was good enough to be videotaped and put on youtube, but it's actually pretty bad. Not saying your playing is bad just that your post was asking for assessment of progress but you did not give much info. There are people who don't care about progressing fast and don't want to get a teacher. No one is telling them to get a teacher. They are self learners who do not care how they compare to others. It seems you are trying to find out if you are doing much better than the average beginner. And for that feedback you'd need someone (for example a teacher) who has worked with other students and who won't just give you polite empty praises.

Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: MToledo] #2944164 02/08/20 04:14 AM
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The Kjos repertoire books were put together to correspond to our state program, CM, so I will use that as a starting point.

Method books take students from the beginning to some stage of proficiency, where they can learn music without the tight structure of a planned series. I know a lot of teachers take students out of method books around 2B or 3A, but I've advised people to stay in method books as long as possible because it is tempting to take students out of method books too early.

The "preparatory" level of the Kjos repertoire books are roughly at the 1B or 2A level; however, the problem is that composers did not set out to write a 1B or 2A piece. The concept of "levels" did not enter the minds of composers. As a result, the preparatory-level repertoire book is terrible for beginners. That's misconception number one: preparatory = rank beginner. In reality, those "preparatory" books should be used by kids after having finished the 2A book, at the earliest.

I have seen way too many Transfer Wrecks who have been taken out of method book series too soon. The foundation just isn't there, and I've had to take these kids all the way down to low, low levels.


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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: AZNpiano] #2944456 02/08/20 06:44 PM
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Hello everyone.

First let me start off by addressing wszxbcl. I was not saying that you personally were telling me to get a teacher. I was just commenting that in general the feeling was I should get a teacher. My apologies for the misunderstanding.

Second I want to thank AZNpiano sharing insights into the Neil A. Kjos books, method books in general, and the conundrum of levels.

Now on to what I wanted to say in this post. I believe I have found the answer to my question. One of the pieces I was listening to as I was learning to play Tarantella was performed by Dr. Alan Huckleberry from The University of Iowa School of Music. I noticed it was a piece from the University of Iowa Piano pedagogy Video Recording Project (UIPianoPed).

I stumbled onto a thread from this very forum from way back in 2014. Kreisler was commenting on UIPianoPed. He made a comparison of the IMTA level system to the RCM level system. He stated that IMTA Level B corresponded to RCM 2-3. The Tarantella is classified as a level B piece.

I also stumbled onto the pianotv.net website. It has material on it that coordinates with the RCM study materials. It states that grade 2 piano generally corresponds with fourth year of piano as a child and oftentimes the second year of piano as an adult, depending on how much work is put into studying.

I have been studying about half a year. Following the general guidelines as stated on pianotv based on how long I have been studying tells me the Tarantella was definitely above my skill level when I started learning it.

I have watched a few of the videos at the IMTA B Level. These are all adults playing them. I can definitely say that all those pianists are well above my skill level.

But, at the end of the day, AZNpiano is correct. Looking at skill level and comparing myself to other piano students is irrelevant and not a good thing to do. We all have different abilities and learn at different speeds.

I have no illusions. I am no Mozart. And I really do not know how far I will be able to progress. I am just going to enjoy the journey.

Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: MToledo] #2944475 02/08/20 07:16 PM
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MToledo, You might want to join us over on the ABF (Adult Beginner Forum). smile Lots of people at your level and finding their way. If they use the familiar "get a teacher", you can already tell them you heard it over hear already wink


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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: MToledo] #2944478 02/08/20 07:33 PM
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The OP is not alone in being confused by all this "levels." We have piano teachers who start students in those Kjos "preparatory" books and expect the kids to sink or swim. It is not uncommon to see lower level students struggle mightily in sight reading, because they were never taught how to read notes properly in the first place! Some teachers don't use method books. It's fine if they know what they are doing, but the ones I've seen all have horrid results.

I actually had a Transfer Wreck whose previous teacher used Czerny Op. 599 as her "method book." She did know how to read notes, but it's done so slowly and painfully, she had no fluency whatsoever. I put her all the way down to Alfred Premier 2A, and then her mom complained "why is the music so easy?" Ugh!


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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: MToledo] #2944518 02/08/20 10:50 PM
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I got too busy to be able to respond right away. Having read your reasoning, I can better understand how you came to the question that you initially put. The way you described your practise, is also not mindless or a stubborn bulldozing, but along musical goals, as you see them, and according to what you have read. There are good things to this.

I'd like to address one thing you wrote, because this is an issue that is important to me personally, and I have put a lot of thought and research into it, as well as experience.
Originally Posted by MToledo
The reason I made the post is that teaching a young student starting as young as 5 or so years old is not the same as teaching an adult for a variety of reasons.

First we must look at "teaching" vs. teaching, "learning" vs. learning. My history includes learning music totally on my own as a child, coming with that to a new instrument which is known to be especially technically difficult (violin), when almost 50 - what happened there - and getting a piano again after 35 years and relearning / undoing the self-taught things. Due to the violin experience, I looked very hard at what learning & teaching music was about. I had excellent early success, and advanced very fast for the first year. Then things went wrong. After I sorted things out, I saw some similar patterns in piano learning.

I insist on "learning like a child" - but real learning, not "learning". Playing an instrument involves not just abstract intellectual concepts (where adults excel), but direct physical actions and experience, the senses of sight and sound, and other elements that I have mentioned before, all working together ---- in SIMPLICITY. There needs to be time for the the body and senses to form new pathways. In addition, the senses and body often should lead the mind - because if the mind leads, then you are imagining what you are hearing, imagining what you are doing, based on what you know intellectually you ought to hear and do. I hope this makes sense. A child is in the moment, and a child works with simple things.

We will get at the fancy stuff faster than a child - at the music faster than a child - but as we zoom ahead, we end up missing the foundations that the child gets, and this trips us up later on. If a child is being taught well, in the way I understand well, I want to be taught like that child is being taught. If the child is being taught superficially; copy me like a parrot-marionette cone to pass grades and impress parents, I don't want to be taught like that child. And I'd like that child not to be "taught" that way either.

Quote
Adult courses are not set up anything like that. The Alfred’s course I am using, Adult All-In-One Course, has three levels, which in no way shape, or, form corresponds to the first three levels of the curriculum designed for the younger student,

I am tempted to say, "Yes. Unfortunately." wink

Quote
As such, many, if not most, adults will rush to get through the basics and never master proper technique. Are you doing a retardando as indicated on the sheet music, are you accenting a note that has the accent symbol over it (^), are you paying attention to dynamics (Piano, Forte, Mezzo-forte, crescendo, decrescendo) and playing the notes accordingly, are you holding the note with a formata over it a little longer, is your tempo at the proper speed, are there any breaks in the tempo as you play, are you paying attention to the sound coming from the keys, are you getting a good staccato, are you getting a good legato. etc. etc.


I am a whole bunch of layers below where you are starting (ritardando, accents, dynamics etc.) I was once shown two simple things and told, "There is no technique. This is all there is. Technique is everything." Staccato vs. legato is merely an element of time --- how close of an overlap do you have between notes? One might even say that staccato is "easier" than a legato created by the hand. And this is the child thing.

Quote
I can tell you this. Learning the Tarantella helped my technique a lot. My fingers and wrists have become much more relaxed and my technique has become more fluid.

This I can accept and relate to. There is an "elastic band theory" where you aim past where you are, learn new things to stretch past (as long as you don't mess yourself up in what you are doing), and since you have "stretched, when you go back to your original level, you're playing better.

Quote
By the way, I am not saying my playing of the Tarantella was perfect. I just think it is very good.

Being satisfied with what you have reached, at this time, is an important thing to be able to do. The real question that I ask myself, wearing the student hat,is always "what do I need to still learn?" and then go after that.

Quote
I am going to try and add a recording of the Tarantella to this post to share with you.

It is indeed a recording. We cannot see, and it is understandable that you would not want to share a video of yourself publicly. It is already brave of you to share this. And it is not bad.

Here is when I will share with you. I played this when I first got back to piano after 35 years, where I had self-taught as a child. I was showing my ability to sight read and later let my present teacher hear it. Can you hear the problem that he heard?

https://soundcloud.com/usernewtothis/sightreadkuhl-1

,
,
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Answer: Some of the notes fade out and aren't heard at all. I did not know how to move my hands or the "playing apparatus". And it was only when my teacher could see me, rather than hearing a recording, that the whole thing came to light. My "weakness" was that I could imagine how I wanted music to sound, but did not have good physical strategies for getting at that sound, or for developing those skills in stages. These are just things to have in mind.

This is why the name of a piece, by itself, does not say enough. How is it being played at which level - what skills etc. etc. But I think you are getting that picture now. It is a good discussion.

Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: MToledo] #2945549 02/11/20 12:50 PM
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Michael - welcome to the madness smile

I'll attempt to answer your question, from my perspective as an adult beginner who has been learning for 18 months now, with a reacher from day 1. We started with the Alfred All in One book 1, then once I had completed that we did book 2. For the past 6 months we are working on pieces from various genres, some that I find and others my teacher gives me. In searching for pieces to work on, I quickly realized that the Alfred books did not give me knowledge or experience sufficient to evaluate the difficulty level, particularly classical repertoire which is almost entirely absent from the first two books. Eventually I've become better with the help of my teacher and with suggestions from this forum in finding appropriate pieces. But it's important to be aware that there are so many caveats to assigning a “level” to a piece that it is as others have said meaningless, other than as a very rough guide.

So after finishing the first two Alfred books and working on various pieces during the past six months, I find that I can learn pieces in the early elementary to elementary range in a week or less - proper tempo, and dynamics in place. Some elementary pieces take a bit longer; most late elementary pieces take weeks to learn.

To answer your direct question, I think if you are part way through the first Alfred you are roughly past the absolute beginner phase and are in the early elementary range. So the Tarantella piece is perhaps at a higher level, provided the Faber system of ranking pieces corresponds at all to the Alfred way.

Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: studiocentrale] #2945763 02/11/20 10:54 PM
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First off, I want to thank keystring for listening to my recording.

I wanted to share my experience with everyone who participated in this post string.

I discovered that there is a music conservatory in my area. I was so excited about it I went to see it last Saturday. I met with Herbert Waltl. He is the president, artistic director, and piano instructor there. I told him I was self-teaching myself. He asked if I was interested in being taught piano. I said I would certainly be honored to learn at the conservatory. We set up an appointment to meet today (Tuesday). I officially got my first lesson with him. I was so nervous I got brain freeze. And I felt somewhat intimidated having an instructor sitting next to me. They use the Royal Conservatory of Music curriculum as they are affiliated with them. I noticed right away that the preparatory books are more advanced then my method book. After my first lesson he told me I should be able to handle the preparatory level A book and gave me three pieces to practice for next week. He did not have to correct any bad habits. I was so gratified that he thought I could handle the preparatory A material. It is sooo different having an instructor sitting next to you.

Thanks for everyone sharing their thoughts with me.

Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: MToledo] #2945770 02/11/20 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by MToledo
First off, I want to thank keystring for listening to my recording.

I wanted to share my experience with everyone who participated in this post string.

I discovered that there is a music conservatory in my area. I was so excited about it I went to see it last Saturday. I met with Herbert Waltl. He is the president, artistic director, and piano instructor there. I told him I was self-teaching myself. He asked if I was interested in being taught piano. I said I would certainly be honored to learn at the conservatory. We set up an appointment to meet today (Tuesday). I officially got my first lesson with him. I was so nervous I got brain freeze. And I felt somewhat intimidated having an instructor sitting next to me. They use the Royal Conservatory of Music curriculum as they are affiliated with them. I noticed right away that the preparatory books are more advanced then my method book. After my first lesson he told me I should be able to handle the preparatory level A book and gave me three pieces to practice for next week. He did not have to correct any bad habits. I was so gratified that he thought I could handle the preparatory A material. It is sooo different having an instructor sitting next to you.

Thanks for everyone sharing their thoughts with me.


That’s wonderful to hear!

I started with Faber Adult All in One Book 1, then moved onto Prep A, then Prep B, did the Prep B exam and now am working on Grade 1. I also found moving from the method book to Prep A “difficult” because the pieces are quite “different”. They do take you out of your comfort zone, whereas the method books seem to keep you in your comfort zone. That’s how I would describe it. I’m glad I’m taking this route though. It’s very rewarding.

Good luck to you!


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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: WeakLeftHand] #2945880 02/12/20 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
That’s wonderful to hear!

I started with Faber Adult All in One Book 1, then moved onto Prep A, then Prep B, did the Prep B exam and now am working on Grade 1. I also found moving from the method book to Prep A “difficult” because the pieces are quite “different”. They do take you out of your comfort zone, whereas the method books seem to keep you in your comfort zone. That’s how I would describe it. I’m glad I’m taking this route though. It’s very rewarding.

Good luck to you!

I want to echo WeakLeftHand in saying that as a piano student, I find the RCM syllabus very interesting and found even the taking of exams to be interesting (exciting even!). I've taken one exam and will certainly be taking more. BTW, we have a thread on this forum for talking about RCM and the RCM exams. It's this one here.


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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: MToledo] #2946034 02/12/20 02:27 PM
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AZNpiano Offline
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Originally Posted by MToledo
I noticed right away that the preparatory books are more advanced then my method book. After my first lesson he told me I should be able to handle the preparatory level A book and gave me three pieces to practice for next week. He did not have to correct any bad habits. I was so gratified that he thought I could handle the preparatory A material. .

Anybody with normal intelligence can handle the stuff in Prep A by the end of the first year in piano lessons. Most can go on to Prep B. Any method book series that has been systematically developed can get you to Prep A and Prep B no problem. But you might have to work on your sight reading eventually. It takes effort to read notes and count beats at the same time.


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Re: Comparative Learning Level [Re: AZNpiano] #2946187 02/13/20 12:12 AM
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MToledo Offline OP
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Thank you for the complement AZNpiano. I have been self-teaching myself for 6 months and I am only about halfway through my method book (Alfred’s All-In-One Piano Course). It took that long to get that far because early on it was a struggle to master practice pieces. I mean taking hours of practice on a piece. Now I can learn a piece in the method book in about an I hour or two. That means playing the piece with total, or near, total proficiency.

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