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Teaching seniors and unique challenges #2960157 03/24/20 10:53 PM
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PatG Offline OP
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Just wondering if other teachers see unique challenges with teaching seniors. And what those challenges might be and how you helped overcome them. The reason I ask is I am a senior student in my third year taking lessons. I feel that I'm doing pretty good overall but have some challenges. I have trouble playing as fast as the Sonatina indicates especially with runs. I am a poor sight-reader and playing hymns is much harder for me than playing my other pieces. I was asking my teacher why I have such a hard time with hymns and she mentioned that her other senior student has trouble as well. Thanks


Love learning the piano now that I am retired.
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Re: Teaching seniors and unique challenges [Re: PatG] #2960179 03/25/20 01:06 AM
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Peter K. Mose Offline
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Hi, Pat -

One of the hallmarks of being an adult piano learner of any age is a tendency to beat oneself up over perceived deficits in one's playing. It's hard to cast this viewpoint aside unless you have a teacher who is your constant cheerleader. So it might be time to try a new teacher, either secretly or openly.

Regarding your sonatina, I would wager your tempo *is* fast enough. If you want your runs to be up to speed, then play around with a metronome, and turn those few pesky bars into technical exercises. Your teacher can certainly help you here.

To better your sight-reading, all you need to do is get a few books of pieces that are decidedly easier than you normally work on, and spend 20 minutes a day playing through them. In a year or two, you'll be a fine sight-reader. I'd say save your hymns for later, or play them now as pieces, not as sight-reading material.

Cheers,
Peter

Re: Teaching seniors and unique challenges [Re: PatG] #2960181 03/25/20 01:32 AM
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AZNpiano Online Happy
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Sight reading. That's a perennial problem.

I've seen enough evidence to conclude that poor sight-reading skills come from one or more of the following--

1) The student has not been given sufficient instruction on intervals or intervallic reading at the very beginning

2) The student is being pushed to progress too quickly

3) The student has very little knowledge of music theory

4) The student over-relies on looking at the keyboard to find the keys instead of trusting their knowledge of and familiarity with keyboard topography

5) The student has a very bad sense of rhythm

Another sidetrack on sight reading is how letter names are introduced. If students are taught with the FACE or All Cows Eat Grass method of finding letters, they are not really connecting the location of the key with the note on the page. Very often, there's this intermediate step (the letter name) that gives students pause. In other words, the student may be trained to rattle off the letter names of the notes on the page, but they take forever to find the stupid keys on the piano--because there is not an established intervallic connection BETWEEN notes. For these students, reading each note on the page consists of a note in isolation, in a vacuum, completely devoid of connection to what came before and what comes after.


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Re: Teaching seniors and unique challenges [Re: AZNpiano] #2960194 03/25/20 04:29 AM
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Colin Miles Offline
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Sight reading. That's a perennial problem.


Hi there - coming at it from the other end as someone who has always been over-reliant on my sight reading skills I have been thinking about what helped me to be good at it.

1) I'm a fast reader.
2) Good spatial awareness.
3) I had perfect pitch as far as the piano went so I knew instantly when I played a wrong note.
And finally, I was obedient. The teacher told me not to look at the keys. So I never did and that probably helped develop 2).

Not sure if any of this helps you.


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: Teaching seniors and unique challenges [Re: PatG] #2960198 03/25/20 05:18 AM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by PatG
I am a senior student in my third year taking lessons. I feel that I'm doing pretty good overall but have some challenges.
I was asking my teacher why I have such a hard time with hymns and she mentioned that her other senior student has trouble as well. Thanks

You're beating yourself up when you're probably doing fine for your level, 3 years into lessons. You can't expect to be able to sight-read hymns (in 4-part harmony, I assume) fluently for a while yet - and I'm talking a few more years.

This is a typical standard of sight-reading for a student after three years of lessons:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnVQEBmVYJU

How do you compare? (Bear in mind that you're playing it slowly, and you're probably going to have a few wrong notes, which don't matter as long as you keep going - with correct rhythm.)


"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: Teaching seniors and unique challenges [Re: PatG] #2960226 03/25/20 09:11 AM
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malkin Offline
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Hi PatG

I've been at this piano lesson game for longer than I ever imagined and making rather slow progress. I used to worry that my progress was inadequate and that my teacher would fire me in a search for "better" students. But he hasn't done, after all this time. I keep paying him and we both keep showing up (present circumstances excepted).

I still enjoy the process and wish you the same!


Learner
Re: Teaching seniors and unique challenges [Re: PatG] #2960306 03/25/20 01:34 PM
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PatG Offline OP
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Thank you everyone for your comments. To clarify one thing, I'm not trying to sight-read hymns, just trying to learn them. The hymn book is Hymns Re-Harmonized by Carol Tornquist. Each hymn has 2 pages. The first page is just like the traditional hymn and the second page has been re-harmonized with more notes, chords, little runs etc. It usually takes a 2-3 weeks for the traditional hymn and several more weeks for the second page.
bennevis - I did try the sight-reading from the youtube you sent and was able to that with no trouble. So maybe I'm doing just fine with sight-reading. Sight-reading is part of my lesson, so I do work on it each week.


Love learning the piano now that I am retired.
Re: Teaching seniors and unique challenges [Re: PatG] #2960311 03/25/20 01:37 PM
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Hey Pat
Sent you a PM


"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
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Teaching seniors and unique challenges [Re: PatG] #2960602 03/26/20 09:32 AM
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malkin Offline
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Originally Posted by PatG
Thank you everyone for your comments. To clarify one thing, I'm not trying to sight-read hymns, just trying to learn them. The hymn book is Hymns Re-Harmonized by Carol Tornquist. Each hymn has 2 pages. The first page is just like the traditional hymn and the second page has been re-harmonized with more notes, chords, little runs etc. It usually takes a 2-3 weeks for the traditional hymn and several more weeks for the second page.
bennevis - I did try the sight-reading from the youtube you sent and was able to that with no trouble. So maybe I'm doing just fine with sight-reading. Sight-reading is part of my lesson, so I do work on it each week.



This sounds like you are doing just fine!
If you want to move through some pieces more quickly, throw a few easier ones into the mix.


Learner
Re: Teaching seniors and unique challenges [Re: Colin Miles] #2960818 03/26/20 07:46 PM
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AZNpiano Online Happy
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
1) I'm a fast reader.
2) Good spatial awareness.
3) I had perfect pitch as far as the piano went so I knew instantly when I played a wrong note.
And finally, I was obedient. The teacher told me not to look at the keys. So I never did and that probably helped develop 2).

Well, it's a perennial problem since I see quite a bit of it every year at testing.

For my students, as long as they follow directions, they all can read notes fluently. Just this morning my level 3 and level 5 students were sight reading their new pieces almost flawlessly the very first time. My students are typically sight reading AT level--meaning, if they are testing at level 5, they can sight read level 5 music no problem. Even some of my students who are "behind" at school can sight read decently.

But that also means some of the slower kids are moving at a snail's pace, since that's how fast they will ever progress at anything. Basically, if they are still struggling with lines and spaces after a year of piano, I'll keep them playing lines and spaces until they vomit. They can stay in the 2A level of the method book for the next six years.

I am not exaggerating. Some of these kids are probably special ed, but their parents are too afraid to slap that label on their kids.


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