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How to progress through a beginner's book?
#2998438 07/03/20 10:38 PM
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Context: I'm 48 and a rank beginner. Extent of my prior musical experience was teaching myself how to play Axel F by ear on a Casio keyboard in the mid-80s. Nearly 40 years later, 2 of my kids play and I thought I'd fulfill a dream and learn, too. So I've picked up Faber's Adult Piano Adventures Book 1, and have begun my way through it. So it must be the plague passes and in-person lessons with teachers become an option again, alas!

Questions: how do I know when I'm 'done' with a page? Should I dwell on a page until it's mastered, or not sweat perfection, and revisit many times?

What I've specifically been doing is this: I sit down with the book. I start at the beginning (or say back 10 pages from my high water mark) and go through each page until feel like I grok the concepts and can perform with no mistakes. Thus I continue, page after page, until it gets hard. That's where I practice most. Then I go one more page beyond my comfort level (or ability to get it perfectly right), and do what I can. ...Next day, I do the same thing, starting ~10 pages back from where I left off the day before. I've been getting a bit further each time, but I'm not sure if this is a good way to practice, and would like to sanity check.

Thank you for any thoughts or study pointers!


Kawai K-500
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Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998442 07/03/20 11:30 PM
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Hi! I too am an adult beginner with just a few years under my belt. I worked though a couple books and I did the same approach as you but then I found that going back and repeating the pages I wasn't gaining much more and learned that my time was better spent working on the current lesson or ahead. IMO if you feel you got the concept from the lesson/page and played it well move on and maybe revisit on occasion down the road. What I did love is when I'd go back to an earlier lesson in a book and it remembering how difficult it was at that moment and present day it was much easier to play it. For me I found I would spend about week on each lesson/song in the book.

Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998445 07/03/20 11:39 PM
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needless to say many piano teachers are providing lessons on Zoom (and alternative platforms).

your method at the moment sounds fine and avoids rushing through the book as some adults do. This also gives you plenty of reading experience. Certainly once you have learned what you think is the intended lesson of a piece, it is not sufficient to master it before moving on. Some concepts will come easy and some will be hard for a long while, but needed delay progress.


Following Trying to follow the Ling Ling 40 hour method

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998462 07/04/20 01:34 AM
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@Sebs - Thanks for the gut check.

@earlofmar - Thank you. On piano teachers -- Yes, my kids have shifted their lessons to online video calls, and they have maintained some momentum. I'm of course in a different situation, lacking a teacher and being a complete newcomer. I can't imagine that it's a good time to find a teacher and start lessons -- so I'll keep up with self-study, supplemented with additional music theory reading and a bunch of preparatory-level YouTube videos.


Kawai K-500
Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998471 07/04/20 02:09 AM
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Welcome to PW, Planet!

When I didn't have a teacher yet, my rule was that I have to be able to play a piece well on three different days, not necessarily on the first try that day, but without extensive practising, before I let go of that piece. Furthermore, on one of these days I would make a recording. So personally, I have always had the habit to not stop practising a piece when I got the concept, but also to make sure that I "master" a piece in its entirety before moving on.

Also, in the beginning, once I got through the first book (Alfred's in my case - on hindsight I would have preferred Piano Adventures), I felt the need to repeat the book, so I did just that, parallel to working with book 2.

Have you checked out the video's and teaching pages of Faber? It is a very good complement to your book. For instance: Articulation and the wrist.

Animisha


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998494 07/04/20 05:19 AM
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Hi Planet

Welcome to the group of us that are learning with the Faber Adult Piano Adventures.
If you have not done so I would encourage you to look at the Faber graduates thread In this we discuss all sorts of questions regarding Faber Piano adventures and have group members at all levels of the learning journey. The tiltle is deciving as it is as much for beginers of the Faber books as much as for graduates. its certaily worth check out. we are a very suportive bunch.

Re your question. Once you feel confidant with what the Unit is teaching I would then move on rather than go back. I have found that with the Adult Piano Adventure books once a particular topic or technique is introduced it is then incordporated into future pieces to help you be able to consolidate the topic or technique. This helps reinforce the Learning .

That said I would not be in a hurry to rush through the Units. Take you time and only move on when you are confidant that you understand what is being taught .

If you have not done so already I would also encorage you to get the app that accompanies the books. This has all the music so you can practice it hands seperatly or together and can vary the speed of the piece so you can learn it . it also contains all the accompaying videos which demonstrate what each unit is teaching .

I would also say dont be discouraged when you come to a sticking point in your learning, we all do at some time or other. The key is then breaking down what the problem is and working throgh it . The group of us on the Faber graduates thread are all very suportive of each other and can give the encouragement that is sometimes needed as well as hopefully being able to answer any questions that you may have

i wish you all the best with your piano journey.


Using Faber Adult Piano Adventures AIO Book 1
Currently working on Unit 16
Also working with Faber Technique and Artistry book 2
Playing on a Rolands HP 505 Digital Piano
Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998567 07/04/20 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by planet
@Sebs - Thanks for the gut check.

@earlofmar - Thank you. On piano teachers -- Yes, my kids have shifted their lessons to online video calls, and they have maintained some momentum. I'm of course in a different situation, lacking a teacher and being a complete newcomer. I can't imagine that it's a good time to find a teacher and start lessons -- so I'll keep up with self-study, supplemented with additional music theory reading and a bunch of preparatory-level YouTube videos.

I also did self study for some time. I just started lessons about 8 months ago and I do enjoy them but sure seems like a lot more work hahah. I did get bored with books so wondering did you pick out a piece to also learn along side your book lessons?

Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998625 07/04/20 11:15 AM
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If there are metronome speeds on your music, when you get to a point where you have mastered the piece, try playing the piece at that speed.

I learnt from doing Piano Marvel that what I thought was an acceptable performance of a piece actually had a lot of room for improvement.
When reading paper music, it's very easy, especially when changing hand positions, to make an allowance and miss a beat. The metronome will expose this delay which should be ironed out. I won’t move on until I have no hesitation at all throughout the piece and as well as sounding good, it actually looks good. By that I mean that my hands are relaxed and comfortable on the keys and that there is no painful looking contortions, hesitations, jerky movements, etc.

It may sound silly but when I feel that I have mastered a piece, I pretend that I’m a concert pianist giving a performance. I sit up straight and try to play it with as much grace and style as I can muster.

Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
treefrog #2998648 07/04/20 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by treefrog
...
When reading paper music, it's very easy, especially when changing hand positions, to make an allowance and miss a beat. The metronome will expose this delay which should be ironed out...
A while after starting sax, I bought a high quality handy recorder (zoom H2n) and recorded something I thought was fine... So many beat skips among other problems! It took a good while to sort everything out once done there was a valuable improvement all round.
So, maybe, once you can listen to a recording of yourself without feeling queasy, that's a benchmark.

Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
treefrog #2998658 07/04/20 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by treefrog
If there are metronome speeds on your music, when you get to a point where you have mastered the piece, try playing the piece at that speed.

I learnt from doing Piano Marvel that what I thought was an acceptable performance of a piece actually had a lot of room for improvement.
When reading paper music, it's very easy, especially when changing hand positions, to make an allowance and miss a beat. The metronome will expose this delay which should be ironed out. I won’t move on until I have no hesitation at all throughout the piece and as well as sounding good, it actually looks good. By that I mean that my hands are relaxed and comfortable on the keys and that there is no painful looking contortions, hesitations, jerky movements, etc.

This is very good advice. You think you’ve mastered a piece...then you try playing it with a metronome...and then you quickly realize you haven’t!


Kawai K-500
Casio PX-735 (in retirement)
Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998713 07/04/20 02:48 PM
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Thanks for all the kind and helpful responses!

@Animisha - Thank you for referencing the Faber site. I've not been using it, though I have been using the app and watching YouTube videos of the pieces (some of which were unfamiliar to me by title alone). I'll add it to the list of things to reference! Self-study is non-trivial. smile

@CognitaP - Noting that the instruction builds and necessarily repeats is useful. Thank you. I may lower my "ready to proceed" wall a bit, I think!

On the Faber graduates thread -- Oh, I didn't realize it was for people actually working on the books. Yikes, poorly named indeed! I'll check it out. (Should someone perhaps edit it?)

On speed and recording for improvement -- Yes, agree. But this seems like it's more useful for people a bit further along than Book 1, Unit 1... say, people working on a specific piece?


Kawai K-500
Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998720 07/04/20 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by planet
Thanks for all the kind and helpful responses!

@Animisha - Thank you for referencing the Faber site. I've not been using it, though I have been using the app and watching YouTube videos of the pieces (some of which were unfamiliar to me by title alone). I'll add it to the list of things to reference! Self-study is non-trivial. smile

@CognitaP - Noting that the instruction builds and necessarily repeats is useful. Thank you. I may lower my "ready to proceed" wall a bit, I think!

On the Faber graduates thread -- Oh, I didn't realize it was for people actually working on the books. Yikes, poorly named indeed! I'll check it out. (Should someone perhaps edit it?)

On speed and recording for improvement -- Yes, agree. But this seems like it's more useful for people a bit further along than Book 1, Unit 1... say, people working on a specific piece?

Just to clarify, in case I didn’t make it clear, I was not implying that you should play the piece fast but to play the entire piece at the correct tempo.
I found that I cheated on some pieces in the past by playing parts at one speed and others slower because they were more difficult.
If need be, slow the tempo down the speed of the difficult sections but I do believe that you should get to a point in any piece where the tempo is consistent throughout. You can speed it up later.

As Mizmar said, recording can be a great tool. They expose a multitude of sins and in particular 'hesitation'.

Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998721 07/04/20 03:17 PM
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I too suggest watching Dr. Faber's instructional videos for each lesson, either on youtube or via the app, before you start work on each piece, both the first time and each day that you're struggling to learn that same piece. That's probably as close as you can come to getting personal lessons.

And I agree with previous posters that you should be able to stress-test the piece with a metronome, and/or make a recording that doesn't make you cringe before moving on. You don't necessarily need to play it mistake free, but you need to be able to continue on from your mistake as opposed to being completely derailed.

Remember, mantaining a steady rhythm is at least as important as hitting the right notes. As a beginner without a teacher, you'll find that you're actually surprisingly unlikely to be able to gauge this correctly without using a metronome or recording yourself.

You need to be able to see if it actually comes out sounding like music, which is hard to do while your brain is fully engaged with concentrating on hitting the right notes at the right time.


Please step aside. You're standing in your own way.
Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998727 07/04/20 03:38 PM
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Just one more point about tempo.

On Piano Marvel, in order to get 100% on each piece, you need to be able to play the piece perfectly within a certain time limit.
So for example I may have had pieces that needs to be played at 80bpm within 85 seconds.
I'll keep playing this in practice mode until I get the time down to 70 seconds.
But when I attempt it in access mode, I fail.
This is because I can play the easy bits much faster than necessary but I can’t play the more difficult parts fast enough.

And it’s those difficult parts that are the most important.

Re: How to progress through a beginner's book?
planet #2998748 07/04/20 04:26 PM
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I'm in adult group class with 6 people. The last book the teacher got us to buy was a songbook full of Jazz pieces in the intermediate level. We pick and choose songs at random instead of going through them in order.

I'd play through a song once or a few times to determine what the sections are and work on each individually. Places you see repeat signs indicate the break of a section. A song that is 1 page long at the beginner level I can run through it in half an hour because my sight-reading skills is at a higher level.

In the beginning of learning a new song I'd play very slowly and 1 section at a time. The way I know if I'm done with a section is to make a quick recording with a phone or another portable device. I'll listen for places that needs improvement and just work on the weak spots. Don't be tempted to repeat a piece from the beginning each time. It's too time-consuming and not good for your fingers.


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