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#485792 - 12/10/07 06:08 PM Internet piano lesson self help websites
MrFrench Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/24/07
Posts: 34
Loc: Lyon, France
Internet piano lesson and self-help websites

Hello PW players,
A relative newbie to PW I’ve been impressed by the wealth of information that you guys share.
So I wondered if maybe you can help…? Gonna jump right in, so here’s our situation :

We’re having difficulty finding a reasonable piano teacher locally for our teenage kids.
In five years, our daughter has had four teachers and is still not very happy despite being pretty motivated and really wanting to get to another level. I guess she’s kinda lower intermediate – but keen.
Yes, our budget is limited (with three kids, which family’s isn’t?), so no rock-star teachers. Instead, she goes to the local music school : 30 minutes a week, plus a keyboard group activity, 4 hours a month. She practices maybe 30 minutes a day, more when into a piece, less at exam time. She generally prefers popular or film music, though has recently “discovered” classical. Last pieces : Your Song (Elton John) and Yann Tiersen’s "Valse d’Amelie" but is now tackling a Chopin waltz.

Having had a similar experience with my son, who is learning guitar, I did a little exploration on internet (actually quite a lot!) and found some great teach-yourself websites that really fill in the gaps (for guitar players). There are complete video lessons, blow up vids for finger positions, tab & music sheets, theory demos & bite-size oral explanations/lectures, and lots of song choices. You name it, you got it. And the website guy is really human. My son is riveted. Sometimes he even prefers the website(s) to his teacher (who’s nice but not very structured) for the details he can get. And it’s free! If curious, here's his favourite site :
- no endorsements, but it gives an idea.

But my (much briefer) search for piano sites and websites as a forum subject, has been less fruitful (though I did discover PW! – and of course I may have missed a lot in the rush). I even wondered if perhaps the piano doesn’t lend itself so well to internet self-help? Or perhaps, self teaching is just part of guitar culture..?

On the other hand, there was also just so much else out there for piano students (to-buy video methods, software packages, books and methods..) that I got lost and dizzy.

So I guess my question is.. (sorry it took so long, double sorry if it's been asked before) :

Does this forum have any.. been-there, done-that, found-all-the-answers.. suggestions or recommendations notably about (recent) websites, or indeed any other motivating and efficient way of progressing with the piano that might complement some of the frustrations our kids have been facing ?
Your experiences or comments or pointers would be more than welcome..
Thanks in advance

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#485793 - 12/10/07 08:03 PM Re: Internet piano lesson self help websites
thepianist2008 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/06
Posts: 191
Loc: NY
www.pianostreet.com forums - look for posts by the user bernhard, there's some great advice for all pianists there

www.pianofundamentals.com - Chang's book on piano practice. I'm not sure on everything in this book, but it's definitely useful

I've been in kind of the same situation. I've been playing piano for ten years and I've had five teachers. I'm still not satisfied with my current teacher, but since I'm going to college next year I'm going to finish out my term with her. Ultimately, your daughter has to learn to become proactive with her own studies. The internet is a wonderful resource, and she needs to learn how to use it. You're not the one learning the piano, she is, and therefore she should be going after this info herself. I'd also recommend the library, to get books such as On Piano Playing by Gyorgy Sandor and many others (check around to find out about more). And, just because she can't find any inspiring piano teachers doesn't mean her teachers at school can't be inspiring. My piano teacher is less than excellent, but I'm very proud of studying under my chorus teacher and my band teacher. They're both excellent men with years of experience and a wealth of encouragement. The info is out there, it's the drive that you need to find.

I have to go, but I hope that helps.
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#485794 - 12/10/07 08:10 PM Re: Internet piano lesson self help websites
BruceD Offline

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 20187
Loc: Victoria, BC
MrFrench :

In my several years actively participating as a member of PW, I have not heard/read any strong recommendations for any self-teaching methods, be they publications or Internet sites. That said, my interest is almost exclusively "classical" piano music, so there may be others who have had success with self-help methods for popular music. Almost to a person, those interested in making progress in playing classical piano repertoire invariably insist that there is no substitute for a good teacher, and, furthermore, they discourage people from self-help methods, whatever the medium.

Playing the piano may be a little more complex than playing the guitar, and I would be hard-pressed to imagine a web site that could replace the almost necessary interaction that goes on between piano student and piano teacher. Hand position, fingering, phrasing, pedal technique, while all these can be talked about in a video and written about in a text, only a qualified teacher can tell you if you have understood what you have heard or read and whether what you are doing is "right".

One of the potential problems encountered with self-help piano methods is that someone could learn poor technique, limit his/her progress and eventually have to "un-learn" bad habits learned from not having had proper direction and guidance.

It surprises me that a city as large as Lyon doesn't have good piano teachers, or are the good ones too expensive for you to engage?

If, on the other hand, your daughter has greater interest in popular music than classical, it might be a good idea to also post your dilemma and questions on the "Pianist Corner - Non Classical" Forum. There may be some there with some experience with self-help instruction for popular piano.

- - - - -
Estonia 190

#485795 - 12/11/07 05:56 AM Re: Internet piano lesson self help websites
drumour Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 872
Loc: Scotland
Only a teacher can watch and listen to a student and then plan for that student's musical/piano needs.

Vasa inania multum strepunt.

#485796 - 12/11/07 06:59 PM Re: Internet piano lesson self help websites
MrFrench Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/24/07
Posts: 34
Loc: Lyon, France
‘Scuse the delay people – different times zones ! Thank you so much for taking the time to offer your ideas. It really is great to get feedback from so many corners of the world (corners? – the world’s ROUND, ain’t it..?)
T-P-2008. Thank you..
I did actually stumble across pianofundamentals (pfm) recently and put it in our browser’s Favorites list. It looks impressive but rather imposing for the young at heart and of course it’s in book form, which you can get elsewhere (though perhaps not this book). I have been working my way through the links of the pfm site too which is where I first discovered pianostreet . I can’t say I know the site yet but based on your advice, I’ll take time to check it out, together with “Bernhard”. It was also here that I found http://www.top100pianosites.com/ which I also need to explore. Anyone know this ?
“On Piano Playing” by Gyorgy Sandor. If others recommend this, then perhaps a Chistmas present ? (though we are also about to invest in a Roland DP to complement our badly ageing 100 year old upright, not to mention a guitar amp for younger son. Oouf!)
Your comments BruceD (thanks) rather confirm the idea that piano sites (or at least classical piano) are less common on internet than guitar sites (but then perhaps there are more young guitar players – part of the new internet generation?)
Lyon : Yes, plenty of teachers in Lyon but it’s an hour away ! Too much time and hassle and perhaps we need to maintain diplomatic relations with our current school, when it’s the only show in our (much smaller) town and in walking distance. All our 3 children have spent time there and in its groups (in fact there’s a pre-Xmas “concert” this Friday). So, yes drumour, we do have a teacher – just doesn’t seem to be going very fast. Hence the request for complimentary ideas.
Thanks again. And any further ideas will be devoured with enthusiasm.

#485797 - 12/12/07 04:00 AM Re: Internet piano lesson self help websites
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington

May I ask what has been happening in 5 years that your daughter has had to change teachers 4 times?

Can she identify what she wants to accomplish in the next year? What titles does she now play? Or what books does she use? What kind of piano do you have?

How old is she? What grade in school? Lots of electives and extra activities? Heavy homework? If you want to list other things that come to mind, that may make for a more appropriate response for you.

I would like to see her situation turn around for her.


#485798 - 12/12/07 06:14 PM Re: Internet piano lesson self help websites
MrFrench Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/24/07
Posts: 34
Loc: Lyon, France
Difficult to answer that. Our daughter is now 15 and I guess our first attempts were not very structured either. When 9, a “conservatoire” neighbour student gave her lessons on and off for about 6 months – rather haphazard. Following year she enrolled in a local music school for a 30 min lesson a week. It included a mandatory 1 hour “solfège” group class – introduction to music with notation reading – which she didn’t like because slow and mixed with little tots. She had 2 teachers in 2 years there (school’s choice). At 12 she absolutely didn’t want to go back to the solfège class again with “babies”, despite having jumped to the higher class.
So we enrolled her in another school (there are 2 in town) where we negotiated no solfège (she can read quite well). A year later, she asked to change teacher, who she considered not very structured or demanding. This is now her 2nd year with a new teacher (same school) who is more demanding but who wanted her to do pieces that didn’t really inspire her – in her view still rather simple. They have even disputed over this although they seem since to have come to an understanding.
Last pieces (mentioned above) : Your Song (Elton John) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BDs7efWDzs&feature=related and Yann Tiersen’s "Valse d’Amelie" which the teacher first advised her against (too difficult) but which to T’s surprise, she managed to a reasonable level. She is now tackling a classic Chopin waltz : Op. 69. N°1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DE9ant22c5o
and then wants to do Michael Nyman’s “The heart asks pleasure first” (theme from the film “The Piano”) . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nzBTpgb8Vg&feature=related
For practice times - read 1st post above.
Piano : We have an old (over 100 years) wooden frame upright with sticky keys and which we can’t tune to a regular diapason. She practises on a Yamaha synthesizer first then uses the upright for the “feel” of a piano but we are about to replace it with a reasonable digital piano (Roland).
My daughter has felt disappointed that she hasn’t got further (is she impatient?) after 5 years but to be fair the first years weren’t very efficient and… she has a pretty busy schedule with a demanding school and other activities.
But she remains fairly motivated and keen to progress to a higher level.
I guess we were trying to find some sort of site that might help her speed up the process of learning pieces she wants to do independently from what she does with the teacher (like my son does with his guitar website).
Does that help? Now… what to do ?

#485799 - 12/12/07 10:05 PM Re: Internet piano lesson self help websites
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Thanks for the indepth information here. I would like to think about your situation for a little bit. I can think of plenty of magical pieces - dazzlers that I've taught, rhythmic, moody, novelty, expressive - nice big sounds but easy to learn.

I think everything that works well for the student comes from having a special relationship with the teacher - one's of mutual respect and shared good times at the piano. Especially by age 15 this is vital. Our attitudes and emotions are important when a teacher - student is collaborating so closely. It's about the music, yes, but so much is about the 2 musicians and their progress and success or lack of it.

Everyone needs a little joy in their music making. Not to give up before the miracle!


#485800 - 12/13/07 02:59 AM Re: Internet piano lesson self help websites
MrFrench Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/24/07
Posts: 34
Loc: Lyon, France
Thanks Betty,
Nice of you to take an interest..
Re-reading my post, I perhaps make her sound a little "difficult" which is not the case, though she does have an affirmed personality..! meaning she knows what she wants!. She's pretty methodical and quite bright (says an unashamed Dad). When asked to practice or do homework, she does it.. and more. I think from a piano teacher's point of view, she would be a pretty interesting student as she is clearly motivated.
PS. Her hard working mum plays too - 10 years as a child, hence the old piano - but doesn't have much/any time now.
PPS. Am I posting in the right forum. The subject has sort of drifted..?


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