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#946963 - 10/14/04 12:37 PM Advice - besides making sure you post in the write forum
UrbanSpice Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/04
Posts: 25
Hi, I just have a few questions. First of all, I wondering about what level would Flight of the Bumblebee be appropriate for. And what kind of techniques and maybe etudes would be helpful to get a student where he can master the piece successfully.

Also, I have an eleven student who's been taking lessons for a few years (with another teacher) but he is a terrible reader. I have been giving him note quizzes and timing him and also making him sight read. I've also given him a tip on memorizing and locating the C's in each staff and using that as a guide for finding other notes. I was wondering if anyone else had any other tips or ideas. We've been at it for a month but he hasn't gotten any better and he desperately wants to play Fur Elise, which is in his ability except for the fact that he can barely read. Anything, would be greatly appreciated. Maybe it's me and the fact that I never had any trouble reading music, but I think that a student with three or four years of piano shouldn't spend thirty minutes on the first nine (or eight) measures of Fur Elise. And this is hands seperately. (This is how the lessons usually go. We spend most of the time figuring out the notes, or I should say he does.) Also, tips or ways to see if maybe he has a learning disability would also be helpful. Thanks.

Also, what type of certification do you guys recommend for teachers, if any.

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#946964 - 10/26/04 07:13 AM Re: Advice - besides making sure you post in the write forum
Jenski Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 8
Loc: London
It sounds like an odd question, but does he REALLY care that he can't read music? Is he even aware that he has been playing by ear and will be able to make much faster progress if he can read? Does he know that they (reading and playing by ear) are different skills, or that some people read much faster? He may also think he's doing just fine as he is and therefore needs some motive to try harder with reading. (I had once a student who assumed that she couldn't sing in tune, despite being musical, and NEVER TRIED, despite my most earnest efforts to help her! We had an endearing little ritual every week where she stood up and sang out of tune for ten minutes of each lesson!)

Also, if he can't read the notes, perhaps you should take him back to complete theory basics. He may have a serious gap in his knowledge, or only the faintest grasp of things that are blindingly obvious to you, for example, the difference between a quaver and a crotchet!

There's a fun book by Howard Richman "Super sight reading secrets" or some such, that may give him a way in. I found it on Amazon.
"Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing"

#946965 - 10/26/04 08:05 AM Re: Advice - besides making sure you post in the write forum
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5485
i was like your student. my fourth piano teacher finally got me to read. i was motivated because i had finally realized that the works i wanted to play would be forever beyond my reach if i didn't learn how to read. i was playing a brahms intermezzo by ear, but i was becoming impatient with how long it took to learn pieces in this way.

my teacher took me back to flashcards and open staves with random notes, basically, took me back to kindergarten. she also made me count, and the constant demand to be aware of which beat i was on in the measure helped me learn to read as well.

then i was given very basic pieces to learn, pieces i could learn in a few days, easy enough for me to sightread at my sightreading level, though far below my technical and musical abilities.

i worked my way through burgemuller and several other books of short and easy pieces.

then she had me get bartok's microcosmos and sight read a couple of those a day. i had to play as slow as it took to play everything correctly, including dynamics, and then play it twice more to get it up to tempo.

meanwhile, she kept me entirely away from more advanced repertoire. i was only allowed to learn beginner repertoire. she wanted to get me hooked on being able to play lots of new pieces, instead of my old pattern, which was to work for endless months on one challenging piece.

finally, we worked on interval recognition by using a methodist hymnal. i had to sight read a hymn a day, and i was not allowed to look at my hands. i had to play entirely by relational distances on the keyboard.

now i can read.

it was painful, and it wouldn't have worked if i hadn't learned the necessity of it. at least in my case, but then, i am stubborn. \:\)

now in paperback:

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

#946966 - 10/26/04 09:22 AM Re: Advice - besides making sure you post in the write forum
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ

You have an exceptional teacher! Kudos to her/him! And, congratulations on working so hard to be a better reader. I'll bet backtracking was the hardest thing to do!

Cranky Woman \:D


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