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A question
#957251 04/06/08 02:49 PM
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Anna3 Offline OP
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I am going to be teaching a student in about a month (her current teacher is moving), and I am not quite sure exactely how to do it. I have taken piano for 9 years, but this is my first student. She is a beginner and is just starting to read music. I have questions about what and when to teach her. I could use any suggestions anyone has.

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Re: A question
#957252 04/06/08 03:27 PM
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Would your current teacher be willing to guide you?

Preview the music the student is using at this time and get acquainted with it.

Your student will give you all the clues you need as when to review, what comes next, what she does easily, and what is more difficult for her.

You need to make a plan and revise it as needed...you need to build some flexability in when making a lesson plan. Perhaps making 10 weeks plans at a time will be enough as you are learning to observe and plan outcomes. You have 30 minutes with which to accomplish something together each week.

The PWF is a good place to get information in the present posting, but also an archives is available through "search" at the top of the page. Type the subject in and postings will come up. Make sure you scroll to the very top to use "all forum search".

How old is your beginner?

Betty

Re: A question
#957253 04/07/08 10:48 AM
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Anna3 Offline OP
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Well, the thing is we just moved about two months ago, and I don't have a current piano teacher. I did email my former teacher, asking for ideas. I do want to preview the pieces she is working on, I will ask about that next time I see her parents.

What would you suggest including in the lesson plans? I eventually want to introduce scales and theory, those things really help me now. I am just not sure when to start them. The good thing is that the lessons are going to be every other week, so that gives me some time. I will try your suggestions on searching for some information. And, my new student is 5.

Anna3

Re: A question
#957254 04/07/08 01:44 PM
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Anna3,

You need to get totally past the Introduction elements of piano study - through the Preparatory-Primary-Early Elementary-Elementary stages as your first goal of what to teach this child. Not all at once, but in continuous lessons. I do not think every other week works for children because if a mistake gets entered into her practice, she will practice that mistake into habit. She needs frequent input from you. Her attention span is going to be 30 minutes or less for each lesson at the keyboard in the beginning. Her back will get tired if she is spending too long on the bench, you will see her go into a "slump".

Because of her age and size, I would wait until she had hands together playing experience and was totally comfortable with herself at the piano making music before adding the scales and theory.

Acquaint her with a 5 Finger Position at Middle C, and then Parallel C (planting a seed for later bloom). With a very small hand span and fingers not yet strong and shaped, she can not physically get the results you want for her to have.

I use music with keyboard graphics to establish hand positions. This is secure and very helpful visually when all keys look alike to young students.

The theory, also not yet. Get her playing and relating musically to the piano first. Give her some good musical experiences first.

You can be collecting things you want for her to do under your guidance, but be cautious for when you choose to enter into them. You want for her experiences to be successful and happy making.

What I have said here does not apply to all beginners, my "ideas" are applicable for a new, 5 year old, transfer student, at beginning level. I would verify all of her previous pieces, and have fun having her show me what she can do. I would not start by correcting her, I would say let's do this again soon, and just use the input to get information about what she needs to be doing at this time.

Why don't you go to the different websites of music method publishers and see what is going on in the music they publish at this level. You may need to make a trip to a music store in order to preview where the methods take you over several books and into the future.

I stopped using method books about 10 years into my teaching and produced my own syllabus and pedagogy structure for teaching the different levels of music to beginners (very important level), intermediate, and advanced levels. It's been a lot of work to do this, but I've had lots of years to develop it.

I saw a new site in a music teaching magazine yesterday, I haven't been there yet, but perhaps it's something you will be interested in for the future: pedagogy articles, questions answered, teaching ideas exchanged.

www.intermediatePiano.com

Also, Google: Martha Beth Lewis. This one is the surprize of your life and may take years to get through!

Let your student help establish her pace by having successful experiences.

Let's keep chatting here! The subject you are asking about is vast.

Betty

Re: A question
#957255 04/07/08 03:28 PM
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Anna3 Offline OP
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Yes, I don't like the every other week either. Her parents say that it is the way she is currently doing and they like it that way. I am going to talk to them about it, I know how hard it is to relearn something wrong after only a week. We have agreed at the 30 minute lesson.

I know that I have to wait for scales and theory, I am just trying to cover all the basis. I really need to look at her books, because I know very little about what she is doing and knows.

The site about Martha Beth Lewis is extremely helpful. It asked questions and brought up points I hadn't even thought about. There is one thing that puzzled me that I read on her site. She said that an inexperienced teacher is not good for beginners. I get wanting them to get the best teacher, just not sure how you get to be a good teacher if you don't teach. Just a thought.

I am new to the board, and I am so glad I found it. You are so helpful! I definitly want to keep chatting.

Anna3

Re: A question
#957256 04/10/08 09:51 AM
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Pick a method book (Thompson, Alfred) and be prepared to be patient. Make lessons fun and don't give too much work at the start, as you don't want to turn your new students off. Of course, if a student really wants work, assign it (believe me, this is usually not the case with the average client).

Keep organized and make sure that your pupils have a dictation book. Ultimately, it's how and not what you teach. Good luck.


Daniel E. Friedman, co-owner of www.pianolessons101.com
You CAN learn to play the piano in a fun and positive way.
Re: A question
#957257 04/10/08 02:26 PM
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I am also just starting to teach. I took lessons for 8 years previously, stopped for quite some time, then started up again.

My friend has an 11yo daughter who just got a piano and wants to learn. She is very enthusiastic, but unfortunately (in this case) has already started to teach herself to play by ear so she relies on that instead of actually reading the music. I have told her that for now, she is not to play anything by ear until she can read the music better. I am looking for suggestions on getting her to recognize the notes when she sees them. Currently I have been telling her to say the notes aloud as she plays them.

My other question is how fast do you push them? How long should they stay on the same few pieces of music before you add new? This last week, I could tell she hadn't practiced much so I didn't add anything new.

Re: A question
#957258 04/10/08 02:27 PM
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Oh, we are using Alfred's books.

Re: A question
#957259 04/10/08 02:31 PM
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Welcome to PW, Anna3!

I would recommend Hal Leonard and/or Piano Adventures (Faber) for method books. Pick one and learn the pieces. Have a plan for your student at each lesson that goes along with what will be covered in the books. Generally there are 3 books: Lessons, Solos or Performance, and Theory. They tell you at the bottom or the side of the page what page they correspond to in the other books to help you. For example, I have my young beginners do a lot of marching to the beat, clapping, tapping, etc. If you have a drum or some other percussion instruments, this can be a lot of fun! Have them tap the rhythm of their new song to be learned this week. Most of these songs have words, so you can sing them too.

I have some beanie babies that I use for my young ones who have a tough time paying attention. I may have gotten this idea from someone on this forum, but I forget! Anyways, you have her set them up on one side of the piano, and then whenever she does something properly (say, you are working on steady beat, and when you've finished the activities for that part) then she gets to slide the beanie baby over to the other side. The goal is to get them all to the other side during the lesson.

I would say begin scales as soon as she can play legato and knows her finger numbers well. This may take up to a year. Just do hands separately to start.

Your point about how does one get to be a good teacher without teaching is valid. You have to start somewhere. Do it as best you can, with the student's best interests at heart. You may make some errors, but who doesn't? I find such comments very disparaging. Perhaps Martha Beth Lewis is just trying to make sure that people who really love to teach are teachers and not those who are looking to make an easy buck, but I just don't think you can say such things in all honesty.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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