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First Lessons: Advice?

Posted By: Chazz1211

First Lessons: Advice? - 01/27/04 06:54 AM

Hi, I'm a 21 year old college student and I'll be giving my first piano lessons really soon. (I have been playing piano since I was about 7 years old). My student is 12 or 13. Any advice on lessons and books would be wonderful. I don't quite know where to start.
Posted By: Linda in PA

Re: First Lessons: Advice? - 01/27/04 04:43 PM

Hi, Chazz1211:

I'm an adult piano student (late beginner) and am working with the Celebration Series® The Piano Odyssey®. It is a graded series (Introductory through Grade 10) published by Frederick Harris Music. From my perspective as a student, I like the completeness of the program. Each graded repertoire book has a companion etude/study book and a student workbook that helps with the analysis of each repertoire piece and each study. There is also a companion CD containing a pianist's interpretation of each piece & study in that grade. I am also able to perceive an increase in level of difficulty from one grade to the next (at least for the early grades with which I am familiar). There is a Handbook for Teachers that accompanies the series - it organizes the pieces and studies into progressive teaching modules and provides suggestions for exploring the score, practicing, lesson planning, etc.

I'm supplementing the Celebration Series® with the Four Star series for Sight Reading and Ear Tests also published by Frederick Harris Music). I'm not as enthusiastic about this Four Star series, but haven't taken the time to explore alternatives. Hopefully, one of the teachers on the forum will be able to provide more recommendations regarding teaching materials. You might also want to post of the Piano Forum. My sense is that this Teacher Forum is not quite as active as the Piano Forum (there are a few teachers who post over there on a regular basis).

I'm a bit concerned that you will soon have a student, but don't know where to begin. Have you taken any pedagogy classes yet? Can your teacher give you any guidance? I think there is a lot more to teaching than choosing your instructional materials. I hope you have someone guiding your entrée into the realm of teaching.

Best wishes to you and your new student . . . Linda
Posted By: Chazz1211

Re: First Lessons: Advice? - 01/28/04 02:29 AM

Found out for sure that my student is actually 15.
Thanks for the reply Linda, it was helpful.
I've never heard of these books you use before. Can they be found online?
No I don't quite know how to start and it's a little scary, but with some combined knowledge taken from my own piano teacher (even my flute teacher) and from a few Music Ed classes that I've taken, as well as advice from others I don't feel like I'm entirely lost. However, I still need to hear good solid advice from those experienced.
I'll try posting in the piano forum.
Posted By: Linda in PA

Re: First Lessons: Advice? - 01/28/04 05:09 PM

Hi, Chazz1211:

Here are links to the websites. Good luck and have fun!

. . . Linda

Celebration Series

Four Star Series
Posted By: Kreisler

Re: First Lessons: Advice? - 01/28/04 05:28 PM

The Celebration isn't really a method, though, it's more of an anthology. (But a very good one!)

For a 15 year old, you might consider the Adult Piano Adventures book. It's good for complete beginners with no musical experience whatsoever, and I've had a lot of success with it.

If the student does have some musical background, then the Celebration/Four Star materials could work very well.
Posted By: iteachlifeskills

Re: First Lessons: Advice? - 01/30/04 04:36 AM

Hey, Chazz;

I remember those incredibly lost and helpless feelings I had when I first started teaching like it was yesterday. Actually, it was 32 years ago almost to the day! (I taught my first lesson on January 27, 1972 at the ripe old age of 18... do the math to see how many grey hairs I have!)

And to some extent, those same feelings continue with each and every new student I work with. Sure, my confidence in my own skills are unquestionable. But every new student brings a teacher down an entirely different path of learning and discovery. It's exciting and a little bit uncomfortable all at the same time. I guess that's why I still love what I do after all these years.

I have to agree with Kreisler - the Celebration Series, Piano Odyssey, etc. from Frederick Harris are NOT course materials. In fact, the Teacher's Manual for that series clearly states that students MUST have a least 2-3 years of PREPARATION, including a strong foundation in reading and playing skills before even attempting the Preparatory Level.

I am quite familiar with the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Frederick Harris Publishers as their headquarters are right here in my home city of Toronto. Most people in this area think it is THE COURSE to take because our local school systems give high school credits for students passing RCM examinations.

I have to educate a lot of my beginner students (and especially their parents) when they come in demanding to take ONLY RCM courses. I break out my trusty Teacher's Guide with the highlighted paragraph about having a few years of foundation work, and that usually helps them accept my guidance a little better. (After all, I only have 32 years of teaching experience... what do I know compared with 'my friend's teacher' - one of the many things you'll learn to get used to!)

I use Alfred's Basic Piano as my core development course for grades one through five. (There are MANY GREAT METHODS available. You will find that some teachers are fanatically passionate about the course they use. Ask around and try out a few for yourself. Eventually, you will find something that you can comfortably work with and get results.

However, I still follow the RCM syllabus for Technical Requirements (scales, chords, arpeggios), Sight Reading and Ear Tests. As well, I use Keyboard Theory and Preparatory Series by Grace Vandendool (also available through Frederick Harris).

Supplement all of these foundation materials with the types of songs the student wants to learn (pop songs, hymns, etc. there are excellent materials available for every grade level - I like Alfred's Basic because they coordinate all their supplementary material with the core method books) These will keep your students interested and motivated.

One of the biggest things you can do is to have an exploratory interview with your student BEFORE you begin lessons. It is most important to find out what (if any) their goals are and WHY they want to take music lessons. It will also give you a chance to explain your program and methods.

I have to applaud you Chazz; you found your way to this forum and there is a WEALTH of experience here for you to tap into. Some of the established teachers have websites with a lot of information that you can study. Others, like myself, will be more than happy to mentor you and answer any questions you may have.

Warmest wishes from cold and snowy Toronto,
Posted By: benedict

Re: First Lessons: Advice? - 01/30/04 12:58 PM

Maybe this will be useful for you.

piano teachers

Good luck
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