2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
44 members (Calavera, clothearednincompo, CraiginNZ, Anglagard44, 8opus, barbaram, bluebilly, 36251, 10 invisible), 1,325 guests, and 470 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 2 1 2
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
T
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
T
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
Hello everyone, a bit of background first. I have been taking my nephew to piano lessons (40min. a week) by a russian teacher for three years now. She plays very well and holds a degree in music. True to my past experience with russian instructors, she is strict. My nephew has gone through all of Harmony road beginner books where she taught him on the solfege scale with a moving do. His has recently become much more adept while learning songs he has picked out (Wet Hands, Sweden, <-Minecraft Music) & He is finishing his longest piece yet of three pages with the Angry Birds Theme Song <-left hand modified to play every other note.)

According to her, his biggest weakness is that he memorizes the notes right away instead of reading the music. This is true to an extent but he can and does read music - just not quickly - and he will look at the music to figure out the correct notes when he messes up. She also has not taught him scales or arpegios (Non musician family so we have no idea what those are, I just hear about them a lot.). She wants to move him on to easier pieces so that he will stop memorizing. Yet my nephew really does not like learning out of the book. He likes music that he can connect to (hence the game theme). I don't think moving to easier songs will fix the problem either because he will be sent home with a new song each week that is relatively short. This means he will just end up memorizing the easier short song where when learning longer more difficult songs he has to look at the music at least occasionally. My question is two fold. 1.) How should one improve sight reading? 2.) How should one measure progress? Is his progress typical for three years of music instruction? I think I just need some confirmation.

Other song he knows are the intro to Fur Elise, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Blue Danube. He learned all of these about a year ago though.

links to the three songs I mentioned (Angry Birds is the most difficult I think):
Sweden: https://musescore.com/torbybrand/sweden-minecraft
Wet Hands:https://musescore.com/torbybrand/wet-hands-minecraft
Angry Birds: https://musescore.com/sveciaost/angry-birds


CNR
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 14,691
B
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
B
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 14,691
You haven't given us the most important information when talking about a child (as I assume your nephew is) - how old is he?


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 4
D
Junior Member
Offline
Junior Member
D
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 4
I believe the OP wrote that he was ten years old in her title. smile

Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 14,691
B
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
B
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 14,691
Originally Posted by bennevis
You haven't given us the most important information when talking about a child (as I assume your nephew is) - how old is he?
Oops, my bad - I missed your title.......

To answer:

1) Sight-read lots and lots.
My usual advice is to get Denes Agay's books of Easy Classics to Moderns - two volumes of short original classical piano pieces (totalling about 300 altogether) by great composers, many of which should be sight-readable by a student after three years of lessons. They are also good music for any student to learn - and they are all well written for piano, because they are all original keyboard/piano music. There're many more anthologies of that sort to choose from.

If he won't touch real classical piano music (even for sight-reading), then his teacher might have ideas of pieces of the right level for him to sight-read.

2) If he's playing the songs you've listed, he's fine. Let his teacher determine his progress, and don't get stressed over what you think he might be missing out on. He's obviously not going the classical route, otherwise scales & arpeggios would have been introduced by now.

To be frank, the best thing for you to do might be just to let his teacher teach as she sees fit, as he seems to be enjoying what he's doing so far, and he's progressing well.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Joined: Oct 2019
Posts: 487
W
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
W
Joined: Oct 2019
Posts: 487
1) You figured if he's memorizing instead of reading then make it harder to memorize and he'll be forced to read. I'm guessing the teacher wants to make the music easier to read so he can do it, and play (mostly) without looking at his hands. I'm just guessing, of course, I don't know.

2) I don't think you need to worry about his progress unless he has specific goals of entering some competition by age 12. I had a look at Angry Birds and I'm amazed (and envious!) of your 10 year old nephew's hand span. There is a ninth (G# to A#) in addition to many octaves. That's great. I'm an adult and can't reach a ninth :-(

Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 6,799
6000 Post Club Member
Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 6,799
Why does it have to be either/or? Why not have him play the music he connects to *and* the music the teacher is suggesting? I am guessing the teacher's music will be shorter pieces, have him play those at the start of each practice, almost like a warm up (or salad? veggies?), before moving on to the pieces he connects to (dessert?)

Of course, I recommend you do something like the above only in consultation with the teacher.

The other thing is, if he's 10, he should be old enough to understand the concept of playing one type of music for what it can teach him or how it can help him develop, while playing the other type of music because he enjoys it. The former can be seen as a tool to get better at the latter. And, if he likes gaming music etc., there is a huge amount of music out there, and the vast majority of it is available as sheet music. So developing his sightreading abilities will make it possible for him to do more of what he likes to do.

I would take that approach, perhaps the teacher might agree??


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
T
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
T
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
All of you have great points, though I would like to add that he does like classical music. It's more of a lack of exposure I think. Or perhaps more orchestra music (the differences are a little blurry for me. In my head classical is a time period of music where orchestra is a group of instruments)? I was forced to listen to this song we found on youtube called Impossible multiple times in a single car ride for many, many weeks. When he found the piano version he would alternate between the two (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qTghUgMOeY) which made it a little better. He becomes quite obsessed when he finds a song he likes but as this song was eight minutes long it would take up almost a third of the drive time.

WSZXBCL I think you have guessed correctly. Btw, his teacher has modified the left hand but he still has the octaves which he can just barley reach. He insists on having them because he likes the 'challenge.' He really hates it when his teacher tries to make songs easier for him to play. I don't think he realizes its for his own benefit, lol.

ShiroKuro (I could be wrong but isn't Kuro black in Japanese? May be off base, I only know chinese pinyin well.) Anyways, you're right about doing both. We originally extended his lesson from thirty to forty due it being a little to tight for getting everything in. I was debating asking his teacher if she thought going to an hour was a good idea. In the summer we normally go twice a week but right now school is in session for both of us so it makes it difficult. However, in the last few months his attention span has seemed to increase so we might try it out.

I'm really just happy to have someone to talk to about piano. Other people in the family who have kids started them on lessons a while back but they have since dropped off. Thank you everyone for your input. smile


CNR
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 6,799
6000 Post Club Member
Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 6,799
ToweringMaple, yes, it's Japanese. Shiro = white, kuro = black, just like a piano's keyboard (so, ultimately, probably not that original! whome

I was living in Japan when I first started playing piano, so that's how I came up with the name. I joined PW partly because I was looking for people to talk piano with in English! (I've now been back in the states for 10+ years)

Quote
He becomes quite obsessed when he finds a song he likes

That's great! If you and the piano teacher can nurture this obsession, while also, as you say, continue exposing him to new music in a variety of genres, his musical journey will really take him to all kinds of places!


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Joined: Aug 2020
Posts: 219
R
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
R
Joined: Aug 2020
Posts: 219
Originally Posted by ToweringMaple
She also has not taught him scales or arpegios (Non musician family so we have no idea what those are, I just hear about them a lot.)

This seems odd to me for someone who's been taking 3years of lessons. No scale practice? I mean sure, every teacher has their own methods but in my head, this seems unexpected from a "strict Russian teacher"

I have the same habit of memorizing the notes when I took lessons as a kid. It's partially from a need to look at my hands. It's very difficult to sight read when you have to look away all the time. Scale practice could help with building a better mental map of where the keys and notes are without looking.

Easier songs could also help because it's easier to figure out the fingering and note locations without looking down at the keys.

As for progress, different people progress at different rates. He's able to learn and play more complicated stuff than 1 year ago right? That's probably a simple enough demonstration of progress.

One last comment I have on this is try not to use being non-musician family as an excuse for not being involved in your nephew's practice at home. A teacher can only do so much.

For an instrument, having someone listen and watch your practice can often help notice issues that one doesn't realize on their own. There's of course only so much input a non-musical family can perhaps give but most people should be able to know what sounds good or correct. Also from being involved in the lessons, one can quickly learn to somewhat tell what looks proper for hand and wrist positioning even if one doesn't have the actual execution. Those type of feedback, while not critical, can be very helpful during the weekly practice to make sure progress is being made is relatively the correct direction.

Last edited by rkzhao; 10/06/20 06:35 PM.
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
T
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
T
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
She has taught him crossing over/under which looks like scales to me but she has never assigned him scales to work on at home. It strikes me as odd too and i'm not sure what to make of it.

When I say strict maybe picky during lessons is a better description. She doesn't let any mistakes slip through, not strict as in how much he has to practice/progress. I've sat with him in lessons for all three years and always sit next to him for his home practice. I remember reading somewhere that kids don't actually practice new* stuff they have learned until they get to be about ten and from my experience that is accurate. Originally, if told to go practice by his grandma or grandpa he would go play songs he already knew instead of working on the harder stuff he didn't know as well.

When saying non musician I'm referencing my lack of knowledge of the types of scales etc., not why I am not involved. Hopefully this clears things up.


CNR
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 30,390
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 30,390
Originally Posted by rkzhao
One last comment I have on this is try not to use being non-musician family as an excuse for not being involved in your nephew's practice at home. A teacher can only do so much.

For an instrument, having someone listen and watch your practice can often help notice issues that one doesn't realize on their own. There's of course only so much input a non-musical family can perhaps give but most people should be able to know what sounds good or correct. Also from being involved in the lessons, one can quickly learn to somewhat tell what looks proper for hand and wrist positioning even if one doesn't have the actual execution. Those type of feedback, while not critical, can be very helpful during the weekly practice to make sure progress is being made is relatively the correct direction.
I don't think this is at all reasonable based on the OPs description of himself. How could someone who does not know what a scale is help someone out with scale practice?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/06/20 07:39 PM.
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 30,390
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 30,390
I think the OP should discuss any concerns with the teacher.

Joined: Aug 2020
Posts: 219
R
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
R
Joined: Aug 2020
Posts: 219
Originally Posted by ToweringMaple
She has taught him crossing over/under which looks like scales to me but she has never assigned him scales to work on at home. It strikes me as odd too and i'm not sure what to make of it.
...
When saying non musician I'm referencing my lack of knowledge of the types of scales etc., not why I am not involved. Hopefully this clears things up.

Makes sense. I've just heard many parents use lack of musical knowledge as an reason for why they don't involve themselves with their child's practice at home at all which is quite baffling to me.

Maybe not assigning scales is an attempt to keep lessons and the "homework" less boring for a young kid maybe? I don't know if that sounds like a reasonable teaching approach. I just always sort of assumed that scale work and hand drills like Hannon or Schmitt were universally taught to help develop fundamental technique.

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 30,390
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 30,390
Originally Posted by rkzhao
I just always sort of assumed that scale work and hand drills like Hannon or Schmitt were universally taught to help develop fundamental technique.
Scales are taught much more usually than the other two. Instead of all the speculation, the OP should ask the teacher.

Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,949
8000 Post Club Member
Offline
8000 Post Club Member
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,949
One strategy you can try is to ask him to write out the fingering, maybe one page at a time. The downloaded music is perfect for writing out fingerings.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
T
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
T
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
I have asked her about the british (?) grade system and she said it was not necessary but that we could do mini test sessions if we wanted to during the lesson. I feel like I would get a similar answer if I asked her about scales (as in, its not important for him right now). I think she prefers to focus on sight reading fluency and chord recognition (he knows all the basic ones, diminished, and is starting to grasp root chord position.). That way my nephew can see and anticipate the music. This is just guessing on my part though. I'm not terribly worried about it. C

an someone explain the importance of scales? From my understanding its to build finger strength and finger independence but this doesn't really make sense to me. You only need finger strength if your playing really long songs and this is something you would naturally work up to. As for finger independence I can understand a little more here but it looks like the fingers are simply mirroring each other which doesn't seem like true 'independence.'


CNR
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 8,426
Silver Subscriber
8000 Post Club Member
Offline
Silver Subscriber
8000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 8,426
Towering Maple
I do recognize that you want to help and I do understand the Protective nature that we take with those We love. But we need to recognize that teachers may have a different order of teaching technical skills— based on their own experience and training and the needs of the student.

Please don’t worry that scales have not been taught yet—they will be! If he is learning to read and recognize chords, she is doing a good job. .. and he is still interested in learning 😊


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
T
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
T
Joined: Oct 2020
Posts: 7
dogperson: Ok, thank you smile (and everyone else, thank you too.)


CNR
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 1,020
D
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
D
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 1,020
Originally Posted by ToweringMaple
According to her, his biggest weakness is that he memorizes the notes right away instead of reading the music. This is true to an extent but he can and does read music - just not quickly - and he will look at the music to figure out the correct notes when he messes up. She also has not taught him scales or arpegios (Non musician family so we have no idea what those are, I just hear about them a lot.). She wants to move him on to easier pieces so that he will stop memorizing.

That's what I would do, but as a supplement not as a replacement. Lots and lots of easy stuff that he can learn in a week (two at the most) in addition to his normal routine would help a lot. Also, he should know his scales and arpeggios after 3 years. They're the basis for learning music theory, which is the basis for reading music. Reading music without understanding the chords you're playing is akin to reading letters without understanding the words.

Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 14,691
B
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
B
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 14,691
Originally Posted by DanS
Reading music without understanding the chords you're playing is akin to reading letters without understanding the words.
I don't think there's any need to jump the gun for a 10-year-old kid. Does he really need to know that he's playing an A flat 6 chord in second inversion in his 'game' music? I don't think so. (And jazzers will probably call the chord something else.....)

Develop lots of skills (technique & reading) while young, and worry (if at all) about theory later. If he wants to worry about them.

I was playing lots of dim 7th arpeggios and chords in classical pieces (and incorporating them into my pop 'improvs') without knowing what they were as a kid, until my theory lessons caught up a few years later. It didn't stunt my growth (physically or at the piano whistle)

Similarly, when I started learning English (at nine), I was reading lots of adventure books in American English (like Cannibal Adventure smirk by Willard Price) without understanding any of the American idioms used in them (and which my dictionary gave no help), but my comprehension of English developed regardless, such that I was able to read Lady Chatterley's Lover - and understand it - within a few years.

Lots of accomplished pianists play by ear without 'understanding' any of what they are playing, and they enjoy themselves thoroughly regardless.........


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Page 1 of 2 1 2

Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Under-piano pedal wood replacement
by Js367 - 08/01/21 01:25 AM
Everett upright Regulation
by wenhen90 - 07/31/21 06:57 PM
Marx
by dolce sfogato - 07/31/21 04:05 PM
Self-teaching and looking for good exercises
by TORaptors2019 - 07/31/21 03:46 PM
ES110 Static/Buzzing on Certain Keys?
by mikechang503 - 07/31/21 02:40 PM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums42
Topics208,311
Posts3,118,013
Members102,295
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers

Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2021 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5