Teaching Plan

Posted by: AusJen

Teaching Plan - 01/28/14 04:49 PM


I'm new to this forum so apologise if I'm repeating a previous topic.

I am from Australia and about to begin teaching piano to my 5 year old daughter. I have never myself had lessons as I learnt the violin as a child and taught myself the piano with the help of computer software (on an old IBM!!). I am thus quite apprehensive. I studied the first lesson plan last night though and felt much more confident to give it a go. Thanks so much for such a great resource!

My question is related to subsequent lessons. How will I know what to repeat from previous lessons and for how long? Is this something that will be clear as we go along? Again, thanks so much for all the videos and resources. They are fantastic!

Any advice is welcome.

As an aside, I have two younger children. What do people do about this if they are in the same boat?

Posted by: EllaCat

Re: Teaching Plan - 01/30/14 12:59 PM

Hi there and welcome! smile

Your question re: review/repetition, and when to move on, to me is both a complicated and a simple answer.

Easy answer: move on when they get it right.

But at what point is it "right enough?" That's the more complicated part. Think about what concepts are being taught in each piece, and look ahead to see what's coming next. How is your daughter doing with those concepts? Are they solid enough that when you add the next layer of complexity, she'll do ok?

Sometimes I have students "pass" all their pieces in one week. Sometimes they don't get anything new at all. Sometimes I have to add extra material on a certain concept before I'm sure that they "get it." It's a fine balance between sticking with something until it's right, and not driving the student nuts by saddling them with the same piece FOREVER if it's just not working. Remember that the pieces in the book aren't your only resource - you can play games, sing, improvise new pieces, etc.

Hope that helps!

Not sure what you're asking about your two younger children... can you elaborate?
Posted by: AusJen

Re: Teaching Plan - 01/30/14 07:22 PM

Thanks so much for your reply! I really appreciate it. That is all really helpful and is what I was roughly thinking. I think I'm just going to have to jump in and give it a go!

My question in regards to my two younger children is: what do I do with them? Just lock them in another room with an activity or something? wink I would like to concentrate and dedicate this time to my daughter and obviously do the same for them when the time comes... Just keen on any insights or ideas that people have used.

Thanks again!
Posted by: ransomed

Re: Teaching Plan - 01/30/14 11:11 PM

Yes welcome to the forum AusJen smile

I see your dilemma about the younger kids. Maybe you could hire a babysitter or get a relative to watch them during your practice sessions with your daughter.

I think an even better idea might be to get a piano teacher for your daughter. A beginner really needs a good start from an expert with experience. The first year is when their foundation of technique and basics of musicianship are formed. You both may regret not taking her to a piano teacher for lessons later on.

I don't mean to be negative, I am sure you have the best of intentions, but I want to be realistic with you. I've been teaching for over 10 years and have yet to see a parent satisfied with the outcome of self-teaching their children.
Posted by: pianojazzgirl

Re: Teaching Plan - 01/31/14 11:00 AM

I hesitated to post when I first read your original question because I didn't want to come across as being negative either, but I really do agree with ransomed that the best idea is to find your daughter an experienced piano teacher. There's a common misconception that the "basics" are easy to teach, but there is a lot more to piano technique than is obvious at first glance. Really this is the crucial foundation on which all future piano study will be built.
Posted by: unreal

Re: Teaching Plan - 01/31/14 11:09 AM

Just chiming in to ditto what ransomed said about reasons to find a teacher to give your daughter the best possible start. You can play (not "practice" at this age) with your daughter every day between lessons.
Posted by: AusJen

Re: Teaching Plan - 01/31/14 06:23 PM

Thanks for the input guys. I do understand what you are saying. I myself went up to an Amus level on the violin and recognise the need for a good teacher in developing basic technique and skill. The reality is, is that we just cannot afford it. I'd prefer to teach the best that I can, than not teach at all. Does that make sense?
Posted by: unreal

Re: Teaching Plan - 01/31/14 07:09 PM

Yes it does make sense. The teachers on this board are happy to help you, and MFPA is a great choice of materials (the best, in my opinion) for any teacher of young ones, experienced or newbie. Be sure to watch all of Nancy's videos! And somewhere is Randall's explanation of what motivates children at each stage of their development. Age 5=fun, later=independence, etc. Someone, help? Links? Can't find it at the moment.

If you can catch one of their workshops, that would be fantastic too.

Related to your first question, how long to stay on a piece, keep going back to previous pieces. You could call them "just for fun" pieces, or AAA pieces (child's favorites, memorized, so they're playable Anywhere, Anytime, for Anybody). Some pieces are OK to check off when they're pretty good, others you will want your child to get nearly perfect, with consistent mostly correct notes, good hand position, nice dynamics (well, I guess you pretty much want that for all of them smile ). Sometimes you will move along through the pieces, other times you will stay on a set of pieces for awhile. Just enjoy that--it isn't "getting stuck," it's letting things sink in.
Posted by: pianojazzgirl

Re: Teaching Plan - 01/31/14 09:54 PM

I love, with my MFPA students, to return time and time again to many of the technique activities in the book. We will often start off by chanting Stone on the Mountain, and then I can refer back to the "stone" shape (naturally relaxed, rounded hand shape) throughout the lesson, for example asking if they're still "holding their stone", etc. Cat Backs are another great one, as we work on keeping relaxed heavy arm and loose wrist. When the student needs to move from octave to octave in certain pieces we can look back and remember the "cat back" shape, which we want to keep as the arm raises.

Many other pieces and activities can be revisited and reworked as we progress through the book. For example, with some younger kids (I have several 4 year olds this year) we might look at Honey Pot, but only the first one or two "finger groupings". Over the course of many lessons we might add more finger groupings, and go from doing the exercise hands separately to hands together. Another example is where we might learn a black key piece on the 3 black keys, and later come back when we've learned white key names and "discover" how we can play it on CDE. There are lots of fun and valuable ways of extending the pieces - enjoy getting creative with it!

The wonderful thing about young children is that they aren't stuck with preconceptions about needing to move quickly through the books. They are more in the moment, and take a lot of enjoyment out of revisiting old favourite activities and pieces.
Posted by: AusJen

Re: Teaching Plan - 02/01/14 04:12 AM

So helpful unreal and pianojazzgirl - thanks so much for taking the time to answer!
Posted by: pianojazzgirl

Re: Teaching Plan - 02/01/14 10:57 AM

No problem AusJen. Feel free to post and ask for advice as needed. smile
Posted by: EllaCat

Re: Teaching Plan - 02/02/14 07:10 AM

Originally Posted By: AusJen
My question in regards to my two younger children is: what do I do with them? Just lock them in another room with an activity or something? wink
The best situation I think would be to get someone to watch them. If that's not an option, then I think an activity like you said would be the best 2nd choice. Maybe you can make it something special that becomes part of "piano day" routine? Not really sure though as I don't have kids - maybe some of the mothers on here can chime in with some ideas.
Posted by: shannonspiano

Re: Teaching Plan - 02/02/14 09:20 AM

When my kids were less than 5, I hired in a sitter. After that they watched TV or played computer during lessons. Also shortly thereafter my DH changed his hours at work to be home earlier in the day.
Posted by: ransomed

Re: Teaching Plan - 02/03/14 08:56 PM

Hi AusJen smile kudos to you for reaching out for help. This is a great place to talk to piano teachers. Piano Adventures is a wonderful choice for your curriculum.
Posted by: SharonAdelle

Re: Teaching Plan - 02/05/14 01:04 PM

I have 5 kids and I at least introduced piano to all my kids. I didn't home school, but have lots of experience of working with one child, while the others are around.

My suggestion is to have a "special" activity for the younger kids during piano time. Either a special video--or another thing that is not available to them during the rest of the day. Something they can do mostly unsupervised though--playdough? watercolors? which are not too messy otherwise. Or if they're old enough--a computer game that they can do with headphones on. I've also found that while it's not ideal--my own children learned young to be able to focus with other activity going on--that's just real life. You may need to hop up and down to peek at the younger ones, but that's parenting. Like all things, be prepared to "wing it" a bit.
Posted by: AusJen

Re: Teaching Plan - 02/13/14 09:51 PM

Thanks for all the advice everybody - it really helps! I hope to start with her this week as I finally have all the books I need. She is a couple of weeks in to her first year at school so now that initial time is over, it's probably a good time to start anyway. I really appreciate your time!
Posted by: musicmagic

Re: Teaching Plan - 11/13/14 12:28 PM

Hi, I am new to this forum. I have taught piano many years, and decided to try First Piano Adventures for a 4 almost 5 year old. I have been a little confused by the format of the book. At first I thought I was suppose to cover one unit a lesson. I realize this is not possible if I want to do review each week. Any input as to how much one covers each week in a half hour lesson? I have many other questions too, but I will start with the above!
Posted by: SharonAdelle

Re: Teaching Plan - 11/13/14 08:12 PM

I go by each child, but usually about 2 pieces a week. Sometimes at the end of a unit, I will introduce the new concept of the next unit, but not assign the piece to be played that week.

I have a just 5 year old in that book. He started with me back in January when he was only 4 1/2. I went at a nice slow pace and even added in things. He took the summer off (which was good to help him grow before he came back to me) Turned 5 over the summer. He is a very smart 5, but dexterity wise, he is right at 5. He is now at the very end of book A, but I'm putting the last unit on hold while we do the Christmas book now. That will give these 2 months to reinforce the notes, build his finger strength and timing, then in January I plan on finishing the book and moving to book B.

I do also have another 4 year old in book A right now. She has an older brother in level 2A, but started also at 4 in book A. As with her brother, I am going at a nice slow pace. Lots of repetition, and she asks for the repetition! We do Stone on the Mountain probably at each lesson. I go back for her to play her favorites. We are in unit 6 of the book and we have been in this book since March when she was just barely 4!!
Posted by: JonAdministrator

Re: Teaching Plan - 11/14/14 11:21 AM

Every student is different, so plan on custom-tailoring your pacing. Younger students like yours will enjoy more repetition, and 30-minute lessons will stretch out the time to completion.

I'm teaching 45-minute lessons to a 6-year-old boy in MFPA Book A now, and he is enjoying a fast pace.

For the first four units, we covered one unit each week.
We spent two lessons on Unit 5.
We spent two lessons on Unit 6.
We fit all of Unit 7 into a single lesson, where we are now.

We start every lesson with the Friends at the Piano Roll Call Song. We try a different variation each week, often based on the newest concept. Then we spend half the time reviewing previous songs/activities and do the Writing Book pages that correlate to the previous week's material, and half the time introducing a new unit.

We're doing about 10 activities per lesson, spending 3-5 minutes on each.

Certain activities become quick setup routines for many songs that come up again and again. For example, the "I'm Great" Pose gets us seated at the piano again after a writing activity or game on the floor. "Wabbit the Rabbit" helps us find the starting note for several different songs on the C-D-E keys. "Cookie Dough" reminds us of firm fingertips, etc.

Look for more ideas in the support section of our website, especially the Teacher's First Lesson Plan with videos.
Posted by: Missy Davis

Re: Teaching Plan - 03/11/15 04:30 PM

Not so much a reply-actually a question. I LOVED the first lesson plan posted on the site? Are there subsequent plans, or do you use this as a starting point and build your own plans from that point? This is my first time with "First Adventures," even though I have used this series for years.