age for MFPA vs. Primer

Posted by: Karen Benson

age for MFPA vs. Primer - 03/12/14 02:17 PM

I have a young student who I started with WunderKeys Piano for Preschoolers when she was 3 - almost 4 years old. When that was finished we started into Book A of MFPA. She was about four and a half then. She did very well and is very bright and so when we finished Book A, together with her parents, we decided to bypass Books B and C of MFPA and go straight into the Primer of Piano Adventures. She was not quite 5 at this point. The parents wanted her challenged a little more. I cautioned them that at some point the books might start to move along a little too quickly for her, but I was willing to give it a try. We are now into Unit 7 of the Primer level and I find that, even with lots of review and help at home (using flashcards, etc. and Dad is an accomplished pianist, so this student has parents who are actively involved in her lessons and practice), she is struggling with note-reading. I think part of the problem is that she learns each piece first by figuring out the notes, but then quickly memorizes it and so doesn't 'have' to read the notes. I don't want to move forward until her notereading is more secure to this point. My question: would it be better to go back to MFPA? And at what point? And how would I "sell" that idea to the parents? Or just stop and do more lessons just going over line notes/space notes, steps/skips, and music alphabet forwards (stepping up) and backwards (stepping down)? I think it was probably a mistake to switch her to the Primer level when we did, but that's what we did!
Posted by: susanmusic

Re: age for MFPA vs. Primer - 03/13/14 10:29 AM

Why not get out MFPA B at her next lesson and see what her reaction is? I wonder if the larger print size would help with her resistance to reading.

To the parent: this is not "going back," just "adding in" for reinforcement. I'd be inclined just to lend her a copy of Lesson Book B and assign selected pieces. (I have all my students, including adults, learn the A-B Bop!)

If she has hit a wall at Primer Unit 7, she may need much more work on skips. So MFPA C is essential.
Posted by: SharonAdelle

Re: age for MFPA vs. Primer - 03/13/14 02:07 PM

You could try adding in the Primer Gold Star book. I've had kids do just what you re saying when they have a good ear. They learn the music and then stop reading the notes and at some point it catches up with them. Starting with the super easy Zoom, Zoom song is fun, so they don't feel like they are going's just reinforcing.
I've also added in composing with those kids. It gets them to think about what they are playing and writing it down is a different way of learning where the notes are on the staff.

I also find myself at least singing the A-B bop for all students regardless of age!! Also chanting 1-2-3 the pearl is in the C!
Posted by: Karen Benson

Re: age for MFPA vs. Primer - 03/14/14 09:09 AM

Thanks for these ideas. The parents really don't want to switch back, even though I explained that it wouldn't be a step back, just taking a different approach, so I may just occasionally use some things from MFPA B and C. I've also ordered the Primer Sightreading book and the I Can Read Music book to use with her and we are just going to go slowly and do lots of review and supplementation.
Posted by: pianojazzgirl

Re: age for MFPA vs. Primer - 03/14/14 10:55 PM

Yes, I would definitely add Primer Sightreading and I Can Read Music. I would also probably add Primer Popular Repertoire and Primer Gold Star. Assign as many pieces as you can each week (without overwhelming her!) in order to give lots of same-level reading opportunities. Also look through your collection for any other suitable pieces.

Besides that I would work on reading by direction with her. Something I've started doing recently, before introducing on-staff notation, is introducing directional reading by "playing" (I call it a game) "One-Line Reading". I turn a paper on it's side and draw a thick line straight across. Then I take out some large dot stickers. I start by having the student choose a key on the piano. I put 4 dot stickers on the line and tell the student that each time I point to a dot she should play her key. Then I have her close her eyes and I move one sticker above the line. When she opens her eyes I ask if she can tell what's different. When she points to the moved dot I ask if it's "higher" or "lower" than the line (She answers "higher"). I have her look at the keyboard and find the key that's higher than her original key and tell her that when I point to the higher dot she should play the higher key. We continue in this way... I add some more dots... some get moved above the line, some below. It's very easy for students to "get" this concept. I send the sheet and some stickers for them to do at home. A little later I send them home with 2-line flashcards of notes stepping up, down and repeating. When that is solid they get lines of stepping and repeating notes on a clef-less (5-line) staff. All of this is done concurrently with pre-reading. By the time we get to on-staff reading it makes things MUCH easier.

I think it's going to be very important to have her comfortable with reading by direction using steps and repeats before pushing on with skips.
Posted by: SharonAdelle

Re: age for MFPA vs. Primer - 03/20/14 08:16 PM

pianojazzgirl--I have a student that I will use that game with! It's perfect for her!! We just got to EGB in book C and I can tell she's having a hard time remembering note names--(her reading is still developing too which must have a correlation somehow) We were playing a game on musiclearning community and she was not seeing the difference between D and E. Ugh!!
Posted by: pianojazzgirl

Re: age for MFPA vs. Primer - 03/20/14 09:56 PM

I hope it helps! smile
Posted by: DonnaH

Re: age for MFPA vs. Primer - 03/24/14 05:30 PM

I have all my students (even adults) sing the note names out loud as they play until they can do so easily (even while sight reading). Then we choose between the note names, the counts, or the words, and eventually intervals, out loud as they play. I have some really cute videos of the little ones playing while singing. This also helps to keep their eyes on the music.