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#21146 - 08/23/03 10:00 AM Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Jalapeņa Offline
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Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
I've already been prepping students by introducing new concepts/skills a week or so before they appear in the PA book, but find that it's not enough. Like Lisa says, something more radical needs to be done. I need a roadmap, & am hoping that the Practical Piano Pedagogy book will provide me with some answers. However, I'd like to hear from Arlene on this subject.

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#21147 - 08/24/03 11:06 AM Re: Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Susan Offline
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Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 2168
Loc: Texas
This is just a thought. I USED to work ahead in the technic book. They could learn the concept with easier music. Then when we got to it a week or two later in the lesson book we could work more on expression and review. The performance books were reinforcement. It seemed like we went through the books faster. I don't know why I stopped doing that, but I'm going to start back again and see how if it still works.

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#21148 - 08/24/03 11:18 AM Re: Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
I've done that, & found it to be very effective. Any other suggestions?

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#21149 - 08/24/03 02:58 PM Re: Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Lisa Kalmar Offline
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Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
I'm not Arlene, but if you want to use PA Primer, which she doesn't, you might like this anyway. I think the trick you're looking for is to simply rearrange the PA Primer materials when they start lessons, PLUS spend at least 2-3 lessons at the beginning with no songs from the books. The stuff you will assign them (plus written work done AT the lessons) will come directly from the primer books plus other places like Artistry at the Piano, Celebrate Piano, Music Mind Games, etc.

This will allow you to teach a lot of the gobblety gook that is important but often gets glossed over BEFORE they start songs. Plus it will set you up for the sequence Susan described that we both already teach from: T&A concepts introduced by rote 2-3 weeks in advance of actual assignment, followed by Lesson book with theory done at the lesson. Performance book then reinforces and gives them songs to play while you set them up for new concepts in the next unit. Just like Mary Gae does with her lessons in Artistry.

I will actually have real lesson plans by the end of the week, but here's an example of what I'm thinking about: I don't like the order PA primer teaches key names and the way it glosses over keyboard topography so quickly. While I'm at it, I also HATE, in retrospect, the finger number presentation, plus the musical alphabet thing looks cute but isn't really my "cup of tea." ;\) What to do, how to fix...

I plan to make game-like assignments on 8 X 10 cardstock that I can jazz up with stickers and colored markers and then laminate for re-use (for other eventual beginners and hand out for home assignments instead of making them find those obscure pages in the books.

So far, for keyboard topography I plan to have two. For week one, one will have a keyboard with two blacks and CDE prominently displayed. I will probably have them write the key names in themselves in different colors. Somewhere there will be written instructions that these need to be memorized for that week, plus the composing assignment for the week will be to make up a piece using hte two blacks. (Week 2 will follow with FGAB.) Note at the lesson they will also have skipped ahead to the theory/lesson book pages and filled that stuff out, even though those pieces won't come for several weeks.

Also, for keyboard topography, I will have an assignment card called "Blind as a Bat." This one will have Halloween bat stickers to jazz it up and the instructions to blindfold themselves and then find the two blacks. Step 2 will be able to ID the keys CD&E while blind. Week 2 would be to do it with 3 blacks and FGAB.

For fingering, a card will be "Simonette Says", which will be a game form for learning finger numbers. At the lesson I will trace their hands and then have them write the finger numbers on the hand, using different colors for each one, plus LH and RH. (Since I like "sparklies", for the girls we will probably glue on a huge fake jewel & draw a ring on finger 4 just for fun!) The assignment for the week will be learning those thangs. The instructions in Celebrate Piano are way more fun than PA, so I will probably have stuff typed on there more like that. Probably I will pre-draw a face of Simonette and then we will glue a cartoon balloon with the instructions attached to her mouth. Note that any finger number activities in the books will be done at the lessons when this stuff is presented.

For week 2, after they have mastered finger numbers, the next game card will be Tabletop Tappers. These will be fingering sequences for them to practice on either a tabletop or the fallboard. This will allow you to prepare them for playing certain songs in advance by using the same fingering, letting the technique get under their fingers before they ever see a note on a page. Examples of kind of stuff I'm looking for: The Walking SOng on page 12 introduces the repeated note, a very different technical feel. Set them up in advance with a tapper. (Note than In the Jungle in Performance unit 1 actually misses the sequencing with it's repeated finger 4 prior to formal introduction. I've actually had kids initially thrown by that, and it was something I missed preparing them for the first time I taught with this method.) Playing skips will be No Big Deal if you set them up a couple o' weeks in advance with a tapper using fingering for The Doorbell.

That's just an example, and I hope it gives you a glimpse into how my lesson plans will work. Basically, I will be isolating technique, rhythm, & early reading stuff, teaching it separately with fun looking assignment cards before they begin any songs. Once they start songs, they can then be pre-prepared on new stuff, like staff, meter, intervals, etc. waaaay in advance.

[ 08-24-2003: Message edited by: Lisa Kalmar ]

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#21150 - 08/24/03 03:30 PM Re: Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
Thanks, Dr. Lisa. \:\) I wanted to do a Mary Gae-like intro., sans piano pieces, for the first few weeks using PA, but wasn't sure how to do it. Your ideas sound great.

I just think that beginning students shouldn't be playing any pieces before finger #'s, keyboard topography, a few landmark notes (I plan to teach bass clef "All Cows Eat Grass," Middle C, & treble clef "FACE" as landmark notes) & basic rhythms are learned. I think that giving students a couple of weeks of piano prep. activities--before assigning any piano pieces--is the way to go.

I'd still like to hear from Arlene, though. True, she doesn't use PA, but she may still have some great advice to share. \:\)

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#21151 - 08/25/03 06:35 AM Re: Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Lilla Offline
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Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
The activity/theory workbooks from both Sing & Play and Time To Begin include worksheets very similar to the descriptions above. JFYI

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#21152 - 08/25/03 06:53 AM Re: Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
I have both the Sing & Play (S&P) & the MT Time to Begin (MT TTB) books, but am looking for something to use with average-aged beginners (age 7 & up), not preschoolers. I doubt that children aged 7 & up would appreciate the nursery rhymes, etc. in S&P or the Chip & Bobo illustrations & mind-numbing "music" (cough, gag) of MT TTB. I do agree that the S&P & MT TTB books contain good piano prep. activities. I just want a better way to package the activities, if that's possible. Of course, I could always use Mary Gae George's intro. to music, pretend to be a drill sergeant & tell students they're in piano boot camp, LOL. \:D Seriously, I think Mary Gae's intro. to music is the best piano prep. course for average-age beginners. I just don't know how many of today's young people would discipline themselves to do all of Mary Gae's drills. Lots of memorization, much use of the metronome; would drive the average student ballistic I'm afraid. Somehow there must be a middle ground between babyish activities & military-like drills that will appeal to the types of students I usually have to work with. Lisa's ideas sound like they'd work. Thanks, Lisa. \:\)

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#21153 - 08/25/03 07:22 AM Re: Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Lisa Kalmar Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/10/00
Posts: 4277
Loc: KC
Well, they aren't necessarily my ideas - good pedagogy is good pedagogy is good pedagogy - just my ideas how to attractively package them for regular age beginners so that it enhances PA and you can get more mileage out of the course and those first beginning lessons. My suggestions were, of course, for someone who chooses to use PA and not those other methods for whatever reason or not...

The problems most methods have is one of publishable space. Many of the most important concepts beginners need to get under their belt that would benefit them in the long run are in fine print or stuck in the back of the book or chapter (example: Music Tree warm-ups) or all jumbled & stuffed together on a page. This makes it easy for teachers to miss or skip, plus students are more likely to not practice it daily. If my eyes glaze over when I look at pages 4 & 5 of PA lesson, for example, do you think the average 8 year old is going to realize that stuff is as important as a song and practice it as such? But if you prepare a cool looking age-appropriate practice card and assign it before songs start you'll/they'll be ahead of the game.

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#21154 - 08/25/03 07:37 AM Re: Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
I had to type that post fast, then quickly take Piano Kid to school. I just now logged back on to finish my post & state that what I'm looking for is a way to package age-appropriate activities attractively so that they appeal to students & seamlessly fit with the PA books... when Dr. Lisa beat me to the punch! \:D I already know what needs to be taught. I've been teaching piano, working mostly with beginners, for many years. I'm just looking for a more creative presentation--a better package.

If I wanted to use S&P or MT TTB, I would.

[ 08-25-2003: Message edited by: Jalapeņa ]

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#21155 - 08/25/03 08:03 AM Re: Prep. activities to introduce new concepts/skills
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
You guys are both referring to lesson materials. I mentioned the activity pages. Not that you have to use them. LOL. Just that the description of oversized cards (a nice idea btw) fits almost precisely what's on some of the pages in those activity books. Don't you guys occasionally reach into your stack of books, flip open a page to fit a particular instance, and use something from another method? I do it all the time. Had to settle down a rambunctious DD student yesterday and used some pages from Bastien Piano Party purely for re-focusing and attention-getting. First time I've ever used it but it fit purpose at the time. We also banged out quarter notes and half notes on a over-turned stainless steel bowl. Fun and my student loved it. yeah, yeah - I know you're talking about 7 yos. Same logic.

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