Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >
Topic Options
#24252 - 05/17/04 03:52 PM how is this possible?
pianoannie Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 946
Loc: midwest USA
I am copying/pasting an online conversation I am having with a piano teacher on another piano site. (I hope it's ok that I do this). I realize his response to my question is long, but if anyone is willing to read through it, I would love to have your opinions about it. How could this be possible?! I would like thoughts from people other than the person making these claims, which is why I'm bringing it up here as well as chatting with him over there.

<<<<

on May 16th, 2004, 6:38am, pianoannie wrote:

Are you saying that most of your students begin playing Bach's 2 part inventions after 3 or 4 months of lessons? I've got a lot more related questions, but I'll wait and see if I've understood this correctly.






Yes, you understood correctly. Of course depending on the student you can give or take a month, but as soon as the student can read music (not sight-read, but read music – that is follow a score) I will start on the 2 voice inventions.

It usually takes a student from 20 to 40 days to learn the first one (remember, they have daily lessons). After the first one, progress in the other ones is much faster. After we finish the fifteen (usually a one year project) the student knows so much about music theory, harmony, counterpoint and technique that s/he is ready to tackle almost anything.

Of course we work on many other things besides the two voice inventions (as you may have noticed from my other posts I am a Scarlatti fanatic).

Also sometimes we do not learn all 15 inventions.

It really depends on the student.

And age plays a big part on this too. The little ones (4 – 7) usually do not do them, unless they want to.

But I have a five year old who plays number 1 and number 8 beautifully. No she is not a prodigy. And it is always a pleasure to see jaws drop when she goes to the piano and play – as it happened a few days ago on a birthday party. Several children were there banging their fists on the piano that was in the hall where the party was taking place. She was the youngest one. She told off the other children in no uncertain terms to stop messing with the piano, proceeded to sit down herself, and played the two 2 voice inventions, the Pink Panther theme, the Bach menuet in G, the first movement of Clementi’s sonatina op. 36 no. 1, Amy Beach’s Pierrot and Pierrette, Will Baily’s Prairie dog Jamboree, Bergerac’s Marshmallow Sundae and Ivonne Adair’s Thumbelina, queen of flowers. The parents just could not believe it.

She started lessons in January, this year (her 5th birthday was in April). I predict that by the end of the year her only limitation will be the size of her hands.

I sincerely believe that this is not my merit – or even hers – although we both work hard. I am totally and utterly convinced that this sort of result is completely due to the system of lessons everyday. And anyone and everyone can achieve it, if they follow the same approach. The downside from a teacher’s point of view is that you will not be able to fit 60 students a week teaching this way. And most parents are not prepared to face this sort of scheme (here in the UK with the holiday culture, parents cringe when they read my policy and realise that payment and lessons continue during half-terms and holidays). But that is all right with me. I am perfectly happy to teach the few who want to learn, and it is not my intention to convince anyone of anything.

<<<<<<

Top
#24253 - 05/17/04 05:26 PM Re: how is this possible?
DaisyZ Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 04/22/03
Posts: 67

Either he knows something I don't (which is very very possible) or he's exaggerating a little... to put it mildly.

Even supposing you had an hour a day to work with the student, and were teaching by rote, it would be a challenge. But teaching all the note and rhythm reading? What about all the developmental stuff that so many five year olds find hard- for example, playing different fingers at the same time... let alone different rhythms, articulations, and dynamics? And what child would want to work on one (very difficult and in small print with no pictures) piece for a month or two?

I'm finding it hard to believe... then again, there's a lot out there I know nothing about. I'd love to peek into your original conversation- would you mind saying what board it's on?

Top
#24254 - 05/17/04 06:29 PM Re: how is this possible?
Jason Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/14/00
Posts: 2019
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I can believe it. I've seen several students like this. Inventions #1 and #8 from a 5 year old aren't typical (and the teacher mentions that in the post), but with concentrated daily effort and frequent lessons, inventions after 3-4 months is definitely possible and even common among some teachers. (Though I will admit it's less common in the US. Most students and teachers I've seen who work this way are Russian, eastern European, and Chinese.)

My guess is that most parents here in the US wouldn't really go for it, but among some people, this is simply the way it's done.

And a lot of children have no problem at all with the kind of repetition this type of study requires. In fact, I think children are very well-suited to this kind of repetition - it's really not much different than a video game.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


www.pianoped.com

Top
#24255 - 05/17/04 07:16 PM Re: how is this possible?
pianoannie Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 946
Loc: midwest USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by DaisyZ:
But teaching all the note and rhythm reading? What about all the developmental stuff that so many five year olds find hard- for example, playing different fingers at the same time... let alone different rhythms, articulations, and dynamics?

I'd love to peek into your original conversation- would you mind saying what board it's on?[/B]


Exactly. One big criticism I've heard of Bastien (from many teachers) is that they teach 8th notes in the primer book. So I can't imagine that many teachers would consider this appropriate.

I've never encountered a 4 or 5 year old like this. In my experience a 4 year old is doing great if she can play pieces in Piano Adventures Primer with musicality!

I pm'd you to answer your question about which board it's on.

Top
#24256 - 05/17/04 07:30 PM Re: how is this possible?
pianoannie Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 946
Loc: midwest USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jason:
I can believe it. I've seen several students like this. Inventions #1 and #8 from a 5 year old aren't typical (and the teacher mentions that in the post), but with concentrated daily effort and frequent lessons, inventions after 3-4 months is definitely possible and even common among some teachers.


Yes, the teacher did mention that is less typical for a 5 year old, but he said that most of his student beyond age 7 are playing inventions after 3-4 months, "give or take a month" which would imply some are learning them after 2 months. OK, so they are having lessons every day, but in as few as 40 lessons (2 months of lessons 5 days a week) they are playing inventions?! Reading the music, understanding all of the rhythms, articulations, notes, etc?! Still a bit incredible.

I don't think we can accurately say that 40 daily lessons would correspond to our typical system of 40 lessons over a 9 month span, because a student can only process and practice so much in daily lessons. But, even saying they equate, how can we (if we even wanted to) as American teachers see progress like this from our students after 9 months? In my experience, a new student working in the Piano Adventures series would most often be somewhere in level 1 after 9 months, although sometimes level 2A, a far cry from Bach inventions and Clementi sonatinas. Are the Fabers dumbing things down for American students? Or are American teachers just really doing something wrong?

I ask these questions rather "tongue in cheek." I'm just really having a hard time fathoming that children in other parts of the world are that VASTLY different from here. I know, the USA is not known for having the most dedicated piano students, but even my hardest working students, passionate about piano, don't compare to what this teacher is describing.

Top
#24257 - 05/17/04 08:27 PM Re: how is this possible?
Elbe Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 323
Loc: The Great Northwest
Has he ever indicated what his practice expectations are? If the student spends an hour a day with the teacher, does he then go home and put in 2-3 more hours of practice time, or is the lesson actually a daily practice session? Whatever the case, this does not compute in my little corner of the world. I can't imagine trying to convince parents to drive their kids to my house two days in a row, much less five! And any five year old who can not only play at that extraordinary level, but thoroughly reprimand and humble a gang of piano abusers along the way, well...she's a prodigy in my book!

Top
#24258 - 05/17/04 08:43 PM Re: how is this possible?
namui Offline
New Member

Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 1
I know who he is (because I also read that forum). I don't have direct opinion about the question you ask. But I would like to add as supplemental information that all of the practicing advices (4 times) that he gave me (on-line) for teaching my daughter (7.5 years old) have ALL worked like magic. In all cases, after I applied his practising routine (designed for the certain problem) or technical suggestion, the improvement is like breaking through a wall!!

The most impressive case is when my daughter had struggled for playing a competition piece up to the 176 speed for months until it was only 4 days from the competition (already with a lot of help from a few famous teachers). She could control the tone quality only up to around 130. I was desperate and tried asking his advice on-line. He was kind enough to prescribe a long detailed 3-day practice routine. That routine phenomenally made my daughter play up to the required speed with ease and even with more control. It moved her from the level of consolation prize up to the second!! This is a case that shows that the playing technique that he suggested AND his teaching technique is very effective and efficient.

This is just an additional information.

Top
#24259 - 05/17/04 11:31 PM Re: how is this possible?
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
Wow..this is an interesting thread! All I can say is that it is my belief that here in the USA we do not expect very much from our children and overall our children are lazy and undisciplined. I am convinced there is so much more that could be taught,and learned, but I truly doubt many of us have that mind set and if we did or do we would have a VERY hard time convincing parents to operate the way we've read above in this post. I'm going to keep reading this one!

P.S. emilymae..I answered you at the other thread here.

[ 05-17-2004: Message edited by: NancyK ]

Top
#24260 - 05/18/04 04:48 AM Re: how is this possible?
Vivace' Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 1717
Loc: USA
Many, not all of course, of our American students are a bit over committed to various activities. My Asian students, who have a totally different work ethic, only study piano and go to school.

I would like to share a success story with a little home-schooled American child, 6 yrs. old. I started her this past November ( 6 months) in the Hal Leonard series because her older brother had the books (complete with CDs) from another teacher. She is now beginning Level 4
and brings me to tears with her beautiful tone. I don't typically use method books to level 4, but she enjoys the series and still very young. We are also beginning standard repertoire, of course.
This child plays all major and minor scales, chords, arpeggios beginning on white keys and memorizes with ease.

I'm not interested in beginning Bach inventions with her at 6 yrs. old. I could probably teach them to her, rote, but I don't see the need.......my teaching philosophy just doesn't include teaching this way..
_________________________
Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us,and never stop learning." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

Top
#24261 - 05/18/04 06:39 AM Re: how is this possible?
Eric Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 2325
Loc: New York, NY
It's probably possible, but only with very obsessive parents and an overly-ambitious teacher.

It's sad what some adults do to kids just to make them into little Trophies.

I think it's healthier for a five-year-old to be working happily and steadily through the Primer.

So even if this guy is telling the truth (which I sort of doubt) I think his method does more harm than good in the final analysis.

[ 05-18-2004: Message edited by: Eric ]

Top
#24262 - 05/18/04 06:58 AM Re: how is this possible?
alidoremi Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/11/02
Posts: 2120
Loc: California
 Quote:
By Vivace:
Many, not all of course, of our American students are a bit over committed to various activities. My Asian students, who have a totally different work ethic, only study piano and go to school.


You are correct about the Asian students. Just look at who the winners/performers are at MTAC State Convention each year (for all categories, including composition, improv, etc...)

Top
#24263 - 05/18/04 08:39 AM Re: how is this possible?
Jason Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/14/00
Posts: 2019
Loc: Iowa City, IA
There's really nothing wrong with eighth notes in primer for most kids. Kodaly begins with 8th notes and has no trouble at all. And I actually think it's preferable to start 8th notes early. Just think of all the little folk songs kids sing - Mary Had a Little Lamb, Ring Around the Rosy, Star Light Star Bright, etc... All of these songs have lots of 8th notes. The idea that starting with quarter/half is easier than eighth/quarter is unique to piano education and, in my opinion, a very bad thing.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


www.pianoped.com

Top
#24264 - 05/18/04 11:11 AM Re: how is this possible?
Jalapeña Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
 Quote:
Originally posted by Eric:
It's probably possible, but only with very obsessive parents and an overly-ambitious teacher.

It's sad what some adults do to kids just to make them into little Trophies.

I think it's healthier for a five-year-old to be working happily and steadily through the Primer.

So even if this guy is telling the truth (which I sort of doubt) I think his method does more harm than good in the final analysis.


Thanks for posting this, Eric. My thoughts exactly!

Top
#24265 - 05/18/04 11:58 AM Re: how is this possible?
Jason Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/14/00
Posts: 2019
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I don't think you have enough information to make a final analysis. Are you really claiming that this person is doing harm based on 3 paragraphs worth of secondhand information without ever meeting the teacher or the student?

Let's not be hasty! \:\)

 Quote:
Originally posted by Eric:
I think his method does more harm than good in the final analysis.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


www.pianoped.com

Top
#24266 - 05/18/04 03:23 PM Re: how is this possible?
pianoannie Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 946
Loc: midwest USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jason:
[B]I don't think you have enough information to make a final analysis. Are you really claiming that this person is doing harm based on 3 paragraphs worth of secondhand information without ever meeting the teacher or the student?

Let's not be hasty! \:\)


Thanks Jason, it is not my intention *whatsoever* to be critical of this teacher (although based on every piano student I have ever known and every piano teacher I have ever known, his claims are loftier than anything I have ever witnessed). I just wanted to find out if any of you have ever known of such progress? It is unfathomable to me.

In all fairness to Eric, though, I must say that I'm not convinced that this is necessarily the "best" way to teach a child piano. If what this man says is true, then it's the fastest way to teach a child piano, I'll give him credit for that! But that may not equate to "best" in the long term. Who knows what negative ramifications there *could* be? Maybe none, or maybe by age 12 this student will despise music. Maybe this student will have missed out on many other worthwhile endeavors for such extreme commitment to one activity--just some thoughts. Or maybe this student will go on to be one of the greatest pianists who ever lived. Who knows?

I'm just intrigued by this man's claims.

(post was edited to add a very important "not" in the sentence which should have said "I'm NOT convinced this is best...." Sorry to those of you who read it earlier and were confused.

[ 05-18-2004: Message edited by: pianoannie ]

[ 05-18-2004: Message edited by: pianoannie ]

Top
#24267 - 05/18/04 03:38 PM Re: how is this possible?
Jalapeña Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jason:
Let's not be hasty! \:\)


IMO, a good teacher "makes haste" slowly. A good musical education is slow, thorough & methodical... not fast, full of gaps & haphazard.

Top
#24268 - 05/18/04 03:52 PM Re: how is this possible?
Jason Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/14/00
Posts: 2019
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Of course, just because something's fast doesn't necessarily mean it's haphazard or full of gaps.

One of the best teachers I know once told me that, to a certain point, you have to be careful and go step-by-step; but there does come a point where you have to make a bit of a leap - usually between the late intermediate and advanced levels - because not everything can be prepared 100%.

Also, just because we don't teach something doesn't mean a student doesn't get it. Some students are capable of figuring a lot out on their own, and when we try to teach them something they've already figured out, all we do is annoy them. \:\)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


www.pianoped.com

Top
#24269 - 05/18/04 07:41 PM Re: how is this possible?
Dolce Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 06/04/02
Posts: 934
Loc: USA
Can his students read music?

Top
#24270 - 05/18/04 08:29 PM Re: how is this possible?
pianoannie Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 07/20/01
Posts: 946
Loc: midwest USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dolce:
Can his students read music?


According to him, yes. He said "Of course depending on the student you can give or take a month, but as soon as the student can read music (not sight-read, but read music – that is follow a score) I will start on the 2 voice inventions."

Top
#24271 - 05/18/04 10:37 PM Re: how is this possible?
NancyK Offline
Mainstay Member

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 644
Loc: North Dakota
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jason:
[B]There's really nothing wrong with eighth notes in primer for most kids."

I agree with that Jason. I think the students are quite capable of this. I sometimes find that my teaching and my students get ahead of the books. Many students can absorb much more faster than the books "allow" it.

Top
#24272 - 05/18/04 11:30 PM Re: how is this possible?
Vivace' Offline
Star Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 1717
Loc: USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by NancyK:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jason:
[B]There's really nothing wrong with eighth notes in primer for most kids."

I agree with that Jason. I think the students are quite capable of this. I sometimes find that my teaching and my students get ahead of the books. Many students can absorb much more faster than the books "allow" it.


That's why, all together now, " The Teacher is the Method".


\:\)
_________________________
Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us,and never stop learning." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

Top
#24273 - 05/19/04 07:39 AM Re: how is this possible?
DaisyZ Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 04/22/03
Posts: 67
 Quote:

Some students are capable of figuring a lot out on their own, and when we try to teach them something they've already figured out, all we do is annoy them.
" I sometimes find that my teaching and my students get ahead of the books. Many students can absorb much more faster than the books "allow" it."


Good heavens! This is the opposite problem from the one I face... teaching something over and over many different ways and still the kid doesn't catch on. I wish I had more students that caught on without me teaching them!

Top
#24274 - 05/19/04 11:22 AM Re: how is this possible?
Jalapeña Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
 Quote:
Originally posted by Vivace:
That's why, all together now, " The Teacher is the Method". \:\)


So true \:\) ... but I never said that a good teacher has to use certain "method" books ;\) (which, if you recall from some comments I posted a few moons ago, I prefer to call "course" books because the method should be in the teacher, not in the books). The books, along with computer software & other teaching aids, are the course materials. The method is the manner in which the course materials are presented by the teacher.

Be that as it may, a good teacher does not instruct in a helter skelter manner.

I wish to add that my students in Central America were a lot easier to teach, & progressed much faster, than my students in the U.S. A lot of this had to do with the musical environment created for these students at home, at school, at restaurants, etc. They weren't smarter students. They just had a musical culture that most of today's U.S. students lack. Thus the reason many U.S. music teachers attempt to provide this musical environment by teaching early childhood (preschool) music classes.

The Central American students don't need early childhood music classes because their homes are literally saturated with rhythmic, melodic music. Because of this, they all know how to dance, sing, etc. before they start traditional piano lessons. They learn it at home, so we piano teachers can concentrate on teaching piano rather than on teaching general music education. Eighth notes? 3/4 "waltz" tempo? No problem for Central American students. Major problem for many U.S. students.

I'll never forget one of my students in TX who, when told she was going to learn to play a march, asked me if I meant the month of March! Unbelievable, until you consider that the girl had probably never heard of a march. What can you expect out of children who grow up listening to rock, rap, etc.? Mostly loud playing (forget any dynamic level softer than fff) & severe problems with all rhythm patterns except the driving 4/4 "rock" tempo. :rolleyes:

Maybe if we could get some quality music back into the schools & homes, things would change. I don't know. All I know is that you can't expect much out of children who don't grow up (from infancy on) with music in the home. They're disadvantaged from the get-go, & the piano teachers who enroll them have the job of teaching them general music education before starting to teach them to play piano.

BTW, there's nothing wrong with 4/4 "rock" tempo, or with any other rhythm pattern for that matter. It's just that children who don't listen to a variety of musical styles on a regular basis, starting at an early age, are going be more challenging to teach than those that do. The more musical experiences a child has, the better.

Jalapaña, who really misses the days when she actually taught piano (not general music education)! Those were the days... Sigh...

[ 05-19-2004: Message edited by: Jalapeña ]

Top
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >


Moderator:  Archivist 
Search

Recent Posts
Top Posters (Last 30 Days)
Newest Members
mypianorotebook, Amber_Bagz, 430725, SKaR, adagiok5
2658 Registered Users
Forum Stats
2658 Members
46 Forums
5771 Topics
62996 Posts

Max Online: 1422 @ 10/03/16 05:11 PM