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#27777 - 06/30/04 11:36 AM Re: My Plan
HopkinsHarmony Offline
New Member

Registered: 06/11/04
Posts: 14
Loc: Minnesota
Thank you Susan. I'm glad I was able to clear those things up. When you mentioned how your daughter used Bastien and plays beautifully, it reminded me how both my sister and I took lessons for years from 2nd grade through college and completed the entire Bastien series our first few years before going on to intermediate and now advanced stuff. We've never had problems with note-naming, rhythms, etc. I was even talking to my mom about that one time and she never remembers us talking about or using hand positions or anything the whole time we were using the Bastien series. She and my dad helped us practice a lot and I think we did just fine with Bastien. We never even had supplementary things like flashcards. Now we're both pretty good pianists and piano teachers. I'm also a Music Ed student and have been teaching for almost 10 years. I wonder if it's just today's kids? Everything is so rushed these days and parents (at least the parents of many of my students) don't take the time to help their kids practice and understand things. When my sister and I were growing up, we took time with my parents to practice and do theory and we weren't trying to rush everything. We were involved in some activities but not everything like today's kids are! Maybe this has something to do with it.

OR, maybe I'm not teaching it right? ...

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#27778 - 06/30/04 02:10 PM Re: My Plan
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
I used first Schaum, then Glover, then Bastien, to teach my daughter (Piano Kid). She learned her notes just fine, thanks to the fact that I taught her how to read rather than relying on the method books to do it. When she reached Bastien level 2, I put her in PA2A because her hands were too small to play 7ths & octaves (which Bastien & others somehow think must be introduced at that level). Piano Kid thrived in PA because she didn't have to stretch her hand out of shape to play the pieces. Further, she experienced no problems playing songs that were not written in fixed hand positions. I can't take all the credit, though, because Piano Kid is obviously musically gifted (she was playing Bach minuets & familiar tunes by ear at age 4) & would probably have learned no matter what.

A small percentage of students I've worked with have experienced major difficulties playing pieces that are not written in fixed hand positions. I must stress that these were the very same students who hated flashcard drills & resisted note reading like the plague, so I'm not convinced that either the method books or my way of teaching are to blame. Nevertheless, to prevent such problems, I prefer to use PA because the pieces gently nudge students out of playing in fixed hand positions. Better to be safe than sorry, IMO.

I'd like to add that virtually all of my students have responded well to PA & have liked the music. I can't say the same for Alfred, Bastien, Glover, etc. When students like the music, they tend to practice more.

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#27779 - 06/30/04 08:27 PM Re: My Plan
Susan Offline
Star Member

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 2168
Loc: Texas
Jalapeņa, just to make it clear, Piano Adventures wasn't available when my daughter used Bastien with her teacher. That was a long time ago. I would not use it now. I was just pointing out that the Bastien method in itself did not have to ruin a student. I agree that everything about Piano Adventures is so much better than what we used to have.
My teacher used "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" with me. And I survived to talk about it. \:D I loved some of those pieces, sigh.

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#27780 - 06/30/04 09:09 PM Re: My Plan
Jalapeņa Offline
Star Member

Registered: 02/20/03
Posts: 1143
Loc: New Mexico
 Quote:
Originally posted by Susan:
Jalapeņa, just to make it clear, Piano Adventures wasn't available when my daughter used Bastien with her teacher. That was a long time ago. I would not use it now. I was just pointing out that the Bastien method in itself did not have to ruin a student. I agree that everything about Piano Adventures is so much better than what we used to have.
My teacher used "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" with me. And I survived to talk about it. \:D I loved some of those pieces, sigh.


I didn't know about PA when I was using Bastien with Piano Kid, either... and no, I wouldn't dream of using it now! ... and no, it doesn't have to ruin a student. Unfortunately, many times these methods do ruin students, particularly when they're used by inexperienced teachers who aren't aware of the pedagogical pitfalls.

Thank God for PA!

BTW, my 1st teacher used "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" with me, & I survived to talk about it, LOL! \:D Fortunately for me, my 2nd teacher yanked me right out of JT & did her own thing, using a variety of different books rather than dogmatically sticking to just one method. \:\)

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#27781 - 07/02/04 10:53 AM Re: My Plan
Emily Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 05/12/04
Posts: 18
Loc: Thornton, CO
"But, they cannot name notes, they can't play anything unless they know what position it's in. I'm really worried for these kids. I've tried many, many things to get them out of this thinking.

This is where I get worried. How long do each of you normally notice that your students rely on position playing? I think I have a good reason for being a bit concerned. Any suggestions?"

Amy,

I've only been teaching a year so I'm a newbie here, but I started noticing this with my son who is just starting out in PA Primer. I could ask him where his first notes were and he'd say the note name and put his finger in exactly the right place, every time. My daughter, who is using the Alfred method, would freeze up and panic when asked the same question. Both of my kids are taking from a teacher who is a friend of mine. I've got her two kids, both in the Alfred method, and started noticing the same things in them. I'd ask them what note they were starting on and they'd freeze, even if it was middle C! I started asking my students who were in PA the same questions and they were right on, every time. Now that I see where the problem lies, I am able to ask directed questions to the kids that are still in Alfred and slowly, so slowly they are starting to see the notes outside of positions. I've started having them tell me which notes they are starting on, using the guide notes more than the mnuemonics. Sometimes we'll say notes names while playing, but that gets frustrating for my Alfred kids so we'll only do it for a few measures at time. I see strengths in Alfred, it's produced some powerful responses in my daughter, but she's also gravitated to songs in PA that she's heard my students play at lessons, she thinks they sound fancier. So I'm seeing every method has it's strengths and weaknesses, but I really like PA for teaching note reading, it's solid! I'll start with it from now on.

And as far as the non staff pieces, I like them because the student can play something right away, without knowing much, I think it gives them a sense of success. But I know it's not for every student.

[ 07-02-2004: Message edited by: Emily ]

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#27782 - 07/14/04 09:45 AM Re: My Plan
WenBee Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 07/12/02
Posts: 92
Loc: Minneapolis
When I was a starting piano teacher, I did not think I would like pre-staff music because I thought it was weird, unnecessary, and I wasn't use to it. But I think in most cases, starting Piano Adventures Primer and starting at the beginning and including all the pre-reading stuff is very helpful. Without the staff to learn, students can concentrate on all the other stuff. Otherwise there is so much to learn and hardly anything to play! This way they concentrate on all the other stuff, focus on staff later, as soon as pass previous stuff, and they can play something that sounds musically pretty and interesting and unique right away! Not merely boring a few note stuff. My students and I love Piano Adventures primer for this reason. There is enough music to concentrate on these other things for a week or four, and then they move on to the staff being able to concentrate on learning that because they already know finger numbers, keyboard, rhythm, and dynames.

Regarding not knowing letter names. I know that happens and it can be really frustrating. You have probably already tried these things but here goes.

These are things I have done when after my regular teaching, drilling, and the Piano Adventures Theory books, they still don't get it, or they forget it later, or I have transfer students who don't know and are beyond this teaching in their books: Have a study page of all the notes in order so they can visualize and understand the progression. Have them study, repeat to themselves. Then complete worksheets on it. Have them purchases flashcards and practice with them. Another thing that is helpful is that I do occasional group lessons. One activity I often do with them in group lessons in the first couple years is a board game I made where they have to identify flashcards in order to move forward. I tell the students ahead of time about it so they have a chance to study if they are having problems. The children really do not want to be way behind the others in a board game if others identify note names turn after turn and they cannot. That scenario has happened, and then the students learned them between the group lesson and the next regular lesson! I have also taught "All cars eat gas." and FACE... But I think it is more important to understand note progression then merely memorize these. What do others of you do? What has worked the best?

I usually try to be positive, encouraging, and politically correct, but one thing I did with one student who consistently played well, by ear, but usually could not name notes is I gave her a bad time since I knew she did well in school and got good grades and liked reading and math. I Showed her how music was similar to math and reading and even easier then what she knew in these subjects and that there was no way she could not learn her theory lessons and that what was the point in taking lessons if she wasn't even going to try to learn it? She came back the next week and knew her note names. \:\)

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