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#63120 - 06/02/13 11:23 PM Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation
pianoenthusiast Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 05/22/13
Posts: 37
Hello...New member and new learner here. There are a lot of choices these days for the piano learner...which is a good thing. I wish music learning was something we all took in primary and high school...sort of like math, physics, biology, and humanities...but still I am 27 and have been told I still can learn music and fulfil my dream of playing songs.

Over the last months, I had frequent trips trips to the local music shop and seen a lot of method books. But I have narrowed it down to these 3 based on comments on similar forums and talking to my friends.

basically my impression is alfred premier and piano adventures are sort of similar. (I give a slight advantage to the adventures but Alfred's songs are interesting and the books come with a CD not just background accompaniments...

Celebration is the book for the RCM and seems very academic and posh...no child-like pictures....just music and sight reading...

What are your observations and comments?

Warm Regards,

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#63125 - 06/03/13 08:40 AM Re: Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation [Re: pianoenthusiast]
EllaCat Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/03/08
Posts: 365
Loc: Atlantic Canada
Hi there and welcome! From your post it sounds like you're a beginner planning to go the "self-taught" route? Honestly my first recommendation would be to find a teacher and get set up with some lessons. Even with excellent books a teacher would still be a massive benefit in ensuring that you apply the information in the books correctly, and guiding you through a program geared to your learning style, interests, and skills.

If you are determined to learn on your own - I'd probably go with the Piano Adventures books. Personally I prefer the "Accelerated" series over the "Adult" series for adult beginners - I find it paced better, and with more interesting music.

The RCM books are great, but even the lowest level is intended for someone with a couple years experience. They're also configured differently than a method series like PA or Alfred - the pieces in each book aren't in order of difficulty, and there aren't the built-in explanations of concepts etc. I'd steer clear of these for the time being.

Hope this helps, and hope you find something that works for you! smile

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#63159 - 06/05/13 11:27 AM Re: Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation [Re: EllaCat]
pianoenthusiast Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 05/22/13
Posts: 37
Thank you EllaCat! Fellow Canadian Here! Ultimately I want to prepare for the RCM. But, although RCM website is very well designed, I still do not know to use what materials...All RCM books seem somewhat intermediate as you said...Could you tell me a good starting point for me to prepare for the RCM 1 in the next 5 months? I am very excited!

Thanks for your perspectives

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#63161 - 06/05/13 01:16 PM Re: Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation [Re: pianoenthusiast]
EllaCat Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/03/08
Posts: 365
Loc: Atlantic Canada
So when you say "prepare for RCM 1" do you mean just playing the music, or actually taking exams?

I saw from your other thread that you've gone through "Piano for Dummies" and have bought a set of Piano Adventures books. Have you tried playing any of the music in PA 1 yet? If so, how did it go for you? Hard/easy/medium?

In very general terms, I generally wait until my students are around PA 3 or 4 before I start introducing RCM 1.

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#63172 - 06/06/13 01:14 AM Re: Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation [Re: EllaCat]
pianoenthusiast Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 05/22/13
Posts: 37
Hi smile Im from Toronto btw. My story: Well when I first became interested in piano, I was content with just playing some favourite tunes. As a kid, I also had some bad experiences with music theory...I took 2 levels of it and it was very non intuitive for a kid with a bad teacher...so when I decided to return, I did not have much hopes...I began with the dummies book (Not bad), Youtube videos (some awesome and definitely better than my useless teacher), and Leila Fletcher's Adult course (magnificent despite being from the 60's)...It is actually very hard to find and you can't find it on Amazon...its published only in Ontario today(Google: Mayfair Montgomery Publishing)...I did PA Basic(started recently and am 2A now)...

So, now i'm thinking...should I take RCM exams? To be honest, I don't know what is the point in taking them for me, but I still like to be motivated and all...Maybe I even get a certificate if I'm really good at it smile

Let me know smile
Best,

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#63176 - 06/06/13 09:59 AM Re: Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation [Re: pianoenthusiast]
Susan Offline
Star Member

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 2168
Loc: Texas
Pianoenthusiast,

I can see you have a real interest in piano! But you should not consider the RCM exams without a teacher who has a lot of experience putting students in these exams. You want to be really prepared, and there is so much involved as far as balance between the hands, articulation, hand position, phrasing, style, voicing, etc. Playing for a judge is a different level than recreational playing. Maybe you should interview with some teachers in your area. A method is never as important as the teacher.

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#63177 - 06/06/13 10:01 AM Re: Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation [Re: pianoenthusiast]
EllaCat Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/03/08
Posts: 365
Loc: Atlantic Canada
Unless you're prepared to study with a teacher, I'd steer clear of RCM exams.

I know you've been finding the RCM website confusing in terms of what to actually DO. That's because it's not intended to provide a curriculum - that's what teachers are for.

I'll see if I can explain this better (teachers, feel free to jump in if I've missed anything or am out of date - I haven't yet had the opportunity to send one of my own students through exams.)

The RCM exams are based on a syllabus (which for piano is not available for free download - must be purchased). For each grade, there's a list of pieces from which the student chooses a selection to perform. The student is also tested on sightreading, technique (scales, chords, etc) and ear-training. The specific requirements for each part of the exam are spelled out in the syllabus.

Some grades also coordinate with a written theory test, which you must pass prior to receiving your certificate for the playing exam.

How you get to the result above is what you would work out with a teacher - many students will use the Celebration Series books, but there is plenty of repertoire at each grade which is part of the syllabus but is NOT in those books. For learning the technique, eartraining, theory, etc - there's a bazillion routes by which to learn the requisite skills and prepare for the exam.

This is why you see so many different books etc listed on the RCM site - there's lots of different ways to get to the end result. The books you see there are the ones officially endorsed by the RCM.

So taking on RCM exams really isn't something which I would recommend a beginner attempt on their own. Apart from navigating how to build your own curriculum, it really requires a teacher's oversight to ensure you would be prepared for a successful exam. I have seen many students TRULY believe they are playing a piece/scale/etc wonderfully, and in reality it's full of errors.

That said - there's nothing to prevent you from playing from the RCM books recreationally - I do that regularly with my students. There's great music in there! Just bear in mind that the pieces within the Celebration Series books aren't laid out in order of difficulty - so don't feel like you have to start at page 1 and work your way through in order.

Hope that helps explain "the RCM thing" a little better! I don't want to discourage you, just want to help you manage your expectations and make sure you set yourself up for success. smile

Originally Posted By: pianoenthusiast
Could you tell me a good starting point for me to prepare for the RCM 1 in the next 5 months?

I don't think 5 months is a realistic timeline, given you're currently working on PA 2A. I would keep working on the PA sequentially, and when you get around the middle/end of 3B or so pop into your music store and have a look at the grade 1 Celebration Series repertoire book. Sit down at a piano in the store and give a couple pieces a try (which is a totally normal thing to do). See how it goes, and decide from there if the time is right.

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#63187 - 06/06/13 02:32 PM Re: Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation [Re: EllaCat]
pianoenthusiast Offline
Contributing Member

Registered: 05/22/13
Posts: 37
Well Thank you! I have a teacher- not a great one, but one good for beginner studies. But I think RCM teachers have to be official RCM-endorsed teachers.

EllaCat thank you for taking time and clarifying the RCM thing. I better have a realistic expectation that setting myself for disappointment. Ok, I will continue with PA through 3B (with my teacher)and then think of RCM thereafter.

Also about books on the RCM website...to be honest they are not not very beginner friendly as you said previously. I think if RCM invest in their own method books, it will be a huge market for it, but they really seem to support music teachers, which I wholeheartedly think is a great thing as well.

One more thing...I found the Pa theory books a bit redundant for adults. Would I still be able to go forward if I only invest in:
-Lesson
-Technique and Artistry
-Performance and Gold star performance books?
-I also usually get the playtime blues and favourites as well.

and skip the theory?

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#63188 - 06/06/13 02:41 PM Re: Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation [Re: pianoenthusiast]
PrincessBear Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 02/02/13
Posts: 144
Originally Posted By: pianoenthusiast
Well Thank you! I have a teacher- not a great one, but one good for beginner studies. But I think RCM teachers have to be official RCM-endorsed teachers.
Not necessarily. My middle school/high school piano teacher was not "endorsed" as you say, but I was still able to play my RCM Grade 4 exams. I believe my teacher did go on to get her ARCT eventually, but it was definitely AFTER I did my RCM exam under her tutelage.

But that was in 2000, so maybe things have changed since then.

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#63191 - 06/06/13 08:27 PM Re: Piano Adventures Vs Alfred Premier Vs Celeberation [Re: pianoenthusiast]
EllaCat Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/03/08
Posts: 365
Loc: Atlantic Canada
Originally Posted By: PrincessBear
Originally Posted By: pianoenthusiast
Well Thank you! I have a teacher- not a great one, but one good for beginner studies. But I think RCM teachers have to be official RCM-endorsed teachers.
Not necessarily. My middle school/high school piano teacher was not "endorsed" as you say, but I was still able to play my RCM Grade 4 exams. I believe my teacher did go on to get her ARCT eventually, but it was definitely AFTER I did my RCM exam under her tutelage.

But that was in 2000, so maybe things have changed since then.

That's my understanding too. Around 2005-6ish I got myself an RCM teacher number as there was potential at that time (which didn't pan out) that I might be putting a student into exams. There wasn't much to setting it up - as far as I remember it was just basically contact info.

pianoenthusiast, it sounds like you're not happy with your current teacher. What seems to be the problem? If it's not something "fixable," perhaps it's time to look for a different teacher. This website is a great resource, but with the right teacher you really shouldn't need it - a good teacher can help design a curriculum and recommend books to help you reach your goals.

Originally Posted By: pianoenthusiast

One more thing...I found the Pa theory books a bit redundant for adults. Would I still be able to go forward if I only invest in:
-Lesson
-Technique and Artistry
-Performance and Gold star performance books?
-I also usually get the playtime blues and favourites as well.

and skip the theory?

I highly recommend my students do some kind of theory book - theoretical understanding of music goes a long way towards improving playing skills. If you'd like something more mature than the PA theory, you could try Gloria Vandendool's Keyboard Theory books - "Basic Rudiments" would be the level to start at. The first couple chapters may be fairly easy, but after that you should start to see some challenge. These books have worked really well for my students.

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