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#1244313 - 08/05/09 09:25 PM Hand Positions or No?
toejamfutbol Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/09
Posts: 124
Loc: MI
I am wondering about other teachers' opinions on hand positions. I am personally not a fan of them, which is why I like using Hal Leonard method books because they do not structure their lessons around "Middle C Position," or "G Position," etc.

I don't like using them because I think they inhibit good reading skills. None of my students who started learning with me know any hand positions, and they are great readers. When I present a new piece to them, instead of just saying, "Put your hands in C position," I ask them, "Where should your hands go?" They figure out, on their own, what the first note is in each clef, then follow the finger number to determine which finger to put on it. Then the rest of their fingers just fall into place. I think this is a much more nurturing way because it forces the student to figure out their position on their own by using their own sight reading skills.

Anybody disagree with me?

P.S. Almost every new student who comes to me with previous experience using hand positions can't read notes for ****. wink
_________________________
"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." -Thoreau

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#1244507 - 08/06/09 06:49 AM Re: Hand Positions or No? [Re: toejamfutbol]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: toejamfutbol

Anybody disagree with me?
No.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1244510 - 08/06/09 07:08 AM Re: Hand Positions or No? [Re: keyboardklutz]
BreakneckWalrus Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/04/09
Posts: 18
I agree with you. I don't really care about "C Position" or "F Minor" position... I just look at my sheet, find where the first notes are, and then go from there. I think it's much easier, and I feel much freer.

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#1244526 - 08/06/09 07:50 AM Re: Hand Positions or No? [Re: BreakneckWalrus]
TXPianoTeacher Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/17/09
Posts: 9
Loc: Texas
I agree too. I sometimes use the books that have those positions because I like other things that the books do, such as present challenges or ask questions about notes, markings or intervals. But if I use those books, I make sure I don't focus on "C position" or whatever. I ask them to show me where their hands go and see if they can do it. If they can't we talk about what the notes are and what the finger numbers are, but we never go for the "easy out" of what "position" they're in.

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#1244536 - 08/06/09 08:23 AM Re: Hand Positions or No? [Re: TXPianoTeacher]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I use Piano Adventures, which does use hand positions. I find them useful in the beginning while students are focusing on other things. I also think they are useful in helping young beginning students develop a spatial understanding of the keyboard - I see this in things like the ease in which they learn to move their hands an octave higher or lower.

PA also has technique exercises that have the child play with different fingers, or in different places. And I use a line-a-day sightreading books at lessons, where my students play the correct notes with just one finger. I don't have too much trouble with students learning to read, as long as I make sure "hand positions" aren't the only thing I'm doing. I think students learn to rely on them only if the teacher does.

I do have one student right now who seems overly dependent upon hand position - but I suspect she does it because she knows it bugs me. She's that kind of student. She hears me say every week that she is outgrowing music that stays in one place. When she says "I don't know the hand position," I say, "figure it out." (And she does.) It's like a dance we do - every single time.

Hand positions are only one key to the code. Individual note reading, reading intervals, listening - those are all clues to make reading easier and faster. I try to fill the students' armory will all of them.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1244550 - 08/06/09 08:58 AM Re: Hand Positions or No? [Re: Lollipop]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I use hand positions in the beginning, but I do it the other way around.
I have them find their place on the keyboard and then I ask them to tell me what position it is. We also talk about how many F (xx) positions could there be?

I think it helps them recognize the spacial relationship of the keyboard. Also, when they get into harder music, it is helpful to recognize that it is the "lower F" position for example. Some kids have a really, really hard time knowing which F their hands go on and want to put them by MC all the time.

In general, I dislike any help from the sheet music in telling them where their hands go. My kids know that I will continue to have them think about it until they find the right spot. I will not (very often anyway) tell them where their hands belong. If we don't have a way to teach that, they will not know what do to once they get home.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1244977 - 08/06/09 07:14 PM Re: Hand Positions or No? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Definitely a poor way of teaching an instrument, though I know the concepts of teaching string instruments relies on a certian sense in positions.

Meri
_________________________
Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

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#1245499 - 08/07/09 06:25 PM Re: Hand Positions or No? [Re: toejamfutbol]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: toejamfutbol

Anybody disagree with me?


Well, I will disagree. I teach mostly young children (4-6 year olds). I like (and they need) the security of 5-finger positions in the beginning of their piano study. They learn to transpose all of their pieces into 5 different keys (C, G, F, Dm, and Am).

But of course, eventually we will move out of position, and make use of more of the keyboard. I think that's why I DO like Faber's Piano Adventure series. They sometimes seem to rely on 5-finger positions, but they also do 'landmarks' and have kids crossing over and moving around the keyboard. IMO, a much better method than the old Bastien stuff, which kept kids in positions through several levels.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1245511 - 08/07/09 07:04 PM Re: Hand Positions or No? [Re: toejamfutbol]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: toejamfutbol
I am wondering about other teachers' opinions on hand positions. I am personally not a fan of them, which is why I like using Hal Leonard method books because they do not structure their lessons around "Middle C Position," or "G Position," etc.

I don't like using them because I think they inhibit good reading skills. None of my students who started learning with me know any hand positions, and they are great readers. When I present a new piece to them, instead of just saying, "Put your hands in C position," I ask them, "Where should your hands go?" They figure out, on their own, what the first note is in each clef, then follow the finger number to determine which finger to put on it. Then the rest of their fingers just fall into place. I think this is a much more nurturing way because it forces the student to figure out their position on their own by using their own sight reading skills.

Anybody disagree with me?

P.S. Almost every new student who comes to me with previous experience using hand positions can't read notes for ****. wink


I agree with you.
(one and one and one is three....got to be goodlooking cause he's so hard to see...come together....right now....)Sorry, every time I read your name here I start singing the Beatles.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1245521 - 08/07/09 07:43 PM Re: Hand Positions or No? [Re: Barb860]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
I don't like bastien. It gives kids the wrong impression that keys always must be played with only one specific finger, for example D (above middle C) must always be played with the second finger of the right hand.

And "positions" are confusing in the same way. I want my kids to be good sight readers, and from about the third lesson they are working out their pieces in steps and skips, and I'll write in the letter name of the first note in left and right hand. They feel proud to be able to read the music, and they are better at it than transfers I get who have learnt with positions and can't read at all intervallically.
_________________________
Piano teacher since August 2008.

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