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#1269069 - 09/16/09 12:41 AM Teaching a beginner
Tony Romo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/09
Posts: 39
I am teaching my first lesson next week to an adult beginner...

I'm not sure what to show her first,.. scales, chords, 5 finger pattern? Sharps, flats? C major scale? A song? I'm also not sure how to teach her to read music, if I recall it was just something I picked up on my own when I was young..

Any idea what to do for the first few lessons?

Thanks

Tony Romo

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#1269091 - 09/16/09 01:33 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Tony Romo]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Unfortunately you've totally left out how to play (physically interface with) the piano, only listing what to play. I'd go find a drawing board if I were you. ...and a hearty welcome to PW.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1269110 - 09/16/09 03:10 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: keyboardklutz]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Tony asks: "Any idea what to do for the first few lessons?"

My first reaction is, "Tony, Sweetheart, that is where you come in! You had best get busy!"

You need to teach the student finger numbers, keyboard orientation to the alphabet letter names, groups of black and white notes. Then you apply it to the music staff. You need to cover note values/duration when you get to easy songs. This comes well before the items you listed. There is an order and system to all learning.

Try to organize on paper how you would approach it. Read, read, read in piano teacher forum and use the search machine to find topics.

You have a week to prepare? Tony, I'll pray for you AND your student!

You are going to share your journey with us as you go along aren't you?

I'm counting on you to jump in and get a few lessons prepared ahead for your first student. I learned by doing and by spending every extra minute in the pedagogy books over many years. Getting started is the first step, but then you have to prove to yourself and others that you know what you are doing when teaching music.

Welcome to the forum!

Betty

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#1269119 - 09/16/09 04:11 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Betty Patnude]
marimorimo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/02/09
Posts: 429
Loc: Kingdom of Nodame
I'm writing my opinion from the perspective of an adult student who took up piano not too long ago (see sig).

All the things you listed would be a nightmare for an adult student in his/her first lesson. They may seem common sense to you, but even the C major scale is a tough challenge to overcome for a total beginner. I know it very well because on the very first piano lesson I had when I was 13, the teacher made me play the C major scale, hands together. I remember feeling totally helpless and silently cursing my clumsy fingers. If only I wasn't so stubborn, I might have given up on the first lesson altogether. When I took up piano again 10 years later, I learned that scales aren't usually taught until after a few more lessons in. By the way, even if you teach the C major scale, a total beginner with no music theory knowledge will not even realize its significance. It's all over our heads. I was lucky that I had rusty music theory knowledge from school so notation wasn't totally foreign for me when I started, but for someone who doesn't know what the treble and bass clefs are, staring at a page of music is the same as you staring at a page written in Sanskrit. We need to be eased in very gently. Adults tend to have high (and unrealistic) expectations of themselves and we easily get frustrated, so we need all the encouragement we can get. Especially when we see 5-year olds playing concertos on Youtube, it almost makes us want to bang our heads and think there's no point in continuing. Playing hands separate would probably not be too much of a challenge, but getting hands together for the first time will probably the most significant hurdle the adult student must face in the beginning. You have to be patient and see how your student progresses. Don't rush.

It's probably a good idea to get a method book to give you an idea of how first lessons usually go.

Good luck on your first lesson!
_________________________
Alfred's AOI Course Bk 2
Frances Clark Contemporary Piano Literature, Bk 1
The Festival Collection Bk 3
30th Week Playing Piano
--------------------------------------------
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#1269121 - 09/16/09 04:24 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Tony Romo]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Tony Romo
I am teaching my first lesson next week to an adult beginner...

I'm not sure what to show her first,.. scales, chords, 5 finger pattern? Sharps, flats? C major scale? A song? I'm also not sure how to teach her to read music, if I recall it was just something I picked up on my own when I was young..

Any idea what to do for the first few lessons?

Thanks

Tony Romo



Pick up Alfred's All-in-One Adult Piano Course Level 1. Start from the beginning. End the first lesson by teaching Beethoven's Ode to Joy on G-clef with 5-finger pattern (page 13), so your student will go home with a song and have a good feeling of actually learn a bit of music rather than just theory for the first lesson. Don't skip any of the theory and posture pages from page 4 through 10. They are critically important for a beginner. Many things you've taken for granted could be unknown to a beginner like notes moving up on the page corresponds to moving to the right of the piano. Just follow the book from cover to cover. It explains everything clearly and provides all the theory needed for the included music.

There is an active Alfred All-in-One community here with some teachers monitoring the thread over at the Beginner's Forum. You could get more ideas over there.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#1269138 - 09/16/09 06:27 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Tony Romo]
Ludwig van Bilge Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/09
Posts: 204
All due respect but it sounds like you need a lesson or two on how to be a teacher.

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#1269140 - 09/16/09 06:38 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Ludwig van Bilge]
Chris H. Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
Everyone has to start somewhere.

I think a method book is a good idea for a new teacher. At least someone else has prepared the material and structured the course for you. Go down to your local sheet music store and flick through some of the adult tutor books. Pick one that you think will appeal to your student and which fits in with your own views on teaching and learning. Before the first lesson you want to be very familiar with the book so that you can explain and perhaps demonstrate where it leads and also so that you understand the purpose and principals of each unit. Don't be afraid to branch out and use supplementary pieces and exercises when you are feeling more confident.

Good luck.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1269198 - 09/16/09 10:01 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Chris H.]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
My biggest mistake with adults has been moving too quickly - having the expectation that they will catch on more quickly, or will have already developed some skills - like finger coordination or listening skills. I really like the suggestion above about using the adult method book and ending with a "real" piece.

I have learned to explain to my adult students that I am going to possibly tell them things they already know, but that I would rather do that than leave out something important.

Keep in mind that the adult method books do move more quickly than kid books, so you won't get as much repetition. Make sure concepts are mastered before moving on, or your student will be in over his/her head quickly. Having supplemental pieces or parallel books to reinforce concepts will help, too.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1269200 - 09/16/09 10:05 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Chris H.]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11764
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Welcome to the forum! I recommend Hal Leonard's Adult Method book. I find this is the best way to start a student, and this will help you organize your thoughts as well, and you can learn appropriate orders in what to teach.

Set goals for yourself and your student. Try not to be too ambitious, and be willing to adjust it as you get to know your student and their affinity to piano. What would you like them to learn in their first year of piano? Then break that down into what order these things should be taught. When you have that order, determine how long something light take to be able to do well. Perhaps you'll spend the first 2 weeks on basic rhythms and finger numbers.

For example, if you want a student to be playing pieces of music hands together, then they will have to know their finger numbers, intervallic reading on the staff, note names, have a good sense of steady beat, grasp rhythms well (including counting out loud), and have a decent technique so that they are not hampered by collapsing fingers and unnecessary tension in the hands and wrist. So how will you teach these things? You teach in layers. You start with the most basic, and once they display that they can do this and it is easy for them, you add another layer.

Again, a good method book will help you get started, and considering the fact that you don't have a lot of time in order to do this, that would be your best route. I do not recommend the Alfred as it has students playing LH chords usually too early for their technique, and a reliance upon hand positions rather than note reading.

Best of luck to you, and like Chris said, you have to start somewhere...we all did. Let us know how it goes and if you have any questions, we'd be happy to help. smile
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1269203 - 09/16/09 10:07 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Lollipop]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1264
Loc: California
Definitely go with an adult method book. Faber's Adult Piano Adventures book is a great way to begin, an all-in-one method book. Here's a link: http://www.pianoteaching.com/publications/mainLibraries/pa/adult.html
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1269231 - 09/16/09 10:55 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Morodiene]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5459
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Try not to be too ambitious, and be willing to adjust it as you get to know your student and their affinity to piano.


Pearls of wisdom
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1269312 - 09/16/09 01:14 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Tony Romo]
Tony Romo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/09
Posts: 39
Some great advice, thanks... this has really reminded me of how slowly I learnt these concepts, and how things need to be taught in steps...

You said I left out PHYSICALLY what they will do to play the notes.. if I show them how to play a single note, and then how to play a few notes, is it ok if they don't know what the notes are yet?

Could I for instance, show them CDEFG, without telling them what it is they are playing?

Would I tell them stuff like "play your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd finger on those white notes?"

Or should they be able to read CDEFG before I have them play it?

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#1269318 - 09/16/09 01:21 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Tony Romo]
Tony Romo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/14/09
Posts: 39
Oh yeah, and when is it a good idea to show them the thumb crossing under? smile

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#1269320 - 09/16/09 01:25 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: AZNpiano]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
The maze of 88 black and white
keys is often intimidating to
a beginner, and so you should
point out at the start that
there is really a very
simple pattern to it all: the
black keys repeat in an identical
pattern of two's and three's,
7 complete sets of them on an 88-key
piano; the 7 white keys surrounding
each set of 2 and 3 black keys,
when played in succession, is the
familiar "do re mi fa sol la
ti" scale that everyone is
familiar with; those seven complete
sets of 7 white and 5 black
keys are actually the same
notes, but at a higher pitch
as you go up the keyboard;
thus, there are really only
7 + 5 = 12 different notes
on the piano, not 88, and
moreover, only 7 of them, the
white keys C D E F G A B, are
ever directly notated on
sheet music, so that tangle
of Martian hieroglyphics-like
scrawl on scores is really
only 7 different notes.

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#1269334 - 09/16/09 01:49 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Gyro]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
You place your guy 1 step from the piano, the center of his body aligned with middle c.

You ask him to take a step, touch middle c, and continue the line from his belly until his forehead.

Then you ask him to imagine that there is a swallow sitting on middle c. He is to take a step with his right foot, deftly catch the swallow with his right hand, turn from right to left on his left foot until his raised hand with the swallow is above middle c, and the release the swallow ...

... all in a single graceful movement.


Edited by landorrano (09/16/09 01:49 PM)

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#1269342 - 09/16/09 02:02 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Tony Romo]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Tony Romo
You said I left out PHYSICALLY what they will do to play the notes.. if I show them how to play a single note, and then how to play a few notes, is it ok if they don't know what the notes are yet?
Take a plane for instance. After showing/telling what it does would you then have them build a cabinet? No, you'd teach them how to plane, which is a physical technique.

I think it's OK to let them know what note they're playing. My students don't necessarily get near a piano lesson 1 though by the time I've explained the physiology and sorted out their posture.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1269343 - 09/16/09 02:03 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: landorrano]
BearLake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/08
Posts: 144
Loc: SE Idaho
Originally Posted By: landorrano
You place your guy 1 step from the piano, the center of his body aligned with middle c.



This reminds of my first lessons, but I remember my alignment was the line between the e and f key. Ever since then it has become my habit to sit with that alignment.

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#1269348 - 09/16/09 02:11 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: landorrano]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Can you drop by for an hour or two, Tony?

I'll show and tell you everything that works for me in my "Piano Power" method. It will cover at least the first 10 lessons, and by then you'll have prepared your student to be visual, aural, and tactile in their learning of the basics. This will be the same timeframe that you are observing your student to clues as to their learning styles and preferances and how they are going to process music making. You teach to their preferences while inserting things to make progress in their weakness area.

Just sit on the bench without music and talk to yourself asking questions: What do I need to know first that will place my hand on the piano keyboard ready to play a note? Any note. Just one note.

You can't cross a thumb if you don't know how your fingers are numbered. Notice "opposing" fingering between LH and RH!

You can't do a 5 finger position without knowing where you are located on the piano and the range of the keys.

Yes, you can play songs without knowing the names of the notes. I use pre-chart to get the "position" and the "fingering impulse choices" so, to me, playing comes first.

Oops, didn't somewhere you have to do keyboard orientation with black and white notes graphics and sound to explore A-B-C-D-E-F-G?

Oops, this, and Oops that, Tony. Get organized.

See the first teaching steps through the eyes of your beginner.

Time in which to be prepared for him/her is moving toward your deadline which will be here before you know it.

Don't let this make you too crazy!

Betty

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#1269414 - 09/16/09 04:32 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Betty Patnude]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Oh, boy. This is my pet peeve. You are not even remotely prepared to teach. I'd back WAY up and say you'd better not begin teaching until you've done one or more of the following things:

1. Take a pedagogy class.

2. Read at least 3 pedagogy books.

3. Go observe a semester's worth of lessons with a teacher or two who know what they're doing.

4. Study at least 4 adult courses before you pick one.

5. Check out a magazine called "Clavier Companion." The most recent issue discusses evaluating teaching materials. They're talking about kids books, but the same principles apply to books for adults.

You have to start somewhere. Starting with a student is not the place to start, imo.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1269459 - 09/16/09 05:35 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Tony Romo]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Tony Romo

Or should they be able to read CDEFG before I have them play it?



It become more and more difficult to communicate with your student if she plays the C instead of E, and you say 'E' and she has no clue what you're talking about. If nothing else it just helps with communication. It's not a problem with method books as they label every note in the beginning, and teaches reading music from day one.

I was shocked to find a friend had put color stickers on his piano at home labeling all the keys. I made him take them off to his disappointment. Also, to transpose music effectively, you need to stress reading by intervals not just by notes, and encourage your student to play the same piece in C, G, and F after a few lessons.

Lots of methods abound. The pentatonic method begins student using only the black keys for many lessons. I don't care for it, but it's pretty popular.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#1269728 - 09/17/09 03:17 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: 4evrBeginR]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
The two adult students I teach have loved Faber's "Accelerated Piano Adventures". The books are designed for students age 11 and up, but adults have really loved this series and over this past year progressed well, one at level 2, the other at level 3. I prefer it by far to the music series marketed for adults!

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#1269745 - 09/17/09 05:59 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
The two adult students I teach have loved Faber's "Accelerated Piano Adventures". The books are designed for students age 11 and up, but adults have really loved this series and over this past year progressed well, one at level 2, the other at level 3. I prefer it by far to the music series marketed for adults!


Just a comment from an adult going back to the piano. These are the first books I picked up when going back to the piano. I strongly disliked them. They did not sound like real music to me at all.

The second set of books I tried were Alfred's Adult books. I did not care for these either, but it was not as strong of a dislike as Faber's.

Finally I went back to John Thompson's - the series I had learned from as a kid. This was music to my ears and I was able to work through book 1 in a fairly quick amount of time.

I'm not trying to suggest that you need to use John Thompson's series. For an adult who is not returning to piano, this series can be extremely difficult (at best laugh ).

I am suggesting that you should get familiar with a variety of method series and be ready to take personal preference into account.

Rich
_________________________

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#1269812 - 09/17/09 09:47 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: DragonPianoPlayer]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
First things first.....

How about asking your new student what he/she expects from you?

Teaching is a two way contract, and whatever others say about your suitabilty to teach, we all had to start sometime, and find our own way. Some of us even managed to be successful, without formal training (SHOCK, HORROR!) If your heart is in it, you will succeed.

By the way, I PM'd you.
Look at the top of this forum page, and check the 'My Stuff' link.

Rob



Edited by R0B (09/17/09 10:05 AM)
_________________________
Rob

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#1269830 - 09/17/09 10:20 AM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: R0B]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7348
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Would you consider a 17 year old an adult beginner? Close, anyway.

I culled from my library some Francis Clark books, etudes, supplementary solos, contemporary literature, lowest level, and we started. Student could read some notes as sung in choir. Student began 5 months ago, continued every other week over summer. We're now in level 3, upper elementary, book of Helen Marlais' Festival Collection and student is working on a Telemann piece and Burgmuller's Arabesque, Op 100. Doing well, too. Student has tremendous drive and willingness to dig, but doesn't like modern "stuff."

What I'm saying is that when working with adults, flexibility in repertoire assignment is key, and having a large library to pull from is really helpful. This will come with time.

This will make you smile. Student tells me doesn't like fast stuff, so I play one slow romantic number from series, then the arabesque. Student smiles and say, "I want to learn that one."
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1271186 - 09/19/09 05:15 PM Re: Teaching a beginner [Re: Tony Romo]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Tony,

Are you making some progress with your being ready for giving your first lesson?

What's happening?

Betty

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