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#1287486 - 10/15/09 11:14 AM Tale of Two Method Books
UpNorth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 70
Hi everyone - I'm an adult learner with some music background, and I'm pursuing piano instruction with emphasis towards classical music. I would like to ask a question about two method books: The Alfred Adult All-In-One (Book #1), and Frances Clark's Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner.

My piano teacher is experienced with the Alfred book, but has never (until now) seen the Clark method book. I'm pretty sure that my instructor would be open to the idea of me placing an emphasis on either one of these books for the next several months or more - he seemed intrigued with the Clark book when I brought it the other day. (Rather, I'll probably move through the Alfred Book #1 within a couple of months, so I'd likely move the Book #2 then, whereas with the Clark book, I'd likely be busy with it for a while longer.)

Given my desire towards building a solid foundation for classical music, which of these books would you suggest as being better suited to me? I can read music, but not yet rapidly enough to call it true sight reading, and I have a decent level of music theory under my belt. I have at least 2-3 hours a day to practice, and I'm motivated to learn.

Of course, I will discuss this with my instructor when we next meet, but I would like to have the benefit of other informed opinion for my own education. Your thoughts and opinions are appreciated.


Edited by UpNorth (10/15/09 11:17 AM)

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#1287489 - 10/15/09 11:19 AM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: UpNorth]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12045
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I think Clark's book is much more geared to prepare students for classical music. Alfred does a lot of arrangements of pieces with LH chords which sound nice right away, but in the long run it leads the student to have a weak LH - something to be avoided, in my opinion.

I would definitely use Clark with supplemental material, however. Also, Clark starts out with landmark reading, which means you have notes that are landmarks (Middle C, Bass F and Treble G) and then you read intervallically from those (2nd above, 2nd below, etc.). Personally, I teach my students to read the first note in each hand to find out where to put their hands, and then read the intervals from there. Slightly different, but I can use Clark and just ignore the landmark comments.

Also, while both books have theory in them, you will want to have a supplemental theory book for practice. I recommend Keith Snells' Fundamentals in Piano Theory published by Kjos.
_________________________
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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#1287513 - 10/15/09 11:58 AM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: Morodiene]
marimorimo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/02/09
Posts: 429
Loc: Kingdom of Nodame
I am not a teacher, just another beginner fresh from 'graduating' from Alfred Book 1.

Morodiene is right about Alfred leading you to have a weak LH. The Alfred Book was all I used until I was about midway through the book. Then my teacher made me play pieces from the Frances Clark Library of Contemporary Literature book (not a method book but a collection of repertoire. It has works from Bartok, Kabalevesky, etc. made specially for children so I think it counts as classical). The first piece looked much easier than my Alfred pieces then, so I was horrified when I started the piece and realized I was struggling with a left hand that wouldn't cooperate and seemed to have a mind of its own. By the second piece, I knew the reason for my clumsy LH was my (lack of) training with Alfred. I have since continued playing from the Contemporary Lit book and other classical pieces assigned by my teacher so LH is in the process of recovery and is starting to catching up with my RH.

So while I still like Alfred and will continue my studies with it, I think it's better to have supplementary material that is NOT from the same Alfred series (Greatest Hits, Christmas and Pop Song Books corresponding to each level ) because then you'll only be practicing the same LH chords from the method book, without any chance to strengthen your LH.
_________________________
Alfred's AOI Course Bk 2
Frances Clark Contemporary Piano Literature, Bk 1
The Festival Collection Bk 3
30th Week Playing Piano
--------------------------------------------
+ CASIO PX-720 and PX-730 +
--------------------------------------------

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#1287521 - 10/15/09 12:11 PM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: marimorimo]
UpNorth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 70
One thing I forgot to mention is that I often play/practice the Alfred pieces by switching LH and RH. I wonder if this isn't as effective as I thought it might be?

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#1287525 - 10/15/09 12:14 PM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: UpNorth]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12045
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
What happens when you have to do two different things with both hands? How will playing chords in one hand and a melody in the other help this? It is a very limited way of playing in general, even if you swap, you're still only focusing your attention on the melody.
_________________________
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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#1287554 - 10/15/09 12:45 PM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: Morodiene]
UpNorth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 70
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
What happens when you have to do two different things with both hands? How will playing chords in one hand and a melody in the other help this? It is a very limited way of playing in general, even if you swap, you're still only focusing your attention on the melody.


Fair enough - I'm still an admitted dumbass at this. grin

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#1287684 - 10/15/09 04:06 PM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: UpNorth]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
The Clark book is much more comprehensive. I use it almost exclusively with adults.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1287932 - 10/15/09 11:09 PM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: Minniemay]
UpNorth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 70
This is very useful information to me - thanks to everyone, and please continue to comment. Cheers!

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#1288905 - 10/17/09 05:42 PM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: UpNorth]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 325
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
UpNorth, I don't mean to be self-serving here, but you might consider having a look at the method I just published. If you really want to play classical music, my method is more geared towards that than either of the ones you mention. I find the Clark far FAR superior to the Alfred for classical training, but I tried very hard to come up with something even more focused towards classical studies. Please check out my link below if you are interested.
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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#1289574 - 10/19/09 12:18 AM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: Rachel J]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Rachel,

I went to the site and looked at the preview pages, but the ones chosen for preview really do not communicate the approach well. It jumps from a diagram of the piano mechanism to about p. 50 in the text. Would really like to see some sample pages on how you get from page 6 to page 50!
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1289737 - 10/19/09 10:01 AM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: Minniemay]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12045
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
It is interesting that you wait until p. 50 to introduce dynamics, too. I often find that this is asked for too soon in pianists, children and adults, mostly to keep their interest I think. However, it is a dimension that few are ready to add when it appears in other method books.

Do you have any more info?
_________________________
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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#1289834 - 10/19/09 12:41 PM Re: Tale of Two Method Books [Re: Morodiene]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 325
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Thanks so much for the insightful comments. I will try to see what I can do about the preview pages. I think my options there are limited, but I will certainly look into it. I agree that a more thorough preview would be great for people to see.

The best way right now to get a feel for the method is to watch the video at http://www.fundamentalkeys.com/videos/introfk.html

As for dynamics, I agree that most methods introduce them too soon. I teach my students to use a nice full, medium-level sound at first for everything. Then, when they have reached a certain degree of proficiency I introduce dynamics in a very methodical way. I find that if you introduce them too soon, they tend to get ignored since students are overwhelmed by too many concepts at once. Once they've been ignored for a while, it's harder to get a student to start paying attention to them later. By just waiting to introduce them, and then presenting them simply and gradually, I find the students develop a much broader palette of sound in the long run.
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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