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#1292223 - 10/23/09 03:43 AM Need some help with a new 15 yr old student
SueKZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Colorado
HI all,
I just acquired a really nice 15 yr. old girl. She had taken lessons previously for a few years, but I am having a hard time finding a book that is good for her. I got the All in One Alfred Adult but its way too heavy on the theory. This is a kid who told me (and so did her dad) that all lof that theory was a turn- off. I realize she needs to learn some theory, but thst Alfred (and also the Bastien Adult) is way too heavy for this kid. She told me she likes to play "pretty " music. I know that she will not be one of these kids who takes lessons for yrs. on end. I think her goal is to just be able to play and enjoy the piano. Any ideas on a good way to teach this kid? I was looking at good old John Thompson Level 1 because it teaches theory without pages and pages of workbook stuff. Kind of theory as you go along with the songs. Any ideas? I told this nice young lady to bring me all of her music from the previous lessons she had taken and maybe I can ascertain at least something of what she knows from that.
_________________________
Sue
Private Piano Teacher since 2009

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#1292237 - 10/23/09 05:25 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: SueKZ]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Throw away ALL the books and find a good teacher who knows how to play by ear and show that method.

Ask her to bring CD's or an ipod of her favourite music and what she considers to be "pretty" music.

Here is how you learn a song completely by ear:

1) Play a song and sing or hum the melody at the same time. Play it several times, breaking up the song into "bits" or 4 bars at a time.

2)Get the student to sing the melody by itself, not the word, only the notes. This will tell you how well they have the tune in their mind. How well you sing is not the point, how accurate you are with each note is. You'd be amazed some kids are all over the place, that's because they haven't been taught to LISTEN and hear the music.

2) Figure out what key and scale it is. Always be thinking in that "key". If it modulates, switch to the next "key".

3) Add the harmony with chords in the left hand. Start with triads first, the 1, 4, 5. Experiment to see which chords sound best. You'll get a feel for when to play the tonic chord, and when to use the minor and dominant.

4) Play the left hand chords only while playing the song from the CD at the same time. This enforces the rhythm of the song.

5) Add both right and left hands together, 4 bars at a time.

Start with simple tunes like Happy Birthday, Row row row your boat ...

When she gets better, find her a good jazz teacher!



Really the only theory you need to know is: The major and minor scale. Chords: major 7, minor 7, dominant 7 (2-5-1) in jazz. Major and minor triad for rock. That's it.

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#1292238 - 10/23/09 05:26 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: SueKZ]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
If she has been playing for a few years previously then you might not need to rely on method books. Surely she has got to the point of playing elementary pieces? I know it doesn't always work like that but I think you need to find her level in terms of repetoire first of all to really know where to go next.

If she can already play a little I would be looking for pieces that she might enjoy and that would inspire her to practise. Then I would slip in some of that nasty theory without drawing too much attention to it by keeping it relevant to the pieces themselves. You know the kind of thing, let's look at the key we are in and maybe learn to play the scale and primary chords etc. Question her about the marking within the music and hopefully she will have some questions for you to answer. I love it when a theory hater comes with a piece and wants me to explain something marked in the score!

I'm sure you will get some good ideas here in the forum.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1292249 - 10/23/09 06:19 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Chris H.]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
SueKZ, here's what I would try first if I were starting another teenager. I would explain to her that the theory she is learning is just practical ideas...it's about how to read music more easily. I would let her know that she has to "pay her dues" in order to learn to play piano, but that it will be worth it. I would let her know that the short cuts that teenagers want to try in my experience have always slowed their progress. If she want to accelerate and play quickly, the best way to do that is through daily practice...the more she practices the faster she'll progress. And I would supplement with pieces that interest her. If she refuses all that advice, then she's off to the slow track with the teacher bending over backwards to make it fun.

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#1292251 - 10/23/09 06:23 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Overexposed]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Oh, I see your student has had years of lessons. My advice was really for a new beginner. But to evaluate her reading, pull out some level 1 pieces and see if she can read it...then move down or up a level to continue evaluating. And yes, it sounds reasonable to have her bring in her music, so you can see what she's accomplished so far.

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#1292292 - 10/23/09 09:10 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: SueKZ]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: SueKZ
HI all,
I just acquired a really nice 15 yr. old girl. She had taken lessons previously for a few years, but I am having a hard time finding a book that is good for her. I got the All in One Alfred Adult but its way too heavy on the theory. This is a kid who told me (and so did her dad) that all lof that theory was a turn- off. I realize she needs to learn some theory, but thst Alfred (and also the Bastien Adult) is way too heavy for this kid. She told me she likes to play "pretty " music. I know that she will not be one of these kids who takes lessons for yrs. on end. I think her goal is to just be able to play and enjoy the piano. Any ideas on a good way to teach this kid? I was looking at good old John Thompson Level 1 because it teaches theory without pages and pages of workbook stuff. Kind of theory as you go along with the songs. Any ideas? I told this nice young lady to bring me all of her music from the previous lessons she had taken and maybe I can ascertain at least something of what she knows from that.


Sue, I'm a bit confused by your post. The girl has had lessons for a "few years" yet you're talking elementary level method books. What level is she at? What can she read? What can she play? What is the quality of her playing?

I took on a similar student last Spring and chose to use some elementary level repertoire books plus a book of etudes so we could develop reading skills, cement playing skills, etc., at her level. She has made tremendous progress, to her credit.

There is not a lot of theory worth dwelling on at this level, so I'd recommend just covering the basics with her on the fly. Key signature, structure, etc., without making a big deal out of it.

John
_________________________
"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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#1292333 - 10/23/09 10:50 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: John v.d.Brook]
UrbanSpice Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/04
Posts: 25
If she's interested in playing pretty music try:
1. Etude - Paul Scheftel
2. River Flows in You - Yiruma (Every single teenager is in love with this song. Just go to youtube.)
3. Through the kaleidoscope - Steven Cravis
4. All of Me - Jon Schmidt

The first one is pretty easy but the others are very challenging. If she really wants to learn them then she will work hard and be motivated to do so. I have students of all ages and levels learning the above pieces. If you break down the song the right way then any student can learn them.

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#1292340 - 10/23/09 11:02 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: John v.d.Brook]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1267
Loc: California
I have a couple of teenage girls who love to play 'pretty' music. Here are my suggestions (although it's difficult to gauge what level your student is):

Just For Fun (Books 1 and 2) - Melody Bober (late elementary to early intermediate level)

Romantic Rhapsodies - M Bober (intermediate level)

Lyrical Solos (levels 1-5) - Robert Vandall

Romantic Portraits (book 1) - Kevin Costley (intermediate level)

Theme from the 'Notebook' - you'll find easy versions in movie collections by Alfred, Hal Leonard

'Bella's Lullaby' from Twilight - Hal Leonard's Movie Favorites (arr. Fred Kern)

'Dawn' from Pride & Prejudice - same book

I would ditch Thompson and put her in Faber's Piano Adventure series (if she still needs a series). The music in the PA series is wonderful and student respond well to the pieces. They do have an adult series too.

Christmas is coming up. The PA Adult 'Christmas at the Piano' books are WONDERFUL (book 2 is my favorite). Big-sounding arrangements that aren't too challenging. Also, check out the 'In Recital w/Christmas Favorites' (levels 1-5) series by FJH. Various composers create beautiful lyrical arrangements of popular standards and carols.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1292377 - 10/23/09 12:16 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Has she brought ALL of her music with her to lessons?

If you can take a look at where she's been or what she's had access to and use that to guide you, you'll have a better picture of who she is musically.

She also needs to show you what she knows how to do on the piano, so do you have a good picture of who she is musically yet?

Ask her to demonstrate "pretty music" she has played before to you.

Someone protesting "theory" as a problem to her is probably the students really needing theory, just not from a "theory book". The piano teacher can include some of that verbally while drawing a keyboard or music staff graphic. Using "vocabulary words" and defining themr would be part of it slipping theory in to the lessons without it feeling like theory. I would imagine that this same young lady is adverse to technique?

I would say from the clues given, that the "years" she has spent in lessons so far have not been to her advantage.

The fact that you are still thinking of method books for her instead of having graduated to piano pieces makes me think that you are very uncertain as to how to evaluate her progress to date and to know where to start with her.

My comment is not an insult it is an ownership of where both teacher and student are in finding an enjoyable path to the future together.

If you can say more about what you have noticed in this student, perhaps we can find more appropriate suggestions for you and for her.

I think you may need more observation of her skills.

There is beautiful music written at all levels and I think many of us would like to contribute some ideas - I feel limited in responding because the words "lessons for a few previous years" does not ad up to the situation you are describing.

Do you feel that she needs to be rescued? Or, is she a good musician to date?

Betty Patnude

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#1292383 - 10/23/09 12:24 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Dumdumdiddle, thanks for listing all these books. Right now I have mostly beginners but I've made a list of your recommendations, as I think it will come in useful.

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#1292406 - 10/23/09 12:55 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Overexposed]
SueKZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Colorado
I wrote my post a little late at night, so it wasn't as coherent as I hoped for. hehe. All are great suggestions and thank you! She has had 2 lessons with me so far. I started her with the Alfred Adult All in One, but I can see that its going to be too boring for her. There is a ton of theory in that and it goes too fast for a 15 yr., in my opinion. Basically she is being reviewed because she is not remembering what she learned in the past. She is definitely at the elementary level (around Level 1) but I do not think it will be for long as she starts to remember how to read the notes and some theory. She learned it, but its like she repressed it all. That must have been "some" teacher she had. I did ask her to play something that she liked and she only knew one song by memory. It had a pretty "New Age" feel to it. She mentioned "Mulan" (Disney movie music, which i am unfamiliar with). She is bringing all of her music in a box on Wed. Then I plan to look thru it at my leisure before her next lesson. Some of this unknown stuff is because she is very shy and probably a little embarressed that she forgot so much. ( I am guessing). It was suggested to me by her father that as she gets further into high school (she is in 9th grade) that she is going to get busier and busier (of course) and piano may not be the top priority. I would like to get her to a place where she can sight read most intermediate music that she wants to play. So I don't think a lot of scales and theory is going to be in the picture. It goes totally against my grain, but since this is what she wants...I will do it. Otherwise I know that kid will drop piano. Some is better than nothing, in my opinion. I have the same type of issue with that 87 yr. old lady that I posted about several months ago. I really do not feel she is progressing (not a big practicer), but basically I am her coach. Her husband has dementia and half the time i get to her house and he has the TV BLASTING and its always a big issue to get him to turn it off so we can have a lesson. OY. But no other teacher will keep her due to her husband and the dementia, so i am trying to be a kind soul and go with the flow with her. Let's face it, its an unusual circumstance.
Thanks all for the advice!!! (Always something. hehe)
_________________________
Sue
Private Piano Teacher since 2009

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#1292425 - 10/23/09 01:15 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: SueKZ]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
SueKZ, David Nevue has a lot of beautiful new age sheet music in a wide range of difficulty on his website, www.davidnevue.com

Click on 'sheet music' and it will take you to a page where you can look at sample pages and listen to the pieces. There's an option to see the pieces in rank order of difficulty.

I'd also (not surprisingly) recommend Ludovico Einaudi's music. He has some pieces that are not too difficult, although it's harder than Nevue's easier pieces.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1292484 - 10/23/09 02:18 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Monica K.]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Sounds like most of the teachers here are of the traditional pedagogy. Like I said earlier, this student doesn't need more sheet music, she needs to learn to play by ear.

This requires a different mindset.

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#1292533 - 10/23/09 03:55 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Wizard of Oz
Sounds like most of the teachers here are of the traditional pedagogy. Like I said earlier, this student doesn't need more sheet music, she needs to learn to play by ear.

This requires a different mindset.


I'm not sure where you got that from the OP. She said the girl wants to play "pretty" songs, and not have a lot of theory - nothing about playing by ear.

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#1292537 - 10/23/09 03:58 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Wizard of Os, maybe you are right. But please, correct me if I'm wrong - playing freely by ear does need SOLID theory of tonality, harmony, chords and scales, doesn't it? It's certainly a thing to talk with her about, but if she hates doing theory it might be a major obstacle in learning to play by ear and improvise.

I'm an adult beginner and have never used any method book. I don't have a particularly good ear, and in fact I playing by ear was never my purpose - I love classical. The thing is, I started doing some theory this year from my own interest and growing ambitions to play well, and not mediocre. Till now I've been working with my teacher mostly on pieces I have chosen and really, really loved to practice. She never forced theory alone on me, nor she did scales (but she encouraged me to learn them of my own will - which I begun only recently), knowing I wasn't aiming for professional performing, but for fun alone. We both agreed a lot of theory can be done within pieces.

I'm a bit chaotic, I know... my point is, even if it is against your grain, SueKZ, you may be surprised when she one day will decide to get more solid knowledge, do scales and theory of her own will. Until then I believe she can enjoy piano and you can enjoy working with her, even not doing typical classical-school stuff from the very beginning.

It sounds totally stupid, especially in Piano Teachers Forum, but I will say it anyway. When I played and recorded Rachmaninoff's C# minor Prelude (Op. 3 No. 2) and Chopin's Nocturne 20 in C# minor op. posth (both in my YouTube channel from the link in my signature), I had completely no idea how the major and minor scales are constructed. If you would ask me to play, let's say, D major, I would be hopeless. Maybe it was stupid, but it was fun - now I am learning all that, and have fun with learning theory too.


M.
ready for bashing from teachers who disapprove - and I completely understand smile
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

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#1292573 - 10/23/09 05:07 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Mati]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Mati, how did you learn to play if you didn't know the scales? Did you just read the notes from the sheet music? Not bad for learning on your own!

As for the OP, what I'm saying is approach learning songs from the other end. Don't use sheet music and rely on the ear instead. I've done this with some of my students who want to just learn pop songs.

Most classically trained players haven't been taught how to play by ear, and so don't really know how to go about teaching it.

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#1292608 - 10/23/09 06:29 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Wizard of Oz says:

1) "Throw away ALL the books and find a good teacher who knows how to play by ear and show that method."

2) "Most classically trained players haven't been taught how to play by ear, and so don't really know how to go about teaching it."

Bull feathers!

Betty Patnude

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#1292615 - 10/23/09 06:40 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Mati says: "....I played and recorded Rachmaninoff's C# minor Prelude (Op. 3 No. 2) and Chopin's Nocturne 20 in C# minor op. posth (both in my YouTube channel from the link in my signature)"

Mati,

How can you consider your self a beginner if you are able to play high levels of difficult music composed by our piano masters? Especially having no "method" book through the beginning steps of note reading, counting, fingering with simple melodies emphasized before harmony.

I am sorry I don't know you and haven't read your previous postings, and I don't know how long you have played piano or studied with a teacher, I don't wish to offend you. Perhaps this has something to do with the picture of the violinist? What am I supposed to think here. No study of scales, no knowing key relationships, and yet you can perform these pieces. How did that happen? And, the "beginner" part, how does that compute?

What is it that you are advocating for adult piano students and for piano teachers? I'm not sure I understand your points as you intend them. Can you help me?

Betty Patnude

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#1292704 - 10/23/09 09:58 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: UrbanSpice]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
Originally Posted By: UrbanSpice
If she's interested in playing pretty music try:
1. Etude - Paul Scheftel
2. River Flows in You - Yiruma (Every single teenager is in love with this song. Just go to youtube.)
3. Through the kaleidoscope - Steven Cravis
4. All of Me - Jon Schmidt



Ahhh, my students LOVE River Flows in You and Through the Kaleidoscope! All of Me is pretty advanced, but surely a crowd pleaser!
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1292809 - 10/24/09 06:29 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

How can you consider your self a beginner if you are able to play high levels of difficult music composed by our piano masters?


I simply can't consider myself anything else, playing for less than 5 years total, and only for year and a half under guidance of my teacher. Playing things that one can consider difficult was just my youth ambition to do something flashy - which I now know was not a good approach, as I have huge gaps in technique I need to fill in and repair.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

Especially having no "method" book through the beginning steps of note reading, counting, fingering with simple melodies emphasized before harmony.


Exactly - and perhaps that was my only point in the whole thing. While not being wise, it was possible to play more than Twinkle twinkle little star without them. And being able awoke real and passionate urge to learn theory behind all this.

For me it was starting from behind (which is silly, I know) - but it resulted in my true love both for playing the piano, and learning the music properly from the ground. I believe I could have been daunted and I could have lost interest if I would have been "forced" to go with proper method. Reason? I perhaps wouldn't be able to play anything meaningful to me at that time quickly enough to encourage me for further work. NOW I am completely aware it is absolutely needed to gain certain systematic knowledge, but BACK THEN I was just a 17-year old boy who jumped onto the boat of playing piano.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

I am sorry I don't know you and haven't read your previous postings, and I don't know how long you have played piano or studied with a teacher, I don't wish to offend you.


Don't worry Betty - I jumped here out of the blue and stirring the topic is completely my fault. As I've written before, I have played for 4-5 years total (I can't count months, sorry... lost track), the last one and a half year with a teacher.

What is important to say is that my teacher from the beginning saw in me an adult beginner who wants to play and enjoy music, and not to master the instrument. In due course we both decided I want to learn things properly, and not only do play what I want thing. That's when I started my theory, scales, harmony and deeper understanding of what's going on. Just because I wanted to, and that's my point - as long as you love what you do, it simply works.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

Perhaps this has something to do with the picture of the violinist?


Oh no, nothing. I just fiddle a little, but never really learned to play.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

What am I supposed to think here. No study of scales, no knowing key relationships, and yet you can perform these pieces. How did that happen?


It was immenesly difficult to memorize the pieces without knowing what's going on in the music - but the notes were there, corresponding to certain keys on the keyboard. I've seen a lot of single notes combined together into chords, without knowing where they are going and why. I just knew it sounds good. Only now I appreciate how important is to understand, and not only be able to read the black dots. How much easier it is to learn, and read and do a meaningful interpretation. It came to me with time though.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

What is it that you are advocating for adult piano students and for piano teachers? I'm not sure I understand your points as you intend them. Can you help me?


Nothing really - I don't mean to be advocating anything. I just wanted to say, that love for piano is the most important factor. And having a young girl who wants to play the piano but is discouraged by the amount of theory brings a question to the table, how to work with her. I wanted to suggest that sometime it may be beneficient to sustain her love for piano, doing less theory than one would do normally, just to make her want to learn it on her own in due course.

While not a good study approach, if she's not aspiring to be a professional pianist, doing some things the other way round (for the time being, and not forever!) may help keeping her love for the instrument.

I'd like to apologize, as my previous post was indeed a heavy stir in the pot. I have no bad intentions, I don't want to advocate anything, I know you really know better. It's just I wanted to share my ridiculous story how I progressed from knowing nothing to learning "tedious parts" of my own will.


Best wishes,
M.


Edited by Mati (10/24/09 06:32 AM)
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

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#1292854 - 10/24/09 10:11 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Mati]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Well, Mati. I'm impressed. You must be incredibly determined to play like that, mostly self-taught. I would like to know how you did it, so I can bottle it and sell it.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1292861 - 10/24/09 10:29 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Lollipop]
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Thanks Lollipop, I'm flattered. I'm just a guy who things nothing is impossible - but also with a mind of engineer (which I am, considering my computer science studies at the university). I have noticed that without systematic work on my technique and theory from ground up, I will sooner or later hit a wall and I won't be able to progress any further. It took time to notice that and get serious about piano - but the time before was also very enjoyable on its own.

My father plays guiter and harmonica for his own enjoyment, he never took any lessons. He knows nothing about music theory. Perhaps that's why I started piano without thinking about the proper learning method. You certainly can go somewhere that way! Perhaps its never too late to learn it properly, as long as no severe bad habits are involved, and these can be avoided with help of a teacher.

M.
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
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#1292904 - 10/24/09 12:23 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: SueKZ]
SueKZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Colorado
UrbanSpice and dundundiddle:

Thanks so much for those great ideas of music for my 15 yr. old student. I listened to all of them online and printed out sample partial copies of some of them. This is exactly what she will like, I am sure. I really appreciate all your help!
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Sue
Private Piano Teacher since 2009

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#1292913 - 10/24/09 12:41 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: SueKZ]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5659
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Great post, Mati. I think there are many people who approach learning things the way you approached piano, and you described it really well. I do most things that way myself smile And I think you are right that a, IMHO, big risk of forcing someone to do it the "right" way is that they'll not do it all. Although, as the ABF shows, many of them will come back later, do it the way their temperament and interest and learning style suits, either find a formal teacher that appreciates them or other ways of progressing, and love every moment of learning and playing smile

So don't apologize or call it silly, either learning this way or posting here. It's good to be reminded that we're not all alike, and to have such an articulate insight into another style of learning.

And I love your music smile

Cathy
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#1292943 - 10/24/09 01:42 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Mati]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Mati

For me it was starting from behind (which is silly, I know) - but it resulted in my true love both for playing the piano, and learning the music properly from the ground. I believe I could have been daunted and I could have lost interest if I would have been "forced" to go with proper method. Reason? I perhaps wouldn't be able to play anything meaningful to me at that time quickly enough to encourage me for further work...
I just wanted to say, that love for piano is the most important factor. And having a young girl who wants to play the piano but is discouraged by the amount of theory brings a question to the table, how to work with her. I wanted to suggest that sometime it may be beneficient to sustain her love for piano, doing less theory than one would do normally, just to make her want to learn it on her own in due course.


Mati,
Thank you so much for sharing your story... it’s not a “ridiculous” post at all. Instead, I think you are a wonderful example of what I have advocated for a long time, which is that there is more than one route to piano and music. The formal ‘method series with theory, scales, etc.’ approach works for many people. But it doesn’t work for everybody. And I agree completely with you that it is important to nurture a love and enthusiasm for playing piano, because without that, students are not likely to persevere in their studies.

You don’t have anything to apologize for. Yours is a valid perspective and a useful counter-example for those who believe there is only one right way to approach piano lessons. smile
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#1293040 - 10/24/09 06:03 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Monica K.]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
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Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Thank you, Mati, for your excellent response.

I see passion, purpose and commitment from what you have said about your journey.

I just find it very difficult to understand how to get to an end result that is magnificent piano literature without have completely prepared the way to do so.

Is there anything else you can tell me about yourself? For instance, are you identified as a genius? What has frustrated you the most musically in the last 5 years? Has it been important to you to have music vocabulary or music theory concepts to help with your understanding?

In teacher's lingo, the beginner is someone who started piano study from scratch, but who now can has learned to play hands together in simple literature, counts well, readys music and plays in Keys of C and possible G and F, for an octave in teach direction from Middle C. This level encompasses preparatory, early elementary and elementary levels fo study. At Late Elementary and early intermediate, the student begins to work on expressiveness, good use of dynamics and interpretive skills.

By late intermediate level, the easier of the master classics are possible. With more years of study, the advanced level and performance level open the doors to all music literature - covering any and all written notes possible on the music page and playable on the keyboard.

In piano teaching, the onus is on comprehension of reading and executing with accuracy on the piano. Each step of the way requires progress to that point before moving on to more difficult music. Obviously you worked alone outside of this process. I can be grateful that you were not a quitter and that you were not completely defeated by frustration. Perhaps the question is about how you stayed positive and got to where you are?

Doing what you love is always a great path to be on.

Best wishes,

Betty

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#1293063 - 10/24/09 06:33 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Betty Patnude]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

In teacher's lingo, the beginner is someone who started piano study from scratch, but who now can has learned to play hands together in simple literature, counts well, readys music and plays in Keys of C and possible G and F, for an octave in teach direction from Middle C. This level encompasses preparatory, early elementary and elementary levels fo study. At Late Elementary and early intermediate, the student begins to work on expressiveness, good use of dynamics and interpretive skills.

By late intermediate level, the easier of the master classics are possible. With more years of study, the advanced level and performance level open the doors to all music literature - covering any and all written notes possible on the music page and playable on the keyboard.

In piano teaching, the onus is on comprehension of reading and executing with accuracy on the piano. Each step of the way requires progress to that point before moving on to more difficult music. Obviously you worked alone outside of this process. I can be grateful that you were not a quitter and that you were not completely defeated by frustration. Perhaps the question is about how you stayed positive and got to where you are?

Betty, by no means every musician follows that path you describe as the ideal. You may have a systematic program mapped out for your students (in fact, I think you should have) but there are many people who arrive at similar places without systematic instruction from a teacher over a number of years, and the process does not always entail frustration. Note that I'm not recommending anything, simply observing.

My own instruction was far from systematic, logical or step-by-step in the way you describe, but by the time I was in my twenties I was an accomplished pianist with diplomas and degrees, and maybe all the better for having ferreted a lot of my knowledge out for myself.

I suppose all I'm saying is that, as others have said, there is no single way to pianistic excellence. We teach in a way which we consider to be best for our students - but we shouldn't be too amazed if some of them manage some things on their own, or sometimes even do well in spite of our instruction! smile
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#1293078 - 10/24/09 07:02 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Each step of the way requires progress to that point before moving on to more difficult music. Obviously you worked alone outside of this process. I can be grateful that you were not a quitter and that you were not completely defeated by frustration. Perhaps the question is about how you stayed positive and got to where you are?


I'm guessing Mati was able to stay positive because he wasn't listening to somebody like you telling him what was "required" for progress in piano and that he couldn't get where he wanted to be in piano following the path he chose.
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#1293083 - 10/24/09 07:10 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Monica K.]
Lollipop Offline
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Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Just guessing here, but I read Betty's post as in response to Mati's claim that he was a beginner. She was just trying to say that most of us teachers do not define beginner as someone who plays what he is playing.

I don't think she intended it as a floorplan for every student. But it does help to have a general idea of what consititutes a beginner level, what is intermediate, etc.
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#1293096 - 10/24/09 07:37 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Lollipop]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
Just guessing here, but I read Betty's post as in response to Mati's claim that he was a beginner. She was just trying to say that most of us teachers do not define beginner as someone who plays what he is playing.

I don't think she intended it as a floorplan for every student. But it does help to have a general idea of what consititutes a beginner level, what is intermediate, etc.
Perhaps you're right smile. What is intended is not always what comes across however, so I thought my point was worth making.
I personally don't tend to sort by beginner/intermediate/advanced so much, so it seemed a bit rigid to me.
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#1293099 - 10/24/09 07:44 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Mati Offline
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Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Thank you, Mati, for your excellent response.

I see passion, purpose and commitment from what you have said about your journey.


Thanks Betty. I feel relieved, as I didn't want to insult anyone in this thread, yet my post was jumping out of the blue and for the brief moment I thought I shouldn't have written what I did.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

I just find it very difficult to understand how to get to an end result that is magnificent piano literature without have completely prepared the way to do so.


I think there is some analogy to two counter theories about learning scales, both known for a very long time. Some great teachers of the past advocated scales study, while others thought enough amount of scales is employed in actual music literature.

My case is much more radical, but idea stays basically the same. I begun playing the piano with strong belief that everything I need, I will find in pieces.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

Is there anything else you can tell me about yourself? For instance, are you identified as a genius?


No, not at all. Although I'm definitely a scientific mind. I always had strong affinity towards science - maths, physics, chemistry, et al. I never had trouble learning these things, they come to me naturally.

I'm studying computer science, which is and was my passion from the very childhood. I'm a computer programmer, and I am considered good at it, but I believe it is a result of my considerably longer time spent with these things than others, and not my absolute capabilities being better.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

What has frustrated you the most musically in the last 5 years? Has it been important to you to have music vocabulary or music theory concepts to help with your understanding?


Definitely poor sight reading. I need to spend considerate amount of time to read a new piece, much more than I actually need to master it technically. Which comes straight from the lack of understanding of music theory and structure. While others can easily identify certain scales, chords, modulations and therefore read faster and anticipate easier, I basically need to read every single note.

It was one of the ignitors for my desire to learn music theory and work through my scales diligently.

For my whole journey I was learning music vocabulary and pieces of theory by reading a lot - for tempo and expression markings, by looking in the dictionary, and so on. I always worked through such things while working on actual pieces. When I first encountered a triplet in the sheet music I had no idea what it is or how to execute it. I had to look it up. I learned a lot that way, even though I never studied these concepts alone.

Finding a teacher brought a whole new dimension to my playing. While still not working on theory alone, she always pointed out interesting things about music. She would say "see? this is a d flat major chord arpeggio - don't read the notes one at a time, try to understand and memorize the whole pattern", or "see the key signature change? how do you thing the mood changes here?". She really got me interested in it. I, for the very first time, have seen that there is really much going on in music, and everything has its purpose.

By her recommendation I bought a book on music theory, and a book of scales and arpeggios (Cooke's Mastering Scales and Arpeggios) and begun my work. I asked her to incorporate more theory into our lessons, and she prompty agreed. We are a perfect match, and I am very happy she was able to work with me without theory, as much as I am happy she can teach me theory now when I started to want it.

By the way, if I may use this thread to ask this question - could you please recommend me some literature about musical analysis? I would love to learn more about structure. To understand these all ABA forms, sonata form, how there is an initial theme exposition, modulation into different key, then reprise. I have a desire to read about all these things a lot and understand a lot more. The problem is, most books are for future music majors who have much more knowledge than I do. I need something on the basic side, to progress further towards more advanced approach.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

In teacher's lingo, the beginner is someone who started piano study from scratch, but who now can has learned to play hands together in simple literature, counts well, readys music and plays in Keys of C and possible G and F, for an octave in teach direction from Middle C. This level encompasses preparatory, early elementary and elementary levels fo study.


If we would include my severe rhythmical problems, I am still a beginner according to this very description! bah smile

It is really difficult to categorize people who work different ways. We always had discussions about what exactly is beginner and what is considered intermediate on Adult Beginners Forum. Because we all play different stuff, and all learn different things - I love classical, but others love new age or learn to improvise and play jazz - there is no single way to measure us all.

But I understand your point Betty, thanks for clarification!

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

I can be grateful that you were not a quitter and that you were not completely defeated by frustration.


Oh, not at all! The satisfaction of being able to play what I love was and is much bigger than any frustration that may occur along the way.

I'm not a quitter, but just the opposite. I thought my teacher would laugh at me, but she treated me seriously when I claimed I am going to participate in 2nd International Chopin Piano Competition for Amateur Pianists in 2012. We had one this year and it was so much fun to attend from the audience. I had a talk with many participating pianists, some of them were at very high level, some of them were true beginners (the word amateur is not very well defined and the level varied greatly). Then I decided I want to have fun too. I perhaps have no chances of going through the first round, but it is a great motivation.

One thing my teacher said, and I cannot agree more, is that we will need a great amount of systematic work and no slacking whatsoever.

It may be ridiculous, but it will be fun. And that's what matters to me.

Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

Perhaps the question is about how you stayed positive and got to where you are?


I don't have much patience, and I'm a lazy guy. It's horrible when it comes to playing the instrument, which is extremely demanding of regular practice. Perhaps what allowed me to get me where I am were deadlines. I need deadlines. For me, e-citals on Adult Beginners Forum were such deadlines. I knew I had to prepare a solid piece every three months, and additional pieces for additional events. While many of them are work in progress till today, I had to bring them to playable condition for a certain date. That kept me on track.

The plans for competitions, even if I won't participate eventually, is such deadline for me too. It's a big goal, but having a certain path and light in the tunnel which shows me where I want to go helps a lot.


p.s. Thank you all for not bashing me and giving thumbs up! smile I appreciate it a lot.

My very best wishes,
Mateusz
_________________________
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My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
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#1293103 - 10/24/09 07:51 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

I see passion, purpose and commitment from what you have said about your journey.
I just find it very difficult to understand how to get to an end result that is magnificent piano literature without have completely prepared the way to do so. ...

...In teacher's lingo, the beginner is someone who started piano study from scratch, but who now can has learned to play hands together in simple literature, counts well, readys music and plays in Keys of C and possible G and F, for an octave in teach direction from Middle C....

In piano teaching, the onus is on comprehension of reading and executing with accuracy on the piano. Each step of the way requires progress to that point before moving on to more difficult music. ...Perhaps the question is about how you stayed positive and got to where you are?


Mati, Betty and Currawong raise points that are at the heart of what I find so fascinating about teaching music. Mati's story is not a strange one to me and I really like reading stories like this. I didn't have a straight path with a skilled teacher myself, far from it.

In turning a child (or adult)into a musician, I think that the most important attibutes are desire and determination to have this music stuff in their brains and under their fingers. But you can't teach desire and determination, right? Mati clearly has Desire and Determination and would not we all put money on Mati to be still playing music in 10 years? .. or in 20 years? Would Mati?

So we teach musicianship and pianism efficiently from the ground up so that the student is not frustrated by misunderstandings. And one day they notice that they are playing some rather beautiful music, it feels good under the fingers, and they now have access to more of the same through the skills they learnt from their teacher.

What is puzzling is that a lot of these skilled players suddenly stop, and may never play again or play any instrument at all. But I am very excited for those who find a way back later. The Desire and Determination on the ABForum is palpable, I am learning a lot from these people. And hey, I'm a returning adult-beginner-no-longer-beginner myself.

Betty's "In piano teaching, the onus is on comprehension of reading and executing with accuracy on the piano. Each step of the way requires progress to that point before moving on to more difficult music." raises the question:
Do we have to teach in a linear way?
What would happen it we didn't?

Most of the time I teach in a spiral pattern. For some students the linear approach works really well too. I got this from learning dance. My teacher was Eastern - it was different, unexpected, challenging. She used to say "Oh you Europeans, you need to have answers to everything." A student would ask "how many 'steps' were there before the turn?" and she wouldn't answer with a number, she would sing the music and move as if she was the music. Western, Eastern.. doesn't really matter but the point was that it was opening my mind to ways of thinking that are non-logical, non-linear.

Gosh I'm going on a bit! So I'll give the last word to William S Newman of "Pianist's Problems" (never recommend this book verbally. Write it down instead, especially to males). I'm not quoting exactly but he suggests that the number one goal of the first 6 months with a student should be to get them to fall in love with piano and music. That's it? Food for thought definitely, and maybe this relates to Mati's story, maybe we can deliberately cultivate some extra desire and determination.

edited typo


Edited by Canonie (10/24/09 11:03 PM)
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1293108 - 10/24/09 08:02 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Canonie]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Canonie
So I'll give the last word to William S Newman of "Pianist's Problems" (never recommend this book verbally. Write it down instead, especially to males).
Great post, Canonie.
Just as a matter of interest smile did you know that in US most seem to say "pee-ANN-ist", not PEE-a-nist like we do here. So maybe you could recommend it verbally over there grin
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#1293111 - 10/24/09 08:09 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: currawong]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
the adult beginnners program has recordings of really PRETTY music.. it sounds simple.. (not Lizst)

you might ask there.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1293121 - 10/24/09 08:37 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Mati]
Canonie Offline
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Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Great post Mati! I think I'll have to brew another cup of tea this morning. And thanks Currawong for reading my too long rant with no IMHO qualification at end. I am beginning to think that we have a lot in commmon (but bet you're way better at keyboard skills and repertoire knowledge). Of course, they say pee ANN ist! now I know how the title got past the editor wink

Mati I think you are an excellent case study for Adult Beginner. Very interested in what you say about being lazy and motivators. I have to insert good motivators into my study.

"I thought my teacher would laugh at me, but she treated me seriously when I claimed I am going to participate in 2nd International Chopin Piano Competition for Amateur Pianists in 2012."

Of course she should treat this seriously! But maybe some wouldn't. A goal like that will really lift someone's playing to a new level, and we shouldn't exclude adult learners from these opportunities. It's such a motivator when the teacher is genuinely interested in the student and their own particular journey, however unconventional, or slow, or too fast, or problematic.

One other thing I find interesting; I reckon Mati's tendency to call himself "beginner" reflects Mati's attitude of "still so much to learn, so much to improve". An artist of any kind who often sees themselves in Beginner-Shoes may reach higher levels through being less attached to their recognised accomplishments. It also breeds respect for the achievements of others who are at the highest level, which is a learning and motivating tool in itself.

Damn, the currawong stole the cat's breakfast AGAIN. I was distracted!
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1293122 - 10/24/09 08:43 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Canonie]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Canonie
Damn, the currawong stole the cat's breakfast AGAIN. I was distracted!
Those pesky currawongs! grin
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Du holde Kunst...

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#1293154 - 10/24/09 10:14 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Mati]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Mati,

I have enjoyed having this conversation with you!

Betty

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#1293159 - 10/24/09 10:22 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Monica K.]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Each step of the way requires progress to that point before moving on to more difficult music. Obviously you worked alone outside of this process. I can be grateful that you were not a quitter and that you were not completely defeated by frustration. Perhaps the question is about how you stayed positive and got to where you are?


I'm guessing Mati was able to stay positive because he wasn't listening to somebody like you telling him what was "required" for progress in piano and that he couldn't get where he wanted to be in piano following the path he chose.


Golly, Monica, I just can't live without your unkind comments. Keep those cards and letters coming in. Someone said to me that they think you are obsessed with making disparaging comments about me. I'm thinking it's a valid comment at this point as that is your track record - nice to everyone - but hell on wheels toward me. Thanks for putting it all down in writing where your comments can clearly be seen and recorded.

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#1293160 - 10/24/09 10:27 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Lollipop]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
Just guessing here, but I read Betty's post as in response to Mati's claim that he was a beginner. She was just trying to say that most of us teachers do not define beginner as someone who plays what he is playing.

I don't think she intended it as a floorplan for every student. But it does help to have a general idea of what consititutes a beginner level, what is intermediate, etc.


Thank you Lollipop for understanding my intent. At no time was I trying to intimidate nor show my superior knowledge. My conversation with Mati seemed to work quite respectfully and I'm glad about that.

However, others really get off track from what they think I'm saying and I do receive some indignant replies from what I've said in a sincere manner. I learned that by posting here, when I least expect it, I should really be expecting it.

I'm glad you could see some thread of intelligence in my response and took the time to say so. Again, thanks!

Betty

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#1293169 - 10/24/09 10:56 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Betty Patnude]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Betty
I think your post with all the questions to Mati brought out so many interesting and subtle issues. It has given me lots to think about today, as my posting shows smile I admire your ability to frame the questions instead of dismissing; a very experienced teacher could easily dismiss Mati's journey as a freak of nature.

The last day has been the best on PW for me so far. Thank you!
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1293170 - 10/24/09 11:05 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Canonie]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
a fascinating discussion.

(i would love to know what you, Mati are working on now)

i must admit i don't know what a currawong is but will google.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1293171 - 10/24/09 11:09 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: apple*]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: apple*
i must admit i don't know what a currawong is but will google.
Tis an Aussie bird. Big, black, and rather scary if you're a little bird (or a wimpish cat). But it has a very musical "wild" sort of song, sometimes sounding rather like its name - "currawong! currawong!" smile
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Du holde Kunst...

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#1293189 - 10/25/09 12:07 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Canonie]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Canonie
Betty
I think your post with all the questions to Mati brought out so many interesting and subtle issues. It has given me lots to think about today, as my posting shows smile I admire your ability to frame the questions instead of dismissing; a very experienced teacher could easily dismiss Mati's journey as a freak of nature.

The last day has been the best on PW for me so far. Thank you!


Canonie,

Thanks so much for participating in this topic! I'm glad you found some valid things to think about here. That is a good experience when discussions make us think. I know I responded in this way to Mati. I appreciate knowing that my posting meant something to Mati and to you! That makes everything worth while!

Best wishes!

Betty Patnude

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#1293191 - 10/25/09 12:15 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: apple*]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: apple*
a fascinating discussion.


Apple,

I agree with you!

There is so much material here coming from divergent sources.

Obviously it could hold our interest for a long time.

I'm grateful for many things said here and the disclosure and trust and empowerment of it makes me "swoon".

It makes up for the people posting who don't get what is going on when people can work through what seems like differences. I have new respect for people who follow their passion, especially if the way is something they are doing on their own.

I felt that I, myself had something to apologize for in that I didn't have my musical education from people who were primarily pianists - they came from other areas of musicianship - but they contributed greatly because of the exposure I had at a young age to include gaining experience in being a musician at the piano - something I discovered I was good at only after the first 2 years of lessons 9-11 when I could have quite many times.

So, yes, a great thing has been occuring here, I think.

Betty

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#1293220 - 10/25/09 02:16 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Canonie]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5659
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Canonie
Betty's "In piano teaching, the onus is on comprehension of reading and executing with accuracy on the piano. Each step of the way requires progress to that point before moving on to more difficult music." raises the question:
Do we have to teach in a linear way?
What would happen it we didn't?

Most of the time I teach in a spiral pattern. For some students the linear approach works really well too. I got this from learning dance. My teacher was Eastern - it was different, unexpected, challenging. She used to say "Oh you Europeans, you need to have answers to everything." A student would ask "how many 'steps' were there before the turn?" and she wouldn't answer with a number, she would sing the music and move as if she was the music. Western, Eastern.. doesn't really matter but the point was that it was opening my mind to ways of thinking that are non-logical, non-linear.


I've used the word spiral to describe my learning style, and I think you are right that many of us don't learn, at least most of the time, linearly. I, too, am a dancer, and much of what I dance I've learned just by getting in line and doing it, or dancing behind the line and imitating until it works, or dancing with a good partner so that my part just works.

I'm always reaching over my head, and then incorporating stuff into my current level, or taking a long time just to branch out in my current level, or trying to play by ear for several months at a time, or going solo for awhile, and then back to part of a band, and every time I do that my level jumps. And it works with specific skills, too - octave runs in either hand, or little ornaments put in as variations, or just about anything else. Sometimes it works as a friend of mine said about a dance workshop - I hear something or try something and it doesn't quite make sense then, but later, after I've done a dozen other things, it works. And I don't think any teacher can plan for all of those increments - I think for most of us our learning is far too broad, and far too integrated with everything else we're learning, to think that any one subject can be taught in a strict progression as if it was in isolation. At least, my world doesn't work that way laugh

So the spiral image is a good one for me.

Cathy
_________________________

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#1293263 - 10/25/09 06:45 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: apple*]
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Originally Posted By: apple*

(i would love to know what you, Mati are working on now)


Polishing my Clair de Lune, being in the middle of Blind's man bluff (Hasche mann - 3rd piece from Schumann's Kinderscenen) I can play at 2/3 speed now, starting Mazurka in F minor (Op. 7 No. 3) and Polonaise in E flat minor (Op. 26 No. 2). The latter certainly being a long term work, and perhaps won't go even near completion in next few months. I am considering starting it a bit later not to overwhelm myself, I will have to discuss this thoroughly with my teacher.

Apart from these, I just bought Bach's WTC and 2/3-part Inventions. My teacher wants me to start playing baroque and classical period in due course too, to work on rhythmical problems, polyphony, and completely different style of playing. Many issues come up with Bach I should deal with properly.

We haven't yet decided where to start yet with it though.

I also constantly work on some anime music I love - there are many beautiful melodies out there, and these pieces rarely are demanding technically, so I can work on them on my own with my own pace. Only sometimes I ask my teacher when I encounter some difficulties.

I'm glad an interesting discussion emerged here! smile I enjoyed learning a lot about others' experiences.

M.
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

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#1293269 - 10/25/09 07:08 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: jotur]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11848
Loc: Canada
I began like Mati, "just playing". When I was young there was a piano, I knew what a scale sounded like because of solfege in some early grade, and I had my grandmother's books dated 1912. I knew where to find "doh" and where C was. Via the scales I could tell if a note sounded wrong by a half step. I started to poke out the notes in the book and eventually some patterns became familiar. Chords have a certain look, and so do runs. They were all sonatas and sonatines: Clementi, Kuhlau, Mozart, Beethoven - so they all had the same form. I became familiar with Alberti bass, and anticipated a modulation to the dominant or relative minor.

In a sense I was playing by ear while looking at notes. I also sang or hummed, and I had a weird code for writing out music I had heard with short form solm. symbols and arrows. When I composed a few tunes in my head, they tended to have patterns of the music I had played. I was totally illiterate and had no theory whatsoever. But the patterns in music sit in your subconscious anyway, just like a child says "I runned." because he picks up the patterns of grammar.

Like Mati, when I started lessons I felt a big hole in the basic formal things which were holding me back. Cathy, you defined me publicly (wrongly) a few months back, painting me as some kind of aging wannabe virtuoso feeling held back and unchallenged in lessons. I could see in my old posts how that happened. The truth is that when you come in with music in your ear and fingertips, you're not held back, because you "can do it already" and then at a higher level you get stuck because of this invisible hole. I'm for getting the basic foundations, because that's what everything else sits on; if you seem to have them because how else could you possibly be playing what you're playing, then you have this constant obstacle. It won't be taught and you won't know what's missing. Like, it took three years to figure out that I didn't really know notes or how to read them.

Anyway, 35 years ago I was playing these unaltered sonatas, but molto rubato with a few "variations". Last year I learned my notes on piano using a beginner book, clapped out rhythms and did other basic things. When we begin this way we can't be categorized. And we definitely cannot be categorized by what we have played. You might not know how to sit, how to use your hands, or where G is. You're playing whatever as you hear it in your head, forcing your body to produce those sounds somehow so they don't sound too bad for a beginner, and all the time some basic thing you might have gotten as a true beginner - doesn't.

Cathy, I've had a question on the tip of my tongue for ages: So you had what I didn't have, namely lessons as a child. And now you are playing spontaneously and even in public. Do you think that you got any foundations during those childhood lessons that you're moving from these days? Or was it a complete waste maybe due to poor teaching? Because obviously that's the part that I feel that I'm missing.

Until recently I felt deprived by not having had lessons or any musical education. Now I'm wondering whether it's just another path and maybe even has some advantages. Like if you don't learn to far wrong notes and you're used to experimenting and discovering, maybe there's a kind of spontaneity that comes into it (though in my case "spontaneous" also sounds sloppy). It's just a case of knitting together the part we don't have, with the part that way do, maybe. Can we categorize ourselves as "beginner" if we feel we're missing things at the beginning? Can we fall into a category?


Edited by keystring (10/25/09 07:29 AM)

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#1293325 - 10/25/09 11:29 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: keystring]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
"Until recently I felt deprived by not having had lessons or any musical education. Now I'm wondering whether it's just another path and maybe even has some advantages... Can we categorize ourselves as "beginner" if we feel we're missing things at the beginning? Can we fall into a category?"

I guess I would say, if it's useful to fall into a category, then use it. When I vaccuum the carpet, I might categorize it... but I run the machine over the whole thing anyway. If you have a teacher with a flexible attitude, you can do that with piano lessons. For some areas, one pass will be enough, some will need several, some may need spot remover. And sooner or later, every music education is going to need to be refreshed and brightened up with the steam cleaner (yes, call in a pro).

If you're wondering what you may have missed or glossed over too fast, I could suggest reading "The Art of Teaching Piano," Denes Agay, ed., Yorktown Music Press, ISBN-13: 978-0-8256-8111-0. It's intended for teachers, but may serve as a syllabus for a whole, essential piano education up through, at least, advanced intermediate. It is not a bad read, either.

I learned to play before I learned to read, by "radar". And, back in the day... well, let's just say music education has come a long way (or in some cases, maybe not). Anyway, I'm a better student now than I was then. And there are more things you can use to help you these days: lots of great books, CDs, opportunities to see live performances, recording devices so you can hear yourself, and the computer. It may help you connect up what you already know, or what you almost know through pure musical intuition, with the next place to put your foot down--- the place your foundation needs to be built next.

************************************************

It will probably do no good to say it, but it's a grief to me to see people I like and respect on the forum smack each other down. Very likely, I missed out on the event that set it all in motion. I do know that a lot of things aren't worth knowing about, and some things are better to forget about. Personally, I use the "Ignore" feature to spare myself from people who are just too annoying.

I'm just saying.
_________________________
Clef


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#1293410 - 10/25/09 01:36 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Jeff Clef]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
i really wish i had studied piano in school. I took lessons for several years as a kid. my teacher moved a way and i worked on my own starting at about age 12. I also became THE church organist and had about 20 organ lessons.

i auditioned a few teachers but i had such delusions of grandeur.. i always dismissed their suggestions or lesson plans.. i really wanted to do things my own way.

i heard Chopin's etudes and thought a ha! this is the way i will learn and sooo i first read through them note by note ... EVERY single one.. then learned 6 of the easiest by rote. i bought the 2 and 3 part inventions and WTC I and II. My repertoire consisted mostly of etudes and fugues. I became a church musician again and Brendan = THE Brendan moved to Kansas City. I studied with him for 3 years. I definitely learned what i did not know how to do.. my playing was so sloppy and unrefined. He was particularly helpful with Bach.. I had learned the notes to probably half of the WTC compositions but i couldn't play the voices.

i have always taken a very physical approach to learning.... lots of scales, exercises and etudes.

Now I'm learning the organ.. it's quite difficult to add another dimension.. I've moved a bit beyond the written page, creating organ transcriptions of piano music and vice versa as well as performance pieces from basic hymn tunes.. a bit of improvization i guess.

i really enjoy it learning music. I could have been so good if my study had been directed and developed by someone with greater musical experience. I particularly love Bach. I've discovered the chorales and cantatas... i kind of rewrite them to play for performance in church. i adore the complexities of a four part fugue.. so much fun to really let those voices chatter amongst themselves.

i do enjoy teaching 'odd' students - my blind friend, my handicapped brother. it's a challenge to communicate how to play music with them in thoughts and words that do not rely on linear notation. with my blind friend - try to teach her to play by ear.. how to recognize chords.. how to make her fingers familiar with the keys.. (we do lots of exercises.. scales and arpeggios in different keys - i have her create melodies and accompaniments to simple and beautiful chord progressions (new agey)) .. she's pretty talented and i wish she could have a more qualified teacher.. (at least i don't charge her).

one of things that is so daunting for me with my blind friend is that she cannot 'see' how very simple the e minor chord appears on the written page. (Braille music is available.. but it's no where near as simple and straightforward as notation for the sighted). fortunately her ear is quite good.. she can imitate an e minor chord, play arpeggios but she can't pull that sound of her mind to accompany a melody.. i guess she needs a greater theoretical understanding of music in different keys. funny, how i have such a hard time explaining that to her.

i firmly believe that notation is the alphabet of music and knowing how to read music is the most efficient of way of getting it to come out of your fingers.. funny how the challenge of teaching a nonsighted person confirms that for me.




just some odd thoughts on what it is to learn.

(Mati: i really like the D major prelude from WTC I.. it's soooo helpful on many levels)

_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1294010 - 10/26/09 11:58 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: apple*]
SueKZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Colorado
Monica K: Thanks for that davidnevue.com website. She will really love playing some of those songs!
_________________________
Sue
Private Piano Teacher since 2009

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#1294016 - 10/26/09 12:06 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: SueKZ]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17815
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
You're welcome! I still don't have a good sense as just how much of a beginner your student is, but "Solitude" and "Wonderland" are two of Nevue's easiest pieces and are just beautiful.
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Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1295575 - 10/28/09 04:36 PM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Monica K.]
SueKZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Colorado
Unfortunately, I am not sure her exact level yet. Her lesson is cancelelled today because all of Denver is shut down due to huge snowstorm. I was supposed to fly to FL on Thurs. morning, but thank God I got 3 tickets for Friday. I am SO outta here!
_________________________
Sue
Private Piano Teacher since 2009

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#1296441 - 10/30/09 04:31 AM Re: Need some help with a new 15 yr old student [Re: Jeff Clef]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11848
Loc: Canada
Without wanting to pull this thread too far off course I did want to say thank you for the responses to my post. Jeff Clef, I will try to look up Agay's book. Apple, I think you were addressing my questions - in any case, there were answers for me. I do wish that music education could be proper for everyone, because what we can figure out on our own leaves huge holes - and worse, we won't be aware that they are there.

Category: I originally wrote in response to Betty's question about Mati categorizing himself as a beginner. I'm thinking in these cases we can't really fall into any category. We are where we are, and we can do what we can do (ditto for can't), so where do we go from there?

Apologies to SueKZ for bringing this off course again. I can't wait to read what happens once snowstorms abate.


Edited by keystring (10/30/09 04:32 AM)

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