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#1491586 - 08/09/10 12:56 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
EJR Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 861
Loc: Bristol, UK
<<EJR my paper is specifically about method books, and when I say just method it's just to shorten the phrase, sorry if it creates confusion.

I am aware of the multiple meanings "method" could have, and while I hadn't been thinking about the Commonwealth examinations as a method in itself (as I know little about them, Romania being far from such exams), I had a small chapter in my paper clarifying which meaning of the word "method" I am not going to talk about, that being "the way famous teachers taught piano technique" like in "the Leschetitzky method" or "the Taubmann Method" etc. >>

Please see my reply to Elissa. Isn't a series of graded pieces and sight reading exercises a "method": and no need to do any exams either....

I think you need to do some further impartial research rather than pivot conclusions on knee jerk interpretations.


Edited by EJR (08/09/10 12:59 PM)
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#1491589 - 08/09/10 12:58 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Elissa Milne]
CarolR Offline
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Registered: 07/29/05
Posts: 350
Loc: wisconsin
This is a fascinating discussion. How we learned THEN vs. NOW. When it comes down to it, I think we all learn to read music eventually, unless we are just not bound to be readers. Though the process is probably hampered though when we have music with too many finger numbers written in.

When I think of how I learned in the 60s, using the then-standard Thompson method, I can identify some of the issues I have to this day with that method. I am still weak at reading leger lines, and I don't actually have much hope for ever improving that much. My technique was typical for that era - tight wrists and very fingery. The methods these days seem to go much further in terms of a holistic reading approach, relaxed technique, and playing musically from the very beginning.

As far as speed, Many methods are slow, or too fast, depending on the child and how committed they and their parents are to learning piano.
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#1491601 - 08/09/10 01:17 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: CarolR]
CarolR Offline
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Registered: 07/29/05
Posts: 350
Loc: wisconsin
And another thought about methods. The books, like Faber, which are full of little cutesy animals hopping about and phrases like "Make your arm feel like a heavy, wet, rope", takes the fun party of teaching away from ME. The most fun part of teaching, I think, is to think up fun images to help explain a concept to a child. I'd rather it come from me, or the child, and not have it written in a book. (though I am perfectly willing to steal these images from other sources, don't get me wrong!) But if I come up with the idea and express it with great excitement, it is going to mean a lot more to the child.
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#1491605 - 08/09/10 01:19 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: CarolR]
Andy Platt Offline
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Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2334
Loc: Virginia, USA
25 years ago I took flute lessons for 5 years. I was OK, got to grade 6. How much did I practice? Hardly at all. My parents (who were definitely parents, not friends and were more authoritarian than most back then) just didn't realize - they had no clue how important practice was. Actually I had no idea - I truly thought everyone practiced similarly and it was talent that made the difference.

It's got nothing to do with "modern" parenting styles, it all comes down to this: Do the parents know you need really need to practice, where does it come on the priority list and is there enough time in the day to do what's needed. Pure and simple.

Everytime people start down the line of how things have changed, people will find quotes from the 1900s saying the exact same thing about the previous generation.
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#1491622 - 08/09/10 01:42 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: EJR]
Mirela Offline
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Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Originally Posted By: EJR

My personal experience was that other than the very first introductory book,


By the way, Elwyn I am really curious and interested at the same time what was your first introductory book

Well, in a way my question was exactly about that very first introductory book sometimes called "method book".

Of course I am also interested about the follow-ups of some of those method books, but - depending on how instructive was the introductory book - as a teacher, you can just start assigning repertoire pieces according to the child's progress. This actually happens in the Music school where I teach, only that the curriculum assigned for the nest year after they stop using the "method book" (or primer if you wish) is way too hard.

Whether you do that yourself (and tailor your teaching to the child)- which is harder as you need to plan, coordinate and everything keystring said :), or you follow book two, three four of a certain author - which is easier cos' it's all laid out in front of you... it's totally a question of choice in my opinion.

As for the ABRSM being a method... the very word you used is syllabus which is actually a curriculum, not a method. It contains guidelines and examples of repertoire pieces and the difficulty to be assigned at a certain level of progress from the student.
Whether it's a good curriculum backed up with the actual publication of sample pieces or just plain guidelines and some titles jotted down some age yellowed paper like what I have in my Music School, that's an entirely different issue.

OT: Living and teaching in Europe, I am very interested in the ABRSM, and I'd like to hear more. I am still new to this forum and I find my way a little hard among the huge mass of information in the threads, but once I finish the work on my paper (which has a "deadly dreadful" deadline of 1st of September eek) I may start a thread inquiring about that, and your insight will be much appreciated.


Edited by Mirela (08/09/10 02:20 PM)
Edit Reason: Question to Elwyn
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#1491646 - 08/09/10 02:06 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: EJR]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Originally Posted By: EJR
Isn't a series of graded pieces and sight reading exercises a "method": and no need to do any exams either....

I think you need to do some further impartial research rather than pivot conclusions on knee jerk interpretations.


Maybe I was not specific enough, and, as I said this is partly due to the fact that English is a foreign language for me.
So, I'll try again, I am not talking about METHOD in general.
I am talking about the specific little books that introduce beginners to piano, teaching the music basics enough to enable them to move on to easy repertoire.

The "primers" if you may! (only I find this word misleading too as I've seen primers that do not teach staff notation. Not that there's anything bad in that, only that in that case I'd consider talking about the primer and maybe the first book or even the second or the third if for some reason they don't teach quavers by then laugh ).

I am talking about THE BOOK that teaches the beginner the rudiments of music.

On the other hand, when you talk about graded pieces, it is assumed that the child already knows what a quarter note is, and he has some notions of dynamics and articulation. My work is centered on HOW are beginners taught to GET to the graded pieces.

And if any collection of "progressively more complex pieces" may be regarded as a method, than I'd have to talk about this one too: http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/60-Progressive-Piano-Pieces-You-Like-To-Play/3163514

Further, a collection of graded pieces is a method book as long as each and every piece is there to teach or reinforce a certain musical concept and that concept is presented with some explanatory text, or a graph or something that may suggest it is intended for a purpose. like this page for exmple

as opposed to this:



I hope I made myself understood now.


Edited by Mirela (08/09/10 02:33 PM)
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#1491666 - 08/09/10 02:31 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
EJR Offline
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Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 861
Loc: Bristol, UK
Originally Posted By: Mirela
Originally Posted By: EJR

My personal experience was that other than the very first introductory book,


Well, in a way my question was exactly about that very first introductory book sometimes called "method book".


The Easiest Way: A very simple and modern method of learning to play the Piano
Henry Geehl & Alec Rowley
Copyright MCMXXX1 (1931)
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#1491673 - 08/09/10 02:43 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: EJR]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Thanks Elwyn.

I heard some of Alec Rowley's etudes for piano and I absolutely loved them

I've seen "The easiest way" and I must admit, his method is a tad "unstandardish" [to put it mildly] just as Bartok's Microcosmos. I guess you were a little older, or maybe had some previous music notions.

Was that a standard method to use, or a special choice of your teacher?

Do you happen to know what methods are more popular now in the UK? I've seen the Waterman-Harewood Me and my piano, and I have heard about Pauline Hall's (from oxford?) What do you think about those?


Edited by Mirela (08/09/10 02:53 PM)
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#1491693 - 08/09/10 03:10 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: keystring]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: keystring
A word about "permissive" vs. "authoritarian". There has to be a third kind - what you have outlined does not seem right...


If politicians could put together reasonable, intelligent arguments such as this, the world would be a much better place.

Thanks for the reminder that intelligent forethought is the real virtue, both in teaching and parenting.

This kind of post is why you're one of my favorite people here on the forums. Definitely food for thought to fuel the rest of my day!
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#1491713 - 08/09/10 03:34 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
EJR Offline
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Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 861
Loc: Bristol, UK
<<Was that a standard method to use, or a special choice of your teacher?>>

It was the choice of the teacher. It was the book that she started everyone on. She then instructed us as to what others to get. These included ABRSM published series (Pleasure in progress, Progressive Pieces & Wheel of Progress [T. F. Dunhill]) and also included the Dorothy Bradley (Hours with the Masters & Site-reading made easy) series which mirror the ABRSM structure.


<<Do you happen to know what methods are more popular now in the UK? I've seen the Waterman-Harewood Me and my piano, and I have heard about Pauline Hall's (from oxford?) What do you think about those?>>

Sorry, no. As I indicated above, I'm not a teacher. I'm sure others will chime in with this information.
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#1491785 - 08/09/10 04:34 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2443
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Mirela
Yet, kids from Russian music schools are not that bad... (BTW that is a huge understatement)


It seems to me that there is a common element in all method books, probably a necessary part of the very idea of a method book.

Method books start from a small starting point, and work out from there. The starting point may vary somewhat from one method to another, and the steps that follow may vary. One starts from the part, and works towards the whole.

I believe that in Russia the approach is very different. One starts at the whole. A child is placed before the instrument, not before, say, the five white keys which have middle-C as the center. He is told "this is your instrument, now play music." This explains why "kids from the Russian music schools are not that bad".

The method approach, in my view, puts the whole weight of a piano on a child's poor shoulders, whereas by the Russian approach a child picks up the piano and spins it on his finger.

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#1491928 - 08/09/10 06:45 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: landorrano]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Originally Posted By: landorrano

I believe that in Russia the approach is very different. One starts at the whole. ... He is told "this is your instrument, now play music."


I like the way you see this!

For me, as a Romanian child, the Russian method always seemed strangely (as in scary) gloomy.

Not that it had anything to do with communism and stuff, as we were too young to understand the implications (although something was "floating in the air" any time the USSR name was spoken).

But it had all those strange letters, it was such a big book with small notes and even smaller strange letters I couldn't understand. I played the songs and I didn't dare to ask again my teacher what they were all about as when I first asked, she had said she couldn't read Russian but music is a wonderful universal language and I can imagine whatever I wanted!

But in my little child mind I felt an utter frustration of not gasping the meaning of a song. And sometimes she even asked me what I thought the song was about. I dreaded those moments. The song HAD a name. It was about SOMETHING I didn't know. It just blocked me out. If it had no writing I could have happily imagined anything but they were named. They surely meant something, and I couldn't change it. I mean a dog wouldn't become a fish if I walked to it and said "this is a fish". That song meant something, and my pretending it's something else would only make ME look silly.

Was it supposed to be a happy song? A fast one? or a slow one? And some had lyrics. Or so it seemed cos I couldn't read the symbols. Maybe they were just the counting numbers... I thought sometimes.

So, when I grew older I learned the Russian alphabet from the TV and I kept opening the book to "read" the names of the songs and of the composers. I still remember the joy when I discovered a familiar name like Clementi and for a long time I didn't know that Gaidn and Gendel weere actually Haydn and Handel. I can still read composer's names in Russian characters.... But the feeling that the Nikolaeva method as we called it (I always thought it was a lady!) was a gloomy dark - scary - kind of misterious that never left me.

That is until two years ago when I found somewhere the Boosey and Hawkes version of it. All of a sudden all my childhood apprehension and vexation just went away. So that's what all those songs were about!!! Pussy cats and Jolly Ganders, Rainy days and Silver Sledges. It almost sounded like a verse from Julie Andrews' My favourite things.

It's still a pictureless book, and it still has a boot-camp like feeling attached to it in my mind, but at least now I can call the Boot-camp "this is your instrument, now play music." It does sound more poetic. Thanks for that!
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#1491948 - 08/09/10 07:02 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: landorrano]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: landorrano
The method approach, in my view, puts the whole weight of a piano on a child's poor shoulders, whereas by the Russian approach a child picks up the piano and spins it on his finger.




What a strange metaphor!
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#1491966 - 08/09/10 07:22 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
keystring Online   content
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Is there any system or any book that has the answers? You had your experience in Romania and the method books you have discovered do something which counterbalances your own experience. But is it just the books, or is it not also the teaching? When you write about what your country demanded, it is all about repertoire - it seems difficult pieces introduced too early. But is it pieces that music teaching is about?

I should give some background. I am an adult student and had my first lessons in another instrument when close to 50. We did not as much as learn the names of notes so I was illiterate. I am also a trained teacher and have looked into alternative teaching methods, and have taught one-on-one. How music is taught has caught my interest. Additionally, my teacher came from the Russian system and at some point we noticed that there was something different from what is going on here, though we didn't first know what. All of that is where I am coming from.

Thoughts:
To me, books and sheet music are a teaching tool. You need to teach a student to play and interpret music by giving the student something to play, unless you plan to demonstrate something for the student to memorize from your playing which isn't practical.

In teaching anything, you have skills and knowledge that you want to build. I was trained to break that down by defining what needs to be taught, and then find ways to teach it and create a plan. This is rigid in a classroom situation but can be fluid and responsive one-on-one. The teacher needs to thoroughly understand the material: not just how to read, interpret and play, but what is behind it physically and other wise. Knowing how students learn, the physical, sensory, and intellectual parts plays into it.

From your description, it sounds as if your teacher(s) did not have that part. Otherwise s/he could have approached the music in a much different manner. Meanwhile the state-directed curriculum: is there anything behind it? Are there particular skills that they know these pieces will bring in, or is it just in random order of easy, harder, harder, hardest?

As a student, I would like my teacher to be fully knowledgeable in all the areas, so that the teacher has an idea of what and how to teach and when. With enough knowledge, the teacher can be flexible to respond to how I learn, what my weaknesses and strengths are etc. In order to be flexible, that teacher should not be locked into a method book where one approach is used, with each thing taught in a particular order. For that reason I feel more comfortable with somehing like the RCM, but with the idea that the teacher can step beyond whatever is there. I used to think that RCM etc. had a kind of underlying structure where somebody knew what needed to be learned when - technical book, theory, and pieces, would all reinforce each other. In the very least the teacher would have some kind of framework to go from.

I cannot imagine a teacher trying to teach 30 individul students and create a teaching plan for every single one of them, devising what pieces, studies, exercises, each has to cover, from scratch each time. So some kind of framework has to be there I would think. Method books are one option.

You wrote that the teacher is part of the equation and I would agree with that. Perhaps the student is too. Learning is an active thing during lessons, and then for 6 of the 7 days the student is doing the learning at home. What is happening during that time? How is the student approaching it? Is the student also experimenting, discovering, learning?

I think the objection to John Thompson and the fingering is that it can end up with a student typing in the numbers, rather than truly playing music. It gives instant results. Here it is what you the teacher did with the book which is important. You did more with it, so your students did not become finger-number-crunchers. Books are tools. Teachers teach. Students learn. Books are just there.


Edited by keystring (08/09/10 07:25 PM)

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#1492005 - 08/09/10 08:01 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: keystring]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
EJR, my response to you was not intended to write off your suggestion that an exam system can work as a method. I was trying to explain that Mirela is asking about a particular genre of publications that are intended to be used with students from the very first lesson, explicitly instructing students on theory, technique, musical terms, how the piano works and so forth. The ABRSM and other exam boards not only do not do this, they explicitly state in all their literature that this is not how their syllabuses should be used!!! And they do not address teaching the student from the first lesson. Mirela is interested in those publications that do address teaching the student from the first lesson.

You qualify your remarks by pointing out that you are not a teacher. While both method books and examination syllabuses are graded and incremental there are all kinds of practical teaching considerations that make them entirely different, and not comparable in the kind of study Mirela is undertaking.

The most substantial of these considerations is, as already stated, that examination syllabuses pick up some way into the student's learning experiences, whereas method books are there at the first lesson. Another consideration is the holistic approach method books attempt to deliver to the student/teacher in introducing new pianistic experiences, techniques and concepts; examination syllabuses make no such effort. And so on.
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#1492011 - 08/09/10 08:07 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Andy Platt]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
25 years ago I took flute lessons for 5 years. I was OK, got to grade 6. How much did I practice? Hardly at all. My parents (who were definitely parents, not friends and were more authoritarian than most back then) just didn't realize - they had no clue how important practice was. Actually I had no idea - I truly thought everyone practiced similarly and it was talent that made the difference.

It's got nothing to do with "modern" parenting styles, it all comes down to this: Do the parents know you need really need to practice, where does it come on the priority list and is there enough time in the day to do what's needed. Pure and simple.

Everytime people start down the line of how things have changed, people will find quotes from the 1900s saying the exact same thing about the previous generation.
I agree! With one qualification: parents are now aware of scientific research into brain functioning that shows that playing a musical instrument is an activity that employs the whole brain, and very few other activities do that.

So some parents these days are looking for instrumental lessons to be part of their child's education in a way that is distinctly unrelated to the kinds of goals parents may have had 50 or even 25 years ago. But these parents do quickly cotton on to the fact that their children need to be playing their instrument every day if those brain advantages are to occur!!

On the other hand, these parents tend to have their kids in after school care til about 5-6pm AND have their kids enrolled in four other out of school activities!!! So, good luck with fitting in that brain-training, oops, I mean, practice.
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#1492030 - 08/09/10 08:19 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: keystring]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Originally Posted By: keystring

Learning is an active thing during lessons, and then for 6 of the 7 days the student is doing the learning at home. What is happening during that time? How is the student approaching it? Is the student also experimenting, discovering, learning?


Well, here is the real problem. As some people pointed out here, children don't actually do anything at home. And it's not that the parents "aren't aware" of the fact they have to practice. I have a mother who comes with the child to the lesson and "tells on the kid" something like "Well Miss, I told him he had to practice at least 20 minutes as you said but he wouldn't! He just plays the songs once and leaves the piano after 5 minutes" and the kid answers back "No I don't" "Yes you do!" It's ridiculous!

Another one happened when one day when I went through the usual routine of telling the parent that the child needs to practice daily, like I always do after the first lesson the mother looked at me sharply and said "Lady! I take the trouble to drive the kid here twice a week just because she kept whining that she needs piano lessons. Well, if she wants them, she's responsible! I won't have anything to do with it" (The kid was 6 years old, and liked to bang on the piano all day long. That was her "passion for the piano" ... BTW I was assigned that child at the State Music School/ I was in no position of turning them down)

And, as extreme as these seem, I'm sure you've seen worse. And that's the way things are with most of the student's parents regarding the "support" they should provide.

The vast majority of the kids do not practice at home. At all. Especially the ones that come to the Music School. As the lessons are free of charge, the parents couldn't care less! So, that's how they end up learning the pieces the saddest way... by ROTE!

In the 14 years I've been teaching I had ONLY two kids who actually practiced purely out of their own will.
Of the 20 I teach now about a dozen (usually the private lesson kids) will sit in front of the piano and do something more or less musically about half an hour twice a week, one is among the few that really does practice, another one is "assisted" by a parent who can't read music but just nags the kid into practicing and the rest (the more or less the music school gang, but it's not a rule) - nothing!

As far as my country's more conservative piano teachers are concerned I have really lowered the standards by using JT. They are still using the Romanian primer, and some very successfully. (I don't know if their students can actually sight read music, but they are fantastic in contests)

My real concern in opening this thread was about "the fate of the future generation"
I have definitely slowed down using JT with my private class kids, but will I have to furtherly slow it down? How do the Russians keep teaching from the same fast paced method? So, maybe I am missing something here...

In my country since the fall of communism commercialism has really lowered the quality of TV shows, and they keep finding excuses in the rating, when they actually "taught" the bad taste by feeding it daily. People in Romania used to read books. They used to like good movies and listen to good music, regardless of profession... I mean you didn't have to be an intellectual to like classical music. People who were workers in a factory went to listen to Mozart. Yes, the Party didn't promote vulgar music. Yes, sometimes classical music interpreters were taken to play in factories. But no one forced people in the regular Philharmonic Concert halls, and you could see all kinds of people there. They had been taught to like it. Of course not every factory worker went to classical music concerts, but for some it was joy they had discovered.

And NO, I am not a nostalgic of those times. Thousands of other things were wrong!

After the Revolution people have been constantly fed vulgar music, second rate movies, sub-culture, and that's what they like now.

So, my point and my main worry is: if I keep lowering my expectations am I not actually feeding the monster? I've already "dumbed down" [as some of my more "respectable" coleagues would say or at least think] with Thompson, but will I have to choose something even slower than that? And what's wrong with me that I can't succeed with the faster paced ones like the other teachers do?


Edited by Mirela (08/09/10 08:29 PM)
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#1492045 - 08/09/10 08:29 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Mirela, I think in your study you need to look at the idea of 'success'. How is it measured - are there better ways of measuring it - are there differences between a teacher's notion of success and a parent's/student's notion of success, and so on....
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Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1492046 - 08/09/10 08:29 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11183
Loc: Canada
It seems that the problem is getting those who want to learn together with those who want to teach. Because when one wants to learn, and gets to the dummied down classes, it is a huge disappointment.

Are your faster paced colleagues "succeeding"? Or are they getting students who would do well regardless? Are those students actualy mastering music, or are they putting on a good show with a couple of well drilled pieces?

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#1492320 - 08/10/10 02:30 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: keystring]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
"All Hail Kreisler”!! (to quote the Macbethian Bard) ... must take you up on

"Come on now, btb. Do you really think the general population can read Macbeth without any trouble? "

You are flying a kite in postulating the balmy suggestion that greater exposure (as with everyday literature) would improve our keyboard education ... the lack of interest by the public at large is simply because they (them thar’ critters) can’t make sense of keyboard notation ... and prefer to learn to play golf ... much easier (some say!!).

But thanks for picking up the cudgels.

PS Even our long-withheld indigenous black folk are taking to studying Macbeth ...
for them the potency of witchcraft has a very special connotation ...

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air."
(Witches vanish)

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#1492380 - 08/10/10 05:23 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: btb]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
btb, what a curious thesis you put: i suppose we could test it by having children spend as long learning notation as they do learning to read.... My sister has just had a baby 36 hours ago - I volunteer him to be the subject of the test.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1492390 - 08/10/10 05:38 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: btb]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
btb, I see you keep missing the topic of this thread!

but even so, I'd like to see your transcription, in the "improved musical notation" you are championing of at least one Bach 4 voiced fugue and one Mahler Symphony. And I'd like to see an orchestra perform that Mahler Symphony after say.... a week of induction to your system.

After that I'd like to see a concert pianist that has been trained solely on that system of notation.

Then we can start discussing, comparing and contrasting the benefits and disadvantages of each system. With no viable alternative just throwing rotten tomatoes at something that is tried and proved makes no sense.

And believe me there are billions of people in this world (including me) who don't play golf [since that's the example you chose to give, but it could be absolutely anything else as an example] not because it is easy or hard but because

1. it doesn't form part of their cultural background and they have never been properly exposed to it (as opposed to mandatory school where - want it or not - you MUST sit in while someone is teaching reading)
2. it just doesn't appeal to them
3. they may enjoy watching it, but the couldn't be bothered to actually get proper training and practice every day (just look at the billions of people who watch football(or soccer as some of you may call it) but never move their behinds from the couch)

So, really, Kreisler's arguments have a logical and valid quality, yours are just biased metaphors. There is actually nothing to discuss in a civil manner as long as you don't provide the alternative. That is why I would kindly ask to leave aside this subject - or open your own thread if it really concerns you.

I would gladly like to hear your insight regarding the method books you came across either as a student and/or as a teacher.
_________________________
Piano teacher in Romania
Learning something new every day smile

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#1492394 - 08/10/10 05:50 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
btb, what a curious thesis you put: i suppose we could test it by having children spend as long learning notation as they do learning to read.... My sister has just had a baby 36 hours ago - I volunteer him to be the subject of the test.


Well, I don't know if you need to do that...

I could read music long before I could read books. It was actually easier to learn reading and writing the music than all the 31 letters. Once I understood the principle space-line-space-line there was no more mystery.

It took my mom a couple of weeks in the summer to teach me reading music (I was five I think...) and I started with solfege. And it took the school one whole year to teach me all the letters when I was seven. And mind you, Romanian is a phonetic language, meaning there's no two ways of reading the same letter, so no exceptions and "maybe this way, maybe that way" like in English....

And I guess there are a lot more people on this forum that can tell the same story.

Bottom line: I was younger and therefore less intellectually prepared to learn "difficult stuff", and it took 25 times less time to learn to read music as opposed to reading.


Edited by Mirela (08/10/10 06:47 AM)
Edit Reason: I've just realised there are actually more letters in the Romanian Alphabet lool
_________________________
Piano teacher in Romania
Learning something new every day smile

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#1492458 - 08/10/10 08:14 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Yeah, I gotta say, it wasn't a big stretch for me to understand music notation as a very young child - I was turning pages by the time I was about 6 - I would never have been able to play the music itself, but I could understand the notation plenty well enough to be able to turn pages for my mum.....
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1492498 - 08/10/10 09:38 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Elissa Milne]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Everybody gabbles on about how easily they took to learning the alphabetic notes (but then didn't we all) ... little realizing that none of you can read a fresh piece of quality keyboard music prima vista ... the antiquated notation makes heady demands on lengthy dedicated practice.

All the primers in the world don't solve the
problem of sight-reading ... they merely introduce different ways to skin a cat.

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#1492507 - 08/10/10 09:53 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: btb]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Um, I can read a fresh piece of quality keyboard music prima vista. I do it all the time.

I can go into a music shop and hear in my head all the music in any book I pick up, at speed, the lot. It's easy.

I wouldn't *perform* it prima vista, but then neither would an actor do the same with a script. In fact, comparing the two performance scenarios (script-based theatre, score-based musical performance) is not a bad correlation.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1492552 - 08/10/10 11:06 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
For Pete's sake! My answer about how easy I could read solfege was an answer to Elissa Milne.

Please everyone, kindly ignore this issue and stop feeding the...

We have made all the logical points and explained and addressed the same issue he keeps presenting under just another unfortunate metaphor. It's just sad this can't be stopped.
Clearly he isn't a person that can be reasoned with on a logical basis. I have come to the conclusion that fanaticism and extremism and idiosyncrasy can not be addressed with common sense remarks.

And if any of you need more encouragement to this I'll quote Samuel Clemens:
"Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference."
(and this goes both ways, if we're all fools than just don't argue with us!)

I just don't want to see this thread closed just because we can't stay on topic.
_________________________
Piano teacher in Romania
Learning something new every day smile

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#1492749 - 08/10/10 04:14 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11183
Loc: Canada
Does this solve any of the puzzle from the other end of where you are coming from?
One set of ideas
Landorrano?

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#1493151 - 08/11/10 12:24 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: keystring]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 824
The reason it's hard to stay on topic is because of the nature of your original question, which lends itself to a subjective approach.

I think we do pamper kids too much, but at the same time I feel a primer should take a lot of time to get through. I feel kids need to practice more, but they are distracted by their exposure to the media, their friends, and their easily distracted parents who want them in too many activities.

The problem started when fathers became less relevant and less strict. Easy access to other form of entertainment made the piano less relevant.

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#1493196 - 08/11/10 03:40 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Candywoman]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Candywoman - thanks a lot for your answer. On the whole, it does express the feelings of some other people have answered here.

I didn't expect only the most scientific approach to the subject.
And quite frankly even the most scientific approaches come after you put together more and more personal opinions and extract what keeps recurring, trying to understand & explain the why behind it.

So personal opinions were what I was looking for in the first place, regardless of how scientifically backed up they were (or not). Sometimes personal experience is more than words quoted from a book (although those help too smile - and in the end books are personal opinions of their respective authors, who happen to have a lot of experience), and that's why this site is so fantastic. It gives you opportunity to get the ideas of a very wide range of subjects in the matter from students to teachers, parents of students and even authors of methods.

Where else in this world could I have found the opinion of a professional author of piano methods (such as Elissa who has kindly answered not one, but several of my questions on the matter)?

I value and appreciate and respect every answer I get because it shows me another aspect of my original question. Or other things I might have overlooked.

Elwyn's answers for example made me understand that adult beginners - who I am also talking about in my paper - may have a different opinion on what a method is, and how one sholud/may start learning piano at the beginner level, but at a different age level. I was going to talk about adult method books ranging from Schaum/Michael Aaron to the more popular now Alfred books, but it had never occurred to me that Alec Rowley's The easiest way could be used for the same purpose.

There was actually only one person that kept going off topic and you must agree that his statements didn't provide very much input on the way present method books address children.



Edited by Mirela (08/11/10 03:52 AM)
_________________________
Piano teacher in Romania
Learning something new every day smile

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