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#1493283 - 08/11/10 08:34 AM 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
Mirela,

<<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.>>

Agreed.

<< 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. >>

Just to clarify, that was indeed my first book, but I was around 8 at the time. I'd describe myself as an "Adult Returner" (returning to being a poor pianist frown ).
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#1493340 - 08/11/10 10:02 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11543
Loc: Canada
Mirela, this is off topic - but if you are also looking at books for adults, please do have a look at Guhl's "Keyboard Proficiency". There is a wide variety among adults who have different needs and expectations and this one is probably at a different end of the spectrum. There is a fair bit of discussion in past threads describing it, which search on "Guhl" would bring you to. In case this is helpful for the other part of your paper.

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#1493387 - 08/11/10 11:12 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: keystring]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
To answer your question directly. In my opinion, NO, method books today do not pamper kids. Method books can't pamper kids really. They are just a tool. A teacher can "pamper" kids, but a book can't, it's just an inanimate tool waiting to be used.

To go a little deeper though, I think what you are really asking is: do method books today represent some sort of cultural/pedagogical shift? Do books today go "slower", and does this represent a drop in discipline in general in how we educate kids today? Are method books today better than they were 40 years ago? How do we define "better"?

But I think it is really difficult, and at times perhaps futile, to compare how things were then to how things are now and ask which is better?

I think yes, of course there has been a shift in how method books present information, in their philosophical and musical approach. But I think the method books change to adapt and flow with new cultural and education perspectives, and to try and meet the needs of music education to fit into what we have to work with NOW.

No one can make the world what it used to be back when John Thompson Etc first published their books - the politics are different, the economics are different, the technology is different.

The BEST method books are the ones that take a clear direct look at the reality of the times, and seek to meet the educational goals the best as possible at the time of creation. That makes a good method book.

I do not think the newer books pamper kids. They have shown an awaking to the fact that children learn in a whole variety of ways. By prepping younger kids with songs and games on just the black notes for example, they are giving these younger students a deeper understanding of the basic shapes and layout of the piano. I don't see this as bad at all or as pampering. In fact, some of the best progress I've made with adults is to just step back and review the layout of the black notes. It can also given a sense of "owning" the whole instrument to move up and down many octaves on black notes.

It's up to the TEACHER to take whichever method book they choose to use as a starting point and work from there. It's up to teacher to notice if a beginning student does not need the first 30 or so pages from Faber Primer Lesson book and move forward to the "real" note reading.
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#1493448 - 08/11/10 12:46 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: keystring]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: keystring
Does this solve any of the puzzle from the other end of where you are coming from?
One set of ideas
Landorrano?


Ha! Great link, keystring. I mean, I didn't understand a word of it but, I'm quite sure that I like from beginning to end! Thanks!

(Seriously, very interesting.)

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#1493530 - 08/11/10 02:24 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: CarolR]
KurtZ Offline
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Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 849
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
CarolR said: 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.

I started in Piano Adventures 2a and am now in 3b. The above doesn't accurately represent the design, layout or approach of Piano Adventures. The cute pictures are small, maybe an inch or two across. If they are bigger, it's filling space left by the end of a piece or a text block of bullet points. Also, there are no visualations such as described by Carol. There are instructions such as, "Play the left hand legato while keeping an even rhythm with the right" but not conceptual visualations like, "Imagine your arm is a lightning bolt holding a purple poodle." New musical terms and concepts are defined and words from the titles of pieces that would be unfamiliar are defined. I know this is tangential to the O.P's topic but as an adult who has worked from almost countless methods on at least 5 instruments including a failed go around with the Bastien Adult Method, I'm so impressed with PA that I couldn't let the statement go by uncorrected.

Kurt
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#1493566 - 08/11/10 03:08 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: KurtZ]
CarolR Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/05
Posts: 350
Loc: wisconsin
I DO stand corrected. I obviously don't know Faber well - but I'm glad to know that you've had success with it. I think the heavy wet rope thing comes from another method I've browsed through, not sure which. But that was just an example of what I don't like in some of the methods. But I was sure Faber had bunnies somewhere......:-)
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#1494713 - 08/12/10 09:34 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: CarolR]
KurtZ Offline
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Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 849
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
This is a follow up for CarolR:

I just had a look at the pre reading series from F&F and it does indeed have huge pictures and conceptualizations about stirring dough and such stuff. I'm going to bet those are the books you saw. Piano Adventures is the core of the line and is not "cutesy" like I said before.

Kurt
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#1494941 - 08/13/10 03:24 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4738
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Mirela
I've recently seen comments that are not so flattering even about the Thompson methods.

I'm one of the most guilty, so let me explain.

Sometime in about the last six months, a lady started lessons. She had used the Thompson books as a child, and she read only finger numbers. She did not have a clue about how to read music properly.

I probably blamed Thompson. I was, no doubt, in a venting mood. smile

However, using Finale I quickly entered the tunes that she wanted to relearn. I simply entered them (they are quite elementary in the first book), then printed them out without the finger numbers. I also added clues to help her with the key signatures, because JT uses five finger positions in C, F, G, D, A, B, and probably others. My student was utterly swamped by these continuous changes in keys, but by using my own materials to flesh it out, we managed to use JT.

I feel that I have done nothing unethical because she bought the book. I am simply giving her assistance by removing the problems. Later, IF she wishes to go back to the original book (highly unlikely once she outgrows it), she can explore for herself how over-fingering causes problems. (She already knows, actually.)

My criticism of his method is about the over-fingering combined with "magical jumps in difficulty" that tend to lose all but the most talented students because so much is skipped. But I do not dislike some of his concepts, and I don't necessarily think more modern method books are necessarily more creative. They are simply geared to a different time and society, and they tend to try to "blanket" skills in a way that makes sure that all basics are stressed. They also attempt to adapt to a world in which people have computer games and other exciting things to do and must, somehow, have fun more quickly. In US society, we deal with the need for instant gratification, and that, more than anything, drives the thinking behind how music is presented. HOWEVER: if it succeeds, no harm is done, and I suspect few people in my country would push through the older style materials, made for a slower moving world in which people traveled by horse, had only candles to read by, and had many hours of spare time everyday, with no distraction. (Those who were in the upper class, of course. No piano lessons for peasants.)

If you are using a "classical" approach, the bottom line is that you have to GET to things like the Bartok Mikrokosmos, collections by Kabelevsky, and on and on and on. In other words, in some way students have to develop the reading skills to enable them to decipher and master the music they want to play, or that will make them feel successful. Often that means just pleasing themselves, or it can mean attaining a competitive level. In my society, you also have to get to sheet music, giving students the opportunity to play the latest "tune" by the famous group of the moment.

In my opinion there is no magic bullet. In a perfect world, all our students would sight-read amazingly well, learn very fast, memorize everything effortlessly, master chord structure and other elements of theory, play scales in any key with complete ease, zoom through arpeggios in all keys, and on and on, and improvise—and master all styles of music. The weakness of ALL method books is that ALL of them do SOME things very well, but we are prevented for copyright reasons from using the best of all of them, which would require buying complete sets of books from a good dozen different companies to avoid being sued.

I have my own "method", all on Finale, but really it is much like many others, with some ideas of my own. My goal is to advance students as soon as possible to the level at which they are beyond any method-book style compositions and on to the really challenging, rewarding things that creative people are dying to play but so often do not have the skills to do so. What bothers me most is that I don't fully like any method (including my own). In all methods there are only a few things that really interest me, as a teacher, and I am blocked from using them because of the cost of buying books (asking students to by books for only a composition or two does not work well in my world), so although I have in my mind particular things that I like in Alfred, Piano Adventures, etc., etc., I tend to push towards collections of music that are more standard and more advanced.


Edited by Gary D. (08/13/10 03:24 AM)
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#1495128 - 08/13/10 11:15 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Gary D.]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Thanks Elissa from Sydney for picking up on this giddy subject of primers ... and for suggesting a volunteer baby (a boy right out of the box) to be the subject of comparisons in learning literature and keyboard music ... you’ll have to wait awhile until the lad takes to reading (from say 4 years onward).

But imagine if you were to teach children from the outset that there are 12 basic notes ...
and not the alphabetic maze through which 6 year-olds have to muddle ... with all those sharps and flats due to the doctored alphabet muck up.

The Romanian OP is so hobbled by the Russian-engendered mind-set ... that all the fresh thoughts on an updated system of notation ... has hit the fan.

PS What’s wrong with Ozzie home-ground rugga ... letting the All Blacks snap up the Bledisloe Cup? ... not that our Springboks have anything to crow about after 3 losses away.

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#1495221 - 08/13/10 01:30 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5413
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
"magical jumps in difficulty" that tend to lose all but the most talented students because so much is skipped.

I've recently come to the conclusion that it's best to use a method series that progresses slowly. For more advanced learners, I can simply assign more pieces or skip some. The slower learners will need all the pieces, and even some supplements.
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#1495285 - 08/13/10 03:23 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: AZNpiano]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7299
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Quote:
I've recently come to the conclusion that it's best to use a method series that progresses slowly. For more advanced learners, I can simply assign more pieces or skip some. The slower learners will need all the pieces, and even some supplements.

Excellent advice. It works well for 97% of all students.
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#1495302 - 08/13/10 03:58 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Thank you so much to all the people who answered my original question.

As I said somewhere among the lines I "see it coming" my way too, and that bothered me in a way: I thought I was to blame as being a younger teacher (as opposed to the more experienced teachers that still use faster paced methods) I had to slow down.
(I think it's of little interest that my "slowing down" actually means JT's Easiest piano course - which I actually find a little less faulty than "Teaching little fingers to play" - that was the only choice I found in a Bucharest bookshop. As I said they only had that and Bastien and JT's Modern piano course I use for adults)

I guess the answer is - for me - that social changes have been more drastic here in Romania, meaning they happened more or less overnight. We [students, teachers and society alike] went from "straight jackets" to "do whatever you darn please" in a blink of an eye, but we lacked and still lack the infrastructure to put our freedom to good use.

You came to the slower paced methods naturally. There was no commotion about that.

and as GaryD said
"I suspect few people in my country would push through the older style materials, made for a slower moving world in which people traveled by horse, had only candles to read by, and had many hours of spare time everyday, with no distraction."

Well, apart from the horse being the ONLY means of travel (it still is a means of travel for a great number of our rural population today), the "no distraction" thing applied to Romania at the time I was learning. Yes, we did have electricity, but blackouts were "planned" for "energy saving" so every other day you'd get one that lasted at least two hours. That's how I learned to play piano in the pitch dark. And there was only one single TV channel that aired for two hours a day, from 8 to 10 in the evening (mainly the hours the power went down!).

We went from that to 100 TV channels airing 24/7 in 15 years. From a few empty shelved stores [literally] to dozens of malls and shopping centers and hypermarkets. From no commercials on TV to very cunning sales "tricks" aimed not only at adults, but mostly at kids...

So many things have changed here that even if piano methods seemed to not have been affected by it, now I can't see how they couldn't have been.

So, AZN's conclusion does seem to make a lot of sense, and it does make me feel less guilty about the feeling I was just "pampering" my students instead of "instructing them the proper way".


Edited by Mirela (08/13/10 04:00 PM)
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#1495355 - 08/13/10 05:27 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4738
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I've recently come to the conclusion that it's best to use a method series that progresses slowly. For more advanced learners, I can simply assign more pieces or skip some. The slower learners will need all the pieces, and even some supplements.

I came to the same conclusion a long time ago, and this is why I almost obsessively continually add to my own collection, why I do my own materials.

For the slowest students, I can move along at a snails pace. But I can use those exact same materials for my best students merely by skipping anything that stresses anything that they have already absorbed.

To add to that idea, I have three versions of the same music. The first uses no key signature, with all notes that are sharped or flatted indicated with accidentals. The second adds the key signature with sharps, flats and naturals in parentheses, either within the measures or above/below them. The last is fully mainstream and adds nothing that is not conventional.

The sharper ones only get the key signatures with clues, at first, and the best soon only get conventional notation.

I don't think this will be done or can be done in conventional books. The extra number of pages would make it impossible both for reasons of cost and size of books. Using Finale, I can make three versions in almost zero time and simply choose which one I want to print out, at the moment. smile
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#1495400 - 08/13/10 06:25 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Gary D.]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Originally Posted By: Gary D.

The first uses no key signature, with all notes that are sharped or flatted indicated with accidentals. The second adds the key signature with sharps, flats and naturals in parentheses, either within the measures or above/below them. The last is fully mainstream and adds nothing that is not conventional.


That's clever. I never thought about printing a different sheet smile

What I do with some kids is make them aware of the key signature and then offer them a coloured pencil to "hunt down" all the notes that will have to be altered. We don't put the actual sharp or flat, as I want it to be more like a clue (actually we place the sign below the note, not in the place where the flat/sharp would be, because it may clutter too much the staff), so I let them choose a symbol they like as long as it's fairly small (I had a girl that insisted in making small elaborate flowers, but usually it's just fat dots or triangles or crosses).

They choose the colour and the symbol, and they do all the searching with me just pointing out if "there's still one that you missed somewhere" - if there is - and it feels like a fun "treasure hunt" not as a dull "rule you must obey".

For editing music I use noteflight.com (usually for four hand arrangements of simple tunes) mainly because it's free and online, and I can access it from the school's office and print off stuff, even if I don't have my own computer there.

I've just logged on to noteflight.com and apparently the site will be down for maintenance starting at 8pm ET on August 15th. Hope it doesn't stay down too long smile And there goes the "24/7 availability" of my edited music ha

But seriously, for a free resource online, it's very useful.


Edited by Mirela (08/13/10 06:32 PM)
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#1495417 - 08/13/10 06:51 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5413
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Quote:
I've recently come to the conclusion that it's best to use a method series that progresses slowly. For more advanced learners, I can simply assign more pieces or skip some. The slower learners will need all the pieces, and even some supplements.

Excellent advice. It works well for 97% of all students.

And in the past two years I've seen transfer students who clearly fall outside that 97%. I've been writing my own worksheets for them because these students fall three standard deviations below the mean. One of these students is still in Piano Adventures Book 1 after three years of lessons.
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#1495593 - 08/14/10 12:47 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: AZNpiano]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia





Edited by Elissa Milne (08/14/10 12:49 AM)
Edit Reason: entirely off-topic discourse about rugby union and how I was raised in New Zealand so I like it when the All Blacks win.
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#1495650 - 08/14/10 03:08 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4738
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

And in the past two years I've seen transfer students who clearly fall outside that 97%. I've been writing my own worksheets for them because these students fall three standard deviations below the mean. One of these students is still in Piano Adventures Book 1 after three years of lessons.

Which gets back to the point that materials, if they are sound, can never go too slowly for the simple reason that things can always be skipped, immediately making them move as fast as you want to go.

But materials can always move to fast and in the real world always will, for some student who has problems that no others we have worked with previsouly has had.
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#1495662 - 08/14/10 03:49 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Elissa Milne]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne







Edited by landorrano (08/14/10 03:52 AM)
Edit Reason: Just feeling of pity for all of those fine yankee piano teachers who don't follow international rubgy matches and only have the Super Bowl as consolation.

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