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#1491078 - 08/08/10 06:15 PM How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise?
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
I know this might look as yet another thread on beginner methods.

The truth is I have read most of the threads about methods I found here (at least the ones I could find). I have subscribed to the forum because of those threads that I found enormously helpful.

The reason I am interested in method books is that I am writing a dissertation about this (In Romania there are certain qualification exams you can take as a teacher and "First degree" is the top one, for which you must write a "longish" paper)

My theme is about method books for the beginners. Given the fact that in my country there exists only ONE method book written by a Romanian lady called Maria Cernovodeanu in 1959 and used as "the piano primer bible" ever since I thought my work would be interesting.

Other than the Romanian Cernovodeanu primer, some years ago (especially during the communist era here) the Russian School of piano playing- ed. Nikolaev was also used. And some more passionate teachers would throw in some Bartok Microcosmos at the more talented children. Up until the mid '60's and even early '70s the Beyer method was still in use from the most conservative, older teachers.

During the communist time we didn't have access to any "imported" sheet music, the only ones that made it to the shop were Russian and Peters Editions (based in the GDR Leipzig). And now, in the 20 past years sheet music business is considered a luxury as people can barely feed on the wages, and therefore it's less than before.

To my delight I did finally see some Thompson and Bastien in a little English bookshop, and I send all my students to buy their books from there, crossing my fingers it won't close for lack of interest.

I must confess that for academic purpose only I have collected quite a few method books from the internet (I myself am teaching from Thompson right now and I am quite happy with it, and my kids buy the books from the said shop)

I told you all this so you understand the kind of input I need

I am analyzing the methods on the criteria I found in J.M Jacobson's book Professional piano teaching. What I realized analyzing the Romanian and the Russian books is that they would fail most of the "good method" tests of modern piano pedagogy. Yet, kids from Russian music schools are not that bad... (BTW that is a huge understatement)

I've recently seen comments that are not so flattering even about the Thompson methods.

I can't pronounce myself for the highly praised Piano adventures or Music tree, as I haven't seen them [that's another side concern for my paper] but I have seen screen shots and sample pages and they seem very slow paced compared even to Thompson's Easiest piano course.

Basically, my question is:
How far are we pampering the kids now, and is this a good thing?

I mean, today it does seem extreme to make a 6 year old kid in her second piano lesson remember the names of all the piano octaves on they keyboard and shout at her "OI, I told you to play E in the Contra octave, not in the Great-octave", but hey, that's how all kids my age learned it here in Romania and probably even more drastically in the USSR, and we didn't come out monsters smile



I've just changed the title from "Need input about beginner methods" to the actual question, in hope of rising curiosity.
I guess the best title would be "Ignore this thread too" smile


Edited by Mirela (08/08/10 06:54 PM)
Edit Reason: changed the title, in hope of getting any response
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#1491142 - 08/08/10 07:56 PM 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
Mirela, I think it's about different expectations from parents and students regarding what piano lessons should be and what they should deliver, and it's about new insights into the way children learn as well. To suggest that kids are being 'pampered' through an approach that doesn't assume such an information-rich approach is missing the point: these methods exist in a culture where children are ALL encouraged, irrespective of 'talent', background or IQ.

I agree that the methods these days take AGES to get the kids playing, say, pieces from the Anna Magdalena Notebook - 5 years is really far too long!!! But I don't think this is coming from a desire to pamper children.
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#1491159 - 08/08/10 08:15 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17778
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
I agree that the methods these days take AGES to get the kids playing, say, pieces from the Anna Magdalena Notebook - 5 years is really far too long!!! But I don't think this is coming from a desire to pamper children.


I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on where it does come from, Elissa. smile My own guess would've been similar to what you alluded to briefly, that it's the parents, who are happy to have kids in music lessons, but don't particularly like nagging them to practice and thus are happy to have light demands placed on the students (and by extension the parents).
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#1491165 - 08/08/10 08:20 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Monica K.]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Very quick response, and barely touching the surface..... I think the method books these days are very reading centric, so students only get to experience what they can read. This necessitates the slowing down of physical experiences that would be easily/quickly mastered if reading were not part of the process.

This logocentricity has absolutely nothing to do with pampering!!
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#1491166 - 08/08/10 08:20 PM 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
Thanks so much for responding!

My question was rather provocative so to get people's interest, I must admit to that ha

And to be honest, I couldn't see myself teaching exclusively from the Russian one for the love of money (pun intended). I even stopped using the Romanian one a while ago, even if this is a much lighter (as opposed to gloomy) version of the Russian one.

And yes, it's true the reason I first switched was because of parent/children response to the Cernovodeanu.

As a "joke" - sadly TRUE - I had a very intelligent young man, very interested in classical music (concert goer and all) in his third year of Medical school come to me desperate about his inability to play the "kindergarten" songs in the method assigned by his previous tutor. Needless to say teachers here use the Cernovodeanu primer (intended by the very author for kids "no older than 9") for teenagers and adults as well.

So, returning to your answer, yes I understand "the market" drives the demand for the slower paced methods, but has the demand gone so wide (I mean wider than the fifties or sixties) that we get mostly the non talented, not so super bright kids that could go through Thompson's Modern course without whining and pouting every 10 minutes?
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#1491168 - 08/08/10 08:23 PM 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
Hmm, do take into account that Thompson's Modern course is hardly cutting edge stuff.....

And in my experience whining and pouting stems from things other than the tasks one sets one's students.....

And I don't think it is the 'market' so much as new insights into how children learn that has been behind most of the slower pacings in more contemporary methods.
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#1491178 - 08/08/10 08:36 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Elissa Milne]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
In my experience, the more time I spend establishing good habits in all areas in the first two years, the better able the student is to progress more quickly later and without having to undo things. My experience with Music Tree, specifically, is that my students are confident readers that also have a good technical foundation and also understand what they are doing. When we reach the level of AMB, for instance, they have built-in physical gestures and, because MT repertoire is so written, they have developed their hands equally and can handle the 2-voiced writing nicely.

Slow at the beginning, but paying big dividends later.
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#1491187 - 08/08/10 08:43 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Monica: Talking from the little experience I have (9 years of piano teaching - or 14 if you count tutoring during college), I'd have to agree with what you said.

Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
...students only get to experience what they can read. This necessitates the slowing down of physical experiences that would be easily/quickly mastered if reading were not part of the process.


English is not my first language, so I might need to ask stupid questions, but I hope you don't mind that

What do you mean by physical experiences? You mean the ability of playing things more technically challenging like faster scales, arpegios, sixteenth note passages? And what has that to do with reading?

And, in your opinion, if children would go through faster paced methods they'd get to the point where they just learn by heart the music they're playing instead of actually reading it?

oh, and you've totally lost me at the "logocentricity". The definitions I found on the net put me more in the dark instead of illuminating me smile

Thanks again to both of you for responding. I really appreciate your ideas.
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#1491194 - 08/08/10 09:01 PM 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
Hmm, do take into account that Thompson's Modern course is hardly cutting edge stuff.....


My English has to be blamed for that again. I meant just the opposite. That Thompson's Modern course - that is mostly antiquated - and in my opinion quite fast paced (I use the Easiest course for the children and the Modern one for the adults) didn't seem much of a problem for kids in the '50s or '60s, and they developed good foundations from that too.

Now, 30-40 decades later when paradoxically everything goes faster and faster from computer to trains and what not, piano methods go slower.

To tell you the truth, my personal opinion is that the "good foundations" a child gets have little to do with the method, but with the teacher. And that a good teacher can can produce perfectly fine, well rounded little musicians even with the dullest method (this implying of course much more work and inspiration on his part as opposed to having a brilliant method).

In this thread I am not arguing either for or against the slowing down. It would be scientifically wrong to put a biased opinion in my paper. I have my own opinion that I might very well state in the conclusion if I fell like it, but other than that I need to understand, so that I don't only get my negative feelings over.
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#1491198 - 08/08/10 09:05 PM 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
Originally Posted By: Mirela

you've totally lost me at the "logocentricity". The definitions I found on the net put me more in the dark instead of illuminating me smile

Damn Derrida.

It just means where the word (which implies writing) is given primacy over speech, or in the case of piano where the notation is regarded as being more the music than the sound or the experience of making the sound is.

All methods these days take reading as the starting point.

Young students can do all kinds of things that are hard to read. But because they are hard to READ these physical actions at the piano are not introduced until they are appropriate from a literacy point of view. This contributes to a 'slowing-down' effect.

In addition, young students can perform all kinds of rhythms that are REALLY hard to read. So they miss out on performing these rhythms until they are capable of processing the notation as instruction.

One could extrapolate at length. But in my case I'm off to visit my sister in hospital - she's just had a baby!!!!! I'll join in the conversation once I'm back from meeting my only nephew!!
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Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1491207 - 08/08/10 09:24 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Elissa Milne]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7382
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Actually, Dr. N. Jane Tan's method does just the opposite, or at least stresses learning to play concurrently with learning to read, but focusing more on the learning to play (touch and tone production). So much so that most of us need special classes to learn how to work with such a method! Her method is also more aggressive than most methods available, and thus requires a fair degree of parental support if you are to be successful.

There was an extensive article on her approach published in Clavier Magazine sometime during the 1990s. I'm at a family reunion at the moment, and won't be home until Tuesday, so I cannot be more precise with the reference.
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#1491265 - 08/08/10 10:46 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Quickly...

I agree completely with Elissa and have reached much the same conclusion that modern methods are centered on reading, often to the detriment of technical or listening ability.

I've actually known teachers to hold students back from playing challenging repertoire because "we haven't gotten to 16th notes yet in the book." What a horrible excuse!

Oddly enough, this is where Suzuki differs - children are encouraged to progress technically, and when they do, teachers are quick to point out "but they can't read!" Well, maybe not yet, but they can actually play!

I also think it's true what Mirela said about market forces. Music publishing is a volume business, and most people study music rather casually - as an enrichment exercise. One often hears the phrase "I don't want my kids to be concert pianists, I just want them to have fun." So publishers put out stuff that tends to be instant fun - requiring very little discipline or practice.

This results in a lot of method and supplementary pieces that are highly patterned, based on very basic presentations of chords and scales, and require very little contrapuntal or physical skill. (I was actually SHOCKED when my publisher agreed to publish my baroque suite. I'll be very interested to see the sales figures.)

Great topic, by the way - I look forward to reading more!
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"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1491267 - 08/08/10 10:56 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Kreisler]
eweiss Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
(I was actually SHOCKED when my publisher agreed to publish my baroque suite. I'll be very interested to see the sales figures.)

FJH huh? Love their stuff. Especially by Wynn Anne Rossi. They actually publish contemporary composer's works and that is something to celebrate. Especially since I consider many of them to be (gulp) New Age. smile
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#1491401 - 08/09/10 06:15 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: eweiss]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Oh, I just woke up and the first thing I did was to check on the thread!

OT Elissa, CONGRATULATIONS for the new baby in your family!!

Thank you all for being so helpful!!!

Yes, Suzuki came to my mind too when I first read Elissa's post last night, but that too requires huge amounts of parental involvement.

On the other hand, I must confess that the system here in Romania doesn't make me happy at all. I wrote something about it in another post on a "dead" thread, so I'll just repeat myself. The response was in a thread called "I hate John Thompson" (the OP didn't really hate him, but had some issues, mainly about an adult beginner who read by finger numbers)

So, here's what I wrote there:
Of the many students I started on JT not one failed to read. I do all the worksheets in the book (the ones where they're supposed to write the note names, only I don't let them write the names, but every other lesson I have them "read" the notes to me). Also, before playing each and every piece we first read the notes aloud. For some kids who are slower to learn I write additionally, weekly, one line of random notes so they practice reading at home.

As for the Modern Course (which I use for Adults or for older children)... The only students who are proficient sight-readers in my class are the ones who did JT!

Let me explain.... In the music school where I teach one is supposed to start the kids on some kind of primer (mostly the Romanian one, but it's not a rule, you can choose whatever you want). When the teacher considers the kid can move from the primer (usually after the first year, but sometimes even sooner than that) the child jumps to Czerny 599, Bach - the Notebook for Anna Magdalena, Sonatinas by Clementi or the Beethoven G major and other rather similar level repertoire (Kabalevsky, Bartok, Schumann, Burgmuller etc...)

Basically, after the fist year the child must produce 2 pieces in December (etude+Romantic/Modern) and 3 in June (etude+Baroque+Classical). Needless to say that's all they do! So, they end up learning those pieces by heart and the only music they do "read" in an entire year is basically 5-6 full pages. I don't make the curriculum of the Music School (the State does...) and parents who send their kids there don't complain, as - being a State School, it's free.

The students I teach privately however don't need to go by that said curriculum. It's true that at recitals the kids from the Music School seem "much better". Their repertoire is at a much higher level, but that's all they've learned in a whole semester. On the other hand, the children on JT even if they are at lower level have "something new in every lesson". They read tons of pages of music as compared to the others.

I know you'll say I should make kids from Music School read something new in every lesson - and, for as much as I can - I try to do so, but something happens there:

1st - We need to focus on the exam pieces that are way beyond their reading level and rarely there's time to do something else in a lesson. "Sight-reading" becomes a side thing, not as important as the "real thing" - EXAM stuff. With the JT kids progressing through the book - thus reading a new piece IS the real stuff.

2nd - Music School kids tend to "block out" when a new piece of music is in front of them. Somewhere in their mind a new piece - however easy - must be studied at least 3 weeks separately right hand and left hand before attempting at reading it as a whole. Kids in JT do this (almost)every week. It's normal. Also, they go from one piece to another progressing fairly even (not from say "Lightly Row" to Beethoven's Sonatina in G) and don't get the "new piece fright"

This is why I love JT smile

I realize though that my experience is "JT as opposed to something worse". I don't have the ocean of alternatives everybody else here has. (As I said, I did see some Bastien in a bookshop, but I didn't quite like it)

But what totally puzzled me - and what made me write in that thread - was that for me JT means the exact solution for sight reading - thing that they said JT hinders!

So, actually I do want my students to be able to read proficiently, because in the end of it that's what gives them independence. (sadly for me, most of my Music School kids need me as "a crutch" and as a result, when they graduate after 8 years of piano and move on to high school - that's when State music school ends) very few continue playing on their own. This is indeed very sad for me!

Elissa or anyone else for that matter
Could you please elaborate on the "new insights into how children learn" that have slowed down the pace of methods?

It is important for me, regardless of the paper I am writing, as there might be things I should change in my teaching that I am unaware of.
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Piano teacher in Romania
Learning something new every day smile

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#1491426 - 08/09/10 07:38 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Just to chime in here. I honestly mainly use Faber PA because it is so well laid out graphically. You can open to a brand new page and know exactly what is being presented. It's clear and un-confusing. It's more aesthetically pleasing to use than other method books.

I was disappointed when I recently got a chance to see the new Helen Marlais books. I had heard some good things - but I opened it and there's just TOO much STUFF packed into one page.

And I dislike most of the older methods for the same reason (for example, 8 bar songs broken into six bars on one line, two on the next?? - or just mismatched proportions in general. Plus the colors are dull, and do not promote looking at what's important on the page for what they're teaching). If it's visually confusing for a teacher I can't imagine the extra distraction this causes for a student.

And the bottom line is, a good teacher does not teach a "method". They teach exactly what's needed for the child sitting in front of them in that moment.
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#1491428 - 08/09/10 07:42 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
Ah well, the Music Tree and methods following on from it base the reading of the students not on labelling notes by name but by recognising patterns and shapes - intervallic reading. This was a big move forward and is obviously quite different to the note naming activities students do with JT.

There is no question that this is the way to develop fabulous reading skills, as compared to intensive and exclusive note naming.

But there are other insights, such as learning by exploring, rather than learning by acquisition of intellectual propositions/concepts, and so forth.

Others can take this ball and run with it - I'm really exhausted and am heading for bed! (Big day!!)
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www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1491441 - 08/09/10 08:16 AM 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
I'm not a teacher but my £0.02...

You might need to clarify what you mean by "method", particularly inview of the variances from country to country.

e.g Do the graded systems by ABRSM (UK + commonwealth) and RCM (Canada) etc constitute a method in your context? I think they do. But not sure that they've been mentioned above.

You may wish to compare contrast commercial systems versus more academic approaches.
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#1491449 - 08/09/10 08:44 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: EJR]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
No, an examination/assessment system is not at all the same thing as 'method books'.

Method books are what you use with beginners and have no external assessment attached to them - a very different proposition to the exam systems of the Commonwealth countries.

And the opposition of commercial and academic is basically meaningless in the world of method books. If a method is not commercially viable you won't be able to buy (use) it!!!
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#1491459 - 08/09/10 09:24 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: danshure]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Originally Posted By: danshure
And I dislike most of the older methods for the same reason (for example, 8 bar songs broken into six bars on one line, two on the next?? - or just mismatched proportions in general. Plus the colors are dull, and do not promote looking at what's important on the page for what they're teaching). If it's visually confusing for a teacher I can't imagine the extra distraction this causes for a student.

And the bottom line is, a good teacher does not teach a "method". They teach exactly what's needed for the child sitting in front of them in that moment.


I definitely agree with you about the layout an graphics of old method books compared to the screen-shots I've seen of the more recent ones, but you haven't seen the Romanian one :)or the Russian for that matter! Dull colors? What colors? there's no option but the black. They haven't even heard about the grey! And childish graphics? Who gave you that silly notion that a child's music book should contain pictures?!?! ha

But you're not saying that should someone take the trouble to re-design the old to be more musically edited and with better graphics you'd switch back to those, are you?

And yes, as I said a few posts ago good teacher doesn't really depend solely on one method, but you have to have a base. Not all teachers can (or have the time) to compose songs for every student [although I had a theory teacher that composed at least two solfeges and one musical dictation especially for my "weak" points every week we had a lesson. It's an experience (and a lesson for me as a teacher now) I'll never forget!] or choose specific materials from multiple method books to teach a child.

Without one basic method acting as a guideline I think it would be even more confusing for the child. I agree you may and should supplement it, but that's totally another topic.

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.
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#1491463 - 08/09/10 09:42 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
Again to set the cat amongst the pigeons ...

Everything in learning to play the piano hinges on the ability to sight-read ...
but sadly our system of notation doesn’t provide an easy read ... only by dedicated practice and the support of aural and muscle memory do we achieve any success.

By comparison we all learn to read Macbeth without any trouble ... but battle with our keyboard sight-reading ... and all because of a bum (antiquated) system of keyboard notation.

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#1491474 - 08/09/10 09:52 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
And the opposition of commercial and academic is basically meaningless in the world of method books. If a method is not commercially viable you won't be able to buy (use) it!!!


Funny you should say that, as the Cernovodeanu primer is definitely the best selling piano book in Romania. I am among the extremely few piano teachers that send my kids to the little shop with Thompson. And the Russians are still learning from the same Nikolaev method that has stayed unchanged since 1963. The only change they made to the 2009 edition was to add more "challenging" repertoire pieces! (Nothing about the graphics or layout).

And, I don't know about Russia, but here in Romania the "quality" of piano students has drastically gone down. It's no more the few talented, super intelligent who play, it's just your average kid playing with bakugan cards (I don't know if you've got that anywhere else, or it's just a local thing / basically a new sort of pokemon stuff) and the pink dressed girls dreaming of becoming the next Hannah Montana.

Still - the top selling piano method book is black and white. with not one single picture in it (except some very very badly printed black an white photographs dating from 59 of a little girl illustrating good and bad piano postures)
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#1491479 - 08/09/10 09:55 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: btb]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: btb
By comparison we all learn to read Macbeth without any trouble ...


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

And if people spent the same amount of time on music notation as the written word which is pervasive in our everyday lives and a major part of every single day in the school system - by comparison, music notation is rarely encountered in most people's daily lives, and formal music instruction is a very small part of most people's educational experience. Most kids are exposed for only a few hours each week, if that.

In order to prove that the notational system is at fault, you'd have to show that people have the same exposure and instruction as the written word.
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#1491480 - 08/09/10 09:57 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
Originally Posted By: btb

By comparison we all learn to read Macbeth without any trouble ... but battle with our keyboard sight-reading ... and all because of a bum (antiquated) system of keyboard notation.


OT, but I had to answer this:

Good thing we don't have two heads and five mouths for each of them, cos' for sure some nut called Shakespeare/Bach would have found a way of writing a play that could be performed by just one man reciting two to four/five (or even more) lines at the same time.

edit: I definitely agree with Kreisler who gave one of the correct logical and scientific answers to the issue. But it made me laugh so hard, I had to answer it on a lighter tone. And since the man had a grudge specifically against the keyboard notation, not music in general - I offered him the other part of the comparison he only implied but didn't really think of thoroughly.


Edited by Mirela (08/09/10 10:04 AM)
Edit Reason: I've just seen Kreisler post
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#1491482 - 08/09/10 10:00 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Kreisler]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Reading a book is so different than "reading" music. Reading a book means you say the words in your head or out loud. That's it, there's no other criteria really.

Reading music means you have to execute something at the instrument. Two entirely different uses of the word, two completely different activities.
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#1491490 - 08/09/10 10:09 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: btb]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2392
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: btb
By comparison we all learn to read Macbeth without any trouble ... but battle with our keyboard sight-reading ... and all because of a bum (antiquated) system of keyboard notation.


I have to disagree. I bet if you spent the same amount of time on reading music in early school grades as they do with reading, you would have fantastic music readers. It's a time thing, not a difficulty. In fact reading English is far far harder than music. There are only a couple of rules you have to know for music and 100s of rules and exceptions to them for reading English.
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#1491496 - 08/09/10 10:23 AM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Andy Platt]
Mirela Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/10
Posts: 65
Loc: Bucharest, Romania
Ok guys, I think he got the message, and up to a point even I thought it was funny to answer his concern, but can we pleeeease stay on topic?

I really need your input regarding method books and the reasons why faster paced methods are becoming less and less attractive to "the market" at least in the US...

BTW, how are things in the UK for example? or anywhere else in Europe - that would be even more interesting for me.

I haven't got Fritz Emonts' European piano school, but from the excerpts I've seen on the net it does look faster paced.

In my paper I am mainly discussing the method books already available in Romania (which are very few, as I've stated in the OP), but I do need to know what are the trends.
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#1491557 - 08/09/10 12:21 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
A few quick answers off the top of my head. Be aware that I have no proof or evidence for what I'm about to say, it's just opinion based on random observations.

1) People in the US generally don't practice very much. The amount of homework has risen to absurd levels in the last decade or two, and kids are often enrolled in a large variety of activities.

2) Parents are often unable to help their children practice. This is for a variety of reasons - some parents are busy with work, others have no musical background.

3) There seems to be a great many parents who follow a "permissive" parenting style and take it a bit too far.

http://www.parentingscience.com/permissive-parenting-style.html

http://www.parentingscience.com/Summerhill-School.html

Fast-paced methods fail when parents are unable to instill a sense of discipline and responsibility in their children.

I've taught all kinds, and this is one of those areas that seems a little counter-intuitive. In my experience, children of permissive parents see their parents as friends and approach practicing and other aspects of their lives as things they can negotiate with their parents on an equal level. They love their parents, but as friends, and the level of respect varies widely. Children of more authoritarian parents do not get to negotiate. They still love and respect their parents, but as parents, not friends.

4) The same goes for teachers. Many teachers follow a very permissive approach, pretending to "tailor the method to the student's individual needs" or letting them go "at their own pace."

This seems rather like saying "cook what the kid wants to eat" and "let them eat as much as they want whenever they want."

Doesn't work for food. Doesn't work for teaching.

There's a difference between Montessori and Lord of the Flies. Unfortunately that distinction is lost on far too many educators and parents.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1491573 - 08/09/10 12:38 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Kreisler]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7382
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
That pretty well spells out my observations on the subject.
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#1491580 - 08/09/10 12:45 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Elissa Milne]
EJR Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 861
Loc: Bristol, UK
Hi Elissa,

<< No, an examination/assessment system is not at all the same thing as 'method books'.

Method books are what you use with beginners and have no external assessment attached to them - a very different proposition to the exam systems of the Commonwealth countries.>>

I think you are wrong(ish) on this one. laugh

My experience is that the ABRSM system is a method. It's a graded series of progressively more complex pieces. The Grades mirror the exams, but participation in the exams is not a necessary component. It is not necessary to study the examination pieces either. However, the materials are graded 1 to 8 and mirror the exams. My personal experience was that other than the very first introductory book, all my books were collections of ABRSM graded pieces. So I think this matches your definition of being used by 'beginners' and no 'external assessment'.

On the ABRSM web site (where the exam syllabus is freely downloadable), Books of selected pieces are available for the exams, but in addition there's a very large number of graded collections available.


<<And the opposition of commercial and academic is basically meaningless in the world of method books. If a method is not commercially viable you won't be able to buy (use) it!!!>>

I probably need to clarify further. One thing to consider, is that passing ABRSM (+ some others) gains points that students can use in UK (+elsewhere presumably) for University application through the general higher education application process. That is, passing say Grade 8 piano can help you get into Uni to study Maths or sociology whatever (not just music) etc (can't remember how many points they are worth).

So there could well be an advantage in doing one method/schema/system over another that's of wider worth than just music.

Hope this helps.
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#1491583 - 08/09/10 12:50 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Kreisler]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11707
Loc: Canada
A word about "permissive" vs. "authoritarian". There has to be a third kind - what you have outlined does not seem right.

Those of us who raised our children under the belief that children have an innate drive to learn, and some other innate things we can nurture and draw on, have not just allowed the kids to run wild. It is not "friends" - it is mutual respect, Kreisler. It also involves such things as decision making on the child's part, defining goals, and working with a parent on such things.

My two children are now in their early twenties. They each have a solid set of values which they developed as they grew up, are self-disciplined (as they grew up to be). When they entered the school system in their teens they did more than the norm, but they also knew how to ** prioritize ** precisely because they had learned to define goals.

Quote:
The same goes for teachers. Many teachers follow a very permissive approach, pretending to "tailor the method to the student's individual needs" or letting them go "at their own pace."

One has to know HOW to teach in this way. If you want to "tailor the method" then this involves planning and preparation. It's not some pie-in-the-sky idea that you hope will fall from heaven. It may also not work if a child has been under the thumb of authoritarianism and has come to depend on being told what to do all the time.

In a classroom situation, here is an example of open ended teaching of this kind. (gr. 2) I taught the lesson and assigned the work. At the back of the room there were "activity tables". Each table had an activity: water to be measured, a science experiment, a creative writing idea, art project. A child who finished his work correctly got to go to an activity table, where the child was actually ** doing more schoolwork ** but felt it was a reward and fun. The fast bright kids were not bored, and the slow ones got help.

Still in the classroom situation, we had a stream of parent volunteers who would call out a child individually for extra reading practise or whatever - activities designed by the teacher (me) or special ed consultants.

THAT is what "tailored to needs" means. It takes a lot of preparation, work, coordination.

This was not an elite school by any means. It was in a backward rural area an hour from a major city where kids lived in bad situations, there were two rival gangs, and teachers tried not to get assigned there.

Quote:
This seems rather like saying "cook what the kid wants to eat" and "let them eat as much as they want whenever they want."

Doesn't work for food. Doesn't work for teaching.

Actually, it does work. It depends on how it is done. No householder should cook accoding to other people's wishes, be that their children or their spouse. We have better things to do with our time. But the general premise is there. Think of how hard commercial entities have to work to get kids to buy their junk products. If a child grows up making decisions and thinking about things, as well as being able to listen to their bodies and feelings, the child will gravitate toward healthy things.

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