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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: 17786
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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#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: 7393
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: 13802
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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#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
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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
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Registered: 01/21/04
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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
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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


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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
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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]
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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
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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
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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


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


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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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<<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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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
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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 Offline
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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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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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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
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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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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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#1492046 - 08/09/10 08:29 PM Re: How far are we pampering the kids now method-wise? [Re: Mirela]
keystring Online   content
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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
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"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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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.....
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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)
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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
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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 Online   content
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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
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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
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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: 928
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: 928
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. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
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
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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 Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5512
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
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
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. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
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 Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5512
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. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
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: 2469
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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