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#2112997 - 07/04/13 09:18 PM John Thompson Piano Course
johnbarnesiii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 169
Is anyone familiar with the John Thompson piano courses? Is this something I can do myself with the books or does it require personal instruction?

Thanks!

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#2113012 - 07/04/13 09:54 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
It's meant to be used in conjunction with a teacher, but many modern teachers think its teaching methodology is outdated, and some of the interpretive editing runs counter to modern ideas.. It dates back to the the 1940's, so you do the math.

Some people are very loyal to it, though.
_________________________
Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#2113014 - 07/04/13 10:01 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
earlofmar Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1400
Loc: Australia
It does seem to get mentioned regular here so I suppose there is a few using it
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXIV-5-XXX

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#2113075 - 07/05/13 03:34 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: earlofmar]
de cajon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/13
Posts: 172
Loc: London, UK
My piano teacher, when I was seven through ten years of age, used John Thompson. I'm pretty sure I still have my fifty-year-old copies of Books 1 through 4. I don't think they'd be of much instructional use without a teacher, but I do remember them fondly as having a nice range of interesting pieces. The books that my other teachers used seemed much more dull to me back then.

(That first teacher died, sadly. I sometimes wonder what my playing would have been like if I hadn't had to go to other teachers who, to me at least, were nowhere near as nice as Mrs Lowe.)
_________________________
Yamaha C3X SH

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#2113077 - 07/05/13 03:36 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
johnbarnesiii, I have read your post, here:

Is anyone familiar with the John Thompson piano courses? Is this something I can do myself with the books or does it require personal instruction?

Thanks!

__________________________________________________

I love the John Thompson piano course. I have had no problems so far but there are reasons for that.

If you have any experience playing any musical instrument, you will know that if you don't go slowly and play carefully, and make sure you know what you are doing you will hit a wall, be miserable and have a terrible time. I have done that and it is no fun in the end.

So When I learn a piece, I first read through the piece to make sure I know all of the notes names in the piece measure by measure. In other words, when I sit down at the piano, I don't have to stop and wonder what the next note is on the staff that I have to play - I know what it is and I play it. So all I have to do is to make sure I play the notes for the correct length of time so I know what the piece is supposed to sound like. So before I play the piece, I have read through the measures again, making sure I know values of the notes and make sure the values add up to the time signature of 2/4, 3/4, 4/4. Of course I play it very slowly so I don't make any mistakes and play it many times until I can make it 3 times smoothly without mistakes. Then I the page and begin the next piece following the same procedure. I also review all the piece I have learned regularly, a bit everyday because as a method book everything has to well learned because it is the foundation of your life at the piano.

So if you have understood what I have said, you have
enough knowledge to do the course without problems. I am a slow learner. But if you are very, bright and learn quickly and understand what is said and following the instruction to a 't" you will be okay, too.

People think when they go to learn to play any instrument that they can do whatever they want and
make mistakes and don't care if they know names of the notes because they think then will just use their memory to get through the piece and ignore learning how to read the music or what the note values are.

But if you know nothing about music they say that The John Thompson method has a steep learning curve and I agree in the context that in every piece you learn, a new concept of technique that is introduced along with rhythm, key signatures and hand positions. So all is good. The pieces are nice to play when you hear/play them. I have just finished book 1 so I am starting book 2 and it is in book 2 that they introduce classical pieces because they have taught you enough technique to be able to play the pieces they have introduced in book 1.

If you have not understood my post, and have any question, don't hesitate to ask.

I looked at all the method books and I didn't find anything that was laid out as nicely as John Thompson for a person who can't afford a teacher, but I have a little experience playing as a beginner in a band.

You should know that there is the John W. Schaum piano course Books Pre A, and A to H that might be worth looking at because it gives you little notes like these notes that I love to read - Practice the
piece in two ways, say the note names as play the note. Always look at your music and not at your hands. // Sight reading hint - In finding the notes, move your eyes first, then your hand. find the notes visually then manually. Too many students start moving their hands without knowing where they are gong. Keep the hands quiet until the note has been found visually, etc.

So if you use the Schaum book as a guide and then worked through the John Thompson method books that would be great. I mean that there are a few times that I wasn't sure what I had to do in the piece, so I check in other books that I had and - I certainly had the Shaums books, and go okay, now I know what rolling chords are, etc. because the JT explanation may have been a little confusing for me when I figured it out would go back to the John Thompson book because that is what I loved to learn from.

cheers,

Oh, and of there are lots of people who don't listen to their teacher and think they know better, and there those that can't afford a teacher but they are smart enough to know that if the book tells you to do something in a certain way, they said it for a good reason and was meant to be followed.

Oh, and JT may be a million years old so somebody must have used it because they are selling it. But better yet have you ever heard of any piano player on the planet that said that they became a piano player by using a piano method book that was, way, way, better than the John Thompson, and the name of that method book is the awesome XYZ piano method book. I rest my case. (smile).


Edited by Michael_99 (07/05/13 04:08 AM)

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#2113081 - 07/05/13 03:45 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1033
I don't know about the teacher vs no teacher (I really have a hard time wrapping my head around the feasibility of that, but perhaps certain courses are set up for at least some amount of independent learning) or the way in which John Thompson stacks up against modern courses, but I went from "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" at age 6 to the end of the line on John Thompson before moving on to non-course specific repertoire and have quite fond memories of it!
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

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#2113283 - 07/05/13 02:23 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
johnbarnesiii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 169
Thanks guys! Michael I appreciate your reply. How long did it take you to get through book 1?

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#2113447 - 07/05/13 09:27 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1207
Loc: Cleveland, OH
At age 6, I wanted to learn how to play the piano. Lessons were not an option, but looking through the piano bench, I found an old worn copy of John Thompson's "Modern Course for the Piano" (grade 1). After an introduction from my mom and then lots of time on my own, I used it to learn how to play.

I don't know how good the course is relative to others, but it worked for me, and I loved the old-fashioned pictures and the interesting music. Just a few months ago I found the book again, buried in a pile of old music books. What good memories that brought back.

On the other hand, if you have the option of a teacher, definitely go that route! They will certainly have a recommendation for method books.

Why are you asking particularly about the John Thompson books? Do you happen to already have copies of them?
_________________________
Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
XVI-XXXIV

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#2113546 - 07/06/13 03:50 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
johnbarnesiii, I have read your post, here:

Thanks guys! Michael I appreciate your reply. How long did it take you to get through book 1?

__________________________________________

I think - let me say - 6 months. The reason I hesitate is that I have/had health issues, surgery of 6 hours, so I couldn't play from January to April, and because I couldn't play much at all, I had to review for a few months and then continue.

. So let me say this. Because I was a beginner sax player for a few years in my 40s, I knew the treble clef notes well, but, of course, I didn't know my bass clef notes. So I started out playing a beginner piano book called Leila Fletcher Piano course 1. It was a very simple book of tiny pieces of 4 to 8 measures. I played the 50 pieces, 50, pages day after day and reviewed the pages everyday - so I play those pieces over, and over and over day after day health permitting for about a year. You see, I never intended to play the piano. I was very weak after many years of having cancer, and thought if I sat at the piano that maybe I could distract myself enough to sit up and play as opposed to being in bed all day, day after day which is not good so played little Leila Fletcher book of tunes. After about 3 month of doing that I fell madly in love with the piano. So after about a year I knew and could play those tunes very well. The Fletcher book was used effectively to learn the bass clef and it worked well. So after year, having finished the Fletcher book I started Fletcher book 2, but for some reason, there was something wrong with book 2, so I knew - I knew of the Thompson Books, so I opened book 1 - not the little finger starter book of John Thompson bcause I had already had leaned my notes of the staffs bas and treble, in the Fletch book so I moved, as I say to the John Thompson book 1. I was worried because I had read and heard John Thompson was a steep learn. But because I had review the little pieces well, could count the notes in the measures, play the Fletcher pieces without errors easily, the transition to John
Thompson Book 1 was a cake walk, fun and exciting. and I am a slow learner so this was a first in my life - so I had paid my dues by learning the basics worked through book 1. - as I say about 6 months. There were of the 50 pieces of the 75 pages in book 1, because some of pieces were longer than 1 page. So about 5 of the pieces that I had to play very, very, slowly and gradually bring them up to speed and that took many weeks, maybe a month to bring those pieces under my fingers smoothly and without errors, but the rest of the pieces were usually worked through slowly learning the piece in a day or two and practicing them for a couple of days playing them without errors and smoothly. About 3/4s of the way though the book I read that post by someone who said that playing the pieces over and over without mistakes was a waste of time. I agreed when I thought about it. As a beginner without a teacher I was being way, way, way too cautious so I immediately changed what I was doing only play a piece until I could play it without errors, smoothly 3 times and then I said good-bye to the piece and moved on, so at that point I as moving faster, but there was no loss because I could play the pieces in book 1 without errors easily and I still can play them. So were well learned. I want to be able to play classical music and so I want to play well and learn well, and it is not about speed. I love playing the piano, love learning the pieces and I think it will take me about 10 years to play well, so I am 63 so I will be about 75 if I am still a live - but life is always about the journey and never reaching the end as the winning aspect. Next question (grin/smile)


Edited by Michael_99 (07/06/13 03:57 AM)

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#2113623 - 07/06/13 08:16 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
It's difficult to pick holes in a method that's been going successfully for 60-70 years and piano technique hasn't changed much in that time but the main areas of criticism regarding John Thompson's method are too much unnecessary fingering and too steep a learning curve. I've also been told of the reliance on the five finger position as a disadvantage of this course.

The first can be solved using typist's white paint. The second can be solved using supplementary material such as Bartok's Mikrokosmos and Beyer's Vorschule Op. 101, as well as more modern methods like Faber's, Hal Leonard's, or Alfred's (none of which I'm able to recommend wholeheartedly as I've not seen all of them first hand). The third is not a problem I've noticed but can be overcome by starting Czerny's Op. 599 as soon as the student is ready to stretch the fingers apart a little or a wider range of simplified music.

I think the drills at the back of the book are excellent daily practise if the student can concentrate on clarity of articulation, evenness of time and tone, good ergonomics and freedom from tension.

The preface recommends sticking with each piece until it can be played well up to tempo. This is where a teacher or a third ear is so useful for beginners. Self learners may not have the ear to pick up flaws in delivery. Progress is not about playing more difficult pieces, it's about playing better. Get someone who can tell you whether you are playing a) better than your previous pieces and b) well enough for your time at the piano.

What you don't get from method books is how to practise. Self learners need to do a lot of reading and listening to make up for the lack of an expert ear. Our first problem when learning a new piece is to get the notes from the page to the brain. In the general case we need to improve our sight reading and in the specific case we need to know the notes, write out ornaments, count ledger lines and space out the score where RH notes with up stems appear visually to the right of LH notes with down stems when they should be at the same time.

I tend to do my sight reading separately from my practise session per se but I'm currently teaching my son and I make him do his sight reading first when the brain is freshest. It strikes me as odd that this most demanding skill is so frequently practised at the end of a session when the brain is most tired. It's also a better physical warm up as there is seldom a need for speed when sight reading.

The second problem is to get the notes from the brain to the keyboard and this creates three different kinds of problem. The first is mechanical difficulty where the fingers cannot stretch enough or move fast enough (e.g. in weak finger trills). These need to be solved hands separately before hands can be joined together. The second is more logistical where the hands can play separately without difficulty but not together because the eye needs to be kept on one for a leap or stretch. The third is co-ordination where the hands are doing two separate things and/or in two separate rhythms. These difficulties can only be solved (and only occur) when the hands play together.

All of these problems can be solved, or eased, by memorising the music and while I am always in favour of memorising pieces at the outset I am also keen that the problems be solved first without memorising but by concentrating and by slow practise.

The pianist's most frequent tool in learning new material is repetition. The human brain makes use of this by finger memory, whether we choose to memorise or not. Finger memory is the most unreliable form of memory so I prefer to override it with deliberate cognitive memory from the outset. But overcoming difficulties must be done by concentrating on the solution with conscious effort being made to not memorise at all during this phase.

After many years playing the piano I am only learning now that the method for learning new pieces is the very same for maintaining older, well memorised pieces or vice versa. I have heretofore maintained repertoire simply by playing it. But I have recently learned the advantage of going back to basics on these old pieces including bar by bar reading of the score at slow tempos.

I think I've gone off topic. I'll stop here.
_________________________
Richard

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#2113660 - 07/06/13 09:31 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: zrtf90]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
zrtf90, I have read your post, here:

It's difficult to pick holes in a method that's been going successfully for 60-70 years and piano technique hasn't changed much in that time but the main areas of criticism regarding John Thompson's method are too much unnecessary fingering and too steep a learning curve. I've also been told of the reliance on the five finger position as a disadvantage of this course.

The first can be solved using typist's white paint. The second can be solved using supplementary material such as Bartok's Mikrokosmos and Beyer's Vorschule Op. 101, as well as more modern methods like Faber's, Hal Leonard's, or Alfred's (none of which I'm able to recommend wholeheartedly as I've not seen all of them first hand). The third is not a problem I've noticed but can be overcome by starting Czerny's Op. 599 as soon as the student is ready to stretch the fingers apart a little or a wider range of simplified music.

I think the drills at the back of the book are excellent daily practise if the student can concentrate on clarity of articulation, evenness of time and tone, good ergonomics and freedom from tension.

The preface recommends sticking with each piece until it can be played well up to tempo. This is where a teacher or a third ear is so useful for beginners. Self learners may not have the ear to pick up flaws in delivery. Progress is not about playing more difficult pieces, it's about playing better. Get someone who can tell you whether you are playing a) better than your previous pieces and b) well enough for your time at the piano.

What you don't get from method books is how to practise. Self learners need to do a lot of reading and listening to make up for the lack of an expert ear. Our first problem when learning a new piece is to get the notes from the page to the brain. In the general case we need to improve our sight reading and in the specific case we need to know the notes, write out ornaments, count ledger lines and space out the score where RH notes with up stems appear visually to the right of LH notes with down stems when they should be at the same time.

I tend to do my sight reading separately from my practise session per se but I'm currently teaching my son and I make him do his sight reading first when the brain is freshest. It strikes me as odd that this most demanding skill is so frequently practised at the end of a session when the brain is most tired. It's also a better physical warm up as there is seldom a need for speed when sight reading.

The second problem is to get the notes from the brain to the keyboard and this creates three different kinds of problem. The first is mechanical difficulty where the fingers cannot stretch enough or move fast enough (e.g. in weak finger trills). These need to be solved hands separately before hands can be joined together. The second is more logistical where the hands can play separately without difficulty but not together because the eye needs to be kept on one for a leap or stretch. The third is co-ordination where the hands are doing two separate things and/or in two separate rhythms. These difficulties can only be solved (and only occur) when the hands play together.

All of these problems can be solved, or eased, by memorising the music and while I am always in favour of memorising pieces at the outset I am also keen that the problems be solved first without memorising but by concentrating and by slow practise.

The pianist's most frequent tool in learning new material is repetition. The human brain makes use of this by finger memory, whether we choose to memorise or not. Finger memory is the most unreliable form of memory so I prefer to override it with deliberate cognitive memory from the outset. But overcoming difficulties must be done by concentrating on the solution with conscious effort being made to not memorise at all during this phase.

After many years playing the piano I am only learning now that the method for learning new pieces is the very same for maintaining older, well memorised pieces or vice versa. I have heretofore maintained repertoire simply by playing it. But I have recently learned the advantage of going back to basics on these old pieces including bar by bar reading of the score at slow tempos.

I think I've gone off topic. I'll stop here.

_________________________


Richard, I agree with you that

- John Thompson's method are too much unnecessary -fingering and too steep a learning curve.

I have learning difficulties and am dyslexic.

Every book of learning the piano says Practice each piece in 3 ways as you play. count aloud as you play. Sing/say the words while you play. always look at your music, not at your hands. Say the notes as you play them. Even though people can read that, they don't do it.

I am not that bright, but I know to look at the notes and not at the numbers and to say the names of the notes as I play them.

I read posts here where people are playing very complicated music and they say the get stuck reading the notes.

I didn't fool around because I wanted to learn to play the piano. But in spite of all my learning problems, I followed the instrurtions of playing slowly, carefully, reading the music and playing without mistakes - and reviewing regularly. I have had no problems, yet.

You should know that I asked publicly for the name of any piano book method that was the best piano book method to learn from - and I would buy the method book at any cost, and I mean hundreds of dollars, and if there only on copy on the planet, I would pay a thousand dollars to get it to learn how to play the piano. Nobody, but nobody - politely spoken - including you have mentioned the best method to be used to play the piano in any language - only that John Thompson method books are full of horrible things not to learn as a piano player..

So as sad as I was, and I was sad, I had to go with the John Thompson method book because nobody mentioned what I should buy.

Not long ago I saw a posting in the teacher forum that mentioned that a method book called Piano Town was good, good, good, and I went out immediately - the next day and bought the book(s) and I was very excited. It cost me $300 dollars Canadian for the books going from 1 to 4. Yes, the method books are great, modern, published in 2004. But where does this leave a guy like me with 1, 2, 3, 4, year method - without a teacher - and no money for a teacher - it leaves me sadly, nowhere. But John Thompsons books written in about the 1900s - with all the horrible things that are wrong with the books/method take a guy like me with all my learning problems to - I understand - to about grade 8 piano - with no other method book in existance on the planet in any language. I am trying to learn to play classicial music. John Thompsons books are full of classical music. I don't want to learn show tunes. I have no time. I have only got at most 10 years - I am 63 so I am hoping to learn to play the piano by the time I am 75 - unless I die sooner. IF - and I say IF there was a easy to follow list of pieces set out to learn from day one of piano - to 10 years of learning piece by piece, I could follow and play those hundreds or thousands of pieces note by note, measure by measure and post questions when I get stuck - and could forget John Thompson - just follow the pieces to learn. But it doesn't exist yet.

- YOU SAY I am told of the use on the five finger position as a disadvantage of this course.

yes, and I have addressed that by buying the $300 worth of the Piano Town method books.


YOU SAY - the first ting to be solved by
using typist's white paint. The second can
be solved using supplementary material such as Bartok's Mikrokosmos and Beyer's
Vorschule Op. 101,

I have already ordered those books and will pick them up at the music store. I just learned that the other day. I read, buy daily any suggestion about any kind of book that will help me to get to grade 8 piano and be able to play classical music.

YOU SAY: The Faber's, Hal Leonard's, or Alfred's (none of which I'm able to recommend wholeheartedly as I've not seen all of them first hand). The third is not a problem I've noticed but can be overcome by starting Czerny's Op. 599 as soon as the student is ready to stretch the fingers apart a little or a wider range of simplified music.

I look at those books but I couldn't relate to them, and the music and it seems to have a lot of chords, which is part of classical music, but there are not chords per say in John Thompson pieces. They are laid out like classical music, note by note, if you will and I think these books will take me to grade 8 piano - but I may be wrong.

Cerny is great. I don't need stretching exercises even thought I am 63 - I need good classical music at my leave to be able to play without mistakes and smoothly.


YOU SAY: I think the drills at the back of the book are excellent daily practise if the student can concentrate on clarity of articulation, evenness of time and tone, good ergonomics and freedom from tension.

I don't have those problems at the moment. I repeat, I only at this time need to learn classical music at my level.


The preface recommends sticking with each piece until it can be played well up to tempo. This is where a teacher or a third ear is so useful for beginners. Self learners may not have the ear to pick up flaws in delivery. Progress is not about playing more difficult pieces, it's about playing better. Get someone who can tell you whether you are playing a) better than your previous pieces and b) well enough for your time at the piano.

What you don't get from method books is how to practise. Self learners need to do a lot of reading and listening to make up for the lack of an expert ear. Our first problem when learning a new piece is to get the notes from the page to the brain. In the general case we need to improve our sight reading and in the specific case we need to know the notes, write out ornaments, count ledger lines and space out the score where RH notes with up stems appear visually to the right of LH notes with down stems when they should be at the same time.

I tend to do my sight reading separately from my practise session per se but I'm currently teaching my son and I make him do his sight reading first when the brain is freshest. It strikes me as odd that this most demanding skill is so frequently practised at the end of a session when the brain is most tired. It's also a better physical warm up as there is seldom a need for speed when sight reading.

The second problem is to get the notes from the brain to the keyboard and this creates three different kinds of problem. The first is mechanical difficulty where the fingers cannot stretch enough or move fast enough (e.g. in weak finger trills). These need to be solved hands separately before hands can be joined together. The second is more logistical where the hands can play separately without difficulty but not together because the eye needs to be kept on one for a leap or stretch. The third is co-ordination where the hands are doing two separate things and/or in two separate rhythms. These difficulties can only be solved (and only occur) when the hands play together.

All of these problems can be solved, or eased, by memorising the music and while I am always in favour of memorising pieces at the outset I am also keen that the problems be solved first without memorising but by concentrating and by slow practise.

The pianist's most frequent tool in learning new material is repetition. The human brain makes use of this by finger memory, whether we choose to memorise or not. Finger memory is the most unreliable form of memory so I prefer to override it with deliberate cognitive memory from the outset. But overcoming difficulties must be done by concentrating on the solution with conscious effort being made to not memorise at all during this phase.

After many years playing the piano I am only learning now that the method for learning new pieces is the very same for maintaining older, well memorised pieces or vice versa. I have heretofore maintained repertoire simply by playing it. But I have recently learned the advantage of going back to basics on these old pieces including bar by bar reading of the score at slow tempos.

I think I've gone off topic. I'll stop here.

Sir, your comments are much appreciated. I had an excellent teacher for 4 years. I can't afford a teacher now. If you search for my name Michael99 you will read posts after posts indicating what I am doing to learn to play the piano.

But I do politely remind you - politely spoken, - that on the planet, there is no method book to get anyone to grade 8 piano other than John Thompson books 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

cheers,



Edited by Michael_99 (07/06/13 09:45 AM)

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#2113674 - 07/06/13 10:19 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Michael,

I don't believe there is any method book that will get you to Grade 8 and none that can reasonably go beyond about Grade 5. Only you can get you to Grade 8.

I don't know if John Thompson's is the pick of the bunch but it's good enough for a start and that's all a method needs to be. No method will be enough on its own without supplementing and none can go beyond about Grade 5 as the solutions to difficulties at around that point need personal attention and very varied solutions as well as expert and experienced guidance. If I am candid, I would say most students will require a teacher for Grades 6 to 8.

Despite that I believe that anyone can get good enough on their own to make a good and reasonable job of Bach's WTC, Mozart and Beethoven sonatas and the bulk of music by Chopin, Schumann, Brahms and company. Making Grade 8 is, however, more than that.

I only know John Thompson's up to book 3, and I still favour it over any other I've seen because it's good enough to get the job done, but from there the standard repertoire is approachable and well enough known to me for further progress without a method book. I used a teacher to get from around Grade three or four to Grade 8. I don't think I could have done it on my own though I think it might be possible.

My main intent is enjoying the music I can play well. Pick as many of the flowers that appeal to you in the field you're in and if you should see something more attractive in the next field by all means go through the gate. But don't have the gate as your objective.
_________________________
Richard

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#2113681 - 07/06/13 10:35 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: zrtf90]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
zrtf90, I have read your post, here:

I don't believe there is any method book that will get you to Grade 8 and none that can reasonably go beyond about Grade 5. Only you can get you to Grade 8.

I don't know if John Thompson's is the pick of the bunch but it's good enough for a start and that's all a method needs to be. No method will be enough on its own without supplementing and none can go beyond about Grade 5 as the solutions to difficulties at around that point need personal attention and very varied solutions as well as expert and experienced guidance. If I am candid, I would say most students will require a teacher for Grades 6 to 8.

Despite that I believe that anyone can get good enough on their own to make a good and reasonable job of Bach's WTC, Mozart and Beethoven sonatas and the bulk of music by Chopin, Schumann, Brahms and company. Making Grade 8 is, however, more than that.

I only know John Thompson's up to book 3, and I still favour it over any other I've seen because it's good enough to get the job done, but from there the standard repertoire is approachable and well enough known to me for further progress without a method book. I used a teacher to get from around Grade three or four to Grade 8. I don't think I could have done it on my own though I think it might be possible.

My main intent is enjoying the music I can play well. Pick as many of the flowers that appeal to you in the field you're in and if you should see something more attractive in the next field by all means go through the gate. But don't have the gate as your objective.

_______________________________________

Thanks Richard, for your nice post.

All I know is that I fell in love with playing the piano and I know that want to learn classical music.
I don't have a goal in that sense. I know I want to play classcal music until I die. How far I get is not is important, but my thrill is learning pieces - reading the music and playing the notes. I love to play slow pieces. I love to play pp all the time. I have no desire to perform for others. If someone asked me to play, I would but I don't want to play otherwise.



_________________________
Richard

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#2113690 - 07/06/13 11:01 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6211
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Just to clarify - which John Thompson series are we talking about here? grin

There is the well-known "Modern Course for the Piano" grades 1-5 (the red series), the "Easiest Piano course" Part 1-8, and an "Adult Piano course."

Thompson also published a Green book series that had a more contemporary appearance and progressed even more rapidly than the Thompson red book series. I believe that series ended at Grade 3, however.
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2113731 - 07/06/13 12:35 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I'm referring to the 'Modern Course for the Piano', books 1-5, of which I only use the first three.

_________________________
Richard

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#2113793 - 07/06/13 02:39 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
jdw Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 945
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I learned from these as a child too, with a teacher for the first book and on my own for the second and part of the third, since there wasn't money for more lessons.

I do think it was a huge help to have a teacher at the start, to show correct hand positioning, technique, etc. I also think if I'd been lucky enough to have a teacher, I would have done better and probably gone on further. I got a bit discouraged by things I couldn't figure out how to do well (mistakenly assuming I just wasn't capable of learning them).

I did like the books, but I think having a teacher is best for good progress. (I say this even though in general I'm a big fan of learning on my own.)
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#2113918 - 07/06/13 07:26 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: zrtf90]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
zrtf90, I have read your post, here;


I'm referring to the 'Modern Course for the Piano', books 1-5, of which I only use the first three.

_________________


Why wouldn't/didn't you do book 4 and 5?

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#2113920 - 07/06/13 07:32 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: zrtf90]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6211
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
I'm referring to the 'Modern Course for the Piano', books 1-5, of which I only use the first three.


Books 4 and 5 are good too. grin


Edited by carey (07/06/13 07:34 PM)
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2113930 - 07/06/13 08:00 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: carey]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
carey, I have read your post, here:


I'm referring to the 'Modern Course for the Piano', books 1-5, of which I only use the first three.

Books 4 and 5 are good too

_________________________________________

Yes, carey, you are correct. I haven't got there yet - I am starting book 2, but I am enjoying the books and am planning on finishing the series of 5 books. .

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#2113982 - 07/06/13 10:03 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: Michael_99]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6211
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Yes, Carey, you are correct. I haven't got there yet - I am starting book 2, but I am enjoying the books and am planning on finishing the series of 5 books. .


Take your time and enjoy them !!! I just pulled out my own copy of Book 2. Quite honestly, I haven't looked at it in many many years and I'd forgotten how much fun stuff there is in it !!
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#2114001 - 07/06/13 10:50 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
just4fun Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 30
Loc: Tulsa
john barnes

I started to "relearn" the piano using both the Alfred series and the John Thompson books. I use the "Modern Course for the Piano" (red covers).

I think that using both books has helped me progress faster. I feel the Thompson songs and the techniques to be learned are somewhat more difficult, and this helps me with the Alfred songs.

On the other hand, the Alfred songs build my confidence, although some of them are hard for me too!

My personal preference is for the songs in the thompson books.

I don't know about learning without a teacher, although many in the Alfred forums are doing just that, so I don't see why you couldn't with the Thompson book.

I don't have a teacher but I took lessons for several months when I was about 10 so I already knew how to read notes, dynamics, etc.

Good luck to you and let us know what you decide!

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#2114012 - 07/06/13 11:24 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: just4fun]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
just4fun Online, I have read your post, here:

I started to "relearn" the piano using both the Alfred series and the John Thompson books. I use the "Modern Course for the Piano" (red covers).

I think that using both books has helped me progress faster. I feel the Thompson songs and the techniques to be learned are somewhat more difficult, and this helps me with the Alfred songs.

On the other hand, the Alfred songs build my confidence, although some of them are hard for me too!

My personal preference is for the songs in the thompson books.

I don't know about learning without a teacher, although many in the Alfred forums are doing just that, so I don't see why you couldn't with the Thompson book.

I don't have a teacher but I took lessons for several months when I was about 10 so I already knew how to read notes, dynamics, etc.

Good luck to you and let us know what you decide!

_____________________________________________

just4fun, thank. Good post. The trouble of some posts, is when they ask a question you don't know their background.

I am new to piano but had an excellent teacher when I was 40 learning the sax, so I know what to do and what not to do for the process of learning a musical instrument and I have had not problems up to now and I don't expect any. Some of the pieces slow be down a bit more than others, but that is to be expected.

I haven't had to post a musical problem here, but I expect I will have to when I get in books 3 or 4 or 5 - but maybe not because JT is good at explaining things if you have some musical background, which both you and I have. Of course, the awesome privilege of this forum on the internet, enables us to reach our for help if we are having trouble figuring something out and people are very helpful taking the time to help people all around the world on this forum.

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#2114146 - 07/07/13 10:53 AM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2310
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Why wouldn't/didn't you do book 4 and 5?

All round development for a classical pianist comes from playing the WTC, the sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, the works of the four great Romantics and on up to Brahms, Grieg, Debussy, Rachmaninov et al.

A typical entry to this repertoire comes from the Anna Magdalena Notebook and the Bach Little Preludes and Inventions, Clementi's Sonatinas, and Schumann's and Tchaikovsky's Albums for the Young, etc.

A method book is the means to get from scratch to the entry level for the great classics. Thompson's Book 3 takes us to that point with Chopin Preludes and Burgmuller's Etudes thrown in to boot so Books 4 and 5, therefore, are surplus to requirements.

There's very little instruction in how to play at this point. Most of the information required at this stage is how to practise and method books don't do a very good job at this because they don't use demanding enough material. At this level we need to learn how to overcome the problems that beset us. Practise at tackling technically demanding pieces is more important now than learning how to play. Method books only go up to material that doesn't pose a great problem for a reasonable reader.

What's required is a system rather than a method. Gradually increasing the difficulty of the material doesn't cut it for me - that's done by improving sight reading. Solving problems makes improvement in leaps.
_________________________
Richard

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#2114187 - 07/07/13 12:38 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
johnbarnesiii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 169
Thank you guys for the replies! Overall it sounds like the Thompson books are a good bet albeit not without its flaws. Sounds like Alfred books would make a nice supplement, I actually have one of them already.

Michael I liked hearing your experience with the Thompson books, and I like your spirit and passion for the piano. On another topic I recommend reading up on Markus Rothkranz for turning around cancer. He has a sort of cheesy image but his knowledge comes from personal experience of helping himself and his father and countless others to regain their health. All my best to you.

I look forward to pi king up the Thompson & Alfred courses and getting better at piano. Any further suggestions always greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards to all, I really appreciate the feedback.

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#2114221 - 07/07/13 01:39 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
johnbarnesiii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 169
What a strange coincidence... just watching a Billy Joel interview on YouTube, on that show Inside the Actors Studio. Billy just mentioned the JohnThompson course & how he started on those books!


Edited by johnbarnesiii (07/07/13 01:40 PM)

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#2114230 - 07/07/13 02:20 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
johnbarnesiii, I have read your post, here:

What a strange coincidence... just watching a Billy Joel interview on YouTube, on that show Inside the Actors Studio. Billy just mentioned the JohnThompson course & how he started on those books!


________________________________________________

John, you have made my day in so many, many ways. First, I have not had television since I left home in 1969 so I don't know the names of many famous people but I know of Billy Joel. I have probably mentioned that I have had learning problems my whole life and I am dyslexic.

For whatever reason, I first fell in love with learning to play the piano and secondly I fell in love with the John Thompson method books. While a portion of the current world piano says they are irrelevant and inappropriate to be used to learn to play the piano. Since 1900s up until the 1970s or 80s they were okay to be used - but not now. But all those brilliant musicians that learned to play the piano using the John Thompson method books for all those years did so including Billy Joel, so he says.

All I did was open the books and follow the instructions of John Thompson and magically, I learned to play those awesome pieces in book 1. I have had no problems. When I sit down at the piano at anytime any day, I can play all the pieces in book 1 smoothly, musically, and without mistakes all 75 pages/50 pieces. What else could I ask of the late Mr. John Thompson, other than to be able to succeed at playing the music in is his books.

Thank you very much for posting that information.


Edited by Michael_99 (07/07/13 02:26 PM)

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#2114314 - 07/07/13 05:26 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: johnbarnesiii]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
johnbarnesiii, I have read your post, here:


Thank you guys for the replies! Overall it sounds like the Thompson books are a good bet albeit not without its flaws. Sounds like Alfred books would make a nice supplement, I actually have one of them already.

Michael I liked hearing your experience with the Thompson books, and I like your spirit and passion for the piano. On another topic I recommend reading up on Markus Rothkranz for turning around cancer. He has a sort of cheesy image but his knowledge comes from personal experience of helping himself and his father and countless others to regain their health. All my best to you.

I look forward to pi king up the Thompson & Alfred courses and getting better at piano. Any further suggestions always greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards to all, I really appreciate the feedback.

_______________________________________________

About cancer. I was diagnosed in 2008 with fatal cancer CLL in the 4th stage. I was playing basket ball 4 to 5 days a week and practicing in my spare time. after and before work. I was going to church several times a week. You see, I never played basketball as a kid, two guys at works said they played every summer half court. I asked if they could teach me and they did. I had to quit church because I had a calling from God, if you will, to play basketball. When I was diagnosed with fatal cancer in the 4th stage, I didn't drop a tear because I had had a awesome life and things happen. But when the doctors told me I couldn't play basketball because if I had an accident, my immune system wouldn't be strong enough if I had to have surgery. So I dropped a tear because I couldn't play baskbetball, but no tears for the cancer. In Canada our medical system helps being treated and my fellow Canadian taxpayers dug deep, deep into their pockets, because cancer drugs cost thousands of dollars both a day, and a week. The doctors told me they couldn't find the cancer after the treatment. I said, politely, (politely spoken) How hard did you look? So far everything is fine. The doctors said to live your life fully everyday because they just don't know.

Because, this has to be a piano story, I have to mention the word piano or I will get into trouble.
I was in the hospital for a month. and I brought a keyboard to the hospital (with spring loaded keys because digitals in 2008 were still very expensive)
The hospital said that lots of people/patients bought laptops, but I was the only person to ever bring a keyboard/piano.

I am glad to read that after my heavy duty sales pitch that you are going break open a John Thompson piano book to learn the piano!

Remember, play slowly, saying the names of the notes, as you play them. Look only at the music and never look at your hands. If you make a mistake, you are playing too fast, so you will have to slow down to a zero error level. Cheers, and work hard, the rewards are awesome.


Edited by Michael_99 (07/07/13 05:51 PM)

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#2114325 - 07/07/13 05:56 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: Michael_99]
johnbarnesiii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/08
Posts: 169
Thank you so much, you have a great spirit and outlook.
I'll be sure to post my progress with J. Thompson books.

All my best.

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#2114335 - 07/07/13 06:50 PM Re: John Thompson Piano Course [Re: zrtf90]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
zrtf90, I have read you post, here;

Originally Posted By: Michael_99
Why wouldn't/didn't you do book 4 and 5?

All round development for a classical pianist comes from playing the WTC, the sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, the works of the four great Romantics and on up to Brahms, Grieg, Debussy, Rachmaninov et al.

A typical entry to this repertoire comes from the Anna Magdalena Notebook and the Bach Little Preludes and Inventions, Clementi's Sonatinas, and Schumann's and Tchaikovsky's Albums for the Young, etc.

A method book is the means to get from scratch to the entry level for the great classics. Thompson's Book 3 takes us to that point with Chopin Preludes and Burgmuller's Etudes thrown in to boot so Books 4 and 5, therefore, are surplus to requirements.

There's very little instruction in how to play at this point. Most of the information required at this stage is how to practise and method books don't do a very good job at this because they don't use demanding enough material. At this level we need to learn how to overcome the problems that beset us. Practise at tackling technically demanding pieces is more important now than learning how to play. Method books only go up to material that doesn't pose a great problem for a reasonable reader.

What's required is a system rather than a method. Gradually increasing the difficulty of the material doesn't cut it for me - that's done by improving sight reading. Solving problems makes improvement in leaps.


_______________________________________________

Thanks for your helpful post, Richard.

YOU SAY: All round development for a classical pianist comes from playing the WTC, the sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, the works of the four great Romantics and on up to Brahms, Grieg, Debussy, Rachmaninov et al.

I SAY: I agree with your statement above. I have learned to play the JT book 1, 75 pages/50 pieces. The music stores have thousands or many thousands of pages of music. But I only know how to play 50 pages of the JT beginner music. I don't have a teacher because I can't afford one on my disability pension. My only connection to the piano world, is John Thompson and this beginner piano forum. I know people who have played the piano but I don't know anyone on the planet to call and say I learned mary had a little lamb. What is the next piece to become a piano player that I should learn. Hearing that, I would with a shortness of breath on any day except Sunday because the music store is close, and I would go and buy that piece of music, learn to play it slowly, smoothly, musically and without mistakes and then I would ask you or anyone what the next piece is I should learn. And I would do that for the rest of my life until I die.

But politely, I think I should not bother the nice busy kind knowledgeable piano players in the newsgroup to ask such questions until I have learned or worked through the John Thompson books at least until the end of Book 3.

But having said that, I am humble and all ears to anyone here who reads this post, who says, hey, guy, if you can play musically all the pieces in the John Thompson book 2 without mistakes, you are good to go and buy Chopin' xyz piece that will be easy to play at your level, and I will run breathlessly to the music store and buy it with my hard saved coins of my pension and have great joy of learning any classical music anyone suggests. I have modestly travelled the world, hiked the mountains sleeping at the top in the snow in a tent over seeing the world below. I have skied, sailed, motorcycled, rode my bicycle from Canada to the USA over 6 days sleeping in the bush on the roadside. But now, all I want to do is eat, sleep, take short walks so I don't get fat and have a heartattack and die too early before I can play some good classical music.

YOU SAY: A typical entry to this repertoire comes from the Anna Magdalena Notebook and the Bach Little Preludes and Inventions, Clementi's Sonatinas, and Schumann's and Tchaikovsky's Albums for the Young, etc.

I SAY: I have Anna Magdalena etc book and I can probably play it except I haven't learned in the 75 page of JT how to play the Turn, grace note or embellishments, Appoggiatura, trill, etc.

YOU SAY: A method book is the means to get from scratch to the entry level for the great classics. Thompson's Book 3 takes us to that point with Chopin Preludes and Burgmuller's Etudes thrown in to boot so Books 4 and 5, therefore, are surplus to requirements.

There's very little instruction in how to play at this point. Most of the information required at this stage is how to practise and method books don't do a very good job at this because they don't use demanding enough material. At this level we need to learn how to overcome the problems that beset us. Practise at tackling technically demanding pieces is more important now than learning how to play. Method books only go up to material that doesn't pose a great problem for a reasonable reader.

What's required is a system rather than a method. Gradually increasing the difficulty of the material doesn't cut it for me - that's done by improving sight reading. Solving problems makes improvement in leaps.

I SAY: You are absolutely correct. I am not sure how long it will take me to get through books 2 and 3, but when I do, in a a year or 2 I will be stuck because I won't know what to learn in the journey, but I will have to wait until then.

Thank you for your helpful insight and suggestions.


Edited by Michael_99 (07/07/13 06:52 PM)

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