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#2147564 - 09/10/13 12:37 PM How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard?
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
What are some ways you can help a student learn piano if they only have access to one of those portable little keyboards? Any special exercises that might help accustom their fingers to a different/harder action? Or just grin and bear it and cross your fingers that their situation will change and they will continue to enjoy playing this keyboard, and at some point (hopefully sooner rather than later!) they will be able to buy or access a "real" piano, and when they do, they won't hate the change so much that they stop playing? frown

(Please note: I'm really not interested in hearing snooty remarks that don't remotely answer my question like, "Well, I've never had this problem b/c I only teach students who demonstrate they are committed to learning piano by obtaining a better piano." Save your energy if that's all you have to offer! For this particular student, I WANT to teach her, and she WANTS to take lessons, but due to both space and money isn't open to getting a different one, so that would be crazy of me to say "I won't teach you til you get a better piano" or something. I just want to do the best I can with limited resources!)

One idea I had might be for her to go to a church or school and see if she can spend a little time each week practicing on a real piano. But I already know her school only has a similar portable keyboard, and I doubt they are church-going. As a church musician myself, unfortunately I don't see myself being very accommodating if I were approached by a complete stranger who asked me to basically go out of my way so they could use our piano regularly...

Oh, and to make the situation worse, I go to her house for lessons, so she never even gets to have lessons on my real piano!

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#2147576 - 09/10/13 01:14 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5421
Loc: Orange County, CA
Have you thought about teaching her everything except piano technique? You can spend all of the lesson time making sure she can read notes fluently, by letter names and by intervals. You can work on her fingering. Rhythm, too. You can spend the majority of the lesson on rhythm, keeping a steady beat. And maybe hand and sitting posture. Also teach her theory and musicianship. Train her ear and work on pitch/interval/chord aural recognition, and eventually lead to dictation. Or you can have her work on composition to incorporate the theory and rhythm.

All the other "piano" stuff like pedaling, tone production, legato/staccato touch, dynamics, etc. might have to be put on hold. But for the meanwhile, there is a lot you can do.
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#2147582 - 09/10/13 01:23 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 579
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
I'm thinking school (community college, a different K-12 school than the one she attends, a private after school music teaching institution, ...) or piano store. Are there any in her neighbourhood?

I was without a piano at home for a few months at the beginning of this year, and then again for a few weeks in May. I had the option of practicing once or twice a week on the actual piano I take lessons on, but that's because I go to a public music school where I can occasionally get thirty minutes alone with the piano between two scheduled classes -- if I plan for it well in advance. I don't know if something like that would be possible for this girl.

For the other days of the week, I had to get creative. I would practice on other people's pianos, in a nearby pub, and at various piano stores. At first I pretended to actually be interested in buying a piano. But despite my being very careful about not showing up at the same store more than twice a week, and not staying *too* long, of course one of the store owners figured me out rather quickly, and asked me point-blank what my deal was.

So I told him. That I did, in fact, already have my own piano at home, but couldn't use it right now. And that, since I was still taking lessons, I kind of needed to practice on a regular basis. On the spot, he gave me permission to come into the store and play one of the digitals whenever I wanted to.

Of course, I'm talking about a few months here, not years on end. I'm also physically disabled (wheelchair user), and while I cringe at the idea that other people's pity has ever gotten me anything in life that wouldn't otherwise have come my way, I must admit that sometimes, it helps to have a compelling story. I'm guessing that if you're willing to travel to this girl's home to teach her on a cheap 61-key electronic keyboard, there must also be some kind of 'marketable' story there.

Even if there isn't, though, I think your best bet is to locate a place -- any place -- in this girl's general vicinity that has a decent piano in a relatively private spot, explain her situation to the people there, and ask if they'd be willing to let her play it a few times a week. It might be a church. It might be a school or a store. It might be something else entirely.
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#2147614 - 09/10/13 02:07 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: AZNpiano]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Have you thought about teaching her everything except piano technique? You can spend all of the lesson time making sure she can read notes fluently, by letter names and by intervals. You can work on her fingering. Rhythm, too. You can spend the majority of the lesson on rhythm, keeping a steady beat. And maybe hand and sitting posture. Also teach her theory and musicianship. Train her ear and work on pitch/interval/chord aural recognition, and eventually lead to dictation. Or you can have her work on composition to incorporate the theory and rhythm.

All the other "piano" stuff like pedaling, tone production, legato/staccato touch, dynamics, etc. might have to be put on hold. But for the meanwhile, there is a lot you can do.

yes, thanks! this is basically what I have been doing, but I am mostly worried what will happen when/if she transitions to a "real" piano. (I've heard about big frustrations b/c the "feel" is so different - it feels like an entirely different instrument.)

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#2147616 - 09/10/13 02:09 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Saranoya- good suggestions. She's relatively young, (10, I think?) so ability to *get* places is going to be limited by her parents and transportation. And I'm not sure they see the importance in the difference of a piano ("It's got black and white keys? Great!") enough to make extra efforts like that. Sigh. I should talk to them again.

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#2147622 - 09/10/13 02:24 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: red-rose
What are some ways you can help a student learn piano if they only have access to one of those portable little keyboards? Any special exercises that might help accustom their fingers to a different/harder action? Or just grin and bear it and cross your fingers that their situation will change and they will continue to enjoy playing this keyboard, and at some point (hopefully sooner rather than later!) they will be able to buy or access a "real" piano, and when they do, they won't hate the change so much that they stop playing? frown

Is she a beginner? It shouldn't be too big of an issue to start. Eventually, she will probably be frustrated by the limitation of her instrument, and you never know, things may change when that happens. By all means, teach her what you can. Encourage her to practice at a relative's or friend's house whenever possible (if she knows anyone with a piano).

Unfortunately, there is little you can do to prepare them for the difference when playing an instrument with full-size weighted keys. You can still teach her armweight, curved fingers (not tensed or collapsed), relaxed wrist, etc. It just may seem like a whole lot of work for nothing, so be sure to explain to her that she will need this more when playing an acoustic or real digital piano (and not a keyboard).


On a side note:
Quote:
(Please note: I'm really not interested in hearing snooty remarks that don't remotely answer my question like, "Well, I've never had this problem b/c I only teach students who demonstrate they are committed to learning piano by obtaining a better piano." Save your energy if that's all you have to offer! For this particular student, I WANT to teach her, and she WANTS to take lessons, but due to both space and money isn't open to getting a different one, so that would be crazy of me to say "I won't teach you til you get a better piano" or something. I just want to do the best I can with limited resources!)


What is with the defensiveness, if I may ask? It's reminiscent of a recent new poster who assumed he knew what we were going to say and basically didn't want a discussion about it. It came across as "just answer my question, *%&%$!" You post here regularly, so I am assuming you don't mean it in that way. Perhaps a better way to put this is to leave off the first part and simply state:
Quote:
For this particular student, I WANT to teach her, and she WANTS to take lessons, but due to both space and money isn't open to getting a different one, so that would be crazy of me to say "I won't teach you til you get a better piano" or something. I just want to do the best I can with limited resources!


To me, that makes it perfectly clear that her getting another instrument is not possible at this time, and you want to teach her. 'Nuff said.

However, I don't see any problem with discussions coming up about things related to the OT, as long as the OT has been addressed. Often in those discussions a lot of good information can be gleaned.


Quote:
Oh, and to make the situation worse, I go to her house for lessons, so she never even gets to have lessons on my real piano!
This is good, because you get to see where she is actually practicing and can make suggestions. Perhaps she keep her keyboard in the closet and takes it out to lay. Perhaps it's set up in the living room in front of the TV. Perhaps it's set up on the floor and she sits cross-legged when she plays. All of these things are hard to know when you have them come to you, and things that quite easily can happen with a small keyboard rather than an acoustic piano (although some of this happens with those too!).

Often we are asked to work with less-than-ideal situations. To think that learning can happen in only one manner is to rob someone of the enjoyment they can have at any level. Certainly educate her and her parents on the benefits of these ideals, but mentioning it once every year or so is probably sufficient.
_________________________
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#2147637 - 09/10/13 02:42 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Morodiene]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

Is she a beginner?


Basically. She's been taking for about 6 months and is starting Faber 2B.

Quote:

On a side note:
Quote:
(Please note: I'm really not interested in hearing snooty remarks that don't remotely answer my question like, "Well, I've never had this problem b/c I only teach students who demonstrate they are committed to learning piano by obtaining a better piano." Save your energy if that's all you have to offer! For this particular student, I WANT to teach her, and she WANTS to take lessons, but due to both space and money isn't open to getting a different one, so that would be crazy of me to say "I won't teach you til you get a better piano" or something. I just want to do the best I can with limited resources!)


What is with the defensiveness, if I may ask? It's reminiscent of a recent new poster who assumed he knew what we were going to say and basically didn't want a discussion about it. It came across as "just answer my question, *%&%$!" You post here regularly, so I am assuming you don't mean it in that way.

No, I don't mean to sound defensive. And as you've observed, I'm not a brand-new poster, and I HAVE seen people say similar things to the exact things I mentioned I would consider unhelpful and would rather not hear. Obviously people are free to say whatever they want if they think it's helpful (or even if it's not...) but I just figured I might as well try to keep the thread focused if at all possible from the very beginning. I genuinely meant it to be helpful to people to remind them that their advice to, for example, not work with this student, would be completely wasted and unappreciated.

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#2147654 - 09/10/13 02:58 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7512
Loc: New York City
I agree with AZN. If you are determined to retain the student, you can't teach real technique. So just teach music for now, and then see if she ever decides to get an instrument.

By the way, are Faber and Piano Adventures the same thing? I've been confused about this several times on this forum, and I know they're both method books, but I don't use method books, so I don't know much about them.
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2147721 - 09/10/13 04:17 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3158
Loc: Virginia, USA
When my daughter started lessons we only had a 61 key unweighted but touch sensitive keyboard.

She did make considerable progress.

We upgraded to a decent though older digital fairly quickly. With my employer requiring frequent moves in a foreign country we did not consider an acoustic at the time.

Her progress definitely accelerated on the better equipment, which was better than the teacher's spinet.
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gotta go practice

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#2147728 - 09/10/13 04:24 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Yes, Piano Adventures is written by Nancy and Randall Faber. You might also sometimes hear it called Faber and Faber.
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#2147733 - 09/10/13 04:35 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
The Monkeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/12
Posts: 422
Loc: Vancouver BC
Would this thing help?
Casio Promotion

Considering that girl just might not able to get a good piano.

Sorry I couldn't resist.

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#2147768 - 09/10/13 05:12 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Polyphonist]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I agree with AZN. If you are determined to retain the student, you can't teach real technique. So just teach music for now, and then see if she ever decides to get an instrument.

By the way, are Faber and Piano Adventures the same thing? I've been confused about this several times on this forum, and I know they're both method books, but I don't use method books, so I don't know much about them.

What is "real technique"?
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Piano Teacher

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#2147790 - 09/10/13 05:33 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Gary D.]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7512
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I agree with AZN. If you are determined to retain the student, you can't teach real technique. So just teach music for now, and then see if she ever decides to get an instrument.

By the way, are Faber and Piano Adventures the same thing? I've been confused about this several times on this forum, and I know they're both method books, but I don't use method books, so I don't know much about them.

What is "real technique"?

Piano technique. It doesn't work on a keyboard, because a keyboard is not a piano, and therefore you can't learn piano technique. What you will learn is a "keyboard technique" that will be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer to a real piano.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2147805 - 09/10/13 05:52 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Polyphonist]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I agree with AZN. If you are determined to retain the student, you can't teach real technique. So just teach music for now, and then see if she ever decides to get an instrument.

By the way, are Faber and Piano Adventures the same thing? I've been confused about this several times on this forum, and I know they're both method books, but I don't use method books, so I don't know much about them.

What is "real technique"?

Piano technique. It doesn't work on a keyboard, because a keyboard is not a piano, and therefore you can't learn piano technique. What you will learn is a "keyboard technique" that will be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer to a real piano.

And you see nothing that can be taught that will carry over to the piano? And is this blanket statement applicable to all keyboards?

I agree that there many things that can't be taught, and I truly despise the 61 key unweighted things.

Still, there are SOME aspects of technique that carry back and forth from one keyboard to another.
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Piano Teacher

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#2147808 - 09/10/13 05:55 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Gary D.]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7512
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I agree with AZN. If you are determined to retain the student, you can't teach real technique. So just teach music for now, and then see if she ever decides to get an instrument.

By the way, are Faber and Piano Adventures the same thing? I've been confused about this several times on this forum, and I know they're both method books, but I don't use method books, so I don't know much about them.

What is "real technique"?

Piano technique. It doesn't work on a keyboard, because a keyboard is not a piano, and therefore you can't learn piano technique. What you will learn is a "keyboard technique" that will be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer to a real piano.

And you see nothing that can be taught that will carry over to the piano? And is this blanket statement applicable to all keyboards?

I agree that there many things that can't be taught, and I truly despise the 61 key unweighted things.

Still, there are SOME aspects of technique that carry back and forth from one keyboard to another.

There's a big spectrum between "nothing" and "everything." Of course some things carry over; my point was that there are important aspects that do not. smile
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2147915 - 09/10/13 10:21 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Polyphonist]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
I agree with AZN. If you are determined to retain the student, you can't teach real technique. So just teach music for now, and then see if she ever decides to get an instrument.

By the way, are Faber and Piano Adventures the same thing? I've been confused about this several times on this forum, and I know they're both method books, but I don't use method books, so I don't know much about them.

What is "real technique"?

Piano technique. It doesn't work on a keyboard, because a keyboard is not a piano, and therefore you can't learn piano technique. What you will learn is a "keyboard technique" that will be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer to a real piano.

And you see nothing that can be taught that will carry over to the piano? And is this blanket statement applicable to all keyboards?

I agree that there many things that can't be taught, and I truly despise the 61 key unweighted things.

Still, there are SOME aspects of technique that carry back and forth from one keyboard to another.

There's a big spectrum between "nothing" and "everything." Of course some things carry over; my point was that there are important aspects that do not. smile
And I think the point is, this is a kid who would otherwise not get to enjoy piano on any level. The fact that she's taking lessons and wants to learn is all she needs right now, and perhaps in time her situation will change and she can upgrade.

It happens quite often, just like if someone who is tone deaf comes to me and wants to learn to sing. I don't refuse them, but I let them know it will be harder for them. You do the best with what you have.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
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#2147980 - 09/11/13 12:46 AM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Morodiene]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
And I think the point is, this is a kid who would otherwise not get to enjoy piano on any level. The fact that she's taking lessons and wants to learn is all she needs right now, and perhaps in time her situation will change and she can upgrade.

That I agree with.
Quote:

It happens quite often, just like if someone who is tone deaf comes to me and wants to learn to sing. I don't refuse them, but I let them know it will be harder for them. You do the best with what you have.

I think those are two very different things. For your "tone deaf" example, you are talking about someone who lacks ability.

But with the cheap keyboard it may be about someone who has extraordinary ability and is held up by an inferior instrument.

I do understand how you guys feel about the poor instruments, but I am better able to deal with keyboards with their limits than with pianos that don't work - and there are a LOT of them. And not all can be "fixed" by a good technician - not if the instrument is a very poor one to begin with.

For me I link the whole idea of being crippled by an instrument to my days of teaching brass. You can even have an instruments that sounds great, but it if is out of tune, it doesn't just play out of tune - it ruins you because the effort to "bend" pitches to where they should be destroys the embouchure.
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Piano Teacher

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#2148108 - 09/11/13 09:43 AM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Gary D.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

It happens quite often, just like if someone who is tone deaf comes to me and wants to learn to sing. I don't refuse them, but I let them know it will be harder for them. You do the best with what you have.

I think those are two very different things. For your "tone deaf" example, you are talking about someone who lacks ability.

But with the cheap keyboard it may be about someone who has extraordinary ability and is held up by an inferior instrument.
In my view, they both have inferior instruments. You make the best with what you have. The pianist, however has the advantage in that they can upgrade. wink
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2148217 - 09/11/13 12:52 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Polyphonist]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5421
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
What you will learn is a "keyboard technique" that will be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer to a real piano.

Is this like what happens when a pianist tries to play a harpsichord?
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2148296 - 09/11/13 03:05 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: AZNpiano]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7512
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
What you will learn is a "keyboard technique" that will be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer to a real piano.

Is this like what happens when a pianist tries to play a harpsichord?

No, it's like what happens when a harpsichordist tries to play a piano. wink Piano technique transfers to all keyboard instruments, including the organ (not the pedal aspect of course). Organ/harpsichord/keyboard technique does not transfer to the piano.
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2148318 - 09/11/13 03:45 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Polyphonist]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
What you will learn is a "keyboard technique" that will be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer to a real piano.

Is this like what happens when a pianist tries to play a harpsichord?

No, it's like what happens when a harpsichordist tries to play a piano. wink Piano technique transfers to all keyboard instruments, including the organ (not the pedal aspect of course). Organ/harpsichord/keyboard technique does not transfer to the piano.

I disagree with that, and I'm sure anyone who specializes on these other instruments might also.
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Piano Teacher

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#2148391 - 09/11/13 06:19 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
MaggieGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 471
My daughter plays on a keyboard at home and a grand piano in lessons. While she warms up she adjusts quickly to her teacher's piano. She will play any piano (she is the kid at Costco who is in heaven because of all the plugged in Christmas keyboards right now).

My goal isn't for her to become a concert musician. I just want her to love playing. Yes progress might be different if we had a grand piano at home, but we won't (tiny apartment, shared walls).

She does music theory, music from her piano books and sheet music (including duets). These parents don't sound like high pressure music competition and test parents. They might stick with piano or not. I think it would be fair to tell them when she reaches as far as she can go on her piano. By then, they might be able to upgrade to a piano or digital piano.

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#2148518 - 09/11/13 11:50 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 907
Loc: California, USA
A few things I've tried in this situation:
-helped to arrange practice on a school piano
-helped the family find an inexpensive real piano (I know this doesn't always work due to a number factors)

On the optimistic side, this situation can be better than the student who has a truly awful piano. Sometimes you can't convince parents that the hideous-can't-hold-tune-junk-thing they bought isn't ok for junior's piano practice. But at least the keyboard parents are open to the concept of getting a piano.
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#2148526 - 09/11/13 11:57 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Gary D.]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 907
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
What you will learn is a "keyboard technique" that will be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer to a real piano.

Is this like what happens when a pianist tries to play a harpsichord?

No, it's like what happens when a harpsichordist tries to play a piano. wink Piano technique transfers to all keyboard instruments, including the organ (not the pedal aspect of course). Organ/harpsichord/keyboard technique does not transfer to the piano.

I disagree with that, and I'm sure anyone who specializes on these other instruments might also.

Gary is right. That statement is just flat out wrong.
In truth, organ technique even varies between type of instrument played and the music an organist specializes in. A master organist who performs primarily German Baroque literature on a tracker organ will have developed significantly different technique than someone who performs primarily French Romantic music on some flavor of electric action.
The clearest example of this happens regularly, and I've watched it happen numerous times: a professional organist plays a tracker organ for the first time. Sometimes they can barely play the instrument.
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#2148649 - 09/12/13 08:30 AM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: musicpassion]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11422
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: musicpassion
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
What you will learn is a "keyboard technique" that will be extremely difficult if not impossible to transfer to a real piano.


Gary is right. That statement is just flat out wrong.
In truth, organ technique even varies between type of instrument played and the music an organist specializes in. A master organist who performs primarily German Baroque literature on a tracker organ will have developed significantly different technique than someone who performs primarily French Romantic music on some flavor of electric action.
The clearest example of this happens regularly, and I've watched it happen numerous times: a professional organist plays a tracker organ for the first time. Sometimes they can barely play the instrument.

While I know nothing about playing the organ (never even heard of a tracker, that's how ignorant I am smile ), I do know that from my college years of playing on my keyboard when I couldn't get access to a piano in a practice room I would often play around with different sounds like strings and organ. As a result, I did learn a lot about finger pedaling, as using the damper pedal (which I did have) sounded weird. This of course is very helpful in playing Baroque music.

Just one example of how a technique can be transferrable.
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#2149062 - 09/12/13 09:37 PM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: musicpassion]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: musicpassion

On the optimistic side, this situation can be better than the student who has a truly awful piano. Sometimes you can't convince parents that the hideous-can't-hold-tune-junk-thing they bought isn't ok for junior's piano practice. But at least the keyboard parents are open to the concept of getting a piano.

I'm surprised a couple of you have voiced this opinion. Do you think it is better to have a tiny keyboard instead of a terrible piano simply bc you are more likely to get the parents to upgrade that way? Or do you think it is actually a preferable instrument for a beginner? I think I would beg to differ if its the latter, but I'm curious to hear your reasoning.

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#2149165 - 09/13/13 02:01 AM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1172
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Quote:
yes, thanks! this is basically what I have been doing, but I am mostly worried what will happen when/if she transitions to a "real" piano. (I've heard about big frustrations b/c the "feel" is so different - it feels like an entirely different instrument.)


Since I switched in January from an old touch-sensitive synth to a Casio PX-350, I'll weigh in . . .

All _music_ transfers -- theory doesn't care what your instrument is.

A lot of technique _does_ transfer. Finger positions for arpeggios, scale fingering, the "feel" of intervals -- it doesn't care if you're on a synth, piano, or organ.

A lot of musicianship transfers. Somebody who can play even 3-against-2 rhythms on a synth can probably play them on a piano, and vice versa.

What's truly different:

. . . the feel of dynamics under the fingers;

. . . the "weight" (and momentum) of a piano action, which can slow things
. . . down for someone who's used to the lighter-keyed synth.

. . . the use of muscle and arm weight to move the hammer,
. . . as opposed to the use of finger-power to hit a sensor.

An adult (me) found that transition frustrating. I suspect that a kid would find it much easier. Even after "bad habits" developed, "correct habits" would come faster.

One of the reasons I bought the PX-350 was that I found playing _even-loudness_ scales on the synth was difficult. And I knew (from many-years-ago piano skills) that what I was doing on the synth keyboard to improve my skill, wasn't going to work on a piano. The "feel" was too different.

There's no reason one can't play Bach's French Suites on a 61-key, touch-sensitive synth. The Baroque guys used clavichords as practice instruments, and were used to moving between a clavichord, harpsichord, and organ. And (now that I think about it) a clavichord action is a heck of a lot like a synth's action. Very little resistance, and then "contact!".

So (without any teaching experience), I'd say:

. . . Teach her as much as she can learn, in the order
. . . you usually use;

. . . Remind her occasionally that things will feel different
. . . on a "real" piano;

When the time comes to switch instruments, she'll have to make the transition, and you'll be there to help.

. Charles

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#2151841 - 09/17/13 03:39 AM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: red-rose]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 907
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: red-rose
Do you think it is better to have a tiny keyboard instead of a terrible piano simply bc you are more likely to get the parents to upgrade that way?

The phrase "get parents to upgrade" misses the point. I advocate for my students, I don't "get the parents" to do things. (Well, besides pay tuition on time. Hopefully) There's a huge difference. "Getting" them to do something is pushing them into a decision. I simply provide information. I respect the family's unique circumstances and want to advise the family in a way that will provide the best learning scenerio for the student. That includes a suitable practice instrument. If they have a family heirloom piano with a cracked pinblock - that's a difficult scenerio. $10,000 min to get the piano going. If they have a $40 keyboard from Walmart, then I can help the family find a $300 piano on Craigslist. Easier.

Quote:
Or do you think it is actually a preferable instrument for a beginner? I think I would beg to differ if its the latter, but I'm curious to hear your reasoning.

Both unplayable pianos and $40 keyboards are detrimental to the student's learning. If I had to choose between the two I'd pick the piano... who knows maybe lightning would strike the house and zap some life back into it smile


Edited by musicpassion (09/17/13 04:02 AM)
Edit Reason: better
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#2151850 - 09/17/13 03:59 AM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: Morodiene]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 907
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
never even heard of a tracker,

A tracker organ physically connects the key with the pallet that opens to allow air into the pipe. So you're not playing an electronic keyboard at all. That's why I mentioned it. BTW the word tracker comes from the long wooden strips (called "trackers") which run the distance between the action and the wind chest (which the pipes sit on). This is the basic way pipe organs have been built for hundreds of years. The electical systems are a rather new development compared to the long history of the pipe organ.

Anyway, playing a tracker organ feels very different. Probably as different as a harpsichord compared to a piano. On the tracker organ the release sometimes (perhaps I should say always) needs to be controlled in addition to (or more than) the attack. On cranky instruments a sloppy release can produce "bark" from the pipes.

BTW tracker organs are not just a historical artifact. Many of the world's best organ builders specialize in this type of organ. In America the list is long: Fisk, Fritts, Noack, Pasi, Richards and Fowkes, Bigelow, Brombaugh, Taylor and Boody, Martin Ott, and many more.
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#2151851 - 09/17/13 04:00 AM Re: How to help student who only has (cheap) 61-key keyboard? [Re: musicpassion]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: musicpassion
If I had to choose between the two I'd pick the piano... maybe lightning would strike the house and zap some life back into it smile

The main idea is that you would hope each student has the best instrument the family could afford, right? And you would help educate each family to understand what a better instrument means, but you would not push them to get a better instrument until they had the money to do so, I think...
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