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#2558137 - Today at 02:25 AM Teaching Advanced Students
Piano Playground Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/21/16
Posts: 11
I studied Piano Pedagogy in college and have been teaching for many years but have mostly taught beginning - late intermediate students. I would like to feel confident teaching advanced students. I know it would be very rewarding. I'm wondering how other teachers have made this transition. One question that I have is: in order to teach an advanced piece to a student, do you need to have played it/thoroughly analyzed it yourself? It seems helpful to know exactly how the song feels in your hands. But do teachers limit their advanced students to their own repertoire? If not - if you would start your student on a piece that you have not played, do you begin practicing it at the same time as them? Do you spend time analyzing the piece? Do you listen to recordings and choose your favorite interpretation and kind of nudge them in that direction? Do you watch great pianists perform these pieces? Thanks for your help! smile Any other advice or experience you have that could help me would be wonderful!

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#2558140 - Today at 03:08 AM Re: Teaching Advanced Students [Re: Piano Playground]
AZNpiano Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 6547
Loc: Orange County, CA
There is a world of difference between being able to play a piece and being able to teach a piece. There are definitely areas that overlap.

I encourage my advanced kids to explore their own repertoire, but most of them end up just taking what I give them. So I go out of way to assign interesting pieces that I may or may not know. When students are interested in the piece, that's half the battle.

I first work out the difficult spots, pages or sections that may need detailed work like fingering. While I don't advocate analyzing every single phrase and chord, analysis can be helpful in the learning process. Large works need to be taught in sections, and almost never from the beginning to the end in one sitting.

To be honest, recordings are not my favorite teaching tool. I know colleagues who rely on recordings because they can't play anything, and they teach non-thinking robots to imitate, imitate, imitate.
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

#2558164 - Today at 07:37 AM Re: Teaching Advanced Students [Re: AZNpiano]
BrianDX Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/14/14
Posts: 1938
Loc: First Town, First State
Originally Posted By AZNpiano
... While I don't advocate analyzing every single phrase and chord, analysis can be helpful in the learning process. Large works need to be taught in sections, and almost never from the beginning to the end in one sitting.

As we have shifted into Intermediate level material I have found that spending time at the very beginning carefully analyzing the structure of a piece (chord structures and progressions, overall form, etc.) has really helped me deal with material that right now is at the upper limit of what I can do.

My initial concern was that too much analysis might lead to a rather robotic way of seeing (and playing) these pieces. However, the opposite is true, at least for me. Knowing what is going on ahead of time allows me to focus on actually playing the piece. Of course, spending 35 years as an IT analyst sort of colors things.
Yamaha C2X | Yamaha M500-F ......
"Humor is reason gone mad": Groucho Marx
Curriculum: Faber PA Level 4; Faber DA Book 3
Current: Chanson (Faber) (OC); Sailboats In The Wind (Faber) (OC)

#2558220 - Today at 02:55 PM Re: Teaching Advanced Students [Re: Piano Playground]
hreichgott Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 2699
Loc: western MA, USA
I don't play everything my advanced students play, but it's all of a difficulty level that I can sort out and demonstrate any section pretty readily in the lesson, at least well enough to get my point across. If a student were learning something stylistically very different from music I play, or if I couldn't analyze it or understand the structure at a glance, I'd probably learn the piece in order to gain insight into how it could be approached.

That said, it's also valuable for our students to see us as learners, so when there are questions I can't answer right away, I think out loud with the student for awhile and then if need be I say I'll research it and get back to them next lesson.

The drawback of teaching advanced pieces that I do play is that my own mental image of the piece is very specific and it can be hard to keep a sense of what's my personal interpretation and what's something the student needs to do.

I send students on to other teachers when they get advanced enough that they sound like first-year piano majors at a decent college program. That's the point at which they really do need someone other than me, and also, that way they aren't playing anything that's anywhere close to the hardest music I play.

Edited by hreichgott (Today at 03:01 PM)
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Working on:
reviewing Beethoven Op. 90, Chopin Nocturne Op. 48 no. 2
rehearsing Mozart, Variations in G major for four hands K. 501
I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music

#2558223 - Today at 03:36 PM Re: Teaching Advanced Students [Re: Piano Playground]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1819
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Interesting questions, and fine answers already. No wisdom from me. But I'd say that if Playground is feeling nervous or uncertain, then she *should* learn a few advanced pieces before assigning them to students. Or it may be time to return to her own piano studies with a teacher, to take her own playing to a higher level of security and awareness.

In my experience, very few private piano students ever reach a stage beyond intermediate pieces, so this is largely a nonissue. There is no hidden reservoir of advanced pupils waiting to ring a studio teacher's doorbell. But Heather suggests otherwise. Maybe she has a fancier doorbell than I do.

Nevertheless, I do have some adult piano students - transfer students or summer coaching students - who are very advanced players. They are playing music of their own selection, that is either not in my fingers at all, or was so only long ago. Sometimes it would not be repertoire I would even wish to play, even if I found 40 hours to practice it. I still have helpful things to impart during their lessons. Or so I am told.

I agree with AZN that recordings are not the way to go.


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