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#2558287 - Yesterday at 11:06 PM Help from other adult beginners and/or piano teachers
Yeva Online   content
Junior Member

Registered: 07/23/16
Posts: 2
Hello everyone, I have a quick question about notes for the left hand. I'm a beginner and not musically talented, so I'll try my best to explain what my question/concern is about.

A little background about me, I started learning the piano in the second grade and took classes for roughly 3 years. Recently I decided to relearn to play the piano. I found a teacher who is used to working with beginners and I've taken 4 classes with her. I really like the pieces she chooses for me, but I am having difficulty reading the left hand.

For the right hand, she writes the notes normally as you would see on sheet music, but for the left hand she writes "La" under one note and then 3 or 4 notes later she'll write "La" again and I finally found out today that when she writes one note for the left hand she means for me to play the chord (one note at a time - sorry don't know the correct terminology). For this piece she's assigned me, the notes don't line up.

So I guess my question is, is this normal for the beginning? I personally find this counterproductive, because I memorize how to play the song/piece instead of learning to play it. I asked her if it was possible for her to give me the sheet music with the bass clef (with the bass clef I would know which note to play when), but she said she couldn't since she wrote the notes by ear.

I'm looking forward to hearing your opinions on this.

Edited by Yeva (Yesterday at 11:14 PM)

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#2558299 - Today at 01:23 AM Re: Help from other adult beginners and/or piano teachers [Re: Yeva]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 828
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Hi Yeva,

It sounds to me like you have a teacher who prefers to play from a lead sheet, rather than two-staff sheet music that is entirely written out. A lead sheet is what you get when you combine a written-out melody line with chord symbols for the bass line. Something like this:

If you'd rather learn to play exclusively from 'complete' scores, I think you're better off with a teacher who was classically trained. People who prefer lead sheets are usually jazz or pop musicians.

The flip side is: if you stay with your current teacher and learn to play from a lead sheet, it'll train your ears in a way that playing other people's compositions, down to the exact ornamentation that the original composer wrote down, never will. Both approaches have their merits, but the latter (playing other people's music exactly as written) has been making me feel that I'm missing some fundamental skills as a musician.
Beginner with some priors since 9/2012

#2558301 - Today at 01:34 AM Re: Help from other adult beginners and/or piano teachers [Re: Yeva]
AndrewJCW Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/14
Posts: 634
Loc: Middle of nowhere, Australia
Even if they are a pop/jazz teacher if they actually can't write out a left hand line in the bass clef they are probably a pretty poor one. Any decent teacher of any style should be able to cover the bases of all the styles fairly easily. Unless this teacher is super cheap or you just looking for a short term thing to get you going I'd be looking for other options. They might be a great teacher and advanced pianist in their particular way, but if you're a beginner that can't know that or wants to learn more traditionally then learning from someone like this that teaches out of book is a risky business.
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#2558316 - Today at 04:21 AM Re: Help from other adult beginners and/or piano teachers [Re: Yeva]
Qazsedcft Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/17/15
Posts: 590
Loc: Poland
First of all, welcome to PW!

I agree with Andrew that if your teacher can't write the bass chord she is probably a very bad teacher. Maybe she can but doesn't want to, which is a different story.

#2558320 - Today at 06:02 AM Re: Help from other adult beginners and/or piano teachers [Re: Yeva]
earlofmar Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 2737
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By Yeva

So I guess my question is, is this normal for the beginning? I personally find this counterproductive, because I memorize how to play the song/piece instead of learning to play it.

Welcome to the forum Yeva.
No, it is not normal for a teacher to hand write a score by ear, unless it was a hard to get score and you specifically asked for it. It would be normal if she gave you photocopies of a score or you both worked from a book of scores.

Perhaps telling us what the piece is might give more of clue for this unusual method.
If this life is a simulation can I not be in the easy version where Bach was a drummer


#2558375 - 29 minutes 19 seconds ago Re: Help from other adult beginners and/or piano teachers [Re: Yeva]
Yeva Online   content
Junior Member

Registered: 07/23/16
Posts: 2
Thank you all for your inputs.
Saranoya, yes that is similar to what she uses. Except she doesn't have the chord names as is shown in the example, she'll just write Fa for F or La for A. Sometimes she'll write a combination of the two, like Fa-C-Fa. At first I thought I had to play all of those notes as a cord as in FCF. Her system of writing is not always consistent, which is confusing (it might not be for someone who's not a beginner). We've never talked about majors and minors, the only thing she told me about chords is you play every other white key and finish with the key you started with on the next octave.

Andrew, I'm hoping she can. I just don't think she wants to put in the time. Her lessons are cheap and I plan to learn with her until December, at most. She doesn't use a book, she just gives me the sheet music to play. I did, however, buy Alfred's All-in-one course books online yesterday. At this point, I'm going to try to teach myself. After my first lesson with her, I knew I would eventually need a different teacher based on my progress.

She mainly teaches young students, some have been with her for years. So, her methods are too child-friendly I guess. I couldn't get the rhythm when playing with both hands for the first time and she said, "oh, the little ones get it right away," and she didn't do anything else to help me with my rhythm, which I was told is completely off.

Thank you, Qazsedcft and Earl for the welcome!
Earl, all of the pieces she's given me have been handwritten. At this point I don't mind that they're handwritten, I just want to be able to read it without having to memorize the notes before I can even attempt to play. The current one is from an old Soviet movie, "Piece from the sky" or "ktor m erkinq" in the original language by Tigran Mansuryan.


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