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#951125 - 01/24/07 12:15 PM My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
First of all, this is NOT a self-promotion. I won't benefit in any sort of way if any of you feel inclined to check this program out, or spend money on it... I'm merely hoping to share my views on a tool that's helped me with my lessons.

What it is: Along with a few other games that build other playing skills, the strongest program that this software includes is called Gentle Piano. A keyboard is attached to a computer through a midi connection, and the monitor presents the 'Sheet Music' that the student is promted to play. The program provides instant feedback, communicating to the student whether he is playing a correct or incorrect note with symbols, so that no lectures are needed. Here is a video that can give you an idea of how the system works, also posted on the main page of the Soft Mozart website:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gageOYLCH2A

As you might notice, the program has a nifty feature that plays accompaniment for you, if you're focusing on one hand at a time.

Also, it should be apparent that the presentation of the staff is a bit different than what most of us are used to.. Since Soft Mozart uses the Solfeggio notation of notes by default (though it is very easy to switch to the Alphabetical, if it is preferred) small drawings are embedded in every note that also match symbol on the piano keys that correspond with each note's solfeggio name (Door for Do, etc). This way, even a kid that doesnt know how to read yet can initially just "match up" the pictures in the easiest setting.

Of course, there is also an option to switch the program's display to the traditional grand staff presentation that can be found in most music books, though the program still retains a certain amount of itneractivity that makes unsupervised practice, and even regular lessons, more convenient.

Why? Teachers, think back to the last lesson you had with a student that was new to sight-reading. Whenever I use this program, I no longer have to explain why certain notes are incorect, etc... I no longer have to lecture my students on the most simple elements of reading music. A lifesaver.

I've noticed that since I started using Soft Mozart, my students have been progressing at a much faster rate.. Especially the ones that purchased a copy for practice at home. I suspect that this is also a result of its interactivity, an incentive to practice more often.

Though the song library is fairly extensive, one of the program's shortcomings is that not EVERY song you might want to learn is featured. Sometimes my students bring me their own music, hoping to learn a song that they espeically like. At times, their playing/reading skills aren't quite strong enough for the sheet music, so I find a few pieces that are of similar difficulty, and finetune the student's skills until he is ready to read on his own at that level.

It is difficult for me to express how useful this program has been for me. It has cut away some of the more tedious aspects of teaching, and has really given me an opportunity to concentrate on the technique of my students' playing rather than their ability to play at all.

For now, that is all I can think of saying about it.. Please let me know if you have any questions about it, or what your thoughts on the program are.
_________________________
http://www.softmozart.com/

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#951126 - 01/24/07 12:39 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
This is pretty cool actually. I'm sorry for pre-judging you about a program that you are not even making money off of. I am not an expert on piano and am not qualified to talk about different methods of teaching. But my question for you would be, after how long does the future pianist using this program switch from soft mozart to just a piano and sheet music totaly?

Sorry about my previous posts,
Matt

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#951127 - 01/24/07 01:19 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
It really depends on the student. A lot of teachers don't like the idea of this program because they think that it will replace them completely.. However, a teacher's guidance (especially in this case) could help a student switch from the program to regular sheet music much more quickly.

In my lessons, it basically works like this. Progress is generally measured by learning to play new songs. First, the student learns a few of the more simple songs on a setting that corresponds with his level, while also providing some amount of challenge. Once he gets familiar with the way the system works and also the use of his hands, he moves on to more advanced songs. I suppose that this could also be done without a teacher if you choose to learn on your own, but it would take a great amount of discipline to keep challenging yourself.

We go back into some of the easier books of songs (for example, while he may be on Favorite Classics Level 3, we'll go into Favorite Classics Primary/Level 1) and start "sight reading," using the most advanced notation of the Grand Staff that is used in sheet music. If this practice is closely followed, as the student becomes more advanced, so does his ability to read more music without the program's aid. Here is another video that Olenka made that shows how this is done:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpTuFyHLzw0
_________________________
http://www.softmozart.com/

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#951128 - 01/24/07 01:29 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
I actually like this video the best
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMsjF5uHgtI

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#951129 - 01/24/07 01:41 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
Dorrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
I'm not a piano teacher - but I was a "regular: school teacher for some years. And I'm an adult beginner.

One thing I've experienced as a teacher and as a student is that no one system/program method works best for every student. Seems to me the type of program you describe would work best with visual learners, and with those who have little or no experience with musical notation.

Some parts of the program seem similar to a computer program Noah Adams describes using in his memoir of being an adult beginner.

I have a couple questions though, it you could answer them from your personal experience

What more "traditional" material do you use when a student gets stuck with/bored by this program? When I get bored or frustrated with a concept, my teacher will pull a piece or two out of another book, or move to something different.

Have you had any students yet that have transitioned out of this learning program? What would be the kind of literature students move into? I think how to transition from any method to real literature (even if quite elementary) is a challenge and I was wondering at what level your students tend to be when they make that move?

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#951130 - 01/24/07 01:57 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
Dorrie, you are quite right in saying that no one program could work well for every student. However, I've noticed that Gentle Piano has something that caters to all three types of learners. Like you said, it works well for Visual.. But also, as the student begins to play with both hands with minimal lectures and explanations from the very first lesson, I've seen many Tactile learners flourish, as well. And as for Auditory, the system provides an option to play the entire song for the student to give him an idea of what it sounds like, along with another option to "Hide" the notes of either Left, Right or Both hands, only revealing them once the player gets stuck or plays incorrectly... This is a great tool for memorization.

There are several other 'mini games' that build upon the more 'traditional' skills, such as one in which you are given a presentation of a note and expected to navigate it along either the Treble or Bass Staff into its correct position. There's also a game that generates random note tones through the keyboard's speakers (without having to watch the monitor) and prompts the student to use his musical ear and play the same note on the keyboard, and even a game called 'Note Duration' that familiarizes one with the time signatures of music notes.

I usually spend about 2/3rds of each lesson using the software, and the other 1/3rd warming up with traditional scales and excercises such as Hannon, and fine tuning the performance of songs that have already been learned, ocassionally with a metronome. I've also got a set of flash cards that support various musical concepts as well, so it's very difficult for any of my students, from age 4 to age 40, to get bored or fed up with the lesson.
_________________________
http://www.softmozart.com/

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#951131 - 01/24/07 01:58 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
_________________________
http://www.softmozart.com/

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#951132 - 01/24/07 04:38 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
Ochy please answer the question that both Dorrie and myself raised...

Have you had any students yet that have transitioned out of this learning program? What would be the kind of literature students move into? I think how to transition from any method to real literature (even if quite elementary) is a challenge and I was wondering at what level your students tend to be when they make that move?


Matt

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#951133 - 01/24/07 05:37 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Ochy: I am curious what your initial reaction has been from parents who have phoned to inquire about the kind of lessons you teach. I am intriqued by the program, but could see many parents balking at the idea of needing to worry about hooking up a computer and dealing with software. Not everyone is a music or computer enthusiast like we are \:\) Especially with parents who own an acoustic piano. Have you found most parents willing to go to the "extra effort" of getting a digital and hooking it up? Having dealt with many parents who freak out over having to buy $25 worth of music books I could see it being a problem.
_________________________
Registered Private Piano and Flute Teacher

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#951134 - 01/24/07 08:34 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
 Quote:
Originally posted by Debussy20:
Ochy please answer the question that both Dorrie and myself raised...

Have you had any students yet that have transitioned out of this learning program? What would be the kind of literature students move into? I think how to transition from any method to real literature (even if quite elementary) is a challenge and I was wondering at what level your students tend to be when they make that move?


Matt [/b]
To be honest with you, Matt, I am fairly new to teaching, myself.. I started maybe 6 months ago, so it's had to give you a tried and true acurate answer. I can, however, relate my own experiences as a student.

As i mentioned in my first post (I am not a Pianist), I actually used the program as a student. Until that point, I was slaving through the primary levels of a few different classical books.. The names of the series mostly elude me, but I believe a few of them were under the Bastien brand. It was really basic stuff-similar to the version of Ode to Joy that was featured in that video that you say you enjoyed. With the introduction of Soft Mozart into my lessons, I jumped up to much more complicated pieces, such as the Polonaise Oginski, Bach's Prelude in F-Minor, and Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca (these pieces were learned with the aid of the program, then mastered with use of a metronome and intense practice).

I would in turn practice sight reading through less challenging pieces in the books that were lying around the room, and gradually progressed to working through the stuff that I ACTUALLY wanted to read. Nowadays, several years later, I mostly use sight-reading to transfer piano music to my accordion.. Though I am actually just about to begin work on Chopin's Waltz in C-Sharp Minor, actually as soon as I finish addressing you guys' questions. \:\)

Understanding how difficult the transition can be, I try to get my students to start sight reading as soon as possible. We start using the sight reading feature in the program within a few weeks, and pull out the dusty practice books within a few months. Of course, the pace really depends on the age, attitude, and musical affinity of the student in question. For example, if one especially enthusiastic 24-year-old student of mine continues to take lessons from me and practices diligently at home, I could see him sight reading some pretty advanced stuff out of the books within a year.

I wish I could tell you some specific book names to give you an idea of what I mean, but I'm afraid I've got a terrible memory for these things, and they're currently far out of reach.
_________________________
http://www.softmozart.com/

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#951135 - 01/24/07 08:49 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
 Quote:
Originally posted by StephanieF:
Ochy: I am curious what your initial reaction has been from parents who have phoned to inquire about the kind of lessons you teach. I am intriqued by the program, but could see many parents balking at the idea of needing to worry about hooking up a computer and dealing with software. Not everyone is a music or computer enthusiast like we are \:\) Especially with parents who own an acoustic piano. Have you found most parents willing to go to the "extra effort" of getting a digital and hooking it up? Having dealt with many parents who freak out over having to buy $25 worth of music books I could see it being a problem. [/b]
Whenever I get any phone calls from parents, I simply tell them that it is definitely something new, and invite them for a free 15 minute lesson to see for themselves. No matter what their reservations towards computers, once they see their child play a song with both hands in the first sitting, they're usually sold on the idea.

The entire 'hookup process' is relatively simple and pain-free.. It takes less than a minute to assemble everything with the help of a midi cable (you can find these online for $15-$30).. I usually just prop my laptop on top of my keyboard, plug in, and am ready to go.

The timely results and the enthusiasm of the child at learning new songs within a few lessons usually inspires parents to go the extra mile. After all, nowadays, most families own at least one, if not more computers in their homes. You could find a new, simple desktop for as little as $200 at Best Buy, last time I checked.. And you can find a decent keyboard with midi conenction for around $80. As for the program itself.. It contains so much sheet music that the parents would probably spend more buying all of the individual books alone.

Unfortunately, I've noticed that the piano is treated more as a status-symbol and piece of furniture nowadays, rather than anything else. Most families than can afford to have one can generally afford to buy a keyboard. However, as Soft Mozart uses a key grid (featured in that first video I posted) that shows a matching pattern between the keys and the Grand Staff if it is turned sideways, practice on an acoustic piano would not be impossible if the parents are given a grid for home use.
_________________________
http://www.softmozart.com/

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#951136 - 01/25/07 12:49 AM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I think a free trial would definitely be the key. A very smart move!

I do have to disagree though that an $80 keyboard would suffice for piano lessons. That could very possibly be because of my piano training, or buying a decent keyboard here in Canada. I do not think anything under $200 would purchase a good full sized keyboard with weighted keys. Actually I know its not because I've recently looked for one. That might just be the mark-up and exchange rate here. Of course, a good quality digital piano is so much less than an acoustic! I do know that you are looking at quite a bit more for a set up North, probably $1000 or more if you have to buy both computer and digital.

I also would say that most of my parents have more than enough money to buy all the music and accessories required for lessons, however many would rather put the money into vacations or new cars. I live in a middle to middle upperclass area and it's amazing the fight I get. Maybe my priorities are different, but I can't see putting something trivial before my childs education. Sorry, I'm venting now.
_________________________
Registered Private Piano and Flute Teacher

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#951137 - 01/25/07 04:10 AM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Ochy, you said "I've noticed that since I started using Soft Mozart, my students have been progressing at a much faster rate."

This obviously suggests that you were teaching in a more traditional way before you started using Soft Mozart, though unfortunately you are unable to remember the books you used, which is a pity as I would have been interested.

You then go on to say "To be honest with you, Matt, I am fairly new to teaching, myself.. I started maybe 6 months ago".

I am therefore wondering how long you have been using Soft Mozart and how much experience you have with traditional teaching of piano prior to that, in order to make a meaningful comparison between the two methods.

If I may ask a couple more questions, I have watched both of the youtube videos you linked to.

1 Please could you explain how the vertical staff works?

2 Secondly, when switching to horizontal reading (second video), this seems to be rather like an autocue, scrolling notes in front of the player just as they have to be played. What is the benefit of this (as opposed to preseting a whole bar (or line) and highlighting notes as they need to be played - as I have seen on other computerised methods)?

Kind regards

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#951138 - 01/25/07 11:58 AM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
Adrian, though I have only started charging for lessons half a year ago, I spent a good portion of my life aiding my mother with her piano lessons, and even administering lessons for her at various schools and daycares. Some of my earliest memories involve my laying on top of our upright piano in my room, and overseeing the private lessons that my mom was giving to her students (Thinking back, I'm sure it was horribly obnoxious, but at least I enjoyed myself!)... She recieved her education at a Music Conservatory in the USSR, and it was very interesting to watch her reactions to Soft Mozart when she decided to try it with her lessons years later, in The US.

Before, our students would learn a new song (fairly challenging to their musical level) every few months or so, give or take a couple of weeks depending on the kid's enthusiasm, and whether he practiced at home. Suddenly, these same kids were mastering new songs every few weeks.

1. As should be obvious, the vertical staff is simply the grand staff flipped over. The typical Soft Mozart package comes with a set of stickers that may be applied to the keys of the keyboard, and also a grid (featured in the first video) that can be fitted behind the keys, should the student/teacher have reservations about using the stickers, or if the student has advanced beyond the need for their help. Here is a diagram that exhibits what the relationship between the vertical staff and the piano's keys is:


2. The way that the scroll works is like this: the notes that are to be played are highlighted in the yellow line, and as the student plays them, they continue to scroll forward until the piece is finished. If the student has trouble finding/playing the correct note, the notes dont scroll from the highlight until the right keys ones are pressed. There are two advantages to this rather than being presented with the whole bar (however, there is also a feature that allows you to use that presentation, as well.. it is the 6th and most challenging setting for reading sheet music, virtually identical to reading out of a book.)
-first of all, the scroll feature supports beginners and helps them to learn to focus on the sheet music. it is quite intimidating for someone that has little experience with piano to suddenly be faced with an entire page of notes that he will be expected to 'decipher..' It's a step-by-step approach that makes the student feel more familiar with music.
-second, while using settings 1-5 (from the most basic vertical representation to a scroll version of traditional sheet music) Soft Mozart has a handy 'scoring' feature: on the bottom left side of the screen it displays a number showing how many notes out of the entire piece were played correctly on the first try, and on the bottom right is a number displaying how many seconds the piece was 'off tempo.' When the student is prompted to play a note and he's trying to find it on the keyboard, the program counts the seconds.. This way, the player is also getting scored on rhythm, and thus familiarizes himself with different time signatures.
_________________________
http://www.softmozart.com/

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#951139 - 01/25/07 12:17 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
 Quote:
Originally posted by StephanieF:
I do have to disagree though that an $80 keyboard would suffice for piano lessons. That could very possibly be because of my piano training, or buying a decent keyboard here in Canada. I do not think anything under $200 would purchase a good full sized keyboard with weighted keys. [/b]
Of course, the difference between an $80 Casio and a REAL piano/keyboard or electric piano with weighted keys is almost tragic. However, some practice is of better than no practice at all, and we all know how crucial it is to mastering any skill. These 'cheap' keyboards aren't too difficult to convince parents to buy... and once it becomes apparent whether they will choose to pursue and encourage their child's talent or move on to something else, the decision to buy a better instrument becomes much easier to make.

Sadly, the traditional approach tends to have a very limited success rate. Most students that stick to their piano lessons usually either have some sort of affinity to music, or simply a great amount of patience. Because Soft Mozart provides a good amount of support for a wide variety of learners, more people from various backgrounds tend to stay on.
_________________________
http://www.softmozart.com/

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#951140 - 01/25/07 12:21 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Ochy - I do realise that the vertical staff is the same as the horizontal one but rotated 90 degrees. Perhaps I should have been more explicit in my question - what is the purpose / advantage of this in terms of reading other than that there is a pictorial link from each line to two of the octaves on the keyboard.

Is it meritorious to learn to read notes vertically when virtualy all music is scored horizontally?

On the videos I have seen of soft mozart (from your links), the clearest one uses the horizontal staff. Apart from the fact that the music scrolls like an autocue, I am struggling to see how the system is different to other music programmes that highlight the note one must play in a score.

Perhaps you could elucidate by setting out the differences between traditional learning and the soft method, and noting the advantages or disadvantages.

How it comes acress to me is a bit like "painting by numbers" (where "art" was taught by having a drawing with lots of numbered segments and teh "artist" filled in the segments with numbered paints. This prodiced a kind of weird jigsaw effect that was not that much like art). On Soft M one sees a pictorial representation on the screen (or a note) and one presses the corresponding pictorial representation on the keyboard. I am not clear how rythmn and dynamics are addressed by the player (as opposed to the computer making the timing decision). Rythmn and dynamics are what turns our limited palette of sounds into music after all.

I am left wondering if this method is really an introduction to music, or is instead a "make sounds by numbers" method that ultimately has to be discarded when a player has to learn to adapt to traditional notation.

The scoring system troubles me a little. It featured heavily in the video of the 18 year old banjo player learning piano. His focus was on having a low score for note errors. My focus for a beginner would be on "does it sound like music to you".

Please don't get me wrong. I am not negative - I just don't understand what is special about this system from the rather simplistic diagrams and explanations I have seen so far.

Part of my interest is because I am interested in teaching dyslexic children who have some difficulty with symbol and pattern recognition.

Kind regards

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#951141 - 01/25/07 12:46 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Ochy - sorry to bombard you with question, but I have been reflecting on your very interesting anecdotes. I note that your mother is a piano teacher and that she was trained in a USSR conservatory. Very prestigous - I wish I had that training.

You have been lucky to observe her teaching since you were little and have also adminsitered lessons for her ast schools and daycares (I am not sure what you mean by adminsitered to be honest).

Anyway, to get to my point at last, with a well educated music teacher as a mother, why did you need the soft mozart programme for yourslef (you have said that you used it yourslef to learn to play)?

I would be fascinated to hear your story.

Kind regards

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#951142 - 01/25/07 12:52 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
I have avoided contributing to this topic until taking a few moments to follow the links. I'm still bothered at the promotional aspects of several of ochy and Masha's posts.

That being said, I sincerely disagree with the following statement:

 Quote:
Sadly, the traditional approach tends to have a very limited success rate. Most students that stick to their piano lessons usually either have some sort of affinity to music, or simply a great amount of patience. [/b]
What is this based on? As you admit to only teaching 6 months yourself? How long did you study piano yourself? Have you studied other methods? Have you taken pedagogy classes?

I've taught for over 20 years using and studying numerous methods available to students for piano teaching. I have a great success rate and my students are very normal children. I've NEVER had a beginner quit, EVER...most of my students stay with me for 6-8 years. The point I'm making is that multiple methods work, while some are better than others. Eventually all students need to read the staff fluently. I have a 6 year old beginner that can read all the notes on the grand staff plus 3 ledger line notes in each direction, simply by reinforcing flash cards. The trick is finding out which works best for each child and requiring the child to practice. The softmozart seems to be nothing more than a screen hooked up to cue music.

What I've failed to see from softmozart is any comparison to actual methods. The students in both videos were by my standards very poor players. The three year old was certainly not a prodigy and it was inappropriate for her to be labled as such. Both students had poor hand position and the young man was using atrocious fingering, which was never corrected.

Ochy, while you are enthusiastic, you don't seem to offer credibility to promote this product. :rolleyes:
_________________________
www.tcwresources.com

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#951143 - 01/25/07 01:41 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
I really do feel that having asked Ochry to deal with her views on Soft Mozart in a non promotional way, we must take this opportunity to question her about her experience and method and not let ourselves get into personal criticisms, otherwise this thread will go the way of its predecessors.

We need to get to the bottom of whether SM actually has real merit. I hope Ochry answers the questions we have posed so far.

Kind regards

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#951144 - 01/25/07 01:47 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I have to agree with cranky woman. To lump all "traditional" piano lessons and piano teachers and say that the majority of their students fail is a false statement. There are many different approaches out there and many different kinds of teachers.

Ochy: You have mentioned that your mother was a great pianist but you never did well in lessons. Can I ask what music training, pedagogy or performance and teaching experience you have had? A good amount of both seem necessary to adequately give these statements rather than just memorizing them from one source.

I think there could be real benefits to the Soft Mozart program and it is of real interest to me. It says a lot when a teacher is so enthusiastic about a program. I am not trying to critisize, but if you are going to compare to traditional programs though, in order to be credible you need to have good knowledge of the traditional methods in question. One bad childhood experience doesn't provide that. knowledge of both sides does.
_________________________
Registered Private Piano and Flute Teacher

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#951145 - 01/25/07 01:53 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
Adrian, I will answer your questions and elaborate on my previous answers later today.. I'm afraid that I've neglected my work too much already to continue this chat right now! ;\)
_________________________
http://www.softmozart.com/

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#951146 - 01/25/07 01:58 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
I agree with Stephanie and cranky, according to Chang's book, the reason the majority of children give up the piano is due to lack of progress.

Ochy, just a few question, sorry to bombard you:
- How is your method different from the other methods for computer out there?
- How long have you been playing piano?
- If you have never taught in a "traditional" manner, how can you say that SM is better?

Regards,
Matt

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#951147 - 01/25/07 02:03 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
 Quote:
I really do feel that having asked Ochry to deal with her views on Soft Mozart in a non promotional way, we must take this opportunity to question her about her experience and method and not let ourselves get into personal criticisms, otherwise this thread will go the way of its predecessors. [/b]
I do agree that ochy has been less promotional, and I appreciate that. But, the questions raised I believe are important. How can you promote a product as the best way to go if you've only been teaching for 6 months?
_________________________
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#951148 - 01/25/07 02:22 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
ochy_cherniye Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 44
Loc: Houston
C_W and Stefanie, in regards to the 'lumping' traditional lessons, I will say only this. No matter how great teaching tools you have, whether it's a 'miracle' program, flawless books, guides, etc, the ultimate results all depend on the quality of the teacher. This said, perhaps C_W is really an amazing teacher, if she is speaking truthfully about her own results. In that case, she has my congratulations, and maybe she could be kind enough to give me some tips at a later time.

Now, C_W, as to what you've said anout the quality of the students' playing:

"The students in both videos were by my standards very poor players. The three year old was certainly not a prodigy and it was inappropriate for her to be labled as such. Both students had poor hand position and the young man was using atrocious fingering, which was never corrected."

The thing to keep in mind is this- How many 3 year olds have you met that can play Bach on a piano at all? With both hands? And no outside help?

And William, the boy in the first video, did indeed have 'atrocious' fingering. He'd never had a proper piano lesson. In fact, the reason that his fingering wasn't corrected was because there was absolutely no teacher involvement. He simply sat down with a computer and the keyboard, was told which buttons did what with the program, and taught himself to play the full version of Musette in 30 minutes. The point of the video was to show what the program was capable of doing for someone that had absolutely no experience with piano lessons. Why don't you sit a similar kid down with some sheet music and see if he can figure Musette out on his own without aiding him?

Jeez, you guys are going to get me fired! It really irks me that i can't answer all of these questions right now. \:D
_________________________
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#951149 - 01/25/07 02:31 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13795
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Well, you could put a similar kid in front of me and I could teach him the Musette by rote. That is, after all, what Soft Mozart is basically doing.

The question here is whether or not a beginning with the Soft Mozart system makes the transition to musical literacy easier or more effective. I say this because the goal of most teachers is music literacy. Learning a few pieces by rote is useful in its own way, but its not the same thing.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#951150 - 01/25/07 02:35 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
Ochy, William's progress was very interesting, but if I were him, I would really get bored using it. 2nd, how has this method been proven? about what level do the kids Olenka teacher usually leave her program. It seems like an interesting program. Thank you for your time.

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#951151 - 01/25/07 02:48 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Folks,

I think the thread needs to be less inquisition and more cross talk. By "inquisition" I don't mean church-style questioning unto death, but almost every issue raised is posed as a question to Ochy. There are professional teachers here along with talented players and striving students. What do you all think about method in general and particular methods as they compare to what we can see of SoftMozart in its own promotional materials? Remember, Ochy seems like a beginning teacher who has no particular training in pedagogy (I could be wrong here). We do not need Ochy to tell us what makes a teaching method distinctive, or what makes it work.
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Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#951152 - 01/25/07 03:08 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Piano dad: You are right, it should be more of a discussion.

I think the problem is that I don't think any of the teachers on this board have experience with SoftMozart, and I don't think Ochy has any other training or experience with any other methods. It is too bad that we don't have a teacher here with a decent level of experience with both to compare them fairly. And I also think it is relevent to ask about Ochy's experience and training to back up some of her comments. If you are going to make a critical statement about a type of method, then be able to back it up.

I have started learning about the program. While I like what I have learned so far, I hardly consider myself experienced enough with it to give an educated point of view on how it works with students. So far, what I can say is that I think the staff progression has it's merits, and I am a big fan of the computer games provided. They are a much more appealing way to get children to learn notes, rhythms, etc. As I learn more, I will gladly share more info and opinions.
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Registered Private Piano and Flute Teacher

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#951153 - 01/25/07 04:24 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5555
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
About the vertical staff - I haven't used it, but the first time I heard of it was 6 or 7 years ago when I was reading a book called "Making Music for the Joy of It" when an adult beginner related that she was having trouble learning to read music and her teacher turned the book sideways so that the staff ran vertically, and suddenly it made sense to her. So the idea has been discovered more than once (as I suppose many many ideas have \:\) ). It seems to me one more idea that could be used to give students another perspective, literally!, on what the relationship is between the staff and the keyboard.

As an aside, "Making Music for the Joy of It" is a wonderful survey of adults who are not full-time musicians who love making music in all kinds of ways - from chamber groups to playing for their church, in piano lessons, community bands, you name it. Well worth looking up a copy -

Cathy
_________________________

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#951154 - 01/25/07 05:05 PM Re: My Experiences with the Soft Mozart Program
Dorrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
I think Kreisler got it right when he indicated this is really about whether the method (or any method) improves musical literacy.

After all, most traditional methods haven't been subject to evaluation. Who really knows what piano method works best?

In some ways this discussion reminds me of the debates and evaluations of some of the reading curricula out there for early elementary school. Some of the more proscribed programs (Success for All is a good one of the ilk) remind me of SoftMozart in that they reduce variation in effectiveness across teachers - so even relatively inexperienced teachers can teach so children achieve some level of competency.

Again, the advantages of whole language instruction is that it can reduce the "fear factor" in a reluctant student. My guess is that SoftMozart does the same. Kreisler can teacher a child Mussette. A reading teacher can get a 5 year old to memorize words on flash cards or with a software program and then produce a book with exactly those words. And then exclaim - you're a reader! See you can play Bach! This is a great motivator. Its power should not be underestimated. It also should not be confused with literacy (language or music).

In my experience the best teachers (regardless of what book (books) or tools they use, pull from a variety of sources and methods.

As a student, I could have imagined using it for a while, instead of primary materials (like some kids I started not knowing what middle c was or where it was). I suspect it would have worn its welcome within a couple months.

Ochy - do you know of any teachers who move between methods?

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