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#960203 - 05/17/08 03:01 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
That was very nice of you Cindy to post the video explaining the curriculum.

The way I see it, and this is my personal opinion, here...

but I think this method might be great for students that want to learn to play a keyboard, but not to play classical piano or other genres with great technical ability and overall musicianship skills.

I have to disagree with both Chris H and you, in regards to learning to play before learning to read. I do believe that music is a language and should be learned the same way as our mother tongue. What is not happening, or that I am not aware of is, are your students listening? Or are these pieces merely taught by rote?

If so, imo, this is not helping the student develop an ear for music. It is also important, I feel, that when listening, the recordng available should be of highest quality and music in its original form and not diluted or arranged to make it easier to play.

I want to give the very best music has to offer to my students, that means learning to play the piano well, by teaching correct posture, technique, listening for a beautiful tone, balance between left and right hands and learning beautiful pieces in their original form, while learning theory. After those basic skills are developed, they then formally start reading music.

My students too are playing piano right away, and developing the skills needed to continue through college with any genre of piano music they wish to focus on.

So SM may be the method of choice for you, and that is great, but I feel there are much better ways of teaching (traditional teaching methods included.) I also feel we have a great responsibility as teachers to give our students the very best training possible.

Remember, music is an aural art. Listen to your students. Strive for the very best playing with your students, right from the beginning. This is what they deserve.

Just to note, my students and parents love the appoach I use, and are always enthusiastic about coming to their lessons and learning piano, I just don't market myself or my approach the way SM does.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#960204 - 05/17/08 04:15 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
Cindy, thank you so much for having the courage to put up that video. You have managed to give a snapshot of what SM is about and where it leads through your perspective as a teacher - a Herculean feat, actually. I suspect that the solid way that you presented it might attract some people who couldn't do much with the glitz. Some teachers who are looking for answers might get an idea of what else is out there for them, as well as some students. I do hope you leave the video up.

I think the negativity is coming in part because of the statements about the failings of traditional teaching. There are many different teachers with different types and levels of training, who use varying approaches while still teaching traditionally. Those who do address the areas that are considered weaknesses and do teach some of the things that SM teaches won't take kindly to that. Might it be better to see what SM does do, and explore this side of it? Or at least accept that not every traditional teacher will experience those weaknesses because of the approach of that teacher?

I'm coming at this from an odd angle. I was self taught as a child and came back to music 30 years later. The first instrument I began to learn formally was violin, and I just got a piano a year ago. So I'm coming from the view I've gained as an adult violin student and my old self-taught experience on piano. I'm also a former teacher, so I'm interested in what's happening. Over the past months I've seen that there seem to be problems in reading music, or in playing music by ear or spontaneously, in some corners. But I have also seen that quite a few teachers have well thought out ways of teaching in which they systematically prepare students to have a thorough understanding of the piano and music, and be able to play freely and spontaneously. The variety of teaching approaches and backgrounds is mind boggling.

On a personal level, your choice of Fuer Elise was meaningful to me. I learned to play by knowing where the tonic was and counting up and down from "doh". Even though this was reading in a sense, I was playing by ear for the most part. I got all my grandmother's old books from 1907, and started playing whatever had less than two sharps and flats. The very first piece was Fuer Elise, full version. I had some interesting tempo for the first variation, and the second variation was dramatically Wagnerian. I had no clue how it should really sound.

The thing is that I never developed this paralysis around reading. I played freely like the boy in the video. I was surprised when I saw what problems there seemed to exist when I got on the forums. There does seem to be a problem in some quarters, and SM seems to address it.

I played Fuer Elise from memory. When I no longer had a piano, I played the full version on classical guitar. It's really familiar. When I saw it being developed in SM bit by bit like that - I can see it as an approach, or part of an approach. The structures are formed bit by bit, and a student is never intimidated. By level 9 (?) he's playing the full thing. I had a moment of revulsion when I heard the chords because it seemed so foreign to this delicate piece, but then I saw how inflexible my mind still is. Being able to move about and do stuff to the music, using the chords and their variation without intimidation like jazz musicians do - we should be able to do that. There was some "theory" stuck in there somewhere.

You end with something that travels end to end all over the keyboard. I can see a student playing fearlessly and without hesitation, not intimidated by this huge instrument.

Personally I want to be working more formally, because of where I'm coming from. But I'm not discounting SM. It's probably a tool that will answer the needs of at least some teachers and students. Thank you for sharing.

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#960205 - 05/17/08 05:17 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Musictuary Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 169
Loc: Aurora, Illinois, USA
Cindy B.

Thanks for your demonstration. I'm convinced SM is a very good way to begin piano studies. I wish for you continued success in your teaching. As an adult relearner, had I been taught piano in the SM way I would not have quit piano. Would I have had a career as a concert pianist? Highly unlikely but I'm sure that I would have been much further ahead both in classical piano and non-classical piano.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
A good traditional teacher will develop essential reading skills from the start along with ear training, technique, memorisation, improvisation based on solid understanding. Claiming that traditional methods don't work because you end up relying on the printed music is rubbish. This will only happen if you have a bad teacher.

[/b]
Chris H.
I wish I had a teacher like you. ;\) It is clear that you wish for your students to be well-rounded but unfortunately some "traditional" teachers may not necessarily possess the necessary skills such as playing by ear, improvisation, etc. to effectively teach their students. I wouldn't go as far as labelling them as bad teachers. My second piano teacher is a good example. These teachers may be products of an environment where the importance of such skills may not have been stressed.

Late Beginner
Excellent points.

It appears that most teachers today whether they classify themselves as "traditional" or "nontraditional" recognize the importance of being able to play by ear and improvise. I believe the main concern that is being raised here about SM and other "nontraditional" approachs to piano learning is the appropriate time to introduce reading sheet music to a beginner student. This observation may be better addressed in a separate thread.

Musictuary

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#960206 - 05/17/08 07:04 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12047
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Well, I must differ in opinion from some who say that this method won't work for classical music. Most children don't come saying "I want to learn the Bach Italian Concerto!" They do, however, want to learn music that they understand, and at first, that would be blues and jazz, because rock and pop have their roots in them. They also, do come in saying they want to learn Fur Elise, so that's a good approach. When I had a beginner want to learn Fur Elise, I actually did something similar and taught it to her by rote. I haven't built upon that since then, though, and so it is probably a good idea to do that. Since Jazz & Blues are primarily aural traditions, I see no problem in teaching them by rote. I do this as well, and what's great is I can tie it into when I'm teaching them chord progressions, the light bulb goes on, "Oh! That's why I'm learning those!" I also understand that this isn't a strictly rote method, but that is is incorporated at a later time. This means that they can, when they understand musical form a bit better after playing it(perhaps in order to see the patterns in written notation?), eventually go onto learning higher level classical pieces.

How many of us have students that just crave the classics? They may enjoy them, but there are many students who do not, and they often don't care for the very simple sounding music they have to tolerate while they are learning to read music. Students will often quit during this time because it's not what they thought it would be. I'm not saying there's a fast track to learning music, but I can make it a bit more tolerable for those students that I know are starting to become frustrated, disinterested, etc. I used to think you just pick a pupil saver piece, but now I understand that they just want to feel like they're making music of their own.
_________________________
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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#960207 - 05/17/08 07:56 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 132
Loc: south central IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Suzukimom:
CindyB - Enjoying the discussion. Many thanks for the video clip. Looking on the website, there are "associate" and "senior" associate teachers. How do these relate to "accredited" instructors? What is the highest "level" of instruction and what is the student playing when they reach the highest current level of SimplyMusic instruction currently published? [/b]
the difference between associate and senior associate teachers is the number of years they've taught and how well they've taught. The developmental phase of instruction begins with level 10, and the highest level in Simply Music is level 18. In the developmental levels, all work is without the dvd support, because by then, the student is capable of reading anything and interpreting it onto the keys.
_________________________
Everyone is musical. No exceptions. www.PlayPianoNow.info

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#960208 - 05/18/08 01:41 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
Well, I must differ in opinion from some who say that this method won't work for classical music. Most children don't come saying "I want to learn the Bach Italian Concerto!" They do, however, want to learn music that they understand, and at first, that would be blues and jazz, because rock and pop have their roots in them. They also, do come in saying they want to learn Fur Elise, so that's a good approach. When I had a beginner want to learn Fur Elise, I actually did something similar and taught it to her by rote. I haven't built upon that since then, though, and so it is probably a good idea to do that. Since Jazz & Blues are primarily aural traditions, I see no problem in teaching them by rote. I do this as well, and what's great is I can tie it into when I'm teaching them chord progressions, the light bulb goes on, "Oh! That's why I'm learning those!" I also understand that this isn't a strictly rote method, but that is is incorporated at a later time. This means that they can, when they understand musical form a bit better after playing it(perhaps in order to see the patterns in written notation?), eventually go onto learning higher level classical pieces.

How many of us have students that just crave the classics? They may enjoy them, but there are many students who do not, and they often don't care for the very simple sounding music they have to tolerate while they are learning to read music. Students will often quit during this time because it's not what they thought it would be. I'm not saying there's a fast track to learning music, but I can make it a bit more tolerable for those students that I know are starting to become frustrated, disinterested, etc. I used to think you just pick a pupil saver piece, but now I understand that they just want to feel like they're making music of their own. [/b]
Well of course not. But a lot come to my studio wanting to learn what they have heard, which are beautifully played folk songs in their original versions written for piano. These pieces are compiled with the development of pianistic
abilities in mind.

I guess as a teacher you may want to ask yourself what genre do you wish to teach?

I feel that a good foundation in the classics will only help the student play whatever genre they wish.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#960209 - 05/18/08 01:45 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
I would never go to an instrumental teacher specifying a genre. I want the skills so that I can play any genre that I choose. I understand, however, that certain genres require different, maybe opposing skills. Or perhaps they are complementary. When I complete my studies I want to have acquired technique and musicianship. It is up to a teacher to decide how to get me there.

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#960210 - 05/18/08 06:45 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12047
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
[/b]
Well of course not. But a lot come to my studio wanting to learn what they have heard, which are beautifully played folk songs in their original versions written for piano. These pieces are compiled with the development of pianistic
abilities in mind.

I guess as a teacher you may want to ask yourself what genre do you wish to teach?

I feel that a good foundation in the classics will only help the student play whatever genre they wish. [/QB][/QUOTE]
I agree with that last statement. However, sometimes one must give their student a little of what they want along with what they need. It may help them when they get frustrated, and it will add to them being well-rounded musicians too. How embarrassing that a piano student of many years could not play Happy Birthday, or improvise, or even figure out something by ear? These are skills that while need not take up the majority of lessons, can be incorporated to help keep students interested.
_________________________
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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#960211 - 05/18/08 07:31 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 132
Loc: south central IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:

I guess as a teacher you may want to ask yourself what genre do you wish to teach?

I feel that a good foundation in the classics will only help the student play whatever genre they wish. [/b]
Why can't you teach all the main genres? If a student learns how to go up and down the blues scale in C, isn't that similar to a lot of classical codas? Reading chord symbols can apply to gospel, pop, rock, folk. The student can then decide if they have a preference, or perhaps go on to develop their own style that may not be limited to one genre.

I do think that a teacher needs to know what his goals are - do you want to prepare a student for Performance college and Carnegie Hall? Do you want to teach a student how to read symphonies, and perhaps direct or write them? Do you want to teach normal people how to play the piano for their own enjoyment? Now I'm going to be sacrilegious - is classical really that much better than everything else?
_________________________
Everyone is musical. No exceptions. www.PlayPianoNow.info

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#960212 - 05/18/08 08:02 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
I do think that a teacher needs to know what his goals are - do you want to prepare a student for Performance college and Carnegie Hall? Do you want to teach a student how to read symphonies, and perhaps direct or write them? Do you want to teach normal people how to play the piano for their own enjoyment? Now I'm going to be sacrilegious - is classical really that much better than everything else?
Cindy, to paraphrase, you are saying that a teacher ought to know if her goals are to prepare a student up to a certain playing proficiency and to have a certain amount of knowledge of music and theory. I am a student. I would not want you to decide these goals on my behalf. I would like you to ask me.

I keep reading about student "goals" in terms of genres and particular pieces. These are not goals at all. Those are happy results. If you teach me I should be able to play any piece or genre that I want.

Personally, as an adult student, I would love to be able to play well enough to go on to performance college, or at least to play very well. I would like to have sufficient technique and musical understanding that I can play well. And I happen to love classical music before other kinds. I am open to other kinds and hope to grow through them, but classical is the most in my nature.

As an adult student I am studying theory as though there were no tomorrow. At my age there are only limited tomorrows. And yes, I would like to be able to write a symphony, as a matter of fact - eventually. Right now a simple Plagal cadence will have to do because that's about as far as I can go in a year.

Should these be the teacher's goals, or the student's?

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#960213 - 05/18/08 09:36 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 132
Loc: south central IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Cindy, to paraphrase, you are saying that a teacher ought to know if her goals are to prepare a student up to a certain playing proficiency and to have a certain amount of knowledge of music and theory. I am a student. I would not want you to decide these goals on my behalf. I would like you to ask me.[/b]
Don't get me wrong - I do believe strongly in knowing, when teaching adults or even teens, what they want out of lessons. I have particular goals, the primary of which is to optimize the likelihood that my students will have a relationship with the piano that will last their lifetime. It has nothing to do with their musical preferences, since I've already said that we teach music in several genres and skill sets, and it has nothing to do with the position that piano music will have in their future - I just want to make sure that there IS a future.

 Quote:
... If you teach me I should be able to play any piece or genre that I want.

Personally, as an adult student, I would love to be able to play well enough to go on to performance college, or at least to play very well. I would like to have sufficient technique and musical understanding that I can play well. And I happen to love classical music before other kinds. I am open to other kinds and hope to grow through them, but classical is the most in my nature.

As an adult student I am studying theory as though there were no tomorrow. At my age there are only limited tomorrows. And yes, I would like to be able to write a symphony, as a matter of fact - eventually. Right now a simple Plagal cadence will have to do because that's about as far as I can go in a year.

Should these be the teacher's goals, or the student's? [/b]
These are most definitely student goals. I already mentioned above my overall goal, which has never been a problem for anyone. More specifically, I want my students to have a very large repertoire in a variety of styles. I want them to have a positive, self affirming experience at lessons. I want them to be able to self generate - ie - to be able to progress independently, which includes building a strong foundation in music reading and theory. I want them to to experience playing as a natural self-expression. As teacher goals, these really have no bearing on what plans a student may have for using what he learns - but on the learning process which is what the teacher is involved in.
_________________________
Everyone is musical. No exceptions. www.PlayPianoNow.info

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#960214 - 05/18/08 09:58 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
I just want to make sure that there IS a future.
Cindy, that makes a lot of sense to me. I also tend to forget that not every student is an adult student. ;\)

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#960215 - 05/19/08 02:13 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
[/b]
Well of course not. But a lot come to my studio wanting to learn what they have heard, which are beautifully played folk songs in their original versions written for piano. These pieces are compiled with the development of pianistic
abilities in mind.

I guess as a teacher you may want to ask yourself what genre do you wish to teach?

I feel that a good foundation in the classics will only help the student play whatever genre they wish. [/b]
I agree with that last statement. However, sometimes one must give their student a little of what they want along with what they need. It may help them when they get frustrated, and it will add to them being well-rounded musicians too. How embarrassing that a piano student of many years could not play Happy Birthday, or improvise, or even figure out something by ear? These are skills that while need not take up the majority of lessons, can be incorporated to help keep students interested. [/QB][/QUOTE]


Certainly true Morodiene. I agree. And yes my students can and do play Happy Birthday by ear and I do show them different ways of arranging the song after they first master playing it with basic harmony.

What I'm saying is you can develop excellent trained pianists and still give them the freedom and knowledge to play what they wish, without being a Simply Music instructor.

Personally I feel SM doesn't do much for developing the student technically to be able to play the piano at its full potential et, quality of sound, balance between hands, etc... Components needed to play classical music (and other genres) well.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#960216 - 05/19/08 02:32 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:

I guess as a teacher you may want to ask yourself what genre do you wish to teach?

I feel that a good foundation in the classics will only help the student play whatever genre they wish. [/b]
Why can't you teach all the main genres? If a student learns how to go up and down the blues scale in C, isn't that similar to a lot of classical codas? Reading chord symbols can apply to gospel, pop, rock, folk. The student can then decide if they have a preference, or perhaps go on to develop their own style that may not be limited to one genre.

I do think that a teacher needs to know what his goals are - do you want to prepare a student for Performance college and Carnegie Hall? Do you want to teach a student how to read symphonies, and perhaps direct or write them? Do you want to teach normal people how to play the piano for their own enjoyment? Now I'm going to be sacrilegious - is classical really that much better than everything else? [/b]
Yes, I feel a teacher does need to know what direction they want to take there students.

The fact that I am being paid to teach music and knowing that I have the responsibility to develop the skills necessary that if a student of mine decides to major in music he/she has those skills to do so.

IMO, teaching jazz chords at the beginning is like teaching popular fiction before learning classic literature. Hey I love jazz, but I want my students first grounded or at least have some good sound knowledge and experience with classical music. Not that I think it is "better", but lets get real, it is harder, and takes a lot more discipline and technical ability to be able to play classical pieces well. There is the music history component as well.

I think nothing is wrong if you feel comfortable teaching this method. There are a lot of teens and adults that this would be great for, but they will need a lot of remedial help if they decide to become serious musicians and want to major in music, I would assume.

It is just, respectfully, not for me.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#960217 - 05/19/08 07:45 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 638
Loc: Ringwood, NJ
My experience is that teaching the classical [edit: traditional] way - reading music from day one - puts a huge wall between the student and the instrument and the act of making music - the wall being the written page. That wall is a double edged sword - while it builds a way for the students to access some of the greatest music ever written, it also slows down to a snail's pace and interferes in the intimacy and comfort with making music at the piano. To me it seems logical that if we ultimately want students to both build that comfort and intimacy AND learn to read, the comfort and intimacy should come FIRST - like learning to talk vs. read. Cindy has made it very clear that SM DOES teach reading, but that it delays it and instead starts with associating rote-taught pieces with cue sheets. How can we criticize this approach when we don't have first-hand experience ourselves using this approach? Do we think that if a student spends, say, a year playing dozens of songs before they get deeply into reading, that because of that they will never be able to become classical musicians? What proof do we have? How do we know that the SM program doesn't encourage students to WANT to learn to read music?

I have to take issue with some of the comments made here. Classical music is very complex and demands a high level of reading skills, accuracy, technique, expressiveness, etc., etc., but jazz has its own complexity and demands that are completely DIFFERENT from classical. The notion that "classical study will prepare you to play any style" is very misleading - take it from this classically trained pianist who at 49 years of age decided to take 2 years off to study jazz piano - it's like starting all over from scratch. My jazz piano teacher SPEAKS music. The keyboard is like a toy in his hands - he can say anything he wants with his fingers. He instantly knows how to add a flat 9, sharp 11, or 13th to the chord coming up NOW. Hey, why not INSTANTLY decide to substitute it with the chord a tritone away, AND add some of those extensions. What's more, he knows what all these things SOUND like even before he plays them, and he makes decisions like these in split seconds while keeping a steady pulse and creating one of a dozen different grooves. What about simultaneous melodic improvisation? Ever heard of the diminished scale? Hey, I think I'll use it over this quarter note beat. Easier than playing classical music? I'd say different hard.

It seems logical to me, playing first, then reading, or both from the get go. Neither of these is the typical classical approach. Do we NEED SM in order to do this? No, but I see it as a valuable, ready-made, carefully and thoughtfully crafted curriculum saving the teacher a lot of time and trouble.

Go Cindy!

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#960218 - 05/19/08 07:57 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by JerryS88:
How can we criticize this approach when we don't have first-hand experience ourselves using this approach? Do we think that if a student spends, say, a year playing dozens of songs before they get deeply into reading, that because of that they will never be able to become classical musicians? What proof do we have? How do we know that the SM program doesn't encourage students to WANT to learn to read music? [/b]
Jerry, I agree with a lot of what you are saying. But if you read the 'about us' link on the SM website it talks about the 'culture of traditional lessons'. It is highly critical and explains exactly why you are doomed if you take traditional lessons rather than SM. If you have a system which works well then it will sell itself. You shouldn't have to bad mouth other methods especially when 'traditional' teaching can't be defined so easily.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#960219 - 05/19/08 08:22 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 638
Loc: Ringwood, NJ
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by JerryS88:
How can we criticize this approach when we don't have first-hand experience ourselves using this approach? Do we think that if a student spends, say, a year playing dozens of songs before they get deeply into reading, that because of that they will never be able to become classical musicians? What proof do we have? How do we know that the SM program doesn't encourage students to WANT to learn to read music? [/b]
Jerry, I agree with a lot of what you are saying. But if you read the 'about us' link on the SM website it talks about the 'culture of traditional lessons'. It is highly critical and explains exactly why you are doomed if you take traditional lessons rather than SM. If you have a system which works well then it will sell itself. You shouldn't have to bad mouth other methods especially when 'traditional' teaching can't be defined so easily. [/b]
I don't care for that either, Chris - it is an exaggerated claim to be sure. On the other hand, though, they do make a point that should be considered. What is the drop-out rate of classically-trained students? What is the percentage who continue to play in their adulthood? How many classically trained pianists dropped out, but would have been inspired and gone on if they had been taught creative piano skills early on? If they had been taught to improvise blues? Read chord symbols so they could play Rock music or Jazz? What percentage of kids want to play classical music? (Not saying SM will not prepare students or precludes students from going on to play classical - just that it exposes them to a variety of styles from the beginning on). If we believe that classical is the best basis for playing anything, when will they get to the "anything?" What percentage would have stuck through the learning to read by having the experience of playing and enjoying playing many pieces first? No, they shouldn't bad mouth traditional lessons in such harsh terms, but neither is it beyond criticism. From your description of how you teach, Chris, I would not consider you a typical classical teacher.

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#960220 - 05/19/08 08:30 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
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Loc: UK.
Does traditional teaching mean the same as classical training?

I guess that most would think this to be the case. However, if you look at most of the modern piano methods on the market you will soon find out that they have very little to do with the study of classical music. I can't believe that many teachers nowadays use nothing but classical repertoire or techniques in their teaching. Maybe I am wrong about this.
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#960221 - 05/19/08 08:34 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Loc: Ringwood, NJ
Good point, Chris. The main point is the timing of learning to read, and learning skills that go beyond being able to play ONLY from a written score.

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#960222 - 05/19/08 08:48 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
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Loc: UK.
And not just when you learn to read but how you learn to read.

I am not sure how many people are ONLY able to play from the written score. I know a few who lack the confidence to play without the score. I also know some who couldn't care less that they can't improvise or play from lead sheets. I suspect most of these people could learn to do it if they wanted. Nobody showed me how to improvise or play by ear. I joined a band where I needed to do these things. It certainly had nothing to do with my piano lessons which were quite stuffy and traditional (for want of a better word). That's not to say they shouldn't be included in lessons. It is nice to see that many (traditional?) methods like Hal Leonard, piano adventures, Alfred's etc. do include these things. I do think that the SM marketing plays on the ignorance of those who don't know what alternative methods have to offer.
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#960223 - 05/19/08 09:03 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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I believe HL, PA, and Alfreds all start reading right away. Not sure how much improv. they teach, and don't think their core materials teach lead sheet "faking." (that's such a misleading word, "faking," perhaps "realization" or "arranging/improv" would be better terms?) Most of the traditionally trained pianists I know cannot play by ear or from a lead sheet or improvise.

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#960224 - 05/19/08 09:20 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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You guys are missing some points here. Good sight reading is very much a mixture of aural, theoretically, technical as well the taken-for-granted semantics. It's more like reading a detective novel than assemble-your-wardrobe instructions.
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#960225 - 05/19/08 03:27 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by JerryS88:
My experience is that teaching the classical [edit: traditional] way - reading music from day one - puts a huge wall between the student and the instrument and the act of making music - the wall being the written page. That wall is a double edged sword - while it builds a way for the students to access some of the greatest music ever written, it also slows down to a snail's pace and interferes in the intimacy and comfort with making music at the piano. To me it seems logical that if we ultimately want students to both build that comfort and intimacy AND learn to read, the comfort and intimacy should come FIRST - like learning to talk vs. read. Cindy has made it very clear that SM DOES teach reading, but that it delays it and instead starts with associating rote-taught pieces with cue sheets. How can we criticize this approach when we don't have first-hand experience ourselves using this approach? Do we think that if a student spends, say, a year playing dozens of songs before they get deeply into reading, that because of that they will never be able to become classical musicians? What proof do we have? How do we know that the SM program doesn't encourage students to WANT to learn to read music?

I have to take issue with some of the comments made here. Classical music is very complex and demands a high level of reading skills, accuracy, technique, expressiveness, etc., etc., but jazz has its own complexity and demands that are completely DIFFERENT from classical. The notion that "classical study will prepare you to play any style" is very misleading - take it from this classically trained pianist who at 49 years of age decided to take 2 years off to study jazz piano - it's like starting all over from scratch. My jazz piano teacher SPEAKS music. The keyboard is like a toy in his hands - he can say anything he wants with his fingers. He instantly knows how to add a flat 9, sharp 11, or 13th to the chord coming up NOW. Hey, why not INSTANTLY decide to substitute it with the chord a tritone away, AND add some of those extensions. What's more, he knows what all these things SOUND like even before he plays them, and he makes decisions like these in split seconds while keeping a steady pulse and creating one of a dozen different grooves. What about simultaneous melodic improvisation? Ever heard of the diminished scale? Hey, I think I'll use it over this quarter note beat. Easier than playing classical music? I'd say different hard.

It seems logical to me, playing first, then reading, or both from the get go. Neither of these is the typical classical approach. Do we NEED SM in order to do this? No, but I see it as a valuable, ready-made, carefully and thoughtfully crafted curriculum saving the teacher a lot of time and trouble.

Go Cindy! [/b]
Jerry S88,

LISTEN UP!!! I teach classical piano and I delay reading.

What I am saying is SM is not the *only* alternative approach to learning piano. There are other methods that are at little or no cost to the teacher that I feel, imo, are BETTER than SM.

I also know some EXCELLENT traditional teachers (those that do not delay reading) where their students are playing at a higher level of quality than what I see on the SM videos.

I agree with Chris H. What is traditional teaching? All I know or would want to know is how the teacher teaches and what are the results.

It really doesn't matter what the approach is, it is what the results are.

Listening (most importantly)to students playing and seeing their form at the piano, as well as an enthusiasm for the music they are playing will give you the correct indication of the teacher and his/her approach.
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#960226 - 05/19/08 03:40 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Just an added note:

Traditional teaching to me, is , teaching to read notation from the beginning.

There are a lot of programs (methods) or just teachers' approach that teach classical music without teaching reading first.

Back to the first few posts. SM is EXPENSIVE new wine in old bottles. And not very good wine at that, imo. There's better wine our there, but it's what ever your taste is.
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#960227 - 05/19/08 04:00 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Aha, I knew it all along.
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#960228 - 05/19/08 05:03 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 638
Loc: Ringwood, NJ
Pianobuff - if you are a classical teacher who delays note reading, then I believe you are one of the exceptions, not the rule. Can you describe why you delay reading, how you go about it, what materials you use, how long you delay reading, and perhaps share some general comments about how well (or not well) it works for your students?

I never said there are no other delayed-reading programs out there, simply that I find the approach has a certain logic, and that the SM program appears to be well executed. I am not aware that there are a lot of others out there. All of the traditional methods that I've come across use note-reading from the beginning - some pre-staff, some not. Can you share which other reading-delayed methods you know of and recommend for young beginning students and why you feel they are better (beyond just cost)? I am genuinely interested as I myself will not be using the SM program because of the cost - I only intend to return to teaching part time.

I don't know how you can compare what you are seeing in the videos with the results of traditional teaching, Pianobuff. It seems to me students being taught by rote would be playing more complex music than their note-reading counterparts in the beginning stages, so it would be difficult to determine just how long each has been playing.

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#960229 - 05/19/08 11:20 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Dianna Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/08/08
Posts: 4
Wow, I think we've hit a few nerves.

I want to try to clear up some things, and hopefully not step on anyone's toes while I do it. :-)

First, SM doesn't teach by rote, or as I understand "rote" to be, note by note, sheer memorization. We give patterns, musical sentences, things that are more abstract until they're actually shown. But those patterns, etc, are what the memory hints refer to, the idea in part being that students will eventually be familiar enough with the instrument as to be able to source their instructions from the keyboard itself.

On the topic of sight reading: to be able to sit down with a sheet of music never seen before and play it nearly perfectly - correct tempo, inflection, etc. - really is an amazing ability. Can it be gained through hard work or is it a gift, I'll let you decide, but this is not SM's goal. We give them the ability to read (I would never have started teaching SM if reading had been left out), but it isn't our main focus. Our main focus is getting them into a relationship with the piano such that they will play the rest of their lives, whether they start as children, teens, or adults. Then again, I doubt that our students' reading abilities - because of the way they learn to read - really suffer as a result.

I am deeply sorry that the website is seen as bashing traditional methods. That isn't the intent. (For clarity's sake, let's define "traditional" to be any method of learning that begins at the page.) Maybe my own experience might be a helpful example. I began lessons around the age of seven, using a program that begins with notes, albeit not immediately on the staff. I loved most of the teachers that I learned under, all gifted ladies. But I never learned to accompany, improvise, compose, etc. I wasn't sure/aware that those things could be taught. I thought some people were just gifted that way, and anyone else who wanted to learn these things had to really slave away at it. (Disclaimer: I realize that we have some excellent teachers here on the forum who are teaching these components. To them, bravo! You are giving your students an amazing gift. I wish there were more of you.) But the point is, I never really had that gift offered in a tangible way. Currently though, I have learned so much in a relatively short time while learning to teach this method. The basics of accompaniment: It's so simple! Why hasn't anyone shown me this before?!?!? Composition: I've made up my own music! Granted, it's not Chopin, or even Joplin, but it's mine. Now, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but where is that in a lot of start-at-the-page curricula? Is there room for creativity when all you've been taught is to reproduce what's set before you? I don't think the website wishes to bash the traditional methods, but it wants to point out that something's wrong with the way those methods approach this all.

Classical music: while it's included in the different musical genres we teach, we don't focus on it specifically. If you're going after a classical concert pianist education, then there are great people and organizations who have devoted huge amounts of time to being able to prepare students for this. This isn't our aim, and we won't acheive it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that goal and it isn't the intention to make it sound like there is. That's just a different corner of the market than SM is in. Different approaches for different goals.

Similar to that is form and technic. Yes, important. But I guess the question is, are we really willing to drop people by the wayside if their form isn't quite right? What about sitting correctly on the bench if the little munchkin isn't tall enough to reach the pedal in that position? Again, different goals, different approaches, different emphasis.

If this whole conversation intrigues you as to the SM program, great. If you're turned off, ok. If you can walk away with something new to think about, super. I guess what I'm saying is that rather than viewing it so much as me/us against him/her/them, let's come from our common viewpoint - that we love music and wish to enrich our own experience and pass it on to others.

Dianna
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Joyful Noise Piano Studio
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#960230 - 05/19/08 11:45 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5945
Loc: Down Under
I didn't really want to get into this thread \:\) but there are just a couple of "straw men" you (probably inadvertently) put up that I'd like to modify:

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Dianna:
First, SM doesn't teach by rote, or as I understand "rote" to be, note by note, sheer memorization. [/b][QUOTE]
Rote learning is not necessarily "note by note". In fact, I think that's a very difficult way of teaching something by rote. Teaching by rote I would use phrases, at least.

(For clarity's sake, let's define "traditional" to be any method of learning that begins at the page.) Dianna [/b]
Well I would have described my method as basically traditional, but it certainly doesn't begin at the page! Reading begins after lots of keyboard orientation, and also lots of pre-reading activities to ensure the basic concepts of notation are grasped (that pitch is represented vertically, for example).

I have nothing against SM from what little I've seen. I did object to the wholesale denigration of "traditional methods" however, but you've addressed that point \:\) .
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#960231 - 05/20/08 01:45 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dianna:

Classical music: while it's included in the different musical genres we teach, we don't focus on it specifically. If you're going after a classical concert pianist education, then there are great people and organizations who have devoted huge amounts of time to being able to prepare students for this. This isn't our aim, and we won't acheive it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that goal and it isn't the intention to make it sound like there is. [/b]
To use a reading analogy
- we're going to make up and read loads of mystery and romance stories but Aeschylus . Apollonius . Aquinas . Archimedes . Aristophanes . Aristotle . Augustine . Marcus Aurelius . Austen . Francis Bacon . Balzac . Bergson . Berkeley . The Bible . Bohr . Boswell . Calvin . Cather . Cervantes . Chaucer . Chekhov . Conrad . Copernicus . Dante . Darwin . Descartes . Dewey . Dickens . Diderot . Dostoevsky . Eddington . Einstein . George Eliot . T.S. Eliot . Emerson . Engels . Epictetus . Erasmus . Euclid . Euripides . Faraday . Faulkner . Fielding . Fitzgerald . Fourier . Freud . Galen . Galileo . Gibbon . Gilbert . Goethe . Hamilton . Hardy . Harvey . Hegel . Heidegger . Heisenberg . Herodotus . Hippocrates . Hobbes . Homer . Hume . Huygens . Ibsen . Henry James . William James . Jay . Joyce . Kafka . Kant . Kepler . Keynes . Kierkegaard . Lawrence . Leibnitz . Locke . Lucretius . Machiavelli . Madison . Mann . Marx . Melville . Mill . Milton . Moliere . Montaigne . Montesquieu . Nietzsche . Newton . Nicomachus . O'Neill . Orwell . Paine . Pascal . Planck . Plato . Plotinus . Plutarch . Poincare . Proust . Ptolemy . The Quran (Koran) . Rabelais . Racine . Rousseau . Russell . Schroedinger . Shaw . Shakespeare . Adam Smith . Sophocles . Spinoza . Sterne . Swift . Tacitus . Thoreau . Thucydides . Tolstoy . Tocqueville . Twain . Veblen . Virgil . Voltaire . Whitehead . Wittgenstein . Woolf, we'll leave to the serious readers.

http://books.mirror.org/
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#960232 - 05/20/08 03:30 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Great post KeyboardKlutz!

Thanks for the post Dianna.

I agree you can't compare. SM is for people that want to have fun spending little time but learning to play tunes on the piano, like you said. Will they have good posture and technic? Probably not, by the way...there is a thing called a footrest.
Will they become excellent sightreaders? Sounds like they won't. Will they be somewhat well versed on classical repertoire? No.

So back to what I posted some time ago. SM is more about learning to play a keyboard, imo. Not becoming an artist at the piano.

Okay, I apologize, I will get off my soapbox.

There is something for everyone. And if learning music through SM and/or teaching it gives you a gratifying and rewarding feeling then by all means go for it and do it.
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