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#960113 - 05/07/08 03:25 PM Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
This website has been brought to my attention today, and I've never heard of it, but there are those teachers who swear by it after many years of teaching traditional piano. Does anyone know about this first hand, and what can you tell me about it?

http://www.simplymusic.com./Home
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#960114 - 05/07/08 03:31 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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I sense old wine in new bottles.
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#960115 - 05/07/08 04:31 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
Here's a sentence from their website that pretty much says it all:

"Because of this, the Simply Music program redefines who is capable of teaching music, and as such, can be taught by piano players who are not advanced musicians, who have no formal musical qualifications,nor prior teaching experience."


Mmm.... no thanks.
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#960116 - 05/07/08 04:42 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Morodiene Offline
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Believe me, I am skeptical about this. My reason for posting this is not to get more skeptical comments, however. I want to hear from anyone who has used it or knows of teachers who use it. Apparently there are teachers of this method who are also highly educated in the music field and have taught traditional lessons for 30+ years before switching to this program. I do not know these teachers personally and so I'm looking for some first hand information either to verify or refute their claims.
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#960117 - 05/07/08 05:49 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
Quick glance and quick thoughts: We know that there are people who "teach" music who don't know how to, can't structure, are still learning themselves or may not have been taught properly. The idea of a person like that teaching using the program is more attractive than a person like that teaching without using a program.

If you get past the hype into curriculum, there seems to be an underlying structure and principles. The "7 languages" of note reading, rhythm etc. which they want to introduce systematically. They seem to stress reading & writing of music, practice of things like rhythm.

There are practicing guidelines: length, nature, frequency, where the focus is to be. I suspect these are standards, and if they are adhered to a student will do well because he is practicing correctly (assuming he's also taught correctly). Parents must be involved, and are told how to.

Teachers using the program must be "certified" by them, which assumes some kind of training process.

If considering the hypothetical unqualified, untrained teacher winging it somehow, this would be better.

Reading the curriculum info. it may be that there is a structure that follows established traditional lines, and somebody using the program who is a teacher would know best. (which is what you were asking)

It is also a money generator. The course is to run from 6 - 10 years, and course material must be purchased on-line from the supplier. Teachers must pay a fee to get access to the material. If they are using some kind of on-line facilities, maybe there's a usage fee. Students would be paying into it to get the books, and teachers would be paying into it. Is it worth the investment.

If somebody lives in a remote area without access to a teacher can something like this which involves on-line learning work. Is there a web-cam, at least?

As a student I wouldn't go for this.

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#960118 - 05/07/08 06:13 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Garbo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 25
Loc: Oak Park, Ca
I started the Simply Music program last August of 07 and "simply" love it! I am 54 and have been playing for years but could never get"off the sheet music" Most of her students are kids but I would absolutely start my child with this program. I am going very quickly through the units as I am very motivated and can already play and read music pretty well...through some Chopin nocturnes, etc. Now I can play by memory 12 bar blues, improvising, feeling the rhythms naturally and even playing jazzy renditons of Fur Elise, Ode to Joy, Mozart's sonata in C. I can actually sit down and play the piano in front of real people!! This is great to kick start a bored adult player! The lessons are weekly and include materials (book, DVD, CD) It seems very simple and childish at first but it gets more complex quickly. I pay $216 a month and look forward to every week. I am so motivated now that I am also taking from a classical instructor twice a month. The combination of the two is expensive but delicious. I'm an empty nester with a "grand obssession" held back only by my aching back! Don't knock this program..it isn't for piano snobs but I think I never would have become so bored with traditonal lessons if I had had this kind of instruction. I'm live near LA. I posted awhile back to see if anyone was doing this, too. Glad to hear that it's getting around. Camille
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#960119 - 05/07/08 07:12 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Posts: 11731
Loc: Canada
Camille, I took the liberty of looking up your original post on the subject. There is some info. on the developer of the program, who began by teaching a blind boy. I hope it's ok to post a cross-link to that thread:
cross-link

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#960120 - 05/07/08 08:45 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5566
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I ordered the first set of 3 videos, even tho I already knew how to play piano. I like the philosophy behind it very much, and picked up some ideas for memorizing/ear playing etc - tho, as with anything that's being used by an enthusiastic learner, some of what I learned wasn't necessarily what was being explicitly taught at the time - just a different take on things I already knew. Because the developer got his first ideas for this course from, as keystring points out, teaching a blind boy, he found many different directions from which to get to playing - engaged many other learning styles, many of which were quite helpful for me. He taught using geometrical shapes to remember finger positions on the keyboard, and touching each finger in the sequence in which they would be used to play a tune, as well as "chunking" a piece in order to memorize it. He emphasizes building and retaining repertoire. There are probably many ideas in his teaching methods that other piano teachers use, and some that would be new to individual teachers. Eventually students learn to read music - it's just not the starting point. I passed on the videos to my niece, who was self-teaching, and I know she learned some tunes from them.

I believe at least one fairly active teacher on the ABF and this forum has taught with this, and a couple of us ABFers have at least done the intro. Like anything else it won't be for everyone, but I think for folks like me it's really good.

A search on Simply Music in the ABF and/or here would probably bring up several threads.

Cathy
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#960121 - 05/07/08 09:12 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Camille and Cathy,
Thanks for your perspectives on it. I'm just looking into it and want to get as much info as possible. I'm not seriously considering it at this point, but if there is any way I can improve my teaching, I'm all for it. This is not something that one can decide quickly to do, so thanks for the added info.

Keystring:
I think there's the self-taught part of it, and the online things are just for teaching the teachers (that's my understanding). But the rest is geared toward one one one or group lessons in person. It sounds as thought some of the things I already do, but I'm sure it's the whole experience that makes it work. At least, that's what I understand from what little I've heard about it.
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#960122 - 05/07/08 10:02 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Late Beginner Offline
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Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
Hi Morodiene,

I have recently completed the first module of Simply Music. The first thing that I'd say is that a student's experience of it will vary widely, depending on their own style and needs, but above all on the teacher they get. It's really no different from seeking a teacher of any other method - even among traditionally accredited teachers some will be good, some pretty mediocre, and some won't suit you at all.

There were 2 Simply Music teachers in my area. One is a well qualified and experienced teacher with a lot of students. Her rates are toward the higher end of the scale and her appointment book seems to be usually full. The other is a 'self-taught' working musician in his 50s with many years playing experience. He has recently decided to branch out into teaching and charges at the low end of the scale. Both would do a good job, but some students would prefer one or the other.

The course material was reasonably priced. For $40 Australian I got two books of music, a CD of the pieces, a DVD with support videos for all the lessons, and a fold out paper 'keyboard' which I never used. The two music books had the same 10 very short pieces. Simply Music is based on the idea that kids don't learn to read before they talk, so why should we have to learn to read music before we play. So they start off using simple patterns, phrases, 'sentences' or whatever you'd like to call them.

So the first book contained various diagrams and shorthand that represented how to play the piece. The other book had exactly the same pieces but in standard notation. So notation is certainly not banned, and the course moves on to it later, but it's just not encouraged as a first step.

I wanted to try the system out, mostly because I wanted to see if it might suit my young son. But I enjoyed it enough to complete the module and learn the 10 pieces. I already read music beforehand, so I switched backwards and forwards between the two books.

As Keyboardklutz put it, in many ways it's "Old wine in new bottles" rather than a radically different approach to music as such. But I think that it would certainly appeal to many people. I had a great time with the teacher, who I got on very well with. He's currently away on tour, but we're hoping to resume some kind of lessons later. I'm unlikely to continue with just the SM courses alone, but that's because I like to mix a range of things anyway. I'm not really a 'course' person.

Good luck choosing the right teacher/method for you. There seem to be lots of methods to choose from, but the bottom line seems to be finding the one that most motivates the individual student. There's no way round putting in a large amount of time if you want to develop reasonably high levels of skill, so it boils down to finding a method that the student is most likely to enjoy, and least likely to feel bored or pressured by. That will vary from person to person.

Chris
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#960123 - 05/08/08 01:29 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Music is a bit of a tart - it'll flirt with anyone's fancy. As Chris says, what ever motivates you.
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#960124 - 05/08/08 10:35 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Monica K. Offline

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Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
A year or two ago there was a forum member active here who was a very enthusiastic advocate of Simply Music: CindyB - Musicmaker. Haven't "seen" her around lately, but you might want to try searching for some of her posts/threads.
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#960125 - 05/08/08 12:51 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Musictuary Offline
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Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 169
Loc: Aurora, Illinois, USA
Morodiene,

In addition to Cindy B mentioned in the previous post there was another teacher who used to post regularly on the forums awhile back - Piano Teacher Kim (I think) - who also uses the Simply Music curriculum.

Try searching for her old posts. She also has a website where she explained her reasoning for using the Simply Music curriculum.

Musictuary

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#960126 - 05/09/08 02:12 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Dianna Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/08/08
Posts: 4
I'm a rather new Simply Music Teacher, so maybe I don't have the best answers for some of the points brought up here, but I truly love the program and am willing to try. :-)

Keystring brought up some great points; I'll address some of them from my perspective as a teacher.

Regarding our training and qualification to teach:

No one is licensed to teach Simply Music who hasn't gone through the training program - which includes interaction via telephone with Neil Moore, the founder and director. Now, every piano teacher (or teacher of anything) has made mistakes in the beginning - "are still learning themselves". After all, they say you can't truly know something for yourself until you've taught it. But Simply Music does hold it's teachers to a standard of excellence. The training program has been thoroughly thought out and covers all the basics to help ensure that the beginning teacher is as successful as he/she can be. They have a great teacher support system where teachers can ask for others' expertise , and Neil has made himself personally available as well.


Does the overall structure follow traditional lines? Or is it "old wine in new bottles"?

When I first uncovered SM, I was turned off by its untraditional approach. After getting to understand it a little better though, that is part of what's attractive to me. Think about it this way: Music is a language, right? Like speaking: Parents teach their kids to talk, and they do a great job! Similarly, music educators are responsible to enable their students to be musically self-expressed. Just how successful have we been? I know that there are some great teachers out there - I have had several - but the stereotype of struggling through piano lessons only to totally give up later stems from an all-too-common source: true-life experiences of dissatisfaction and perceived failure in piano lessons. SM's goal isn't to find the students with a special talent and dicipline for music and to turn them into acclomplished classical artists. Rather, our goal is for everyone, everywhere, to develop their own musicality... whether they "just" play for relaxation after work, for fun with friends, for congregational singing in church, or professionally in a concert hall. Music for everyone. I don't think Simply Music follows a traditional pattern - otherwise it wouldn't achieve its untraditional results.


What if there's no teacher in the area?

There is a learn-at-home program, which can be read about at the website. I'm not familiar with it, so I won't say anything more about it, other than, from what I've seen, I'm sure that it works excellently. :-)


Keystring wrote: "It is also a money generator. The course is to run from 6 - 10 years, and course material must be purchased on-line from the supplier. Teachers must pay a fee to get access to the material. If they are using some kind of on-line facilities, maybe there's a usage fee. Students would be paying into it to get the books, and teachers would be paying into it. Is it worth the investment."

The website is open to the public, with the exception of the teachers' sections. That is used as part of our training, as well as a resource for teachers' studios, for the business aspect of it all, and as a way to get questions answered. There isn't an extra fee to use the site.

Simply Music materials are not available in public retail - it helps maintains SM's standards for teachers. For example, a year ago I was nominally teaching a few beginner students using the same curriculumn that I had learned to play with; I was untrained and probably not the best representative of what that method had to offer. Because SM materials are only available through the organization directly, only those who have been trained to understand the program and its goals will be presenting it.

There is an over-all licensing fee for all teachers, as well as some student fees (the latter are such that the teacher with 5 students won't be paying as much as the teacher with 70 - makes sense to me). We also continue to buy the materials for training in subsequent levels. As far as the comment about it being a "money-generator", I don't think that because SM makes teaching for a living a more viable option it should be looked at askance. If a teacher can do what he/she loves and feel conpensated for it, they'll work harder and do a better job (free-enterprise :-). I think it's great that it offers new opportunity not just for the students but for the teachers too. Now, you need to understand that teachers set their own fees. They are licensed by the organization, but their studio is just that - their own personal business. It's not a chain like McD's or Old Navy; it's individual teachers running their own business in their own way who use the SM curriculumn. I myself have been skeptical at various points of the program, but Neil and the rest of the SM team have always risen to the occasion. I have complete confidence in them and truly believe them when they say that they are working for the best possible outcome for them as an organization, for us as teachers, and for those who are students - a win-win-win all around. :-)

This has been a great thread with a lot of good questions asked. I love talking about Simply Music and hope that my post can help make it better understood.

Sorry this got so long.
Dianna
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#960127 - 05/09/08 10:11 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Musictuary Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 169
Loc: Aurora, Illinois, USA
Dianna,

Welcome to the forums!

Could you explain the difference between a teacher who is accredited to teach SM vs. a teacher who is licensed to teach SM?

Also what age can a child start with this program?

Although I am an adult piano student taking "traditional" lessons, my interest in SM is mostly from the perspective of a parent of two young children who are currently enrolled in Musikgarten but may be too young for individual piano instruction.

Musictuary

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#960128 - 05/10/08 01:27 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Dianna Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/08/08
Posts: 4
Thanks Musictuary. :-)

When you're training, you're called a teacher. When training is complete and you're ready to start teaching, you're licensed. You then have a year to complete a couple requirements in order to become accredited - you can't just stay at the licensed stage. There are a couple other levels as a person teaches with the organization longer.

SM is not really a program for the lil' folks - there are some super music programs out there for young children. But it's mostly the teacher's call. Personally right now, I say that I'd like them to be seven, but there's the maturity factor to be considered.

It sounds like you have some younger kids, so I would probably consider SM for later on down the road for them. But you're the one who knows your children. Also, if you are seriously considering it, I would recommend getting in touch with a teacher in your area to see what they would have to say.

The best in whatever you decide. :-)
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#960129 - 05/10/08 09:50 AM 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 Monica K.:
A year or two ago there was a forum member active here who was a very enthusiastic advocate of Simply Music: CindyB - Musicmaker. ... [/b]
Here I am! Actually, I stopped being a regular at PWF. The number of students I'm teaching has reached the upper 30's with a few more waiting in the wings, so I don't have as much free time for posting.

I was a traditional teacher, and as I've said before, I switched to Simply Music and have zero regrets. My students are achieving more with this method than any of my students ever achieved in the traditional methods. They learn to play very well, they learn to read, write, compose, arrange, improvise, arrange etc. (I'VE learned more about teaching, plus things like reading complicated chord symbols, since I switched also) Anyone completing the Simply Music curriculum is better prepared for a career in music, be it performance or education, than any traditionally trained piano student. Someone mentioned the time it takes - it takes half if not less of what a reading based approach requires. I have students who will be done with Piano lessons by the time they're in High School. I have 6 students in their 70's, all of whom are enjoying the experience and are learning not only how to make their fingers do what they command, but they're also learning how to remember songs without the music.

This method is deinitely NOT old wine in new bottles. Simply Music is redefining music in our culture - and envisions a world where everyone who wants to play the piano, CAN!! There are no more labels - this person isn't musical, that person is rhythmically challenged, this person hasn't got a musical bone in his body - Everyone is musical, because everyone is human.
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#960130 - 05/10/08 01:56 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Musictuary Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 169
Loc: Aurora, Illinois, USA
Dianna,

Thanks very much for your reply. It sounds as if my children would be too young for this program based on your suggestion. The nearest teachers to me that were listed on the website were quite some distance away from where I live. Maybe that could change in the future. I may look into the learn at home DVDs to get a better feel for the program.

Cindy B.
Welcome back again!

I'm happy to know your studio is doing well. You were one of the two teachers listed for Illinois but I think you may be some distance away from Aurora.

Thanks once again for your replies.

Musictuary

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#960131 - 05/10/08 07:25 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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CindyB:
How can someone be "done" with Piano Lessons in your opinion? Is there a limit to what level a person can do Simply Music training, after which they would proceed to a more traditional lesson?

I am not hostile at all to the idea, please understand. I'm trying to research it.
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#960132 - 05/10/08 08:23 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Late Beginner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:

This method is deinitely NOT old wine in new bottles. [/b]
I think that depends on what you think is the wine and what you see as the bottle. \:\)

When I agreed that it could be seen as "old wine in new bottles" I was seeing the music as the wine and the different teaching method as the new bottle. I still see it that way. I take the phrase to refer to the practice of taking something that's been around for a while and is 'old' or familiar and repackaging it. It doesn't have to mean that it's a bad thing to do.

Aged wine can be seen as something of quality that is to be treasured (at least, that's how I see the stuff that I drink... ;\) ), and I think that Simply Music has done a good job of keeping what's good about the "old wine". For example SM is not a major departure from how music is played or composed - it doesn't reject standard notation, nor does it seek to redefine the end result of what you play. The music isn't weirdly different, unusually fingered or gutted. It's not about synthesizers, or atonal music, or any of an number of radically different ways of going about the business of making music.

It's basically a different approach to the way that familar and traditional styles of music are taught. At least that's the way it seems to me.

And it's not even so different that it is unrecognisable as a method. It does indeed vary a lot from the way other formal course might be run, especially at the start, but I felt immediately comfortable with the idea of breaking the music down into patterns and short 'sentences'. Because it's pretty much the same method that I'd come across many times before when one friend informally shows another how to play something - "Look mate, just start with that finger, go 3 steps to the left, then do the same things again. After that move to..." etc.

I look at the ten pieces in my very first SM book. These are short exercises, not entire works. But three of them - Jackson Blues, Bishop Street Blues and Alma Mater Blues are simple tunes in a standard blues format. Then there's Ode to Joy, Fur Elise, and Amazing Grace! If that's not Old Wine then I don't know what is! \:D

However you describe it, Simply Music has been well thought out and will suit many students right down to the ground. No method suits everybody, but I don't see this as either a cheap gimmick or as something that will necessarily replace other styles. But if it's another way of bringing the joy of playing music to a wider audience, then I'm all for it.

Cheers,

Chris
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#960133 - 05/10/08 10:14 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13802
Loc: Iowa City, IA
There hasn't been new wine in quite a while, but there are always new combinations.

Simply Music, like MFYC, Edwin Gordon's approach, Kindermusik, and other "alternatives" to traditional instruction all borrow heavily from practices that have been fairly common in general music curricula for awhile. They owe a strong debt to Orff/Schulwerk, Kodaly, Suzuki, and Dalcroze.

They can be very effective, though. But as always, their effectiveness ultimately lies in the hands of the teacher.
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#960134 - 05/11/08 11:45 AM 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 Morodiene:
CindyB:
How can someone be "done" with Piano Lessons in your opinion? Is there a limit to what level a person can do Simply Music training, after which they would proceed to a more traditional lesson?
[/b]
Most people sign up for piano lessons in order to learn how to play the piano. So it's simple. Most people are done with lessons when they can play the piano! That's the simple answer. OF COURSE - everyone has different goals as pertains to the piano!

Playing the piano in its basics is a set of specific skills that a person wants to acquire - just like carpentry, science, landscaping. I know and teach all of the specific skills that are involved in playing the piano. The student has to learn the techniques and skills specific to that field in order to be a piano player, or a carpenter etc.
The rest is basically up to the student. The carpenter who spends a lot of time time time "practicing" begins to develop his own flair and ability - his work becomes recognizable as something set apart and he doesn't need a teacher anymore.

In Simply Music, every skill involved in playing the piano, reading music, writing music, improvising, transposing, composing, reading chord symbols- is taught. It doesn't have to be taught and retaught for years. My level 4 students are already able to read all the major and minor chord symbols, plus split chords, suspended, and are beginning the process of learning how to transpose a song into any key. From there - it's up to them. By level 6 they're well into the reading program and by level 7 they've learned the basics of comp/improv and are delving much deeper into the process.

If a student wants to become a fluent sight reader - that's up to him. The only way for that to happen is to read and play a zillion pieces of music regularly and often If a student wants to be in a rock band - they'll know what they need to know after 10 or so years of lessons, but being good at it is up to them, as is finding opportunities to get into the band scene. If a student wants to be a piano teacher, they're ready any time they want to. If a student wants to be George Winston, they'll be ready after 10 or so years of lessons, but obviously - they have to do all the homework. If a student wants to go to Carnegie Hall, after 12 or so years of SM lessons - they're better prepared than most, if not all of their peers going into the piano performance field in college.

Why do people believe that if they want to be good - they'll have to take lessons indefinitely? Because when their playing ability is determined by their reading ability, they CAN'T make any kind of decent progress and it drags on indefinitely. Are you going to insist that a child learns to read before he can speak? Of course not! So why teach the language of music backwards, with reading coming before playing?

We wouldn't tolerate a math teacher whose students don't know how to add. We wouldn't tolerate for long a reading teacher whose students can't read.

People don't pay me to teach piano if they're not going to "get there". I don't want them to be dependent on me any more than is necessary.
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#960135 - 05/11/08 11:58 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Beginner:
 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:

This method is deinitely NOT old wine in new bottles. [/b]
When I agreed that it could be seen as "old wine in new bottles" I was seeing the music as the wine and the different teaching method as the new bottle.

Chris [/b]
What Simply Music does that no other method on the face of the planet does is this...we teach every student how to express himself musically, in a way that is individual and unique. You will never be stuck with the songs that have already been written unless you want to be, and then you'll be able to absorb that music right down to the bone and make it yours, leaving the printed page in the bench. A comparison might be learning a new language, let's say Vietnamese. If I, the language teacher, teach you how to fluently read and say phrases in Vietnamese, does that mean I've taught you to speak Vietnamese? No - you still have to go out among Vietnamese speaking people and learn how to improvise - putting together words and sentences in order to communicate - you simply cannot go out with a script and expect that script to meet all of you communication needs.

Simply Music wants to be able to equip people to speak the language of music at the piano, communicating without the script. So in essence the wine becomes new, and so does the bottle.
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#960136 - 05/11/08 12:04 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
There hasn't been new wine in quite a while, but there are always new combinations.

They can be very effective, though. But as always, their effectiveness ultimately lies in the hands of the teacher. [/b]
How many piano students do you know who are able to play their own music, spontaneously drawn from within them and laid out on the keys in an individual and one of a kind way? A while back I remember reading posts from some adult students who resented being unable to acquire George Winston's music in print - they just couldn't understand that he never does the same thing twice - he speaks piano language, and doesn't read from a script. Once it's in print, it loses what makes it so special. In today's culture, nearly everyone is settling for the traditional as if it's the original, but it isn't.
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#960137 - 05/12/08 01:33 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
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 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:
How many piano students do you know who are able to play their own music, spontaneously drawn from within them and laid out on the keys in an individual and one of a kind way? [/b]
I used to teach class music and the pupils could and did do this. It was called a music curriculum and I was trained to write it.
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#960138 - 05/12/08 08:36 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
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 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:
How many piano students do you know who are able to play their own music, spontaneously drawn from within them and laid out on the keys in an individual and one of a kind way? [/b]
I know a few dozen. And there are a lot of materials out there that help with improvisation, chord symbols, composing, etc...

I'm not saying that Simply Music isn't good. I'm just saying that it's not new and revolutionary. Even the things about learning a language mentioned earlier in this thread come straight out of Suzuki philosophy.
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#960139 - 05/12/08 09:06 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
I used to teach class music and the pupils could and did do this. It was called a music curriculum and I was trained to write it. [/QB][/QUOTE]

So you're saying that all of your students were able to sit down at any piano, any time, and play without the printed page? If so, I wish I had met you years ago!
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#960140 - 05/12/08 09:41 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Cindy, is it clear what kbk means by "writing music curriculum" or the concept of "curriculum" in this context? I suspect you're missing each other.

In formal teacher training of a certain kind for teaching any subject we are taught to do this. You begin with a set of skills and knowledge that you want a student to acquire in the long term and/or for a given year (still longterm).

The things that you have listed, which kbk says his students did, are such a "set of skills and knowledge", "being able to ..... " etc.

After defining what you want the student to learn, you figure out HOW he would learn it. You analyze everything involved, available material etc. You divide things into themes, concepts, plan what should be taught to support what else, what interrelates etc.

You then end up with a large scale plan like a map. We called it a matrix. This turns into a series of units, and on the smallest level it can be an individual lesson plan for this particular day. The sum total is what kbk calls a "curriculum". Simply Music is such a curriculum in that sense.

If you want students to be able to do the things you have listed then you have to find a path that will get them there. Some teachers will create that path in the manner that kbk has indicated. There is such a thing as curriculum programs, and that idea is not new. Such programs use existing pedagogical devices, whatever is available, such as the "language approach" in order to reach the goals they want to reach with their students. Simply Music seems to be such a program, and a good one.

But that doesn't preclude that another teacher may have created their own program aiming toward similar goals. Plus I understand that in the field of music it is incredibly hard work to create such a program from scratch.

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#960141 - 05/12/08 10:00 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:
So you're saying that all of your students were able to sit down at any piano, any time, and play without the printed page? If so, I wish I had met you years ago! [/b]
Yeh, we used to call it composing. And keystring's right. My guess would be Simply Music is someone's curriculum. In those days you had to write your own. Australia's music program was quite similar to the UK's. In the US it was different - all that high school band stuff. Check out British Columbia's music curriculum - it's online. I remember my tutor going over there to help them write it.
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#960142 - 05/12/08 10:12 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
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 Quote:
In the US it was different - all that high school band stuff. Check out British Columbia's music curriculum -...
That being Canada, however. ;\) The rule of thumb among homeschoolers used to be that the further West you went, the more progressive and open-minded the school system became. No idea if it's true. Our system is province-governed.

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#960143 - 05/12/08 10:20 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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In my day Ontario was all high school band. I do hope they've enlightened since, though they will have probably thrown out all the babies too.
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#960144 - 05/12/08 10:42 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Morodiene Offline
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I also teach Kindermusik, and can see this as a continuation of this curriculum, as Kreisler pointed how. However, Kmusik is for early childhood, whereas SM doesn't necessarily appear to be geared toward that. Is that correct?
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#960145 - 05/12/08 10:57 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
In my day Ontario was all high school band. I do hope they've enlightened since, though they will have probably thrown out all the babies too. [/b]
Careful, Ontario is the size of 5 or 6 European countries. The Toronto area, however, strikes me as insular, and could be called "Ontario 'R Us". Since the bid for centralization the whole province has come under the thumb of Toronto. I'm talking about public education as a whole. The danger is to local initiatives where they went well.

But we were discussing curriculum and your teacher's input in B.C. Among homeschoolers around the early 1990's when I was involved, B.C. was known to be open-minded and embraced various streams of educational thought. Instead of suppressing homeschooling or trying to intimidate or control parents, they created a system to work with the families. I had a general sense of a province that was less conservative, maybe more enlightened, so it doesn't surprise me that your teacher gave his input in that province.

My impression of music here is colored because I know it only through the arts magnet school which by its nature was not of the band mentality. I have often wished that it could clone itself, population attitude and all. It sometimes seems like a beacon in an otherwise murky place.

Apologies to all for the OT.

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#960146 - 05/12/08 02:52 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
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There are a few programs out there that are more 'experiential' in nature, ear before eye, etc... I teach one such program. Elementary students learn to improvise, compose, transpose, and 'comp'. It sounds like SM is similar in that respect. My students can also sit down and play without written music in front of them.

My concern (and I haven't reviewed the actual SM books), is that note reading is delayed until much later. And also the whole thing about teachers 'not needing to be advanced musicians or have any formal music study'. While I don't expect all piano teachers to be concert pianists, we do have to be proficient and knowledgeable if we are to teach.
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#960147 - 05/12/08 03:29 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by dumdumdiddle:
There are a few programs out there that are more 'experiential' in nature, ear before eye, etc... I teach one such program. Elementary students learn to improvise, compose, transpose, and 'comp'. [/b]
Dumdumdiddle - can you tell us what specific programs you are referring to and which one you use?

I am very attracted to the SM approach, as I was trained in the typical classical route - reading notes from day one, 20 years of lessons and unable to play Happy Birthday without music (I've since addressed these deficiencies). I looked into the SM program as a teacher, but the cost is way too high for me, as I plan on teaching only a few students. When I return to teaching I am planning on a dual, simultaneous program of non-reading and reading approaches - think they are both invaluable. I am even considering delaying the reading as in SM to allow the student to build a direct relationship with the instrument and making music first.

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#960148 - 05/12/08 04:26 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
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Jerry, as a possible tool if not program, did you see my post on Guhl's "Keyboard Proficiency" that someone gave me and I began using? It was developed by a professor in a university music program for music majors and takes a different angle. I am sight reading while transposing keys and into minors, and modes at this point (chapter 3), working with rhythms which are challenging to me, and I given melodies to which I am to add a base line with suggested rhythms on top of the rhythms of the melody which to me are challenging. Music theory which must be applied is taught throughout. This book is meant to be taught through a teacher. Some of the teachers here seem to be impressed by the author's credentials so I am daring to offer my student experience.

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#960149 - 05/12/08 04:45 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Thanks for the suggestion, Keystring. I have the Guhl book, but have not looked at it thoroughly - I'll give it a closer look. From what I recall, though, it is quite different from the SM approach, which is more about being taught to play tunes in many styles by rote, with (hopefully) concepts of music composition and improvisation being acquired along the way and leading to the ability of students to become not just RECREATIVE, but CREATIVE pianists - being able to play their own arrangements from lead sheets, improvise, compose, play by ear, etc. etc. (Don't actually know how far SM goes in all these areas - I only have their first 3 DVDs).

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#960150 - 05/12/08 05:16 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
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The following piano programs are very non-traditional and taught in a group setting w/digital pianos. All teachers must be trained. They offer a curriculum for toddlers and preschoolers and then group piano from about age 4.5 on up to adult. I teach HR.

www.harmonyroadmusic.com

www.yamaha.com

www.myc.com
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#960151 - 05/12/08 06:15 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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 Quote:
Originally posted by JerryS88:
Thanks for the suggestion, Keystring. I have the Guhl book, but have not looked at it thoroughly - I'll give it a closer look......with (hopefully) concepts of music composition and improvisation being acquired along the way and leading to the ability of students to become not just RECREATIVE, but CREATIVE pianists - being able to play their own arrangements from lead sheets, improvise, compose, play by ear, etc. etc. ...[/b]
It probably is different, and does not start by rote. I'm only into the start of chapter 3. However, my impression is that the best way to understand how the book works and what it teaches is by actually going through it. She talks about the concepts but when you do the exercises they start to form and things jump out at you in surprising places.

I don't think it's for the casual student because you have to work at it, and it moves fast. But you are transposing, improvising from the beginning. She gives the opportunity and the tools.

Your first improvisation actually happens on p. 13. You've been given some rhythms to tap and suddenly you're expected to turn that into LH and RH music. Jericho (p. 22) introduces I V chords and asks for improvisation as well as transposiiotn. Popping over to p. 134 you have a row of chords and you're asked to improvise a melody in various time signatures. It does address some of that.

Sorry, I don't want to hijack the SM thread.

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#960152 - 05/13/08 11:08 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by dumdumdiddle:
My concern (and I haven't reviewed the actual SM books), is that note reading is delayed until much later. And also the whole thing about teachers 'not needing to be advanced musicians or have any formal music study'. While I don't expect all piano teachers to be concert pianists, we do have to be proficient and knowledgeable if we are to teach. [/b]
As far as the delay in reading, it's no different than how the traditional approach delays, if it ever gets around to, playing the piano without the reading. Which is the cart and which is the horse? I believe that playing the piano is more valuable than reading music, and if they can both be taught, IN THE RIGHT ORDER, then that's the way I'll teach.

As far as proficiency and knowledge in teachers - proficient and knowledgeable in what? If a teacher has at his disposal a well laid out curriculum that is proven effective in covering everything that's necessary for a well rounded music education, and if the one-on-one training with the founder of the method provides him with more understanding in the actual science of teaching than 4.5 yrs of college did - then I don't see a problem.

I think what really bugs teachers in the traditional world, and what was a huge shock to my world view as far as teaching goes, at least at first, is that anyone who wants to teach piano is now enabled to with a program that basically costs less than a semester of college and is accessible to EVERYONE - not just the ones "with talent" or "natural ability" or 4 plus yrs of college. It's kind of like saying that in order to preach, a person must have a degree from seminary. It's a good thing John the Baptist didn't know that.

Cindy, feeling somewhat combative but not meaning to be offensive.
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#960153 - 05/13/08 01:27 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:
[QUOTE]As far as the delay in reading, it's no different than how the traditional approach delays, if it ever gets around to, playing the piano without the reading.[/b]
Good point, Cindy (and so true). I think the key is balance - they are BOTH important. I am very attracted to the idea of teaching rote first, reading later, but I also think reading does need to be introduced fairly early - it's very complex. I have read that good book readers are ones who start early. I have mixed feelings about proficiency of teacher - I'd rather have a teacher who can teach well than one who can play the Rach. 3rd but has no clue how to teach. However, just as children learn language by imitating, I do think it's important for a teacher to be able to demonstrate what they wish to teach.

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#960154 - 05/13/08 02:26 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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I've just started using a tutor book (Fanny Waterman) because after years of putting kids through grade 1 with minimal reading I've come to feel it's a bit of a wrench when we do start. I've always been concerned that musical playing comes first. I still am, but reading and roting can coexist.
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#960155 - 05/13/08 03:00 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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 Quote:
.... However, just as children learn language by imitating ....
I'd like to make a point about language learning. Suzuki developed a teaching approach using imitation and called it the "mother tongue" approach. It's probably a good approach, and I understand others have followed suit. I've read Mr. Suzuki's description of how he thinks language is acquired. That does not seem to be the whole picture of how language is acquired, although it is how Suzuki taught himself to play the violin, and how many adults teach themselves a second language.

It is true that adults spend a lot of effort saying things in front of children and the children do imitate. But that's far from the whole picture.

A child has a sequence in which he acquires language and it seems to be internally driven. He has a strong inner drive to learn and counters failure after failure through whatever pushes him forward. External stimulus helps but he tries to acquire language regardless. If he gets no response, however, he may give up eventually. He is also a social creature.

Some of the child's endeavours are abstract, and I have a feeling that if we copied some of his approaches we could go far. He explores what his body can do and becomes intimately familiar and takes great pleasure. Should we not do the same? He blows bubbles, sets his lips vibrating, squeals and rumbles. He discovers a phenomenon and tries it in all variations. He is getting physical and audial feedback. These are the tools of language. He explores them freely and I would hate someone to try to "organize" this for him. What if we explored musical instruments as freely? What if wild banging is actually a sign of a child having been cut off from innate and sensitive exploration so that he must constantly be directed?

Next a child begins to chant single syllables: dadada mama pffffft! You will hear rhythms and cadences emerge. It is musical. Eventually he figures out how many "ma's" there are in Mama. It's sort of like the first ED#ED#ED#ED#.. of Fuer Elise and knowing where to stop.

If you listen to babies saying "mama" there is a difference to the melody and rhythm depending on the child's nationality. The child is picking up the inflection of his language. You can practically use that rhythm and melody (cadence?) as a template to guide you in making your speaking of that language sound more native. In fact, with language # 6 I have done so.

When the child does imitate others he draws on this wealth of personal physical internal experience. He also does not imitate purely what is presented to him. You may say "I have a cup of milk" but he says "me mil'" He is conceptualizating and forming, creating. The structure of his language grows in sophistication and he brings in new elements. Yet people don't talk to him that way. He is selecting actively.

So there is this approach based on imitation, role models, and extensive listening experiences, which are all good. These are elements of primary language learning. But if it really seeks to mimic how a child learns a language, what about the other elements I mentioned? Are they also brought in (in any system)? Is there a place? Are they missing?

Just some thoughts.

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#960156 - 05/13/08 04:51 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by JerryS88:
 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:
[QUOTE]As far as the delay in reading, it's no different than how the traditional approach delays, if it ever gets around to, playing the piano without the reading.[/b]
Good point, Cindy (and so true). I think the key is balance - they are BOTH important. I am very attracted to the idea of teaching rote first, reading later, but I also think reading does need to be introduced fairly early - it's very complex. [/b]
Let me add that Simply Music is by no means rote learning. The page has been reduced to a bare minimum of reminders in all different visual forms, and reading "fake music" and corresponding chord symbols begins in level 1. They are reading, but at a very elemental level to begin.
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#960157 - 05/13/08 05:50 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:
[QUOTE]Let me add that Simply Music is by no means rote learning. The page has been reduced to a bare minimum of reminders in all different visual forms, and reading "fake music" and corresponding chord symbols begins in level 1. They are reading, but at a very elemental level to begin. [/b]
Thanks for that correction, Cindy - that's great.

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#960158 - 05/13/08 06:43 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
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#960159 - 05/14/08 04:56 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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So Morodiene, how is the research going?

SM is a system which I also know nothing about. I have scanned through the very slick website and am none the wiser. In fact I am confused. Almost every page you click on tells you the same things:

- It is revolutionary.
- It is way better than any traditional method.
- It will have you playing exciting repertoire within weeks.
- It is easy.

etc.

There are a lot of impressive claims and promises. What I can't seem to find is how this is achieved other than by being different and superior to other methods.

Cindy, you are saying that with SM you do not introduce note reading and yet it is also not playing by rote or by ear. So could you tell us what exactly does happen in those first few weeks?

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it but why the secrecy? That curriculum overview doesn't really tell you anything except what elements you will study (impro, composing, arranging etc.). With traditional methods at least you can browse the materials and see what they are about. What I would like to see is some examples from the books or some indication of what the lessons involve. What is the first thing you would do with a SM student in order to get them to play with freedom and ease?
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#960160 - 05/14/08 07:12 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Chris - I hope Cindy will answer your questions, but in the meantime I will offer my observation based on having viewed the first three DVDs which I purchased last year out of my own interest in the program. I referred to the method as rote learning, and Cindy corrected me by pointing out that they learn to read what I would call clever "cue" sheets. To be more accurate, what I saw was that pieces WERE being taught by rote - the teacher showing the student which notes to play by breaking the pieces down into small sections and lots of show and tell along with physically touching the students fingers in the order they are to play. ALONG with this process, the students are given the "cue sheet," which acts as a reminder of what they were taught to play by rote, and thus it becomes a combination of rote and "cue sheet" reading. Mind you, this refers only to the first set of lessons, and Cindy has pointed out that they do move on to reading chord symbols (and I know they do learn to read notes as time goes on).

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#960161 - 05/14/08 07:28 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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Thanks for that Jerry. Is it possible to post one of these 'cue sheets' or a link to it so we can have a look? I'm not sure if this would be breaking some kind of copyright laws or rules would it?

So by the sounds of it they would be playing the music using a combination of physical and aural memory with the aid of a visual prompt in the form of the cue sheet? Isn't this what you do when you read a piece of standard sheet music after the initial sight read?
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#960162 - 05/14/08 07:38 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Chris - I don't remember getting printed cue sheets with the DVDs - they are shown "on screen" as you watch the DVD (students actually studying with a SM teacher do get printouts, I'm sure). I'll see if I get a chance to take a look and then perhaps I can describe one - I would not copy it here - the program is very proprietary, which they have every right to be.

There is a big difference between learning to read sheet music and being shown how to play a piece be rote and given a cue sheet along with it. If you were given the cue sheet alone there is no way you would know what to play - its purpose is not to show specifically what to play, but rather to remind the student what to play that they had been taught by rote and in what order. It could be as simple as AABA, but I do believe there is some more information - perhaps cues about starting notes, arrows indicating direction - but my memory is a little vague about the specifics. Of course Cindy can provide much more accurate information.

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#960163 - 05/14/08 08:35 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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Loc: south central IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
Cindy, you are saying that with SM you do not introduce note reading and yet it is also not playing by rote or by ear. So could you tell us what exactly does happen in those first few weeks?[/b]
Basically, in the first 2 weeks, I spend the time training the parents and students in how to achieve the success promised, making sure they are able to play basic elements of music like a 3 note chord, and teaching them the first song in the curriculum, "Dreams Come True", which uses both hands and is quite advanced when compared to all other "first songs" in other methods.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it but why the secrecy? That curriculum overview doesn't really tell you anything except what elements you will study (impro, composing, arranging etc.). With traditional methods at least you can browse the materials and see what they are about. What I would like to see is some examples from the books or some indication of what the lessons involve. What is the first thing you would do with a SM student in order to get them to play with freedom and ease? [/b]
Chris, I'm glad to answer your questions. That very "slickness" put me off when I was first investigating Simply Music too. The purpose of giving you so little specific information is to protect the curriculum, essentially, from being disseminated in any part by untrained traditional teachers.

I don't know if you are familiar with how the majority of piano teachers operate - but those I know and in my own experience, they are always looking at new materials and taking what they like and mixing it in with what they're already using. So, for example, the Suzuki method offers all of it's materials to the public in the music stores and anyone, trained or not, can get these materials and lay claim to be using the Suzuki method. The result is always the same... the new information/materials are diluted and mixed into the big pot of "what I already know and teach" and doesn't resemble the original method at all.

At the Simply Music website you can browse sound files of songs from levels 1-6 and hear for yourself what kind of music they'll be playing from the very first lessons, and in the curriculum overview you can see that they'll achieve these results within 2-3 years. You don't need to see the music - the telling is in the sound. You can also read testimonies from students and teachers, and peruse teacher webpages - every teacher has a webpage in the SM website. Beyond that, you can acquire the learn at home materials and get a taste of how Neil approaches the learning process at the piano.

If you are a teacher who thinks that this method is a better fit for you, the only way to learn the techniques and get the materials is by signing up and paying the tuition for the training. If you are a student who thinks this method will work for you, then you must find a teacher. For me - it boiled down to what amounts to a leap of faith - are all the testimonies and claims a bunch of lies, or is this for real? Having taken the plunge, all I can tell you is that it's for real, and it makes piano music making and/or teaching accessible to anyone who wants it.
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#960164 - 05/14/08 09:05 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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Thanks for the info Cindy. I can't seem to find those sound files on the website. Which link takes you to them?
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#960165 - 05/14/08 09:27 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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I just found the page about tuition fees. Not only are you looking at thousands of $ for training but also annual registration fees and even a charge per student per week.

Cindy, that is one heck of a leap of faith.
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#960166 - 05/14/08 09:33 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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 Quote:
.. You don't need to see the music - the telling is in the sound
Do these examples demonstrate the playing of actual students? As a potential student I would like to hear what is inside the playing. Often you can hear what is taught. Hearing the demonstration of a teacher would also be helpful because you would hear what you are aiming toward. A midi file would not be helpful in this context.

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#960167 - 05/14/08 05:23 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Morodiene Offline
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Chris H.
To answer your question, Cindy and other SM teachers have been very helpful in answering my questions. However, since I will be out of the country for the month of June, I won't be doing any further research into it at this point. There seems to be a lot that I agree with. And as far as tuition, the costs are similar to what you'd pay going to college for a semester, or for other training programs (a bit pricier than Kindermusik). So I guess I understand where they're coming from.
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#960168 - 05/14/08 09:40 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Late Beginner Offline
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SIMPLY MUSIC & TRADITIONAL METHODS

Hi all,

I am a student of both Simply Music and other styles. I began earlier this year. About a month or so ago I completed the first level of Simply Music. At the same time I also worked through the start of Alfred’s Adult Beginner All in One course. I also like to experiment a lot in my own way, and try to develop some ‘ear’ skills.

IS IT ROTE LEARNING?

In my opinion, when you start you have no real alternative to building some neural pathways by careful repetition. A brand new beginner is likely to have some very basic understanding of what rhythm and melody is, but no skills at physically translating them onto a keyboard. The difference between methods seems to be largely a choice between acquiring the missing skills in a different order and using a variety of techniques.

With Simply Music I was shown some simple short phrases. Some might call them patterns, SM called them sentences. I learned what to do with both hands and how to combine them. The cue sheet has no information about what the content of those sentences are, so would be meaningless if you hadn’t had the lesson. The cue sheet is just a few numbers and arrows that represent which sentence to play and which direction the hands go in.

Meanwhile, over at Alfreds I was immediately introduced to the staff and reading notation. It looked fiercely off-putting and strange and initially it seemed insanely hard to pick which line or space represented which note name and then find the right key to press. It took a LOT of purely of mechanical repeats before I could look at the dots and think “that’s C and that’s an F” and combine that with the knowledge of which keys to press.

However, the curve was fairly gentle and I was slowly able to play the simple one hand melodies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both systems introduced a section of Ode to Joy fairly quickly. Alfred’s used it as the very first piece, but with one hand. SM used it as piece #6 but used both hands (SM uses both hands right from piece #1). Alfred’s began with the right hand and quickly introduced the left, but kept you on one or the other until about piece #10.

By piece #3 in SM the cue sheet was using traditional symbols – I, IV, I, I. Again, the cue sheet did not say precisely what these meant, except to tell you that number I stood for C, IV meant F and V stood for G. What C, F and G represented was covered in the lesson. The material included video versions of the lesson sections, and a CD of the complete pieces. If I forgot exactly what the teacher had said (and what student doesn’t?? \:D ) I could refer to the DVD/CD.

CONCLUSION:

Most students of any kind of music will not end up as concert soloists. A large percentage will lose motivation and drop out fairly early. Another chunk will lumber doggedly up and down the runway for a couple of years or more but never take flight in the way they’d hoped. They mostly drift off too. The big challenge for any system is to get the student motivated and enthusiastic and to KEEP them that way.

As far as I can see, Simply Music seeks to get the student playing things that feel and sound like “real music” as soon as possible, and to make the journey as painless and rewarding as possible. Naturally enough, the work still has to be put in, and they claim that everything is eventually covered.

If I had to choose between using the system that SM begins with and standard notation, then I’d choose standard notation. But I’m not being asked to make that choice, just delay the reading for a while (However, standard notation of all the pieces was provided in an additional book, right from the start, if I wished to see what it would look like when notated). Similarly, if I had to make a choice between developing only ‘play by ear’ skills or just the ability to play from a score, then I would probably choose to play by ear. Fortunately, there’s no barrier to my learning them all – so that’s what I do. I love being able to read music even though I know that I’ll never be a fast sight reader. But for me the Main Game is not the way the information is encoded, it’s being able to make the noises. I’ll take every single tool that I can find to use, provided it keeps me motivated, enthusiastic and moving forwards without actually undermining or interfering with any other strands.

Cheers,

Chris
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#960169 - 05/15/08 12:06 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
There hasn't been new wine in quite a while, but there are always new combinations.

Simply Music, like MFYC, Edwin Gordon's approach, Kindermusik, and other "alternatives" to traditional instruction all borrow heavily from practices that have been fairly common in general music curricula for awhile. They owe a strong debt to Orff/Schulwerk, Kodaly, Suzuki, and Dalcroze.

They can be very effective, though. But as always, their effectiveness ultimately lies in the hands of the teacher. [/b]
I agree.

And if I may put in my 2 cents, and okay... I'm going to be critical...

What I saw of SM when it was first swirling around this forum a year (or maybe more) ago, there was a link to a video, I think it was on their website. What caught my eye and ears, was that the students' technique was not very good, and the music consequently sounded as such.

So maybe if they taught more about tone, musical phrasing with an emphasis on technique, it may not be such a bad thing. But just learning notes to "songs" is not learning piano, imo.

There is no instruction, I do not think, for the teacher in training on how to teach technique for the young student, which I feel is the basics for playing the piano well.

Therefore, I'm personally not impressed with the program.
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#960170 - 05/15/08 09:26 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 132
Loc: south central IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
Thanks for that Jerry. Is it possible to post one of these 'cue sheets' or a link to it so we can have a look? I'm not sure if this would be breaking some kind of copyright laws or rules would it? [/b]
To post an actual copy of a sheet from the student book would be a break of copyright, but to describe it like Jerry did is not. I'll give you another. If the melody you are learning has 5 notes moving upwards by steps, you could illustrate that with a single arrow pointing straight up, or slanted to the right, or going from right to left - I've just described one series of notes 3 different ways. That's what the cues are like in SM.
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#960171 - 05/15/08 09:30 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:
If the melody you are learning has 5 notes moving upwards by steps, you could illustrate that with a single arrow pointing straight up, [/b]
I believe those are called 'neumes' and are neither original, new nor costly.
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#960172 - 05/15/08 09:31 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
Thanks for the info Cindy. I can't seem to find those sound files on the website. Which link takes you to them? [/b]
go to the http://www.simplymusic.com/LearnWithaTeacher
and on the left you can click a link that says hear what students play - that'll take you to access to sound files from 6 levels
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#960173 - 05/15/08 09:40 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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Loc: south central IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:


I just found the page about tuition fees. Not only are you looking at thousands of $ for training but also annual registration fees and even a charge per student per week.

Cindy, that is one heck of a leap of faith. [/b]
yep - I've never been involved with a large company like this before, but have since learned that it's quite common to pay for the right to use what the company produces - even in the music world. At the time, it felt like I was possibly going to become part of a mlm scheme, but it's not at all like that - I don't have teachers under me paying me - everyone who wants to teach, or learn, must pay for access to the materials. If a student quits, they no longer have access to the materials, no matter how much money they have. If a teacher isn't teaching, they lose their license and access to materials - it's a very fluid rather than static set up.
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#960174 - 05/15/08 09:56 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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 Quote:
go to the http://www.simplymusic.com/LearnWithaTeacher
and on the left you can click a link that says hear what students play
My system won't let me install Quicktime.

Would I hear actual students playing? Does a live person (student or teacher) play this music? Is it a midi file?

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#960175 - 05/15/08 09:59 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Ok, since I can't hear it. Is Level 1 Fuer Elise the complete version with no changes?

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#960176 - 05/15/08 11:51 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
 Quote:
.. You don't need to see the music - the telling is in the sound
Do these examples demonstrate the playing of actual students? As a potential student I would like to hear what is inside the playing. Often you can hear what is taught. Hearing the demonstration of a teacher would also be helpful because you would hear what you are aiming toward. A midi file would not be helpful in this context. [/b]
I have no idea who performs the songs on the website, but I have several videos of my students at myspace.com. My address is http://www.myspace.com/royal_musicmaker
There are vids of my students. There is also a vid of me improvising with blues to a bunch of teachers singing lyrics to Neil Moore for his birthday. I had a bunch of links at my webpage, PlayPianoNow.info, but when Mediamax switched to the linkup, I lost everything stored there and have to upload it all again.
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#960177 - 05/15/08 11:56 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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Loc: south central IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Ok, since I can't hear it. Is Level 1 Fuer Elise the complete version with no changes? [/b]
No, the level 1 version of Fur Elise is not the original. I don't believe a person who has had 11 piano lessons give or take 1, can play the original, do you?
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#960178 - 05/15/08 12:05 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
 Quote:
Originally posted by CindyB - Musicmaker:
If the melody you are learning has 5 notes moving upwards by steps, you could illustrate that with a single arrow pointing straight up, [/b]
I believe those are called 'neumes' and are neither original, new nor costly. [/b]
I don't understand why you keep harping on originality. Simply Music obviously must use ingredients that in and of themselves are not new or original - some things that come to mind are the English language, a piano, a piece of paper, a video tape, a cd, a dvd?????

Besides, I will right now fully guarantee that very few of the symbols used by Simply Music have anything to do with Gregorian Chant.
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#960179 - 05/15/08 12:16 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Thanks for answering, Cindy. First off, how do I turn off the music that first comes on and repeats, so that I can hear your students? This will tell me something about how you, personally teach, and it may indicate something about the program, but also your skill. I'm trying to get an understanding of the program separate from the teacher.

 Quote:
No, the level 1 version of Fur Elise is not the original. I don't believe a person who has had 11 piano lessons give or take 1,
Cindy, I'm trying to get a sense of the program. You have indicated a selection of the music, but I cannot hear that music. The name of Fuer Elise doesn't tell me anything since it is presented at different levels. That's why I asked.

Is the presentation on the site, which I cannot hear, a presentation of actual students or a human playing it? I would like to hear "what" is being taught within the music, and not what the music itself is. I can get that from looking at the sheet music. I can only hear that through human playing. I do wish this computer would let me download the appropriate software.

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#960180 - 05/15/08 12:18 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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I think the tune I'm 'harping' is that the methods are already there - available gratis for those who wish to search.
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#960181 - 05/15/08 12:57 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Thank you, Cindy. I managed to turn off the theme, and then I had a chance to watch and listen. They boy on the front seems to be enjoying himself. There is a teen playing Moonlight Sonata on the guitar, and there are some girls singing the Star Spangled Banner in a gymnasium before a game. Are they taught by you or under your musical influence?

The site gives an indication of your teaching, and since you base yourself on SM, it also gives some indication of the program, which is what people are wondering about. I am sure that your skills and SM go hand in hand.

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#960182 - 05/15/08 03:22 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Cindy - did the boy playing jazz on your webpage learn with the SM program? I'd be really happy if a student of mine of comparable age was able to play with as much apparent enjoyment and facility. I say this despite obvious rhythmic challenges he still has to work on (edit: actually not so much rhythm problems as much as keeping steady tempo, which is easily forgivable considering what he is playing - his ability to play complicated jazz rhythms is actually very impressive!). What I see is a young person who is forming a relationship with the instrument and with making music as comfortable as speaking. I think that is a tremendous accomplishment - something I wish I had done in my early training. I think this type of learning would make a great adjunct to classical training. I'm just sorry becoming an SM teacher is so costly for the teacher. It may make great sense for a full-time teacher, but unfortunately it doesn't for someone like me who will only be teaching very part time. Still, I think much can be learned in terms of approach for those who wish to explore alternative ways of teaching, whether to replace or supplement traditional lessons.

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#960183 - 05/16/08 07:50 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by JerryS88:
Cindy - did the boy playing jazz on your webpage learn with the SM program? [/b]
Sorry - I have that video because I agree with you - that's what I'm aiming at when I teach. The jazz program in Simply Music comes rather late in the curriculum, since establishing a relaxed and comfortable relationship with the keys is often quite challenging. It's worth aiming for, though.
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#960184 - 05/16/08 07:53 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Are they taught by you or under your musical influence? [/b]
sorry - my videos are under the link "my videos". The vids I have on the main page are of musicians I admire, family, and skills I'd like to nurture in my students.
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#960185 - 05/16/08 07:57 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
I'm trying to get an understanding of the program separate from the teacher....Cindy, I'm trying to get a sense of the program. You have indicated a selection of the music, but I cannot hear that music. ...Is the presentation on the site, which I cannot hear, a presentation of actual students or a human playing it? ... I can only hear that through human playing. [/b]
tell you what - I'll put together a little video of myself and play parts of the curriculum for all of you, esp. Fur Elise level 1 version plus subsequent versions. I'll try to post this video today on You tube and let you know.
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#960186 - 05/16/08 08:07 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Cindy, thank you - that's very kind of you.
KS

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#960187 - 05/16/08 09:05 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Morodiene Offline
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Without knowing how exactly the Simply Music program works, it does sound very similar to what I've been doing with my students as of late. I tell them that their brain needs to understand what they are supposed to play before playing it, and so we discuss in depth exactly what is going on in the music. We look for patterns, and if there is none, we simply break down the notes into measures or phrases that make sense and describe it either verbally, or sometimes I have them draw some sort of map for it. This is all before they even hear how it should sound. Then we try playing through a little bit at a time, reviewing the patterns we identified. We play through the whole piece and I let them know that before they practice it at home, they need to remind themselves of the patterns. I think it gives them a much stronger basis rather than having them sightread it. Sight reading is an important skill, but I feel if they can identify patterns well, their sight reading will also improve.

I also do some improv, though not as much as I would like, admittedly, but I always encourage that, and many students of mine compose as well. This sounds to me like this lines up pretty well with what SM does, except perhaps a bit more structured than I do.

As far as cost, I understand there's a $2 per student per lesson fee, if I have it right. This is similar to when I rented space from a music store, and it's not that big of a deal, imo. However, do you buy books and other materials from SM as well? If so, what's the average cost of these items, and is there something else they get, like CDs?
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#960188 - 05/16/08 04:31 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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Morodiene - there are extensive teacher training dvd's and cd's that a teacher has to invest in, and so far, I've needed to constantly refer back to them, even the level one materials, to see how Neil does it with a person at the piano. There is no average cost since some of the materials are foundation materials and some are for the supplemental projects that run alongside the foundation.
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#960189 - 05/16/08 04:33 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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I have posted a video to youtube. search word pianoworld. That's the only tag I put on it. I just tried to search for it and it didn't come up, but perhaps it takes an hour or so to actually show up - I just spent an hour uploading the darn thing!!
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#960190 - 05/16/08 06:44 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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I checked and the video's up, but for some reason when you search "pianoworld" it doesn't come up. My username is RoyalMusicmaker, so I think that if you search for me you'll see all 2 of the videos I've put on Youtube.

Now I'm sorry I didn't at least comb my hair. sigh.
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#960191 - 05/16/08 08:17 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Cindy, you went through so much trouble. Here is a direct link that everyone can access RoyalMuskmaker (Cindy)
(I first got a link to some cute puppies when I searhced Royalmusicmaker)

KS

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#960192 - 05/16/08 10:21 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
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Hi,

Thanks for posting the link Keystring (and the puppies were cute too. \:\) )


Cindy,

Thank you so much for posting that video. It gave me a great view of the track ahead. I have temporarily suspended any progress along the SM curriculum, because my teacher is currently touring in the support band for The Drifters (one of several groups around the world who claim membership links to the original Drifters). He's also had a bunch of home and relationship relocation issues to sort out. So I've had to try and decide whether to look for another method or teacher, go it alone with Alfred's or similar books, or just wait a little longer.

You have successfully re-enthused my interest in SM. So I'm off downstairs right now to play through all those pieces in Level 1. Now that I know more about where they're going I have more incentive to keep them fresh. Plus, of course, they are actually fun to play. \:D I still play the Blues pieces every day, with my own improvised additions, so I need to make sure I keep the others on the front burner too. (And maybe I need to start playing the Fur Elise snippet a bit straighter as well, instead of using the basic 'hook' and jazzing it up into what I think of as "Furry Liza"...)

Thanks again, \:\)

Chris
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#960193 - 05/16/08 11:51 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
Cindy - great job with your video overview - thank you so much for taking the time to make it and post it. Very clever teaching device to teach a simple song and gradually add new concepts to it as time goes on. Lots of great stuff here (although I must say, being the Beethoven fanatic that I am, I'm not sure I love the jazz chord version of Fur Elise! But I do recognize and appreciate its pedagogic value).

I admire what SM does. I am curious about its approach and success at teaching reading as well, but I think for achieving the goal of getting people up and playing, comfortable at the instrument, and enjoying making music, it is very well thought out and executed. Can you comment a little about your experience teaching your SM students to read music? Do they start by learning to read music they've already learned to play? I know some teachers warn that beginning students in a rote method leads to reading difficulty and resistance. Can you give us an idea of when the students are introduced to traditional notation and how they respond?

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#960194 - 05/17/08 12:41 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Thanks for the video clip. I found it entertaining. Please excuse me if I sound a bit surly but this is a general music curriculum not a piano course. It would be a poor start for an aspiring piano student and who would take that from them?
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#960195 - 05/17/08 06:22 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Cindy, your video clip gives a good idea of how the method works and what one could expect to learn. It's very brave of you to put yourself on the line like that. I would imagine that SM is very effective for you and your students as you obviously believe in it and are passionate about it.

I can see benefits to teaching in this way and I would agree with a lot of the philosophy behind it. Improvisation, composition, arranging and an ability to play by ear and from memory are all important skills for any musician to develop. However I can see some drawbacks as well which is why I would not use it myself. If you choose to use one system alone then you have to believe in it 100%.

One or two things really put me off. I don't like the way that traditional methods are dismissed. Statements like 'playing based' as apposed to 'reading based' are meaningless marketing speak. Saying that reading music is like teaching a child to read before they can talk (which the website mentions a lot) is IMO incorrect because we do not learn the language of music in the same way as we learn our native tongue. I have encountered so many students and pianists who play by ear and would like to learn to read notation in order to further their playing. They find it very frustrating because you have to go back to square one. 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.

I know that the thought of playing recognisable songs in only a few weeks might be attractive to some. It's what happens further down the line that I worry about. Cindy did say that SM will prepare a student for music college far better than traditional methods. However I doubt it. This sounds like a phrase used a lot in the marketing of the system. In the video clip Cindy does say that none of her students have progressed beyond a certain level so far and so I find this claim a bit hard to take seriously. If you audition for a conservatoire then arrangements of Fur Elise and 12 bar blues are not going to cut it. How exacty do you teach a Bach Partita or Chopin Ballade by rote or ear or by demonstration? Most students who apply for top colleges will read fluently and play to an advanced standard. The audition requirements are usually to play from memory which means that they do not need the printed music in front of them. They often have to sit exams on counterpoint and 4 part harmony which require a thorough and detailed knowledge of music theory. All of this is covered by a (good) traditional teacher.

SM might work well for some students and teachers and if anyone wants to learn or teach this way then that's fine. It is hard for me to accept that just one method or program is suitable for everyone. That is why I use a variety of methods and materials to suit the individual. You can cover all the aspects of musicianship if (as kbk said) you are prepared to do the research and continue to improve your own playing and teaching skills. One size does not fit all.
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#960196 - 05/17/08 08:49 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 132
Loc: south central IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Beginner:
I have temporarily suspended any progress along the SM curriculum, because my teacher is currently touring in the support band for The Drifters ... You have successfully re-enthused my interest in SM. So I'm off downstairs right now to play through all those pieces in Level 1...[/b]
Good for you! I will be glad to post video answers that will help you maintain your enthusiasm. I know it's esp. hard to keep practicing the same things to keep them fresh, but it sounds like your teacher got you well started on arranging and reinterpreting - I would be thrilled if all my students had as much initiative.
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#960197 - 05/17/08 08:54 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
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Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 132
Loc: south central IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by JerryS88:
Can you comment a little about your experience teaching your SM students to read music? Do they start by learning to read music they've already learned to play? I know some teachers warn that beginning students in a rote method leads to reading difficulty and resistance. Can you give us an idea of when the students are introduced to traditional notation and how they respond? [/b]
There's a progression in the administration of reading just as there is in playing, and at first it always uses the music they can already play, just as children in kindergarten learn how to recognize the letters in the alphabet and the simple words they've been saying. We begin, as I said before, in level 1 with following a chord progression that's on the printed page. Teaching the hand to respond to what the eye sees in its most basic form. Fake music follows, and we encourage students to bring in favorite music from outside the curriculum. Then rhythm is introduced, and within 6 months or so, a students rhythm reading ability is very well developed, including ties, dots, rests, and 16th notes. Then we introduce reading, using an interval approach.
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#960198 - 05/17/08 08:55 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 638
Loc: Ringwood, NJ
Chris - you make some excellent points. I see the value of SM as either an adjunct to, or preliminary or introductory phase before moving on to traditional (reading-based) learning, or, perhaps, as an alternative way to learn to play for those who are not interested in becoming serious classical pianists. [edit - this may not be fair, as we have only seen the beginning phases of the program]

You sound like a great teacher, Chris - thorough and well-rounded. I do think, though, that you may be overestimating the well-roundedness of typical classical piano education. In my experience classically trained pianists are limited to only being able to learn and play fully scored music (whether they go on to memorize it or not). Music theory is usually taught in isolation and only sporadically and superficially related to the pieces the students are actually learning to play. In contrast to this, those who learn to "fake" lead sheets and improvise by definition are learning to put music theory into PRACTICE. Ask the typical classically-trained pianist to read a lead sheet, or even to play happy birthday without music and I'm willing to bet you'd get a lot of blank stares.

In the end, though, I agree that there needs to be a balance. There is no reason why students shouldn't be taught both good reading and creative keyboard skills. Learning to read, and learning to read early is crucial to opening up the student to the vast world of magnificent piano literature. I also think KK made a good point that a well-prepared, motivated teacher should be able to draw on existing resources as well as their own creativity to create their own curriculum similar at SM, but it would be a heck of a lot easier not to have to do it from scratch on one's own.

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#960199 - 05/17/08 09:15 AM 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 Chris H.:
Saying that reading music is like teaching a child to read before they can talk (which the website mentions a lot) is IMO incorrect because we do not learn the language of music in the same way as we learn our native tongue. [/b]
you're right - no one in the world is learning music this way, other than the relatively few Simply Music students.

 Quote:

I have encountered so many students and pianists who play by ear and would like to learn to read notation in order to further their playing. They find it very frustrating because you have to go back to square one. 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]
If a student is already highly skilled at playing the piano by ear, and only needs to learn how to read, the Simply Music approach can do that and wouldn't require him to start at square one. Let's be realistic. The majority of people wanting piano lessons are NOT highly skilled adults who can play by ear.

I was highly skilled at playing the piano, and had very high quality teachers from 2nd grade on, in several different states as we moved often being an Air Force family. I began with a great beginner traditional teacher and because I advanced quite well in my lessons, I was soon auditioning for high level teachers with performance and/or college professor careers. I went on to college, majoring in performance first, and switching to teaching when I realized how much my life would have to be set aside for practicing to be a really good performer. What I'm saying is that I had better than average teachers and never was taught how to express myself musically, but I could express Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Kodaly, etc magnificently. THAT is what the aim of the traditional reading based approach is. If you want to start arguing the isolated exceptions, it's a waste of time.

 Quote:
I know that the thought of playing recognisable songs in only a few weeks might be attractive to some. [/b]
It's attractive to a lot more people than you seem to realize. I've never had a student sign up for lessons who DIDN'T want to be able to play real music right away.


 Quote:
It's what happens further down the line that I worry about. Cindy did say that SM will prepare a student for music college far better than traditional methods. However I doubt it. This sounds like a phrase used a lot in the marketing of the system. In the video clip Cindy does say that none of her students have progressed beyond a certain level so far and so I find this claim a bit hard to take seriously. [/b]
I have backed up what I'm claiming with links, videos, the Simply Music website with its testimonies and sound files... and you haven't backed up anything you've said. You're welcome to doubt, but please don't insinuate that I'm uninformed, or that I'm believing and selling a lie.
Do you want more testimony, from real people with advanced musical background?

Robin Keehn – Sequim, WA - Bachelor’s Degree from Westmont College, and Master of Public Affairs from University of Washington.
Robin Keehn has been an avid musician all of her life and has played piano for over 30 years. She has been a licensed Kindermusik Educator since 1995 and currently has 70 families in her Kindermusick program. Simply Music is the piano method she has been dreaming of for years and she is thrilled with the amazing results students experience.

Cheryl Goresko – Grove, PA – Music University of Pittsburgh graduate, Music Teachers National Association Certified, ten years teaching traditional piano.
What initially captured my attention with Simply Music was the possibility of developing a repertoire of high quality songs. I also liked the fact that we keep adding songs, unlike traditional lessons where we go from one song to another, dropping old songs as we go. I liked the generative aspect of Simply Music, and the fact that students would learn to write as well as to read music. I liked the diversity of styles, because they’re fun and because most piano students want to play in these styles. One of the big bonuses of Simply Music is the accompaniment program in which students learn to play simple accompaniments to many popular songs using major, minor, suspended, augmented, 7th, 9th, 13th, and many other chords. Even though Simply Music calls itself an entry level program, students learn so much more, so much sooner, than they would ever learn in traditional lessons where you are only able to play what you can read. The way that students go about learning the songs in this program from the very beginning sets an excellent foundation for learning more complicated and challenging songs in the future. Students will quickly be able to read music in keys with many flats and sharps and with more rhythmic complexity, because of the way the entire program is unfolded. I find that even my own practicing and playing has improved.

Laura Cheung – Hercules, CA – UC Berkeley double B.A. in Music and Molecular Cell Biology, formal piano, flute and voice training.
Learning my own repertoire using the Simply Music tools has created a completely different affect in my playing and confidence at the piano. Everything is now possible. A broad array of styles including jazz, blues, improvisation, accompaniment, and composition are now within easy reach whereas before I considered those styles not within my ability. All the facets of Simply Music are so simple, make incredible sense, and are extremely effective. I am so thankful that Simply Music has crossed my path, and that I was open to embrace this opportunity which has definitely changed my life for the better.


Jy Gronner – Corte Madera, CA – UCLA and San Fransisco Conservatory of Music graduate, advanced education in piano and conducting.
I knew my former beginning students had the ability to play much more than the standard beginning pieces in the traditional repertoire, but having to learn how to read WHILE learning how to play produced delayed results and resistance. Then I learned of an entirely different and MUCH quicker way to learn to play the piano! The unprecedented results have spoken for themselves: I have built a studio of about 150 students almost entirely by word-of-mouth referrals. My students enjoy a success with playing, and now with reading, that I never experienced with students in all my years of teaching traditional piano lessons. Everything makes SENSE to them – from the lead sheets and the theory and structure, to the varied, fun, and super-creative repertoire offered in the curriculum.

Carrie Lozier – Rochester Hills, MI – Grace College Music Ed. Degree, Wayne State University degree in Piano Performance, 7 yrs. teaching traditional piano lessons.
I found that throughout my musical education in college, I did not have a broad spectrum of musical education. I studied a very limited number of classical pieces, learned scales, and theory. I also found that when I was asked to play music, I would have either 1 – 2 pieces that I had memorized through an arduous process, or I would have to have music. The mother of one of my traditional students told my about Simply Music and I looked into it. What I’ve found is that the students love playing the songs, they are prepared with contemporary chords and different styles of music to play anywhere at any time, and within one year are composing and reading music at a level that would take years to accomplish in reading based programs.

Caroline Blumer – Western Australia – tonal harmony and music history studies at University of Western Australia, Associate Diploma of Music, ten years public and private teaching experience.
I feel that Simply Music fills a wide gap in the traditional classical music pedagogy. It allows students to specifically acquire skills in order for them to self generate, in other words to create their own music and their own style. When my 10 year old daughter wanted to learn the piano I found out about Simply Music and was intrigued by the method. Now my daughter plays constantly, any time she has a spare moment. In a matter of months she has learnt 12 pieces of music but she also is making her own music using the pieces as take-off points. The philosophy of Simply Music’s teaching is a great way to keep people motivated in learning the piano and promotes the idea that music is fun and to be enjoyed. The time is ripe for changes in music teaching and I like what Simply Music has to offer. My students are having a great time.


Marilyn Van Roekel – Tucson, AZ – Simpson College in Indianola, IA graduate, Music Therapy Degree from University of Iowa, 20 years teaching experience.
I have been teaching Simply Music for two years now and am astounded at the results. Students who are free to create great-sounding music for the first year of their study, without the complexity of reading notes, find the task of reverse engineering that knowledge to music notation to be simple and non-intimidating. Because they are already very comfortable playing in a variety of keys, using complex chords and rhythmic patterns, they very naturally “see” it on the page. The Simply Music method equips me AND my students to be well-rounded musicians. A practical, hands-on relationship with the keyboard frees us to pursue improvisation, arrangement, and composition. Simply Music earns my STRONG seal of approval!

Nancy Denz – Kamuela, HI – University of Wisconsin – 1- years classical piano instruction, 8 years of amateur vocal performance, 4 years children’s musical theatre, 8 years teaching Mary Ann Hall’s Music for Children.
Recently the father of one of my students attended a piano lesson specifically to see “what Simply Music was all about”. He came because his daugher, studying the Simply Music method, never had to be asked to practice and in fact loved performing for her friends and family. This was all in stark contrast to his older daughter who had been taking traditional piano lessons for over two years. The older child had to be begged and cajoled to practice and even then only did it under duress. And, most remarkable to him was that his younger child, after just six months of Simply Music lessons was playing at or above the level of his older child. His words after the lesson, “this is just wonderful”.

Joanne Jones – Perth, Australia – 8th Grade AMEB, sat for Associate of Music in 1977, 40 years experience accompanying soloists, choirs, and musicals, brief experience teaching traditional piano lessons.
Having found Simply Music I have begun to uncover those supposed mysteries beneath my hands. I just can’t believe, for instance, how complex chords, in all keys, can be taught so simply and found so easily. I relish the joy with which I play now. I am no longer on ‘slippery ground’ with the pieces I have applied the Simply Music approach to, and the Blues and Jazz programs are taking me to musical places I never dared hope to discover! In teaching Simply Music I am constantly learning and growing. The more I learn about the program the more convinced I become that we are witnessing an historical moment in the teaching of music.
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#960200 - 05/17/08 10:54 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
A2mom Offline
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Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
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? If you ever get the inclination for more video posts, I'd love to see further explication on video and understand/see more about the approach. Suzukimom
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Northern California
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#960201 - 05/17/08 11:12 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Late Beginner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 588
Loc: West Australia
Hi,

There is more to piano that wanting to be a professional classical soloist. The majority of music beginners are more likely to want to join the wider musical family and fulfil a general desire to make music. Piano used to fill a very large role in music making, but over the last few decades it has lost most of that ground. Anybody who hasn't spotted that needs to get out more. ;\) Beginners today are more likely to want to take up other instruments such as guitar or perhaps digital keyboards. I play guitar regularly in a local music shop. We play all sorts of styles from folk and rock to classical and anybody can join in on any instrument in the shop. We've had all manner join in - from percussion to cello and double bass, but not a single keyboard player. That would have been unthinkable when I was a kid - piano was No 1. It's not now.

If piano teaching wishes to join harpsichords and claviers on the sidelines then that's fine too. But I think that if it wants to keep some sort of stake in the musical future then it needs to embrace a variety of approaches. Of the dozens of people that I know who took traditional piano lessons as children only 4 now have a piano in the house, and only one still plays it. And he's in his mid 70s, and recently lost much of the use of his left hand.

I see nothing in Simply Music that will ruin somebody's chances of going all the way to a professional music career if they so choose. But I do see an opportunity to get a lot of people playing piano, who might not have done so otherwise, and then keeping them. That seems good to me. I don't see it replacing all the other methods available, but I don't see the necessity to run it down either, particularly on such slender acquantance. It may not work for everybody, but it's certainly working for many.

Chris
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#960202 - 05/17/08 12:05 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
Cindy, you are getting upset when you needn't be. It is quite right that you should defend the method you use. Also I will fully admit that I don't know enough about SM to judge its credibilty. You have testimonials from a lot of highly qualified people so it must be a worthwhile program. What I am saying is that SM is not the only way to learn musicianship skills like improvisation, composition and accompanying. The SM website really does put down 'traditional' teaching methods. The trouble is nobody seems quite sure about what 'traditional' teaching is. If traditional teaching is following a dry tutor book to the letter then I agree it is not much good. To me though, traditional teaching should encompass all of these skills using a variety of methods appropriate to the individual student. I can't post video clips explaining what I teach because to be honest it depends on who I have sat in front of me. I can't provide the same testimonials because the way I teach is (I hope) constantly changing and evolving along with the materials I use.

Late beginner, you make excellent points about why people are motivated to learn piano today. Music is a very social activity. However you learn it is important for your musical development to actually make music with others. This is where your skills will develop most and where you will get the most pleasure from it. Any method which involves sitting alone in a practice room for hours on end with no real reason to play is likely to fail. I can understand that SM promotes getting involved by teaching accompaniment patterns and chord playing. That is one of things I do like about it. You will find these things in other books and methods though. It is true that you have to move with the times and thankfully many tutor books have done this.

I didn't say that SM will ruin somebody's chance of a professional music career. I'm just not sure that it better prepares them than any other teaching methods. If you take a tour of the music conservatoires and ask how many of the students followed the SM program I would guess you wouldn't find many. That's not to say it is no good but it shows that there are other ways of getting there. Most people will never get that far and probably have no intention of doing so. There is nothing wrong with that. Very few of my students go off to university to study music. Most of them are regular people who want to play the piano for enjoyment and personal satisfaction and/or to get involved in making music with others. There are a lot of teachers who are able to provide that without using SM. Each to their own.
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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.
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#960204 - 05/17/08 04:15 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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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 Offline
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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.
_________________________
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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.
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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.
_________________________
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#960209 - 05/18/08 01:45 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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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 Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12052
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.
_________________________
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MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
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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?
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#960212 - 05/18/08 08:02 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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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.
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#960214 - 05/18/08 09:58 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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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.
_________________________
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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.
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#960217 - 05/19/08 07:45 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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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.
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#960219 - 05/19/08 08:22 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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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
Posts: 2919
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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Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 638
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
Posts: 2919
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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Pianist and piano teacher.

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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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Registered: 04/15/06
Posts: 638
Loc: Ringwood, NJ
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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Registered: 05/21/07
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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
1000 Post Club Member

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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Registered: 04/09/06
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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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
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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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#960230 - 05/19/08 11:45 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
currawong Offline
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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
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 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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#960232 - 05/20/08 03:30 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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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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#960233 - 05/20/08 03:36 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by JerryS88:
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. [/b]
Jerry, when I have more time I will let you know how I teach and the method I use. Or, try doing a search by typing Suzuki Piano or my display name. I've written a lot on the subject.

By the way, really, playing by ear first before learning to read should be called "traditional" that is how (all?) of the greatest musicians learned. Quite naturally.
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#960234 - 05/20/08 07:50 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Thank you, Pianobuff. I am, of course, aware that the Suzuki method exists, but I have never looked at it closely. I didn't think it included contemporary styles of music, nor improvisation of any kind, but perhaps I'm wrong about that. I will investigate and look at some of your previous posts on the subject, Pianobuff. If you do get a chance to "sum up" your experience and explain why you think it is better than SM that would be much appreciated.

I don't see why curriculum like SM cannot be considered a valuable adjunct (supplement) or even starting point to a very serious classical piano education, branching off into traditional method after a short while. As such, personally I see it as offering significant and valuable experiences for the beginning classical pianist. Most significantly, I think having that direct, intimate relationship with the instrument and making music without music at the very beginning can set a student up with a sense of comfort at the piano for life. I would consider that extremely valuable for even the most serious of budding classical pianists.

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#960235 - 05/20/08 03:15 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Pianobuff - I checked out the Suzuki books at the music store at lunch time. I can't believe how advanced the music is in the 2nd level book - very impressive. Are students reading by that point, or are they still being taught by rote? It is very apparent that these are to be used only with special teacher training - something I will have to investigate further. Can you explain how reading is taught when it is taught?

It appears that I am correct that Suzuki does not include contemporary styles, improvisation, or lead sheet arranging/improvisation, but its classical curriculum looks very impressive, indeed.

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#960236 - 05/20/08 03:49 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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Improvisation, arranging, transposing, ensemble work, composition, reading lead sheets, contemporary styles and sightreading are all incorporated in my studio appropriately.

The pieces learned in Book 1 give students all the basics needed to play well and to know basic theory in order for them to improvise, compose and sightread.

I would love to write a longer post, but I am in the midst of teaching and Guild auditions. But the pieces are not taught by rote per se.

Reading of music is a formal part of the lessons when the student starts Book 2. Most students of mine are able to learn Minuet 3 of Book 2 easily by reading it then memorizing it.
I use a special reading book that conincides with the way they were taught Book 1. The development of technique, ear-training and theory they learn in Book 1 allows the reading of music to be easily accomplished; they are not method book type pieces either, but well written, lovely pieces of music in which they learn how to read music.

The cost for training is minimal, $225.00 for 5-days, I believe is what it is. After that the teacher takes what they want from the workshop and applies it to their own studio adding what they wish for a well-rounded education. What is mostly taught is how to teach natural technique and the mother-tongue philosophy of the Suzuki method.

Here is a link to Suzuki Piano Basics website where there is a link to workshops:

http://core.ecu.edu/hist/wilburnk/SuzukiPianoBasics/

I recommend doing a search on PW, for more information about Suzuki piano or Suzuki method.
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#960237 - 05/20/08 04:05 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Improvisation, arranging, transposing, ensemble work, composition, reading lead sheets, contemporary styles and sightreading are all incorporated in my studio appropriately.
[/b]
If I understand correctly, you are not saying all those things are part of the Suzuki method, just that it prepares your students well enough for you to add them to their curriculum. Can you tell me what materials you use to supplement the Suzuki method that covers these other areas? (only when you get time). This is very helpful, Pianobuff - thank you very much.

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#960238 - 05/21/08 02:52 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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Hi Jerry,

You're more than welcome.

Well... there is really no materials necessary! Just common sense and having fun making and exposing/exploring music to your students!

Let me try to give an example.

Book 1 students will naturally start to transpose their pieces, especially after I teach them a five-finger pattern with a I-V7-I cadence added to it in all keys, major and minor. They take a break from Twinkle Variations and start on this when they are about half way through Book 1. Of course they also know what a IV chord is and a V chord too, from their pieces. Soon they will play a I-IV-V-V7-I cadence along with scales, arpeggios, inversions for warming up/theory about the time the end of Book 1, start of Book 2.

We do ensemble work form the beginning. I have two pianos. We also work with other instrumentalists that play the Suzuki repertoire.

Composition often happens naturally too, depending on the student, could happen in Book 1. I do assign how to write a four measure phrase and we build on it using guidlines in regards to basic compositional form and key, modulation, etc... until we have a full composition. This assigned type of composition happens in Book 2.

Contemporary styles... hmmm do you mean 20th and 21st century music? I incorporate this as part of their repertoire when they enter Book 3, sometimes in Book 2 depending on the student. Lots of real music out there for this, it's practically limitless.

If you mean rock, blues, jazz... we do that all the time, if it happens, we (I) just let it happen and we have fun. Sometimes we play soemthing jazzy (improvised of course) in Book 1 or later, just depends on the student. Or it may be an assigned piece then it falls more in the category of 20th or 21st century music as described in the above paragraph.

Arranging would be Happy Birthday (for example.) This would around Book 2 or later depending on the student. Or some of the pieces they know from the Suzuki rep we would make an arrangement for fun, most often my students do this themselves!

Reading lead sheets: I actually have had them write their own from the chords they know. Book 2, they do this. Christmas carols are great for doing this. I do have some fake books for my older, more advanced students, which they have used.

I would have to say that the basic foundation to all of this is a classical foundation, based on good listening skills, natural technique that gives students the freedom to express and explore all genres as well as a basic but solid knowledge of theory. This all happens before reading music. If you can play the piano intelligently and with ease it will then make it easy to learn to read music. The notes on the printed page will make a lot more sense.

Oh... I think I forgot reading... we start reading music formally at the beginning of Book 2. After they finish their reading book (excellent book too, imo) they are on their way to reading lots of music and I have them sight read every day using a couple different sight-reading books as well as learning their repertoire by reading it, then memorizing it.
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#960239 - 05/21/08 03:35 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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Jerry, since you seem so interested,

One added comment, on delaying reading...

The way students learn their repertoire is by listening. Just like we learn our native tongue. The Suzuki rep has beautiful recordings of Books 1 - 3 pieces that parents play as background music for their children. This is how they learn the notes to their pieces.

I also teach solfege instead of note names at the beginning, so my students sing the pieces in solfege before playing them.
They end up learning/using both, letter names and solfege throughout their studies.
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#960240 - 05/21/08 07:08 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
JerryS88 Offline
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Pianobuff - it sounds like you do an excellent job both teaching with the Suzuki method and supplementing it on your own.

By contemporary music I did mean blues, jazz, rock, pop, etc. Your comment that "if it happens, we (I) just let it happen and we have fun. Sometimes we play soemthing jazzy (improvised of course) in Book 1 or later, just depends on the student" makes me wonder about just how you go about teaching these things. Learning blues, jazz, rock and pop does not just happen - the components must be taught systematically. There is a difference between playing just any piece with a jazzy rhythm, and learning authentic, albeit simple, pieces in these styles, and learning left hand styles, grooves, chord progressions, chord-building theory, chord nomenclature, idiomatic melodies, riffs, improvisation, etc.

From your description, I don't know that I would say that one is better than the other, Suzuki or SM, because they are quite different. I think for the teacher who wants to teach either strictly classical or is very well versed in improvisation, composition and contemporary styles and skillful and resourceful enough to know how to teach them as well (and wants to teach them), then the Suzuki method appears to have its merits. For a teacher who is looking to introduce a broad range of styles and skills via a pre-designed curriculum that includes those styles and skills, then it appears that SM is a good choice, although it would appear somewhat weaker in the classical music track to me (can't have it all).

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#960241 - 05/21/08 08:41 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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OK, after some excellent posts from Jerry, Cindy and Dianna I am willing to accept that SM can be used effectively with the right teacher and for the right kind of student. I am not that worried about the reading delay as those questions have been answered and the positive reasons for it explained. You seem to get a good variety of repertoire which is also a good thing.

I still have some more questions though. We know the kind of student who would be most interested in learning this way. Maybe you could even say the majority of students would like it. Could someone explain how flexible it is? It sounds like a prescriptive program and I know from experience that one method does not suit everybody. Cindy said early on that the program should not be diluted in any way. Does that mean you must follow it to the letter? What does the SM teacher do with a student for whom it might not be suitable or if they decide at some point the program is not working?

Most teachers would not rely on one method. You have to select materials and use an approach which is suitable for each individual student. Teaching an adult to improvise is a lot different to teaching a 6 year old whose parents want them to study classical. Is there room in the SM program for all students or do you only take on students who you feel will benefit?

Also, I am trying to get my head around this $2 per student thing. Let's say I took a student on the program and signed them up for the $2 per lesson fee. If I choose to use suplementary materials which are not part of SM should I really be paying that fee? What if I decide to withdraw the student from SM because it doesn't suit them, do I still have to pay the fee then? What I am asking is if SM teachers use it exclusively or not. If they don't then how does this charge work and how does the company police it?
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#960242 - 05/21/08 01:36 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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double post!
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#960243 - 05/21/08 01:40 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by pianobuff:
[qb] [QUOTE]Originally posted by JerryS88:
[qb] Pianobuff - it sounds like you do an excellent job both teaching with the Suzuki method and supplementing it on your own.

By contemporary music I did mean blues, jazz, rock, pop, etc. Your comment that "if it happens, we (I) just let it happen and we have fun. Sometimes we play soemthing jazzy (improvised of course) in Book 1 or later, just depends on the student" makes me wonder about just how you go about teaching these things. Learning blues, jazz, rock and pop does not just happen - the components must be taught systematically. There is a difference between playing just any piece with a jazzy rhythm, and learning authentic, albeit simple, pieces in these styles, and learning left hand styles, grooves, chord progressions, chord-building theory, chord nomenclature, idiomatic melodies, riffs, improvisation, etc.

From your description, I don't know that I would say that one is better than the other, Suzuki or SM, because they are quite different. I think for the teacher who wants to teach either strictly classical or is very well versed in improvisation, composition and contemporary styles and skillful and resourceful enough to know how to teach them as well (and wants to teach them), then the Suzuki method appears to have its merits. For a teacher who is looking to introduce a broad range of styles and skills via a pre-designed curriculum that includes those styles and skills, then it appears that SM is a good choice, although it would appear somewhat weaker in the classical music track to me (can't have it all). [QUOTE] [qb]


Pianobuffs reply:

This is what I've been saying. The two are very different. It is really what you want for yourself as a student; or what/how you want to teach as a teacher. If you are a student that does not care to play classical music or build an excellent technique and wants to learn more of the popular genre, then I would say SM is for you.

I also disagree regarding learning rock, pop and jazz. For the young child, it does just happen, and we do have fun with playing all three. Those genres are pretty accessible by ear. For the older student there are lots of music that we use or they make up their own pieces.
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#960244 - 05/24/08 10:46 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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Hello!
I have been teaching Simply Music for 4 years. I grew up in a "traditional", musical family and used to teach using traditional methods. I have read through some of the posts here and have a few comments.

First of all, the bottom line is that if you have no experience with this method, then you cannot confidently comment on its merits or lack thereof. I was skeptical at first glance, too. It's easy to make a bunch of assumptions based on a little information. But it is literally impossible to understand what it's about until you teach it for a while.

Secondly, I would never, ever, ever teach any other method ever again. I will comment on the reasons. This is not a gimmick, it's just different. That's why a lot of "traditionalists" are afraid of it. I sense a mentality of "If it's different, it must be wrong."

Pianobuff said:
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. [/b]

Several comments here - you present here what we are talking about regarding "traditional" methods - posture, technique, sightreading, classical repertoire. Standard fare for several hundred years.

Neil is not bashing traditional methods, as some have suggested. He is just telling the truth, which I understand can be difficult to accept. The truth is, the majority of the population is not musically expressed. The truth is, a very high percentage of people who started piano lessons, quit piano lessons and never returned. The truth is, there are scores and scores of adults who say, "I took piano lessons as a kid, but I hated it. Now I wish I would have stuck with it." I hear this ALL the time. The truth is, most people who have learned with this approach are lost without music in front of them. That used to me as well, by the way. The truth is, this does not reflect a successful approach to learning piano.

Posture and technique - is it important? Yes. Does it have to taught before a person can play the piano? No. We don't ignore it, we simply take a different approach. It happens much more naturally.

Classical repertoire - I grew up on it. I love it. I also love contemporary music, jazz music, new age music, the blues. Now I can play it all, comfortably and confidently.

Sightreading - anyone who can read music can develop sight-reading skill, regardless of the teaching approach. Simply music teaches different learning strategies in addition to reading that only aid and simplify the process of reading music. Students who have come to me who already read music have commented on how much easier reading music is when combined with the tools we teach. There's no way you could possibly understand this unless you taught the method.

SM is not about becoming an artist at the piano? I suppose that depends upon your definition of "artist", but imho, a person who can play different styles of music confidently, accompany, read, write, improvise, compose, play in ensembles, enjoy it, and do it all in a musical fashion is an artist in every sense of the word. That's what we teach.

A few other reasons I would never, ever, ever teach any other method ever again:
1. My students don't quit like they did when I taught traditionally. They are motivated by all the awesome material they learn.
2. I maintain a studio of 50-60 students while spending next to nothing on advertising; the method is so good it sells itself. There is no doubt in my mind that I could have as huge a studio as my heart desires and my schedule allows.
3. I make more $$ teaching SM, doing something I absolutely LOVE - part-time - than I ever did as a full-time accountant. My husband was able to semi-retire and do something he loves, rather than spend 9 hours a day riding a desk, which he did not enjoy. I didn't do it for the money, but I've never been more passionate about what I do, and am blessed to make good money doing it.
4. My son with Down syndrome can play great music on the piano because of Simply Music. Autistic people are experiencing incredible success. People recovering from strokes have found Simply Music aids the recovery process, and they are able to do more than was ever thought possible. This method is available to EVERYONE.
5. Neil Moore, the creator, is a genius. I am not exaggerating. I am extraordinarily lucky to have gotten in on this in its relatively early stages and gotten to know him fairly well.
6. I could really go on and on and on, but I should wrap this up.

To summarize, if you don't teach it, you do not and cannot understand all that Simply Music is. I'm just one of the lucky ones.

Laurie R.
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#960245 - 05/24/08 11:00 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
First of all, the bottom line is that if you have no experience with this method, then you cannot confidently comment on its merits or lack thereof. [/b]
So only you can comment on it? Funny I'd never heard of it before then 3 teachers come along in a row!
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#960246 - 05/24/08 06:15 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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I'm really not sure exactly what your point is. Yes, I can contribute educated comments about Simply Music because I know the program from having taught it for the past four years. No, I am not the only one who can contribute educated comments on it, since I'm not the only person around with experience in the program.

Shoot, of course anybody can comment, all I'm saying is you cannot know exactly what you are commenting on if you haven't learned or taught the program. You are forced to make assumptions about it because you are not familiar with it.

Comments from Simply Music teachers are based on knowledge of the program; comments from people who do not know the program are inherently based on assumptions and interpretations. It's not a judgment, just a fact.

Laurie
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#960247 - 05/25/08 01:22 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Goes without saying. So your point is?
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#960248 - 05/25/08 05:04 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
Neil is not bashing traditional methods, as some have suggested. He is just telling the truth, which I understand can be difficult to accept. The truth is, the majority of the population is not musically expressed. The truth is, a very high percentage of people who started piano lessons, quit piano lessons and never returned. The truth is, there are scores and scores of adults who say, "I took piano lessons as a kid, but I hated it. Now I wish I would have stuck with it." I hear this ALL the time. The truth is, most people who have learned with this approach are lost without music in front of them. That used to me as well, by the way. The truth is, this does not reflect a successful approach to learning piano.
[/b]
It makes you wonder how anyone managed to learn to play piano without SM.
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#960249 - 05/25/08 12:50 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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It explains why so many people don't.

My point was to address your global comment about me being the "only" one who could comment on Simply Music.

Does anyone have comments on the content of my message?

Have a great week ~
Laurie
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#960250 - 05/25/08 01:16 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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I take it it even washes whiter!
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#960251 - 05/25/08 01:32 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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Or your money back!
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#960252 - 05/25/08 11:21 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
NancyM333 Offline
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Cindy--I am an adult student, traditionally taught, and I really enjoyed your video. Could you explain how much time you're talking about having elapsed from Book 1 to Book 4 or Book 7? It seemed like you were talking about a few months at first, but later I wasn't sure when you said your students hadn't gotten past a certain point. I'm sure each student progresses at a different rate, but there's also probably an average for each level you could give me.

One of my children started out with the Suzuki method, and this sounds very similar. Can anyone explain how it's different? My son's Suzuki teacher--who had a full studio and was well-respected--used this same argument about talking coming before reading to explain why Suzuki was so good. I must admit I was not very impressed with the method, but I also know that many traditional methods also have shortcomings.

On the other hand, after 13 years of lessons I play very well, but I couldn't improv if my life depended on it. I know tons of theory, can read a fake book, etc., but I'm truly not very musical and always thought that just wasn't my gift. Hearing the teachers talk about Simply Music makes me wonder if that's not true and musicality can be taught.

Finally, I have to agree with several posters that there is obvious disdain for traditional teaching in some of the posts here and on the website. I saw that in Suzuki as well, and I heard it from the public TV piano teacher (Scott something?) when I caught one of his shows. There's something that automatically turns me off about a program when I hear people promote it as if everyone else had been duped all their lives. I'm sure part of that attitude is a backlash against traditionalists who dismiss these alternative methods as "piano lite," but it still makes me more skeptical about the methods than is probably warranted.

Thanks again, Cindy, for taking the time to post that video. It really was helpful, and you clearly know your program well.

Nancy
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#960253 - 05/26/08 02:35 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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Laurie R,

Hi! I'm pianobuff... the one you quoted.

I do not teach "traditionally". I think you failed to read all of the posts.

I regret to say I disagree immensely with what you said about technique. This is what makes you play the piano easily and allowing you to express in ways you couldn't without using the proper technique, which does include correct (natural) posture.

I do not force technique on my students, I show them, they follow. They listen and they play.

Again, there are other very fine alternatives to SM that, imo, might even be (better?) But again to each his/her own.

This traditional versus alternative verbage used when defining methods of teaching is getting to be quite tiring as well.

It is what the result is that counts. It really does not matter how you teach as long as you have good results and you feel comfortable teaching the way you teach.

I do hear what you're saying though, for me, I hated using method books, I could never go back. Yet, I do know of excellent teachers that do use method books and are very good at it. Their students play quite well and with enthusiasm.

One of the main things that bothers me about SM is that it costs a lot of money and it really isn't rocket science. Teaching by ear first, reading later is historcally the more "traditional" approach anyways. SM is nothing new by any means!
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#960254 - 05/26/08 02:47 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
Posture and technique - is it important? Yes. Does it have to taught before a person can play the piano? No. We don't ignore it, we simply take a different approach. It happens much more naturally.[/b]
Much more naturally than what? Than what you assume other teachers are doing? Who's making the assumptions now?

 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
To summarize, if you don't teach it, you do not and cannot understand all that Simply Music is. [/b]
OK, but that leaves us in a bind, doesn't it. It seems reasonable to me to say that I am not prepared to teach it until I understand it, and you are saying we can't understand it until we've taught it.
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#960255 - 05/26/08 03:08 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
Posture and technique - is it important? Yes. Does it have to taught before a person can play the piano? No. [/b]
I must have missed this particular bit of cant. What? A complex crazy machine like a piano and you think they'll just find their way? One can only assume your own skills must be pretty weak.
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#960256 - 05/26/08 03:09 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:


Comments from Simply Music teachers are based on knowledge of the program; comments from people who do not know the program are inherently based on assumptions and interpretations. It's not a judgment, just a fact.
[/b]
Watching the videos of students playing is all I need to do to not "assume."
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#960257 - 05/26/08 04:37 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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I've been reading this thread in amusement, but I thought I should chime in.

I am definitely a "traditional" teacher. I make my students learn notes from day one, and they play nothing but "traditional" classical music. That's what I do, and I will never use SM for my private studio. If I ever get a call inquiring lessons of this nature, I will simply refer the person to a local teacher who uses SM. \:\)

That being said, I do think there is a place for this kind of curriculum. I teach chorus at a junior high school. The high school nextdoor has two "piano" classes, taught in the large choir room with 25 keyboards. I was hoping they would get off the Schaum books and try a different series. I think SM will be an extremely attractive program for this purpose. During passing periods, there are always kids trying to hammer out Fur Elise on the piano (horribly, I might add). A program like SM will empower these students--who are definitely NOT going to be piano majors--to learn the music they want to learn and have fun quickly. It's about instant gratification for these students.
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#960258 - 05/26/08 04:40 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:

That being said, I do think there is a place for this kind of curriculum. [/b]
Yeh, I wrote one and taught it for 15 years. In my school they were called 'music lessons'.
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#960259 - 05/26/08 04:45 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
 Quote:
Originally posted by AZNpiano:

That being said, I do think there is a place for this kind of curriculum. [/b]
Yeh, I wrote one and taught it for 15 years. In my school they were called 'music lessons'. [/b]
:p \:D
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#960260 - 05/26/08 04:53 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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No, seriously, I just think these public-school kids deserve something better than Schaum (I think the teacher is trying to get rid of it, but the previous teacher ordered a godzillion copies of Schaum Level A red book). Since there are only 25 keyboards in the class, enrollment is limited. And there are always kids on the waiting list. The school's in a poor neighborhood, so parents often can't afford piano lessons. I have a couple of singers in my class begging me to teach them piano. I give them some tips during passing periods, but there's only so much I can show them in such a short time. I encourage them to take the piano class when they get to high school. I would give them free lessons if I lived in their neighborhood, but I don't.

Kids like this motivate ME to keep teaching despite all odds.
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#960261 - 05/26/08 05:00 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Chris H. Offline
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Nancy, any method is only as good as the teacher who delivers it. When you said you were not impressed with Suzuki could it be that the teacher rather than the method was at fault? The same will happen with SM or other traditional methods. If you have a good teacher then you should do well.

What you say about musicality leads me to believe that your teacher (or teachers) missed something very important. Of course musicality can be taught and nurtured. All this talk of traditional methods not teaching people to express themselves is rubbish. Expressing yourself as a musician has very little to do with busking 12 bar blues or making up jazzy versions of Fur Elise. It also has nothing to do with playing from printed music or not. If you play a Beethoven sonata you will express yourself through your interpretation. You don't have to be making it up as you go. I can play jazz and improvise. Given the choice I would prefer to express myself through the music of the great composers. It is very rare that I would sit down and improvise rather than play the music of Bach, Chopin and the like.

So you can't improvise if your life depended on it? Sure you can. You know your theory. Play a chord of C in the left hand over 4 bars. Make up a melody on CDEFG with the right hand and end on C. There you go, you are improvising.

You want to play 12 bar blues? Here is the chord structure:

C C F C
F F C C
G F C C

For the melody stick with the first 5 notes of the blues scale:

C, Eb, F, F#, G

Away you go.

Now the result will not be anything amazing to begin with. It will be nowhere near as good as the music you can play from the printed sheet. Like everything else you have to practice and spend time with it. It's just another musicianship skill. If this is something you would like to develop then all you need to do is sit down and try it.
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#960262 - 05/26/08 05:03 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Yes, seriously, with 15 keyboards you can teach 30 children blues, raga, Beethoven and composition. It also helps to have 15 computers on a network to go with them.
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#960263 - 05/26/08 11:24 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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Loc: Midwest
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#960264 - 05/26/08 11:53 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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From my many years of experience I can tell you now that the piano is the least intuitive musical instrument out there. Without substantial input from the teacher from day one students don't have a chance in hell of gaining a good technique. I pity your pupils.
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#960265 - 05/26/08 01:28 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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I know a few "traditional" teachers that take this approach on technique as well, basically they don't teach technique, allowing to have it happen "naturally." In otherwords this lack of technical training is not limited to SM instruction.

I agree with AZNpiano. There is a place for this type of instruction; just not in my studio! Group piano class, in a public school setting, perhaps.
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#960266 - 05/26/08 01:33 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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Loc: Midwest
I respectfully submit that such beliefs are what keep scores of people from ever playing the piano.

I suppose it depends upon your goals for your students. If my goal was to produce a crop of concert pianists, maybe I would spend more time on technique. At any rate, that's not my goal, because it's not the goal of the vast majority of people who want to learn piano. People want to play for their and others' enjoyment. That's just as noble a goal as the concert pianist hopeful.

The overriding Simply Music goal is to maximize the likelihood that our students will maintain music as a lifelong companion. As a musician, I wholeheartedly embrace that goal. Within that goal, we have four specific goals:
1. Experience playing as a natural self-expression
2. Have the ability to play a huge repertoire covering various genres of music
3. Have the ability to self-generate and progress independently
4. Have a self-affirming experience throughout the whole process

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share all this. Even just looking back at these basic goals reaffirms that there is no better way to learn or teach piano! Anyone with a musician's heart can appreciate Simply Music's goals.

I don't see myself as an intellectually superior purveyor of the intricate secrets of how to sit and curve my fingers and use my arms and wrists so my students will ever have a glimmer of hope of playing the piano. I see myself as a human being sharing my immense love of music, especially piano music, in a way that people enjoy the process, learn everything more quickly and thoroughly and with more interest, and stay with it so they can enjoy the benefits for the rest of their lives. Absolutely nobody is incapable of learning to play the piano. The philosophy behind Simply Music is that everyone, without exception, is profoundly musical. It's just fantastic.

Not only that, the Simply Music teacher body is incredible. It is a worldwide network of caring, supportive, forward-thinking individuals who are excited to be part of a breakthrough. A few years ago I was in a horrible car accident and had several months of recovery ahead of me. My local Simply Music colleagues came to my house and taught all my classes for me without asking for a dime, every week for 2 - 3 months. A teacher in another state took up a collection, and teachers from all over donated money to help me during my recovery. Neil himself sent a nice check to help me out and called me regularly. I am so thrilled to be among a group of people like this, where love and support and concern replaces backbiting and competition.

I am very proud of my students and all that they accomplish. They are wonderful musicians, and they thank me all the time for bringing Simply Music into their lives.

Thanks again for allowing me to talk about this wonderful program!

Laurie
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Associate Simply Music Teacher

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#960267 - 05/26/08 01:49 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
pianobuff Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
Derogatory comments posted here are not based on a knowledge of the program, beyond a basic outline and claims. That's fine, and I understand the skepticism. I mentioned that I grew up in a more traditional, musical family and taught a more "traditional" piano method. So I personally can make a comparison based on my experience. [/qb]
But your experience is only one. And to stereotype it because it being "traditional" is not fair. Much has to do with the teacher and with the student and how the material is presented.

To say SM is for all students and they all learn. Well it depends if this is really the right method for the student and the best way to learn piano. I, as a student, would run away from this type of instruction. For those that don't know any better, may think it impressive.

I know *anyone* can learn by rote. This alone is not learning to play the piano or learning music. Sure anyone can press down keys. Even my cat. So yes, I can see how you can say the majority learns to play the piano this way. So this person (Neil) bottled up an obvoius way to play some tunes and is making a fortune off of it. No thanks! I'm actually suprised he is getting away with this. Again, this is nothing new. Schinici Suzuki developed this same type of approach, although in a more refined way, back in the 50's. He did not make lots of money and/or market it in such a way. Even his philosophy was not original by any means.
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#960268 - 05/26/08 01:56 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Can someone please respond to the initial claim by SM that "...can be taught by piano players who are not advanced musicians, who have no formal musical qualifications, nor prior teaching experience." ???

If you, the teacher, don't know how to play a scale, then how would your students learn how to play them? If you, the teacher, don't know how to play chord progressions or inversions, and don't have a basic knowledge of music theory, then how will students learn these things?

I didn't learn scales and chords on my own from a self-taught method; I had to have 'formal music training' from a teacher. The impression that is made is that ANYONE can teach SM, no matter what kind of music background (or should I say LACK of) they may have. This is a marketing ploy that in my opinion is used to get a large number of people to jump on the bandwagon, no matter their qualifications, and generate $$ for the corporation.

I also teach a group method with a philosophy similar to SM (ear before eye, experience before formal instruction, etc...). However, one does have to be a competent musician to teach it. There is training but the fee is very reasonable. There are no monthly royalties to pay and the cost of materials is low enough for the teacher to purchase and mark up and not feel like she's raking parents over the coals.
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#960269 - 05/26/08 01:56 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 boobooric:
I respectfully submit that such beliefs are what keep scores of people from ever playing the piano.

I suppose it depends upon your goals for your students. If my goal was to produce a crop of concert pianists, maybe I would spend more time on technique. At any rate, that's not my goal, because it's not the goal of the vast majority of people who want to learn piano. People want to play for their and others' enjoyment. That's just as noble a goal as the concert pianist hopeful.

The overriding Simply Music goal is to maximize the likelihood that our students will maintain music as a lifelong companion. As a musician, I wholeheartedly embrace that goal. Within that goal, we have four specific goals:
1. Experience playing as a natural self-expression
2. Have the ability to play a huge repertoire covering various genres of music
3. Have the ability to self-generate and progress independently
4. Have a self-affirming experience throughout the whole process

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share all this. Even just looking back at these basic goals reaffirms that there is no better way to learn or teach piano! Anyone with a musician's heart can appreciate Simply Music's goals.

I don't see myself as an intellectually superior purveyor of the intricate secrets of how to sit and curve my fingers and use my arms and wrists so my students will ever have a glimmer of hope of playing the piano. I see myself as a human being sharing my immense love of music, especially piano music, in a way that people enjoy the process, learn everything more quickly and thoroughly and with more interest, and stay with it so they can enjoy the benefits for the rest of their lives. Absolutely nobody is incapable of learning to play the piano. The philosophy behind Simply Music is that everyone, without exception, is profoundly musical. It's just fantastic.

Not only that, the Simply Music teacher body is incredible. It is a worldwide network of caring, supportive, forward-thinking individuals who are excited to be part of a breakthrough. A few years ago I was in a horrible car accident and had several months of recovery ahead of me. My local Simply Music colleagues came to my house and taught all my classes for me without asking for a dime, every week for 2 - 3 months. A teacher in another state took up a collection, and teachers from all over donated money to help me during my recovery. Neil himself sent a nice check to help me out and called me regularly. I am so thrilled to be among a group of people like this, where love and support and concern replaces backbiting and competition.

I am very proud of my students and all that they accomplish. They are wonderful musicians, and they thank me all the time for bringing Simply Music into their lives.

Thanks again for allowing me to talk about this wonderful program!


Laurie [/b]
Laurie,

I am happy you are happy. But you are way out of line talking about technique... curved fingers, etc... whoa!! Talk about assuming.

Thank you for sharing your SM way of teaching. I am happy that you like it so well.

Now off to my torture chamber studio to teach my students...
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#960270 - 05/26/08 02:25 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Booboric, how about an adult student like myself, who is classically oriented, wishes to learn the language of music (phrasing, articulation etc.) and the means to express it (technique) in order to bring out the best qualities in a piece of music by knowing that language? How about a self-taught student who has a way of playing spontaneously, never having been hampered by this note-paralysis I'm reading about, and has spent most of her years with written music in a relaxed manner? My needs are not at all in the area of wanting to be able to play something recognizeable. I already can. It just doesn't sound that great, because I do not have the proper tools or knowledge.

My needs are in the "traditional" area. In all honesty, would SM have a place for me? Could a teacher tweak the units to allow for more things such as phrasing and technique?

I am bothered any time that a generalization is made that puts all adult students into one basket, because some of us will end up being led toward goals that we don't have. Of course it seems that teachers are also poking their heads out of a basket wondering what they're doing there.

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#960271 - 05/26/08 02:39 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
I suppose it depends upon your goals for your students. If my goal was to produce a crop of concert pianists, maybe I would spend more time on technique. At any rate, that's not my goal, because it's not the goal of the vast majority of people who want to learn piano. People want to play for their and others' enjoyment. That's just as noble a goal as the concert pianist hopeful. [/b]
It's not about being a concert pianist. It's about reaching your full potential. i.e. not being hobbled from the outset.
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#960272 - 05/26/08 02:55 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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Registered: 05/24/08
Posts: 14
Loc: Midwest
Simply Music is NOT learning by rote. That would accomplish nothing. It is learning a different way of learning, using tools and strategies that are immensely helpful when they start reading music. I've had students who already read music come to my studio, tell me that they are able to read music so much more fluently now.

 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Booboric, how about an adult student like myself, who is classically oriented, wishes to learn the language of music (phrasing, articulation etc.) and the means to express it (technique) in order to bring out the best qualities in a piece of music by knowing that language? How about a self-taught student who has a way of playing spontaneously, never having been hampered by this note-paralysis I'm reading about, and has spent most of her years with written music in a relaxed manner? My needs are not at all in the area of wanting to be able to play something recognizeable. I already can. It just doesn't sound that great, because I do not have the proper tools or knowledge.[/b]
Keystring, for your particular goal, SM probably isn't the best choice for you. It doesn't meet all needs for all people, any more than any other approach does.

Sounds like there are a lot of very good teachers here that use a variety of approaches that work well. I applaud you and have absolutely nothing against that. Anything that students enjoy and continue with has merit, imho.

/QUOTE]It's not about being a concert pianist. It's about reaching your full potential. i.e. not being hobbled from the outset. [/QB][/QUOTE]

Amen! Couldn't have said it better myself.

 Quote:
Laurie,

I am happy you are happy. But you are way out of line talking about technique... curved fingers, etc... whoa!! Talk about assuming.
[/b]
Wow, so many people here insist on picking apart one little detail out of my long posts instead of addressing my main points. As a classically trained pianist, I am well aware of what technique is, I just didn't think it necessary to include an exhaustive list on a forum full of experienced, classically trained professionals. It was just one silly little example.

Thanks for being happy for me. I appreciate it.

Laurie
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#960273 - 05/26/08 03:48 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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 Quote:
Keystring, for your particular goal, SM probably isn't the best choice for you. It doesn't meet all needs for all people, any more than any other approach does.

The two goals that I mentioned are what I understand to be the essentials of being able to produce good music out of any instrument: understanding of music and being able to produce it. If these are not present, then there is something lacking.

When Keyboardklutz mentions reaching one's potential, I suspect that he is writing about the same thing that I am. If we do not learn to use our bodies effectively (technique), and we do not get to understand the properties of music, we will not be able to reach our potential regardless of how talented we may be.

This is exceedingly important for me, because there are adult students who want to be able to do more than plonk away happily on the piano producing something kind of nice. All too often the assumption is made that they do only want this, and since they don't know what to expect, they struggle endlessly wondering why they can't do what they are envisioning. Having had several friends in that situation, I can tell you that it is heartbreaking and unless they know that there is something missing, they become bewildered and discouraged.

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#960274 - 05/26/08 03:54 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Boobooric, if you are not paying attention to technique at the outset you are hobbling your students.
 Quote:

Amen! Couldn't have said it better myself.
What kind of cheap double talk is that?
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#960275 - 05/26/08 04:20 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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I didn't say we ignore technique, only that we use a different approach.
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#960276 - 05/26/08 04:27 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
Posture and technique - is it important? Yes. Does it have to taught before a person can play the piano? No. [/b]
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#960277 - 05/26/08 05:24 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
Before anyone can teach Simply Music, they go through a training and licensing process. From there they are prepared to teach the first few levels. The training process is continual from there as you teach. The longer you teach it, the more you understand the philosophy, concepts, and the reasons behind the teaching and learning strategies. I did not understand the whole program when I began teaching, but the longer I teach it the more I appreciate it and can comment on its merits. I am a much better teacher now than I was in the beginning. I think that's true with most things in life. [/b]
This answer still does not address my question. If the only way to understand SM is to teach it, that means you have to commit to something (financially as well as in other ways) which you are unable to properly evaluate beforehand.
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#960278 - 05/26/08 06:34 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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Registered: 05/24/08
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That is correct. Much like enrolling in and paying for a college program without knowing beforehand everything you are to learn. Only there is a much longer wait before you start recovering your expenses.

My quote about technique not needing to be taught BEFORE a person can play the piano is by no means saying there is no technique taught. Only that it doesn't have to precede a person's ability to play anything.

Laurie
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#960279 - 05/26/08 06:45 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
That is correct. Much like enrolling in and paying for a college program without knowing beforehand everything you are to learn. Only there is a much longer wait before you start recovering your expenses.[/b]
There's nothing to stop you researching the content of your course, however. My son was given a pretty clear picture of the course content of his science degree before he started uni this year. The texts were available in the library. No-one owned the method. We seem to be having trouble understanding the content of SM because we keep being told you can only understand it when you do it (and pay for it). I can browse through an Alfreds method book and know it's not for me. I can't browse through a SM book. I can't even buy one and read through it carefully, can I?

I'm not denying that teaching SM might be financially rewarding. That aspect is not really my concern in this discussion.
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#960280 - 05/26/08 07:01 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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Loc: Midwest
How about if you take me out of the line of fire for a few moments and allow me to ask a few questions I'd honestly like your opinions on:

1. What is your opinion of the Simply Music goals (stated above)? Do you have any of these goals in your own studios?

2. There are many comments in this thread from and about Simply Music teachers and students attesting to its validity and success, in the beginning stages as well as beyond. Do the thousands of people (students and teachers alike) experiencing its benefits have no merit in your eyes because the method is non-traditional?

3. How would you define a successful piano method? How about a successful piano student?

Thanks,
Laurie
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#960281 - 05/26/08 07:12 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
Dianna Offline
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Registered: 05/08/08
Posts: 4
Hey, guys. Just a reminder: We do all have the same goal - enjoying and sharing music. Right?

The written word is powerful stuff; it hangs around for a while (or forever) after it's brought into being. We all are being honest, just don't forget the respect. If you're mad, write a reply, then wait a while, and then please rethink it before you post it.
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#960282 - 05/26/08 07:23 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
How about if you take me out of the line of fire for a few moments [/b]
I didn't think I was attacking you - if it's come across that way I'm sorry. I was just trying to get to the bottom of my main problem with the method. That is, I don't know enough about it to have an opinion and I can't really see how I can find out.
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#960283 - 05/26/08 07:25 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
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Registered: 05/24/08
Posts: 14
Loc: Midwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by currawong:
[QUOTE]There's nothing to stop you researching the content of your course, however. My son was given a pretty clear picture of the course content of his science degree before he started uni this year. [/b]
I researched by reading everything on the website, calling several teachers who had been teaching Simply Music for several years, talking with Neil himself and going with my gut before deciding to pay for the training. If we can know everything we need to know about what we will learn in a college class by flipping through the textbook in the bookstore, then what do we need professors for? Generally speaking, you get a lot more from the textbook by what the professor and other students add.

I started college on a music scholarship before switching to accounting and getting a business degree. I was interested in accounting and I like math and I took accounting in high school, but I certainly had absolutely no idea how involved it would be until a few years, lots of hard work and plenty of money into it. Even though I always looked through the textbooks. I reasoned that a living would be much easier to make with a business degree than a music degree. And I did for 12 years.

You compare looking through an Alfred's book so you can review the contents. The only reason you have the ability to review the contents is that you have experience with music and, I'm assuming, have paid for some education to learn about music. Otherwise the contents would be meaningless to you. Same thing. You take your chances. Ever heard of anyone switching college majors? Why? Didn't they know what they were getting into?

I took my chances and won. You cannot understand why. That doesn't make Simply Music invalid.

What research have the skeptics here done with regard to Simply Music?
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Associate Simply Music Teacher

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#960284 - 05/26/08 08:36 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
currawong Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
If we can know everything we need to know about what we will learn in a college class by flipping through the textbook in the bookstore, then what do we need professors for? ...
I took my chances and won. You cannot understand why. That doesn't make Simply Music invalid. ...
What research have the skeptics here done with regard to Simply Music? [/b]
First of all, if you take the time (quite a bit of it, I would imagine, judging by the number of pages \:\) ) to read this whole thread, you would see that I have not criticised the method. I have not said SM is invalid. I have not said that I "cannot understand why" you teach SM. I raised a few points on which I asked for clarification. That's all. And to say that I was suggesting "we can know everything we need to know about what we will learn in a college class by flipping through the textbook in the bookstore" is misrepresenting what I was saying on a comparison you actually initiated.
If you are happy with what you are doing and believe in the method, you don't need to misrepresent the questions of others like me, who might actually want to know about SM.
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#960285 - 05/27/08 02:08 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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For my part, I have made it perfectly clear that it could well be an excellent music curriculum but it's useless as piano pedagogy if it allows students to aquire bad habits from day one. The net is so full of various curricula, why would you pay what appears to be a fairly vast sum other than for the opportunity to become part of a franchise with all it's marketing potential? And there, I think, must be the rub. It's a business opportunity.
 Quote:
Hey, guys. Just a reminder: We do all have the same goal - enjoying and sharing music. Right?
I wouldn't be so sure.
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#960286 - 05/27/08 06:13 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
John v.d.Brook Offline
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I, too, have been reading this topic, but deciding not to comment - because it's really difficult to make a judgment with so little information.

Someone wrote that they couldn't post excerpts from the method because it would violate copyright laws. This isn't true. The copyright law specifically permits excerpts, especially for academic discussions such as among teachers trying to evaluate various aspects of it. What probably is prohibited by the publisher/owner is the sharing of specific information by certified users of such methods, because it would open it up for critical review. That's unfortunate, because if the method is good, then the critical review would reveal this favorable aspect.

When checking on youtube for performances by students using the method, I only found 17 examples. All were extremely elementary, that which would be expected by students in their first few months of study. I could have missed more advance results.

I would suggest proponents of the method post results of students at various levels of accomplishment and study. It would be interesting to hear/see students who had completed five or six years of the program and what they have accomplished. For evaluation purposes, I much prefer students posting themselves on a neutral sites such as youtube, because other sites may have agendas, and one cannot know what has been edited by the vendor.
_________________________
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#960287 - 05/27/08 10:31 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/24/08
Posts: 14
Loc: Midwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
why would you pay what appears to be a fairly vast sum other than for the opportunity to become part of a franchise with all it's marketing potential?[/b]
Because it's a good, solid curriculum, it works, students enjoy learning it, and teachers enjoy teaching it and making a solid living teaching it. Which makes it a win-win-win situation. The "fairly vast sum" can be recouped easily in the first year of teaching. The only reason I didn't make a profit in my very first year was that I spent a bunch of money getting my basement converted to a studio.

 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
It's a business opportunity.[/b]
It sure is. Isn't is great that piano teachers can actually make a living, just like people in other industries who have their own businesses? And actually love what they do? Generally speaking, piano teachers don't make anywhere near what they should. I have now outgrown my basement studio and will be signing a lease on a commercial space this week.

Neil Moore, the creator of Simply Music, runs his business with the utmost integrity. I wouldn't be part of an organization that didn't have this foundation. In fact, it's one of the guiding principles you will find on the website. Here's the Foundation Statement in its entirety:
http://www.simplymusic.com/uploads/downloads/Brochures/Simply_Music_Found_State.pdf

 Quote:
Hey, guys. Just a reminder: We do all have the same goal - enjoying and sharing music. Right?
[/b]

Absolutely, Dianna! I am very fortunate to be able to do what I love most.

Currawong, thank you for clarifying your intent. My comments were not directed at you personally; I apologize if it appeared that way. I am trying to share information about Simply Music for those who are interested. There are not many comments here on most of what I have shared.

If you read through the posts from Simply Music teachers here, you will find that they are very confident, straightforward and non-argumentative. The confidence just comes from the experience of seeing it work.

Thanks for listening,
Laurie
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#960288 - 05/27/08 10:35 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/24/08
Posts: 14
Loc: Midwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
I would suggest proponents of the method post results of students at various levels of accomplishment and study. It would be interesting to hear/see students who had completed five or six years of the program and what they have accomplished. For evaluation purposes, I much prefer students posting themselves on a neutral sites such as youtube, because other sites may have agendas, and one cannot know what has been edited by the vendor. [/b]
Hi John,
Excellent idea. I will ask some of my students if they are willing to do that. But someone else would have to post a student who has been in it for 5 or 6 years. I haven't taught Simply Music for that long.

Laurie
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Associate Simply Music Teacher

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#960289 - 05/27/08 11:09 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keystring Online   content
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Boobooric, I would welcome that as well. In fact, I requested it a while back. Knowing the repertoire doesn't tell me much as a potential student, I also want to hear what I will be taught. Will I hear phrasing and dynamics and the means to these, for example? That is on top of the ease, fluidity, and eclectic nature of the program which I understand are the main attractions that this program holds for those teaching it and probably most of the students.

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#960290 - 05/27/08 12:11 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/24/08
Posts: 14
Loc: Midwest
Is anyone willing to answer the questions I posed yesterday? There is no agenda here; I am just really interested in your answers, as a fellow piano teacher. Thanks.

 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
1. What is your opinion of the Simply Music goals (stated above)? Do you have any of these goals in your own studios?

2. There are many comments in this thread from and about Simply Music teachers and students attesting to its validity and success, in the beginning stages as well as beyond. Do the thousands of people (students and teachers alike) experiencing its benefits have no merit in your eyes because the method is non-traditional?

3. How would you define a successful piano method? How about a successful piano student?[/b]
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Associate Simply Music Teacher

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#960291 - 05/27/08 01:18 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by boobooric:
Is anyone willing to answer the questions I posed yesterday? There is no agenda here; I am just really interested in your answers, as a fellow piano teacher. Thanks. [/b]
How much are you offering?
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#960292 - 05/27/08 03:34 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
John v.d.Brook Offline
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boobooric, you asked:

 Quote:
1. What is your opinion of the Simply Music goals (stated above)? Do you have any of these goals in your own studios?
and the goals as you expressed them are:

1. Experience playing as a natural self-expression
2. Have the ability to play a huge repertoire covering various genres of music
3. Have the ability to self-generate and progress independently
4. Have a self-affirming experience throughout the whole process1.[/b]

My guess is that every piano teacher, every music teacher for that matter, shares the same goals, perhaps expressed differently, but in essence the same.

As we all know, goals are wonderful for focusing our efforts, measuring our successes, keeping us on track, but they do not, in themselves, make a teacher good nor bad, nor a method good nor bad. They are what they are, goals.


You also asked:

 Quote:
2. There are many comments in this thread from and about Simply Music teachers and students attesting to its validity and success, in the beginning stages as well as beyond. Do the thousands of people (students and teachers alike) experiencing its benefits have no merit in your eyes because the method is non-traditional?
Testimony is important, but it means more when I know the individual providing the testimony. This is why I asked about providing more videos of more students, at different levels. I could claim to be the greatest teacher of all time, but when listening to my students, you might just form another opinion. \:D

Finally you asked:
 Quote:
3. How would you define a successful piano method? How about a successful piano student?
Success comes in many flavors. In piano, you might be talking about musical development, you might be referring to technical advancement, you might be referring to performance and recording ops, you might be referring to pecuniary issues.

I still receive cards and notes from students I taught 25 years ago telling me how much they appreciated lessons with me, how much they love music, how they enjoy being able to play as an adult. To me, this is great success. It is my sincere hope that every teacher, regardless of method used, obtains that which constitutes success for them.

John
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#960293 - 05/27/08 03:47 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
boobooric Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/24/08
Posts: 14
Loc: Midwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
I still receive cards and notes from students I taught 25 years ago telling me how much they appreciated lessons with me, how much they love music, how they enjoy being able to play as an adult. To me, this is great success. It is my sincere hope that every teacher, regardless of method used, obtains that which constitutes success for them.
John [/b]
John, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I agree with all the points you made. I would count your students as fortunate to have had a very effective teacher; obviously you have had a long-term impact on their musical lives. I applaud any teaching protocol that is successful and rewarding for the student and meets the musical goals that they have for themselves. Bravo to you!

Laurie
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Associate Simply Music Teacher

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#960294 - 05/28/08 03:20 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
It is my sincere hope that every teacher, regardless of method used, obtains that which constitutes success for them.[/b]
And their students? Do they get a look in?
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#960295 - 05/28/08 03:58 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
John v.d.Brook Offline
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KBK - How's everything across the Channel this morning? Pollen count too high? Too much sunshine? A bit too warm for this early in summer?
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#960296 - 05/28/08 04:53 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Birthday celebrations too much for you? Still here? Or or you emigrating? Your students must be pining away.
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#960297 - 05/28/08 05:02 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
John v.d.Brook Offline
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We lived in Germany almost 20 years - it's our second home. My students might be satisfied (pining away might be too strong a word) - they did very well in Auditions this year. The Nationals and above I've pictured on the website: http://www.klavier.ms/Auditions.html
_________________________
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#960298 - 05/28/08 05:07 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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How nice. What, by the way, is 'social music'?
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#960299 - 05/28/08 12:55 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Well, the way it's used in this case isn't what is traditionally meant - music used in social situations, like folk songs, pop tunes, etc., but rather a less intensive program, but technically at the same level as the regular high school diploma.

She had to memorize 7 pieces, rather than 10, and perform 3 technical phases (scales all keys, 4 octaves, mm=132, contrary, all minor forms, etc., chords, and arpeggios) rather than 5 (which include transposition, sight reading, improvising, etc.).

Don't have my RCM guide in front of me, so I cannot tell you where it fits on your scale, but it includes memorized performances of a Mozart Sonata (not the easy ones), Brahms Rhapsody, an advanced work by an American composer, an advanced Bach piece, such as the Italian Concerto, etc.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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#960300 - 05/29/08 01:28 AM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
keyboardklutz Offline
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Clever girl. Congratulations.
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#960301 - 06/26/08 07:31 PM Re: Anyone heard of/use the Simply Music curricula?
gwrosen Offline
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Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 1
Loc: melbourne
Laurie,
i am 33 and just started the simply music program 2 months ago - we have completed the 1st level. I also experienced my 1st concert whereby i was able to listen to students at more advanced levels.

Positives I have found thus far:
- group environment (more fun)
- ability to play without reading
- easy to learn
Negatives (my view anyway)
- Fur Elise and Ode to Joy arrangements (as all pieces thus far) are extremely basic.
- the more advanced students (1-3yrs of this method) were not that impressive - the pieces chosen and technique (as noted by my wife and brother in law who both play instruments).

I understand that this is only Level 1.

My goal is to learn how to play classical music (eg Nocturne, Etude, Raindrops etc) in their original form.

Is the Simply Music Programme tailored to play these pieces in their original form?

Also, more difficult pieces such as Hungarian Raphsodies?

thanks

Geoff

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Communication outside of lessons
by Arghhh
10/24/14 10:23 PM
What is this piece?
by JoelW
10/24/14 09:54 PM
Piano Rankings
by phantomFive
10/24/14 07:59 PM
What Piece Is This?
by Works1
10/24/14 03:43 PM
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