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#985880 - 12/30/04 08:12 PM Sick of method pieces
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Ok, I just need to vent. I'm almost finished with Alfred's Adult Book 1. I am working on 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands". After that is "The Entertainer" (which I am actually looking forward to), then "Amazing Grace", to finish the book.

I've been through 64 method pieces from "Aura Lee" to "Liza Jane" to "Raisins and Almonds".

This afternoon, I put the book aside, and took out some sheet music for Scarlatti's Sonata K32 in D minor, and Pachebel's Canon in D. I spent 2 hours practicing various passages, both LH and RH, and I LOVED IT!! I was making progress and listening to myself actually sound somewhat like a pianist. It was great!!

I can't wait to finish the Alfred's book, but after that comes books 2 and 3. I hope they have more classical pieces and less sappy stuff. I can't take another year of "Blow The Man Down" and "Michael, Row Your Boat".

[EDIT] I know, I know...it's all those method pieces that have allowed me to develop the required technique to be able to play those other 2 pieces. I understand that. I fully intend to finish all 3 Alfred's books, since I'm self-taught (for now). I guess I'm just impatient to spread my wings a little bit. \:\)
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#985881 - 12/30/04 08:17 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Ben D. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/04
Posts: 841
Loc: Texas
I did the Alfred's Books for a while when I started piano. Not much classical stuff in the kids' books, but I dunno about the adult books. It wasn't until I switched to a more experienced teacher that he gave me some real music and I began to really grow musically.
_________________________
now a resident of TNCR - www.coffee-room.com

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#985882 - 12/30/04 08:23 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
Hi Jerry at least you are patient to learn all the songs on alfred book 1. I began learning bits of classical music a month ago where I am still at the oh saints marching in ...
_________________________
An apple a day keep the doctor away,
A smile a day chase your sadness away,
A chat a day drive all loneliness away,
And a prayer a day never keep our Jesus away
And let's praise our Lord, our King, our God all the way ....

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#985883 - 12/30/04 08:29 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
SusieQ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/04
Posts: 301
Loc: Bellevue, Washington
Alfred has a series out called first favorite classics that will get you to the cool stuff faster...My teacher uses them in addition to the FABER & FABER books

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#985884 - 12/30/04 08:55 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
Hi Jerry I just got this book and sad to say .... its not easy as I assume !

I am now trying to work on minuet in A minor on page 141 as it's the most easiest of all.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0486404072/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-0795990-8009503#reader-link
_________________________
An apple a day keep the doctor away,
A smile a day chase your sadness away,
A chat a day drive all loneliness away,
And a prayer a day never keep our Jesus away
And let's praise our Lord, our King, our God all the way ....

Top
#985885 - 12/30/04 08:59 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Thanks for the link, Lucky.

I was actually thinking about getting this book . Seems more my speed! \:\)
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#985886 - 12/30/04 09:36 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
I would not recommend that book Jerry, because they've rearranged the pieces to be easier. They're not much better than your method book. :-/ I just don't see the point when there are so many original pieces that are easy enough for us to learn.

I've dropped the Alfreds for now. I finished book 1 except for the last two pieces in it and started book 2, but when I dug into Fur Elise, the Alfreds went by the wayside.

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#985887 - 12/30/04 09:56 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Sushi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/03
Posts: 52
Loc: East Bay, CA
I finished Alfred's Adult book1 five months ago. My teacher supplemented classical piece by James Bastien along with the Alfred's book 2 that I'm currently using.

You will enjoy this book Classic Themes by the Masters , more for early intermediate. It has all the classical hits Beethoven's 5th, Fur Elise, Symphony #5, Air for the G String.

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#985888 - 12/31/04 07:33 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
it's a good idea to start learning some easy original classical pieces. you would learn technique along with your repertoire.

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#985889 - 12/31/04 07:47 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
gwood Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/01
Posts: 92
Loc: plano,tx
ha ha. Jerry, i hear ya. i did the alfred book 1; book 2 is not much better but does provide a nice progressive level of difficulty.

you may also want to look at the thompson books (level 2 and level 3 especially). and as others posted above, there are several books with compilation of classical pieces that are not "dumbed down". most come with CDs as well which is helpful.

sounds like you are doing well with some of the supplmental sheet music. boredom can definitely slow progress. just buy buy buy. i have more music than i could ever possibly learn to play in a lifetime but i still visit the music store at least a couple times a month and buy something else. i have such big plans \:\)

good luck to you,
gw.

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#985890 - 12/31/04 07:53 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
divadeb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 677
Jerry,

Don't buy the books with the simplified arrangements of classical 'themes'. Learn real pieces, simple because they are simpler pieces, not because somebody reinvented them by leaving out most of the notes. There are a lot of pieces/collections that you can play from at your current level. Since you're teaching yourself, I would encourage you to follow your method book for your theory and technique and pick pieces that are complementary to what you're studying to flesh out the dumb songs in the method book. If you hate the dumb song, don't bother with it...you're the teacher, assign yourself something else.

If it would help, you could post when you come up against a particularly heinous "method piece"...and one of us could suggest a more interesting alternative. Many of the greatest of our classical composers were also teachers who wrote pieces on many levels for their students to play. You've come far enough to reward yourself with good music. Alfred piano method books never taught anyone to play the piano. You're teaching you. Teachers teach. Don't be afraid to break away from the book, you can only broaden your horizons by branching out.

I agree with Bob, don't settle for simplified arrangements of classical "themes". There is plenty of *real* classical music you can play at your current level and from here on out.
_________________________
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#985891 - 12/31/04 08:47 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Luke:
Thanks for the link, Lucky.

I was actually thinking about getting this book . Seems more my speed! \:\) [/b]
Jerry, do not buy this book, too fake, and most pieces there are not only just easy arrangement of the original ones but also not even in the original key signature. it's a bad choice. divadeb is right, and you need to find some original pieces which are easy enough for you. if you can play Scarlatti's K32, then you'd find a lot of similar level original pieces like that.

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#985892 - 12/31/04 09:16 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
plays88skeys Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 3091
Loc: Richmond, VA
Jerry, Alfred has a series of books called "Masterworks Classics" that are geared for each level of accomplishment. They are, for the most part, the original score (with a few simpler arrangements of more advanced pieces). I think this might make you happy.

Also, Bach's Anna Magdalena Notebook would be fun.
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#985893 - 12/31/04 09:30 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
You may be ready for the "Celebration Series" from Frederick Harris. It is a graded series that is the real deal. I am placing the link below. I would suggest you get the CD that goes with each set of books as it helps to be able to listen to the piece.

http://www.frederickharrismusic.com/fhmcUS/Frederick.jsp

Have fun,
Steve
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#985894 - 12/31/04 12:46 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
kiwinat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/09/04
Posts: 11
Loc: New Zealand
Hi everyone

This is my first post on this forum. Actually on any forum ever.

I've been learning for about six months - started with the Alfred Book one but got sick of it much faster than Jerry Luke.

My daughter is doing Suzuki piano and I've been learning her pieces. I'm on Book Two and the pieces are solidly classical - eg Schumann the happy farmer, Bach minuets etc. Each piece seems to introduce something new.They don't seem to be dumbed down although some seem to be heavily edited. I'm really enjoying them although I'm not sure I could learn some of them without a teacher.

Natalie

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#985895 - 12/31/04 01:49 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Frank R Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/03
Posts: 569
Loc: Anaheim Hills, CA
I am just about finished with book 2 of Alfred's. This music isn't what I really want to be playing. However, it's all basic stuff that I need to learn. I'll be starting my 3rd year in January and Alfred's book three is what I'll be working from. After that everything will be original classical music. I am being very patient and not trying to play a lot of music that is too hard for me. The progression of the Alfred books is making a lot of sense to me and I am happy with my progress. I can sure understand how anyone could go crazy with some of it though, especially adults, we tend to see what we want to be playing and all the possibilities. The problem at least for me is if I try the harder stuff that I'm not ready for I tend to neglect the stuff that I should be learning and my progress slows. I just keep telling myself :rolleyes: ENJOY THE PROCESS. Hopefully this plan will pay off.

I think the thing that really is keeping me going is the fake book work and voicing that we are doing. It is so different from the method books that it's almost like playing a different instrument, if that makes any sense. Not easy stuff at all but the learning curve on it is great because I can see that within a couple of years I will be able to sight read hundreds of songs. VERY COOL !!!!
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Frank
--------------------------
It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not!

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#985896 - 12/31/04 03:39 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
gwood Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/01
Posts: 92
Loc: plano,tx
another one you may enjoy:

Essential Keyboard Repertoire (volume 1) with CD

contains about 100 pieces from baroque to modern in their ORIGINAL form. the vol 1 should not be a problem once you finish the alfred book 1. nice pieces and not watered down.

gw

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#985897 - 12/31/04 03:49 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
AdagioM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 723
Loc: Oregon
Jerry,

I love the Suzuki Piano Method repertoire, through book 5 (where I stopped). After the first book (folk songs), great classical, well chosen, not watered down at all.

And I've just started working through Essential Keyboard Repertoire I for reading fun. I've decided that this year, I am going to get serious about reading. I lose so much harder repertoire by not keeping it up, but I think if I improve my reading and theory, that will go a long way to fill in gaps. I hate when I've been too busy to keep up repertoire and end up having only three things I can play!

Best of luck to you. Go for the real stuff; you won't regret it.

Michele
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http://pdxknitterati.com

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#985898 - 12/31/04 04:06 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
Jerry another good book compiled and edited by Helen Marlais, FJH Music Company is "Succeeding with the Masters" works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, complete and unabridged. There is a CD and some very excellent instructions on dynamics and technique included, highly recommended. The works are early Intermediate/Intermediate level.

Another good one is "The Joy of First Classics" compiled and edited by Denes Agay, Yorktown Music Press. Early Intermediate original pieces, some quite nice. My only objection, being an adult, is the illustration on the front cover of a pre-pubescent boy and girl, one playing and the girl gazing. The illustration is decidely '50's. No problem, I just keep it covered when adults are around.

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#985899 - 12/31/04 07:13 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
Hi Jerry, I am sorry if I may have misleaded you into buying this book but it's definitely never my intention to do so because I was ignorant until Bob, Signa and the rest talked about the originality.

But what I am confused is that some of you claims that the pieces are simplified and easy but it seems so difficult as I see now even when they ranked it as "Early Beginners" I showed this book to my teacher and he told me that it's more for people playing piano for 2-3 years ???!!! So ??? Please enlighten me more ......
_________________________
An apple a day keep the doctor away,
A smile a day chase your sadness away,
A chat a day drive all loneliness away,
And a prayer a day never keep our Jesus away
And let's praise our Lord, our King, our God all the way ....

Top
#985900 - 12/31/04 07:29 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
I think you're getting confused Luckychwee. You're talking about "Easy Piano Classics" which someone said had the original arrangments, while Jerry mentioned "My First Book of Classical Music" which is definitley simplified.

Does your book include the entire Fur Elise, or just the first section?

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#985901 - 12/31/04 07:31 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
Jerry and Lucky- I don't know if it was you who asked about this the other day but there's a book by Hal-Leonard called The World's Great Classical Music - Great Easier Piano Literature. It is all original - not arranged. LOTS of really easy stuff in it. ISBN is 0-7935-8257-1. If you can read at all there is stuff in here you can sightread - guaranty it.
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

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#985902 - 12/31/04 07:51 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
Haha Bob yeah after I posted I realised that I may have make an mistake as I had skipped the reply by Jerry the Tom \:D Last few days have been quite glued to the news of the tsunami and didnt logged into this forum for couple of days. Really feel sad that this has killed hundred of thousands but what happen will happen \:\( T R I B U L A T I O N
_________________________
An apple a day keep the doctor away,
A smile a day chase your sadness away,
A chat a day drive all loneliness away,
And a prayer a day never keep our Jesus away
And let's praise our Lord, our King, our God all the way ....

Top
#985903 - 12/31/04 07:57 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
Hi Teachbum, thanks for the link but it's not me whom asked \:\) .

There is an customer review by this Jennifer and she said that this is for early intermediate. Is it ideal for someone who learn piano within the first year ?

I've just bought the earlier one and I do not want to buy another one which have to lie on the shelf until 2 years later \:D
_________________________
An apple a day keep the doctor away,
A smile a day chase your sadness away,
A chat a day drive all loneliness away,
And a prayer a day never keep our Jesus away
And let's praise our Lord, our King, our God all the way ....

Top
#985904 - 12/31/04 10:05 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
luckychwee, yours 'Easy Piano Classics' could last quite long time for you. because all pieces there are original, not all of them are really easy. so, choose only those you feel easy enough for you now, don't worry about others until later you're ready for them. when i started playing, i only learned 1st part of Fur Elise (bar 1-12?) and never completed learning the whole piece until this year. it is the very first piece i tried, although only the first few bars...

happy new year!

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#985905 - 01/01/05 01:30 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3515
Loc: not in Japan anymore
To Jerry, and others working through a method, I humbly offer comments based from my own expereince, which is that choosing songs because you want to play them, and working on music that you love is an incredibly motivating thing.

If you are working through songs that you don't want to play simply because they are in the method (and of course they offer some musical point/technique that you want to learn), there is no reason to stick strictly to the method book, esp when it has you playing songs that don't thrill you.

How about trying to go back and forth between method book and some piece that you choose for yourself? Is the Alfred book divided into sections within each book? How about playing a piece of your own choosing after completing each section? This could be like a little reward you give yourself. It will also give you the experience of choosing songs by yourself, which is not necessarily straight-forward. You may choose a song, start working on it and find it's too difficult. Or you may spend a lot of time working up a piece and then decide that you don't really like it after all.

If you know that at the end of a section of the method book, you get to choose your own song, that will be much more motivating than thinking you won't start doing that until you finsh *all-three* method books. Just my opinion, either way it sounds like you're making great progress, keep it up!
_________________________
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#985906 - 01/01/05 07:18 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
If you know that at the end of a section of the method book, you get to choose your own song, that will be much more motivating than thinking you won't start doing that until you finsh *all-three* method books. Just my opinion, either way it sounds like you're making great progress, keep it up! [/b]

I agree with the above statement 100%! As an adult student, why waste time on method books when there is a world of music to learn and play in its original form. Technique can be learned in these pieces and I would venture to guess that you will learn faster than plowing through method pieces you really don't care for.

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#985907 - 01/01/05 09:04 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
I'm in the 5th Alfred book, and plan to complete the 6th.. and I understand what everyone means about not wanting to play the pieces.

However.. they do teach you something. Funny how each time I finish a book I realize how much better I am for having slogged through them.

Perhaps one answer here is that you don't have to polish these pieces to perfection. Just practice them enough to absorb the learning. Once you reach the third and fourth Alfred books there are some very cool pieces.

You might also get some of the Alfred Classic and Recital books for your level. They have some nice stuff. There are easier arrangements of classical music that can be very satisfying to learn and play. This may be heresy to some, but if you are going to be playing contemporary music, well that is ALL arrangements. If you enjoy playing the piece, where is the harm? The worst that can happen is you are familiar with the piece when you come to learn the real thing.

At a year to 3 years or so I found it exceptionally easy to look at a piece, think I could play it well then get discouraged because it was just beyond my level. That wastes money on books (voice of experience) and, even more precious, time. The truth is the more you play the better you will get. But I think there is little point in endeavoring to play pieces that are considerably beyond your level, and that can be very hard to determine.

At 3 and a half years there is a lot of music I can play, original and arranged. My advice would be to be patient and follow the method you have chosen. There is method in the madness.
_________________________
Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#985908 - 01/01/05 09:44 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"This may be heresy to some"

It's not heresy to me. I think simplified music has its place. If you have your heart set on playing Rach-3 but you know you'll never acquire the technique to play it properly, then go ahead a learn a simplified version.

On the other hand, it you believe that eventually you'll have the technique to play the piece you want to play, then why waste time on a simplified version when you could play original pieces that can help acquire that technique and provide beautiful music to play at the same time.

I think if you're going to learn without a teacher, then method books are the best way to learn the various techniques and annotations. You're basically exchanging money for time though. By spending money on a good teacher, you save a LOT of time.

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#985909 - 01/01/05 10:05 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
Lucky/Jerry - Whichever of you is needing the stuff. The book I mentioned has some really simple stuff in it. And as for books lying around for a couple of books - hey I've got books that I may not get to for five years (if I'm lucky!) In my opinion you need lots of music and as Bob, Diva and several others have mentioned, I think also think it's important to play original, music at whatever level you are. My first teacher was a Julliard Grad with a PHD in musicology and she did not believe in using method books. Especially for adults. I'm not saying there aren't some good ones, but there is so much beautiful, simple music that you can learn from. The scales, arpeggios, harmonies are all out there in REAL music. Just my thoughts. Boredom and dissatisfaction are anethma to an adult student.
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

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#985910 - 01/01/05 10:26 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
Jerry Luke Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 969
Loc: Tillamook, Oregon
Wow!! THANK YOU all so much for your thoughtful replies! I have received so many good suggestions, that I will now carefully re-read through each post and visit the links, and research the suggested books.

I really appreciate the fact that others understand my frustration and have come forward with realistic solutions. As I've said before in other posts, this forum is INVALUABLE. I would be lost without it. Thanks, again! \:\) \:\)
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#985911 - 01/01/05 01:59 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
Just as a postscript, I'm at my sister-in-law's house today and pulled out some of her kids' level 3 & 4 Alfred Jazz/Blues books for some sight reading practice.

Some nice pieces in them, and good lessons.

I do have a question to pose: At a fairly early stage, which is where Jerry and Lucky both are, what is the true virtue of playing original tunes over easier arrangements of more complicated pieces?

Like writing, painting or anything else of the ilk, you must first learn your craft in order to develop your art to its potential. However you find to do that is fine. But you need a roadmap, either from a teacher or a method of some sort, in order to know what it is you need to learn.
_________________________
Michael

====

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.'

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#985912 - 01/01/05 02:50 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
I do have a question to pose: At a fairly early stage, which is where Jerry and Lucky both are, what is the true virtue of playing original tunes over easier arrangements of more complicated pieces? [/b]

This is indeed a good question. My position would be to the opposite of yours Michael, that is focus on the original and supplement with easy arrangements for fun. Personally I have gained much more technique going that route. I have tackled a few quite challenging original pieces that require much repetition and a lot of work but it is paying off in DEVELOPING better technique at a more rapid pace. I still do supplemental easy play pop and jazz pieces because, at the present time, they are a bit beyond me in their original form and I haven't really developed the musicality to pull them off, jazz is tough stuff and it takes loads of technique and proper phrasing.

We are all different and what works for one may not for another. My redirection away from the method books was at the urging of my current teacher who after 1 month with him saw no reason to continue after completion of the 2nd Bastien book. In retrospect, a good move.

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#985913 - 01/01/05 02:52 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
SAS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/04
Posts: 640
Loc: Austin, TX
I am in Bastien's Book 2 of Piano for Adults and don't really like it. There is a lot of stuff in there I don't want to play. There are things you can learn from a book like this and from playing the pieces, and my teacher has me going through the book, but I'm not enjoying it that much. We resume lessons next weekend so I'm going to ask her about it. I have another book I like better, "I Used to Play Piano" and am working on Pachabel's Canon in the book, it's a simplified version obviously, but I'm enjoying playing it. Someday I hope to play the real version but for now I'm happy to do this. Generally I agree that I'd rather play the real piece, but occasionally it's fun to play something else in a simplified version.

My husband bought me two books for Christmas that I think will be good, "First Lesson in Bach" and "An Introduction to: Classics to Moderns, Forty very Easy Original Keyboard Pieces". Some are too easy but I'm enjoying these books a lot more than the Bastien. Both have original pieces in them, not ones arranged for someone of my level.

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#985914 - 01/01/05 04:32 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
Vintagefingers,

You sound like a very fast learner! Certainly motivated. It would appear that our methods of learning are more alike than they are different.

We both use harder pieces, which the method pieces can be, and play a mix of original scores and easier arrangements.

When you set out to pick a piece, does your teacher help you select pieces based on the techniques and concepts they incorporate?
_________________________
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====

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#985915 - 01/01/05 07:14 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3515
Loc: not in Japan anymore
A few people have talked about not using method books at all, but I wanted to add that for someone who is learning on their own and doesn't have a teacher, using a method book is certainly very important. I personally wouldn't recommend giving up the method books completely, only using them in conjunction with pieces of music that you choose for yourself.

Regarding music in easy arrangements, there are good arguments both in favor of and against playing them. If you eventually want to play the original, it can be beneficial to gain familiarity with the piece through an easier arrangement, but you may need some time away from the piece after playing the easier one before you start in on the original (esp if the easier one has been put into a different key).

I tend to naturally choose easy pieces (either originals or arrangements) after working through very difficult ones. I don't think there's much to be gained (except frustration) from working through a piece that is way beyond my level, but there are pieces that are so hard that I need to work on them for months before I can even play through to the end. After doing a piece like this, I always choose a piece that I can make playable in a short amount of time. By doing this over and over, I have been able to build up a repertoire that includes long and elaborate songs along with short simple pieces, and when I play for people I am able to have a variety of pieces to share.

And as a learner, for me anyway, it's this balance between hard and easy, quick and slow progress, that helps me maintain my motivation.
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#985916 - 01/01/05 07:30 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
Actually not Michael, I generally select which ones I want to play. I realize the pieces I can't or don't want to spend time learning at this stage of development. I have a sense when something is beyond me so far as the time required to learn because of multiple complex skills that I haven't developed and I stay away from them with one exception....Chopin's Nocturne Opus 9 #2 but verrrry slowly and not regularly. My teacher has encouraged me with this piece but also told me to take it slow and set it aside if the going gets too tough. It is not a major focus but a piece I hope to have learned by 2006, we'll see. I firmly believe you have to continually push the envelope to progress at a faster clip....as long as the brain cells hold up!

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#985917 - 01/01/05 07:37 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3515
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Vintagefingers makes a really good point I think. Playing pieces at the outer edges of your ability is another way to force yourself to progress, to develop new skills. If you only ever play simple pieces or pieces within your current skill level, how will you get beyond that level?

You just have to have a balance so that you're not doing something that's entirely impossible, just difficult enough. This balance is hard to find, but worth looking for and practicing on.
_________________________
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#985918 - 01/03/05 10:07 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Luckychwee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 231
Loc: Singapore
Well, there are some different views on whether to play original versus simplified pieces.

As a fresh beginner, music is something very foreign to me and every single tune sound nice to me. Take for example, someone play a simple silent night I will say it's nice as well as someone plays chopin pieces. The reason for me saying that is probably because I am too new to know how to appreciate music in different perspective.

Of course it will be good to learn "original" pieces but let's say I like a piece but I simply unable to play that now, wouldnt it be nice if I can play a simplified version now than later or even "Never ????"

As Bob has mentioned several times in other posts, life is too short and time is moving fast.
If I like "fur elise" must I wait till 2 years later to play this piece or I can play a much simplier one now ??? Just a thought ....
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#985919 - 01/04/05 07:34 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"must I wait till 2 years later to play this piece or I can play a much simplier one now ???"

You can do anything you want in the privacy of your own home. ;\)

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#985920 - 01/04/05 08:30 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
 Quote:
I do have a question to pose: At a fairly early stage, which is where Jerry and Lucky both are, what is the true virtue of playing original tunes over easier arrangements of more complicated pieces?
I'll take a cut at this question too, but first let me lay my cards on the table . . .

When it comes to advising someone on how to learn the piano, I have no idea what I'm talking about. All I have is my own experience, which was never self-taught. I did do a brief and unsuccessful attempt ages ago with an adult method book and a teacher who wasn't good at all. That's the very limited foundation for my remarks.

I feel like I have trouble understanding the *point* of method books (well, the ones I'm familiar with) for self-taught students. Too many of them give you "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie" when they could give you a "Rondo" Mozart wrote when he was 5, which is simple but cute.

I imagine there must be three problems facing self-taught students who want to use repertoire to learn rather than a method book. First, it's hard to know what the simple pieces *are* and what they sound like. Second, it's hard to get motivated and organized. Third, if you see something you don't recognize (double sharp, ornament), it's hard to know what exactly is being indicated without a book or person to tell you. All real and important obstacles, definitely.

Anyway, all of this is leading up to a question of my own. Several here have said the method books teach you things, but what exactly do they teach you? I mean no disrespect, but I honestly don't understand. I remember that they would give you a key signature, show you a triad in root position for that key signature, and give you a single note melody on the right hand. A couple more songs, then it was on to the next key signature, perhaps.

But to take Bob's example of "Fur Elise," it would be possible to have the sheet music, the circle of fifths and a chord chart, and you'd have most everything the method book would teach you, right?

Anyway, on to the actual question posed . . . I think it is perfectly fine to play arrangements of difficult work. It's not fine to play "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie" if you don't like it, though.

FWIW, when my teacher started me off, I had Junior Hanon, a simple sight-reading book, a book for developing dexterity ("Artistry at the Piano") and a book of John Thompson's arranged pieces ("Blue Danub," etc.). "Artistry at the Piano" might be just up your street. I started with Level 2, and DH is doing level 2 also and seems to like the pieces. The idea behind it was to offer the student original pieces written to mimic various classical styles.

I suggest you look at the "Artistry at the Piano" stuff to make sure you're on board before you buy it. Also, it comes in for some criticism because it doesn't do much for developing independence of the hands because there aren't intricate patterns between the hands, at least not at level 2.

Artistry at the Piano

The other book was John Thompson's "Adult Piano Book II." I can't seem to find this book on google or SheetMusic.com. If you're interested, I'll ask my teacher where she got it . . .

There's my ramble for the day!
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#985921 - 01/04/05 09:37 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"Several here have said the method books teach you things, but what exactly do they teach you?"

They teach you everything step by step. In other words, they may introduce a new key, but they'll also introduce some kind of notation or ornament as well.

They also slowly introduct different hand positions. They start out with the fingers fairly close together and then introduct simple pieces that start spreading the fingers out.

One problem with them as a self-learner is that the things introduced are usually only explained once and then it's assumed the student remembers what it was. With a teacher, you can always ask what that mark meant, but alone, it can be time consuming trying to find the little footnote that mentioned the mark in question.

But they do explain everything and there are reasons for pieces like "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie" and "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" rather than pure classical. The main reason is that the adult will almost definitely already know how the song goes. That way they don't have to find a recording of the piece to figure out how it's supposed to sound. Another is so the adult who isn't necessarily classically oriented doesn't get bored and give up too soon.

The farther along in the method you get, the more complex the pieces and the longer it takes to get through them.

As you say, on your own, it's very, very difficult to learn how to play something like Fur Elise because there are things in it that only a teacher can explain and demonstrate. Personally, I think there is room in the publishing industry for a book/DVD combo set that teaches a single piece. There are too many people who, for many different reasons, do not want to have a live teacher.

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#985922 - 01/04/05 10:50 AM Re: Sick of method pieces
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Or a book/DVD combo set that walks the student through original and arranged pieces by famous composers, like Mozart . . .

It sounds like Alfred could use a CD, too.
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#985923 - 01/04/05 12:02 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"Or a book/DVD combo set that walks the student through original and arranged pieces by famous composers, like Mozart . . ."

Exactly, that's what I meant.

"It sounds like Alfred could use a CD, too."

Actually, CDs are available for their courses. Either purchased with the book or separately.

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#985924 - 01/04/05 12:58 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
Or a book/DVD combo set that walks the student through original and arranged pieces by famous composers, like Mozart . . . [/b]

This IS such a book "Succeeding with the Masters" Helen Marlais, FJH Music Company

Works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, complete and unabridged. She plays through each piece on the CD, then goes back and breaks down some of the elements of the measures including transition phrasing, trills, dynamics, timing and other technique excercises. This is probably the best instruction book I've come across, that my teacher was quite excited by. These pieces are early intermediate/intermediate level. They take the guess work out of how the pieces should sound. The most beneficial aspect is assimilating the finer details of musicianship.

First learn to play the notes then shall the REAL practice commence.

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#985925 - 01/04/05 03:38 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Hi, Jerry,

I've had a very similar experience with you. I started out using the Alfred Adult Book 1 to teach myself, and I found the pieces and arrangements uninteresting. When I got a teacher a month later he started me on the Celebration Series. I really enjoy this set of books, great pieces, good insights and practising tips.

I've used this series in the past 4 months with my teacher (I'm very new in learning piano). I've also started to look at The Piano Handbook (recommended by some people on this forum), which is comprehensive but moves at a fast pace.

I still have the Alfred books around, in case there is something basic that I need to double check. I see their merits, and I think a beginner who doesn't know much about music theory could benefit a lot from them. But I'm still glad that I read music fairly well when I started learning piano so I didn't have to rely on these books.

Hope you find the books you like and have fun!

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#985926 - 01/04/05 03:51 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Excellent book Vintagefingers! The price is right too, $10 and that includes the CD! I picked up Vol. 1 today and I'll probably start in on it when I finish up Fur Elise.

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#985927 - 01/04/05 05:49 PM Re: Sick of method pieces
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
yes Bob it is very good. My teacher presented it to me as one of the better books he has come across and in my infancy of learning this instrument I couldn't agree more!

Hi Childofparadise

With your reference to "The Piano Handbook", it is just a superb book the more time I spend with it. I look at it as a supplemental reference work, not to be viewed as a tool in and of itself to learn the instrument although there are many valuable tips and information in its pages.

One area it is quite beneficial and worthwhile to me is in the recommendations of recordings by many of the pianists of the last century. It also links the pianists with the composers they are best associated with. I think this alone is almost worth the price of the book along with the list of books to be used for more comprehensive study at various levels. There is no single book that can be everything in learning to play piano but I consider this ONE essential for both beginner and accomplished pianist alike.

If for nothing else it is a good coffee table book! I bought a copy for my teacher for X-mas and he loves it. He put it where I expected he might, in his waiting room. I love it when a plan works ;\)

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