Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I

Posted by: Snoopy329

Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I - 02/05/13 12:34 AM

Hi all. I wasn't sure if I should post here or in the teachers forum but, maybe the teachers will read my post here or a moderator will move it.

This is my first post. I've been lurking for the past 6 months here at pianoworld and all over the internet trying to weed thru the mountain of information on learning piano both for myself and my two sons.

I have a few questions and would like some opinions but, I guess I should give a little background on myself first since I am going to be a regular poster here. I am 37 years of age. I've had a passion for music ever since I was a little boy but, I had a father who would never let me take music lessons. Fast foward to age 21, I decided to take up piano. My piano teacher said I was an "adult prodigy". Unfortunately, after only 1 year, I had to give up lessons due to much stress in my family life and personal life. In that 1 year though, I learned many different pieces from various composers (bach, debussy, chopin, mompou,) and had begun to learn Chopin's Etude in C. I never learned any theory or scales, arpeggios etc...

Fast forward to now. Six months ago I decided to take up piano again because I finally have some free time and have the support of my wife. The main reason though is because I want to teach my 2 sons. I live in a small town and the options of music teachers is a handful. In fact, its only 3 and I have not heard very good things about their "results".

In 6 months, I have learned the 12 major, minor and harmonic minor scales and am playing them at 360bpm. Major arpeggios at 300bpm. I have done some hanon exercises (which I love) and am reading every theory and technique book I can.

So questions... What grade level would my scale speed be according to the ABRSM? I can't figure out how they do it at their website.

I have been teaching my oldest son for 5 months and he is already playing his 6 major and 6 minor scales at 180bpm. He just turned 7. He knows all his major triads in both hands and plays his broken chords in c and d major. He's learned over 30 children's in his 5 finger position (some jumps and crossovers) and plays the entire main theme of Beethoven's Fur Elise (the official version). I am leaning towards beginning him and myself on the "Celebration Series Perspectives Piano Repertoire" Grade 1. I would like the opinion of teachers and members regarding this and welcome any suggestions. Thank you all in advance.
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I - 02/05/13 01:23 AM

I would recommend also posting this on the teachers forum as they could provide much more educated advice than the opinions of us [mostly] beginners here
Posted by: 4evrBeginR

Re: Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I - 02/05/13 01:41 AM

I am not familiar with ABRSM requirements, but I know the RCM requirements. Speed is not that important in the early grades. The whole point of scale is not speed but perfect evenness. Two hands scale should be perfectly sync for two hands that sound as one. The kind of speed you are playing is only required for grade 10 RCM, and I wonder how well you are actully playing them after so short a time to achieve such high velocity. I am not doubting you as a prodigy. In any case, when my kids began scale, all they wanted to do was speed because they see that done on the videos by professionals. I always had to remind them to slow down and do it right.

For example, lots of beginners play scale by accenting their thumbs. It's a bit disturbing to hear at any speed, and not easy to unlearned when going fast. Also, there is an easy tendency to play with the two hands slightly out of sync especially when one hand is doing the thumb over or under motion. Speed could mask the effect a bit, but the result is a slight sloppiness. Scale is about perfection, not about speed. In fact, for a beginner to go fast too early could be detrimental because it could encourage tension instead of learning relaxation, which is really important for syncing the two hands.
Posted by: Snoopy329

Re: Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I - 02/05/13 09:15 AM

Thanks for your responses. I'll post my post again in teacher's forums like you suggested and hopefully get some answers regarding the Celebration Series Perspectives "curriculum".

I agree with you regarding the scales. I am a perfectionist and I don't do things unless I do them right. I could be playing my scales quite a bit faster but then I lose evenness and sync so I stay at 360bmp. I am working my speed up gradually. I began at 60bmp and only moved up when I felt I total control at that speed. I too have to tell my oldest son to slow down. Just like you kids, he wants to do it like the professionals in the videos.

Thanks again!
Posted by: 4evrBeginR

Re: Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I - 02/05/13 01:52 PM

My teacher follows the RCM program and uses the Celebration Series. This is an excellent series with lots of variety. It ensures you are not neglecting any aspect of classical piano for those who are preparing for the exams. I really enjoy learning from this series. The notation and fingering in general is very good, and the difficulty levels from grade to grade ramp gradually and but noticeably as well. My children both started the series at grade P, skipping grade 1 and grade 4 passing me now to grade 6. The deadline for registration for spring exams is coming up soon.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I - 02/07/13 10:38 AM

Well, the teachers were blown off in the teacher forum, so I don't know if there is a point in writing anything here. I wrote my concerns there because that's where I first read the OP - didn't see this one.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I - 02/07/13 11:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Snoopy329
... Just like you kids, he wants to do it like the professionals in the videos...



Too bad there are no videos of "the professionals in the videos" practicing when they were kids.
Posted by: 4evrBeginR

Re: Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I - 02/07/13 04:37 PM

I think this comes close -
Posted by: keystring

Re: Question about my choice in curriculum for my sons and I - 02/08/13 06:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Snoopy329
I too have to tell my oldest son to slow down. Just like you kids, he wants to do it like the professionals in the videos.

You can tell him that the professionals in the videos do not practice like that, and they definitely didn't do so when they started. How a professional performs, and how he practices, are two different things.