"revolutionary" piano - Anything new under the sun?

Explore a new topic relevant to piano education monthly

Moderator: Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:14 am

Anybody who, like me, has spent time examining software and materials offered on the web for teaching and learning piano has seen the term "revolutionary" applied to virtually every piano learning product offered. While it's probably fair to characterize much of that as advertising hype, done in an attempt to sell a product, it raises the question of what methods, materials and approaches there are to piano that might be really new and different, yet, demonstrably effective. What, if anything, out there will change the way we think about learning piano? What elements of the "old" should be preserved and what discarded for something better? Do you use any materials which you consider to be particularly new in approach or presentation? Has everything that could and should be done in teaching and learning piano already been used?

I have some views on this topic, but I'll save them for after others have commented. :)
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
User avatar
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed
Site Admin
 
Posts: 994
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 6:46 pm
Location: Rio Rancho, NM USA

Postby Stretto » Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:52 pm

OK, I've been thinking but can't come up with anything "new" and "up-and-coming". Their are 2 areas that I can think of more in generalities than specifics. One is we as teachers do have to think more seriously about the advantages computers can provide in the whole piano learning process. I don't know too much about the software for learning to play the piano. I have been and want to do more in the way of writing worksheets for students using the computer. (It takes a lot longer to write sheets out by hand and they are less professional in appearance). I've also written and plan to do more writing of simple "arrangements" of tunes for beginning students with composition software. They are mostly songs students inquire about that I can't find the music for or tunes that I can find only "watered down" versions of rythmically. Or to avoid having a student buy a book with only one or two songs of interest.

The other thing I see becoming more wide-spread in the piano/music realm is increasing awareness of the "ergonomics" of playing the piano. When I used to complain about something as simple as heights of benches, I don't feel I was taken very seriously. There seems to be more programs available to help pianists play their instrument void of injury. I would like to see such programs become more widespread so that every teacher and pianist can learn how prevent injury related to playing the instrument.




Edited By Stretto on 1142539153
Stretto
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.

Postby 108-1121887355 » Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:19 pm

I like to think that there is always something new to learn.

Much of my learning, as I have said, comes from my students. The questions they ask, the music they request, the compostition they write,
and on.

Society changes - we change, our students change - everything changes!

Not being a big computer person, I do not know all the capabilities one can do with computers and music. I am sure it can add much. The instrument itself, however, is the most important.

I reiterate, if I can share my love and knowledge of music with others and they learn and enjoy, I can not ask for more. Yes, I am always looking for new ways, new ideas to stimulate and interest and excite my students.


I still feel that beginning with rote teaching is the best! I also see many benefits with group lessons or get togethers!

Still thinking, still learning,

:cool:

Joan
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sat Mar 18, 2006 10:24 am

Now that some others have given their views on this topic, let me start by commenting on the last of my questions regarding whether everything than can be done in teaching piano has already been done. In many fields, throughout history, people have made the argument that all the "important" things have already been done or discovered. The classic example is the field of physics just prior to Einstein's theory of special relativity, when people argued that all the important physics had been done and that what was left to do was just "details." Of course, as many of us know, nothing could have been further from the truth. Thus, I think it's risky and, perhaps, a little arrogant to argue that everything that can and should be done in teaching piano has been done.

If there are things out there that should be done, what are they likely to be? The parameters of teaching piano are, at root, set by the capabilities and structure of the instrument. These are unlikely to change much, given the advanced state of development of the piano as a mechanical device. Thus, we are really talking not so much about innovations with respect to the instrument (putting aside the very innovative digital keyboard), but in ways of presenting the material and training the mind and hands.

The impact of computers and software on music training has already been mentioned. This development has been going on for about 20 years and shows no signs of lessening in the near future. While there are some ways in which teaching studios could use the new technology, beyond what they do now (e.g. the possibilities for teacher-aided home training brought about by VPN technology), computer technology has already permeated the piano teaching profession in so many ways that one can find some kind of software/hardware-based help for virtually any piano-training problem. The problem for the teacher is putting these aids in the proper context of a total training program.

At the risk of upsetting some teachers, let me suggest one area where dramatic improvements could be made, at least in principle. We have talked often on the site about the fact that good teachers will adapt their teaching to the specific needs of the individual student. Many teachers have a sort of innate sense of how to do this (or, at least, believe they do), but most don't go about it in any systematic way.

I believe that some tools which help the teacher evaluate the student in terms of the ways he learns best (aural, tactile, visual, books, videos, personal demonstation) and what motivates him most might be a tremendous help for teachers. What I'm getting at here is a set of questions, properly designed and scored, that the student answers about himself, probably most easily delivered in software, which allows the teacher to design her approach to that student, systematically from "day one." This would work a little like the MMPI (Minnesota Multi-phasic Personality Inventory) does for job testing, but would focus on piano learning. I'm not aware of any such tools out there available for the teacher, but if they were available and well-used, they might have a major, if not "revolutionary" impact on the quality of teaching. What do you think? :;):




Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1143123679
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
User avatar
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed
Site Admin
 
Posts: 994
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 6:46 pm
Location: Rio Rancho, NM USA

Postby Stretto » Sat Mar 18, 2006 1:09 pm

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:I believe that some tools which help the teacher evaluate the student in terms of the ways he learns best (aural, tactile, visual, books, videos, personal demonstation) and what motvates him most might be a termendous help for teachers. What I'm getting at here is a set of questions, properly designed and scored, that the student answers about himself, probably most easily delivered in software, which allows the teacher to design her approach to that student, systematically from "day one." This would work a little like the MMPI (Minnesota Multi-Phasic Inventory) does for job testing, but would focus on piano learning. I'm not aware of any such tools out there available for the teacher, but if they were available and well-used, they might have a major, if not "revolutionary" impact on the quality of teaching. What do you think? :;):

This sounds like a good idea, some systematic approach to discovering how an individual student learns best.

Right now, through trial and error, it can take me about a year at least to figure out what works and doesn't work for each individual student. For example, some like a challenge and get bored with "too easy" of material, while some get frustrated with "too hard" of material. It seems like I wind up "trying" a few pieces on for fit to see how a student handles something slightly above their skill. Some students will lose motivation if the material is either too easy or too hard. I know this is just one example of what you mean, however.

The only thing is once you figure out something that works best for a particular student, they change!




Edited By Stretto on 1142715518
Stretto
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.

Postby 108-1121887355 » Sat Mar 18, 2006 9:39 pm

Agree with everything. Dr. Z. Now, when did you say you were coming up with these questions?

It does take time to get to know each student and they do change!

:p
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sun Mar 19, 2006 11:57 am

loveapiano wrote:Agree with everything. Dr. Z. Now, when did you say you were coming up with these questions?

I was afraid you would ask that. :D

It took years of work to develop the MMPI, the closest parallel that I'm aware of. It undergoes constant revision and updating. For what it's worth, I have been giving some thought to this and have solicited help from my wife, who is knowledgeable about general and special education testing. The implementation is just as important as the test questions themselves, so it can't be done trivially.

For those who may not be aware of the MMPI, it is implemented as a long series of multiple choice (agree, slightly agree, neutral, slightly disagree, disagree) questions which the subject answers on a written form. It is scored by machine. The text attempts to find a person's strengths by comparing him only to himself. It rates creativity, analytical, empathy and several other traits. Because one is compared to oneself, it can produce some surprising results. For example, in a person I know really well, the test showed a major strength in creativity, even though he is an analytically-minded scientist.

Anyway, are there any other areas out there that could change piano teaching and learning?
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
User avatar
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed
Site Admin
 
Posts: 994
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 6:46 pm
Location: Rio Rancho, NM USA

Postby 108-1121887355 » Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:50 am

I was afraid you would ask that.

It took years of work to develop the MMPI, the closest parallel that I'm aware of. It undergoes constant revision and updating. For what it's worth, I have been giving some thought to this and have solicited help from my wife, who is knowledgeable about general and special education testing. The implementation is just as important as the test questions themselves, so it can't be done trivally.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
I got the quote here, but not in the box?

Keep giving it thought, please, Dr. Z. For now, I do my own little questionaire and keep learning more about each student every week. It would save time and be most helpful to have such a 'test'

I think teaching is harder now than a few yars ago. The parent's and the student's lives seem to be too busy, there seems to be less disipline(ie time for practicing) and less sense of responsibility. It should be that children would take more responsibility as their parents may be taken less (as working more outside the home). I am not sure how it all works in society today. But I do know that there seems to be less time for practicing. When I ask, I often get, "I was too busy this week, I didn't have time, I had two soccer practices and a friend over and homework is hard" On a regular basis, there is not one studnet who tells me they can practice every day! (or even 5 days). "Well, I can practice Tuesday and Thursday, but I have gymnastics on Monday and art on Wednesday...etc. It is as though they go to one activity and then home to eat supper, do homework, and go to bed! I wonder how I got in my half hour of practice Mon-Fri before I was allowed out to play. But I did and I had time to ride my bike and play with my friends. But in those days, one did not have to make a "play date". I don't recall a lot of homework in elementary school, but maybe I just did not do it. I took dancing lessons and later was on a basketball team. Maybe there are just too many activities available and maybe parents encourage their children so they are busy while the parent is at work!?

Well, I can see I may get some repercussions on this and got off the subject.

I can only see a societal change to help as far as helping children learn to take responsibility for practicing and bringing their music to the lesson! Do you know how many parents pack up the music and how many take the briefcase the child hands them and carries it? I do not let it go by! If the child berates the parent for not packing a piece, I remind them, that is is their lesson, not the parent! Same for carrying the music!

To get back, as far as new ways to teach and learn, they are out there. Just keep your mind open, look for new ideas, read, and listen to your students. I don't think one really needs to "change" a lot to find new ways.


Joan

:p
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Postby Stretto » Mon Mar 20, 2006 1:27 pm

OK, loveapiano,

Are you sure you're not talking about my students as far as busy lives? They sound exactly the same.

I have one student who just started who is a "star" student. This student does everything I assign plus figures out more music alone that I didn't assign and practices 20 min. most every day without me even suggesting a certain amount of practice or number of days. The student is 9 by the way as one couldn't expect independent work as much from say 7 or younger. But compared to others in the same age bracket (9-12), most are having the same reasons as loveapiano mentioned for not practicing. This student's mom who does work full-time also says they are not into being spread out in several activities and for her child, piano is it. When I was a kid, our parents had a policy that we could be in one extra activity. When we all started being able to drive ourselves, then we were in a couple things at a time. I've actually heard a study done that kids who were spread so thin that they were hardly home have grown up with a lot of anger and resentment toward their parents for having them booked so solid. I'm not sure what they are angry about, perhaps missing the time to
"be kids".

Loveapiano,
Your post reminded me of a "revolutionary" approach I would like to see for piano lessons that would solve some of the problems of kids having no time and also free up parents time of transporting kids to lessons after work and having to wait on them.

What I would like to see become common place is facilities with after-school and summer programs adding small rooms with pianos in which students could sign up per semester to take private piano instruction at an additional fee right at the facility they go to for after school or summer programs. Also, if they could have some of the rooms free where students could sign up for half-hour time slots for practice. A student without a piano at home could even take lessons if they were able to take them at an after school or summer program and even practice there on a daily basis. The programs could hire piano instructors to give the lessons.

I don't know if there are any after school or summer programs that currently offer piano lessons and practice rooms at their facilities. While kids are spending their time there until parents get off work, what better thing to do with their time than take their music lessons and do their practice right there? When parents picked their child up after work, they would already have their lesson and practice out of the way and be able to spend the rest of the evening as they please without having to tote kids somewhere else for lessons and wait on them after getting off work.

Again, I would like to see piano lessons commonly made available right at after school and summer programs. I think it would alleviate a lot of the time constraints on families that society faces today.




Edited By Stretto on 1142883491
Stretto
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.

Postby 108-1121887355 » Mon Mar 20, 2006 8:08 pm

Great idea, Stretto.

I am afraid I got off the subject but any way to find more time to play and take lessons helps the teacher and the student! We have after school programs here in Acton and in Concrd and I imagine many schools have them. I wonder if I offered my teaching services, if they would have a room available for teaching? Pianos for the students to practice would be great too.
Maybe I will check it out and suggest it to the person in charge of the program.

Thanks

Joan
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Mar 21, 2006 9:23 am

Stretto wrote:What I would like to see become common place is facilities with after-school and summer programs adding small rooms with pianos in which students could sign up per semester to take private piano instruction at an additional fee right at the facility they go to for after school or summer programs. Also, if they could have some of the rooms free where students could sign up for half-hour time slots for practice. A student without a piano at home could even take lessons if they were able to take them at an after school or summer program and even practice there on a daily basis. The programs could hire piano instructors to give the lessons.

I don't know if this could be called "revolutionary," in that it's being done right now in lots of places, including in such far-flung and isolated sites as some of the Native American reservations here in New Mexico. A piano teacher acquaintance of mine taught such a program for some time at the To'hajiilee Navaho reservation about 40 miles west of Albuquerque. There are also some piano programs (or at least have been) in some schools out here.

Of course, like lots of other school activities, these have come under budget pressure. In many places, these programs have trouble finding qualified teachers, since after-school is the prime time slot for private teaching, as well. Perhaps you should advocate such a program where you live, especially if you're willing to teach it. :cool:

To get back to the original topic, are there any things that you would like to see happen that have the potential to be reasonably called "revolutionary" in teaching and learning piano? There is no shortage of material out there for teachers and students, but it's usually far less revolutionary than claimed.




Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1143045309
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
User avatar
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed
Site Admin
 
Posts: 994
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 6:46 pm
Location: Rio Rancho, NM USA

Postby Stretto » Fri Mar 24, 2006 10:36 pm

(What I meant by "revolutionary" in the way of piano lessons being made available in after school programs was to see it become COMMON PLACE to the point where almost every after school program offered private lessons. I was talking primarly in terms of such lessons being paid for via an additonal fee soley out of the pockets of those parents interested in signing their child up for lessons right at the after school care facility. At this juncture in my life, however, I would have to find babysitting or after school care for my own kids in order to participate as a teacher in such a program. Then I may as well be working outside the home myself.)

As far as the original topic, though, outside of maybe software programs, I can't think of anything "revolutionary" out there in the way of piano teaching and learning. Dr. Zeigler, could you give a few more examples of what you have heard of out there available to give us some ideas?

As for my own private piano teaching, even if I was aware of something "revolutionary" for teaching at least in the way of materials, I probably wouldn't use it simply due to lack of time in the lessons to add a lot of "fancy" extras. At a lesson, I go over a few technical excercises/scales and a little theory all in the first 10 minutes. Then the student plays the pieces they've been working on and we go over ways to improve on those pieces. Then we may look at a new piece together. If there is anytime left after that, which there rarely is, we may do a fun music related quiz on theory or ear-training, or listen to a cd and talk about the composer, or play a fun duet together. And that's about all there is time for. I really like to come up with ideas for music related learning activities that require a minimal amount of material if any as it saves me from keeping track of a lot of "extra stuff".




Edited By Stretto on 1143263434
Stretto
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.

Postby 108-1121887355 » Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:15 am

I agree. I kept coming back to thie site, but the word "revolutionary" kept me from replying again.

Outside of the computer's capabilities, the piano is still the piano and I cannot think of what "revolutionary" ideas could be forth coming. I consider myself flexible and open minded, maybe just not smart enough.

I am always trying new ideas, music, theory games. and so on - a lot of information I have gained from this site.

I guess I, too, need more guidance from you.

Joan
User avatar
108-1121887355
 

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Mar 27, 2006 2:18 pm

Stretto wrote:As far as the original topic, though, outside of maybe software programs, I can't think of anything "revolutionary" out there in the way of piano teaching and learning. Dr. Zeigler, could you give a few more examples of what you have heard of out there available to give us some ideas?

The fact that you can't think of anything truly revolutionary in what's out there is, by itself, a commentary on probably a hundred such claims you'll find on the net for various piano learning materials. They probably aren't anything like as "revolutionary" as claimed.

Your question is hard to answer, as phrased. Anything truly revolutionary is not likely to be readily apparent, given the mass of ho-hum stuff that is characterized in that manner. I don't claim to know about everything that exists to aid teaching piano, but I don't really know of anything currently available that could be considered revolutionary.

I offered one idea earlier in this thread, which I derived by thinking about piano teaching as a discipline. So, one way to approach this topic is to think about what would be really helpful to you in teaching and learning piano, but isn't available. Perhaps, the term "revolutionary" should be discarded and we should consider what would be most helpful in terms of incremental improvements that might be made. :)
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
User avatar
Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed
Site Admin
 
Posts: 994
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 6:46 pm
Location: Rio Rancho, NM USA

Postby RAC » Tue Apr 25, 2006 3:40 pm

To me, the "revolutionary" aspects are:

1. Changing the way people view learning/playing the piano. Most of the systems around these days are going for the "fun, play for your own enjoyment" aspects, NOT the traditional "play what you're told to play, and if you're not 'serious', don't bother playing/taking lessons at all" view.

Fairly or not, a lot of people put their children in piano lessons expecting them to become rich and famous and do a lot of guilt-tripping when they don't turn out that way--which is not usually the case when the same child is enrolled in guitar lessons or band class--the child is allowed to enjoy (or not) the musical experience (as well as the travel that often occurs with band) without a lot of pressure.

2. Software, yes, but also more and better ways to present information via DVDs--if you don't understand some concept the first time, you can replay the segment as many times as you like (and with some systems, you can also email the teacher with any questions). And instead of trying to scrunch down to see correct hand position, you can see an animated view, or a sideways view. Also you can use a laptop or portable DVD player to have your lessons right next to you at the piano (instead of having to have a TV nearby). A properly chaptered DVD is so much better than a VCR tape.

I wish more teachers would take the time/money to invest in making a DVD course for sale, if only for the fact that even if you scheduled in everyone you could (and they all paid top dollar, and on time to boot), you can still only reach so many people.... Just a thought, anyway.

Glad to see the board back!
User avatar
RAC
 

Next

Return to Topic of Note

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron