Teaching adults - Best method?

Discuss the pros and cons of various "methods" with other teachers

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Sep 06, 2005 7:43 am

Although we have dealt with adult piano methods a little on our Piano Methods page, adult piano methods are still one of the topics most asked for in our e-mail. This seems to reflect the increasing number of adults taking up piano later in life. Interestingly, adult teaching methods seem to be a concern in more than just the U.S.; we often receive requests about such methods in Spanish from PEP en Espanol. To provide a little more help for adult students, what method do you use or recommend, if any, to teach adults (and why). If you're an adult student, do you use a "method"?
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
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Postby Stretto » Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:32 pm

I haven't taught any adults personally but I would really enjoy doing so. I have taught a few students who began in early teens and I went with the adult methods for them. I really liked using Bastien's "Older Beginner Piano Course" in 2 levels. It has a good variety of familiar tunes that transcend time that everyone would enjoy especially folk-style, early American style tunes. I also like the pace of learning it provides, not too simple for older students, not too complex - just nice tunes with simple left-hand accompaniement. There is also a "Bastien Method for Adults" I am not familiar with.
I have looked over the Alfred's Adult methods from time to time at music stores and they look very good. They seem to have a good variety of music that adults would be familiar with and enjoy including quite a few pop songs.
It seems recently there is more and more as far as new music, new methods, updated methods coming out as compared with when I first started teaching 8 years ago. It makes it hard to keep up with the "newest and latest" material but it's nice to see material catering more and more to what student's and teachers really would like using.
I would suggest that an adult still find a qualified teacher to help them learn rather than trying to go it on there own with these methods I mentioned and find out first what the teacher would suggest but also let the teacher know what types of music one is interested in learning. A few adults I have spoken to trying to use method books similar to what I mentioned on their own still get stuck quite a bit. So finding a teacher would be the first step before choosing one of these methods.
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Sat Sep 10, 2005 2:44 pm

I have not taught adults for a while, but I will have two or three this year. I have always done a mini interview first, to find out why they want to take piano. One person loved playing but had to give it up as a child, as there was no money. She played beautifully and worked hard. She loved the classics. This year I have a parent/teacher, who wants to learn to play for her 1st grade class. I will find the songs she likes and start with the notes for the treble clef and then show her the I, IV and V7 chords. When I played for nursery school, I used this method a lot as I could watch the children while I played. We will see where if she wants more after that. Another person is eager to learn Hymns. She wants to use the Hymn book, but I will try to hold that off, as she has only remembered a little of her childhood piano. Again, I may review the treble clef, with some easy Hymn versions, or copy single melody lines from her books, and put in chords. She will be able to do all chords, I think, once key signatures are reviewed and major and minor are secure.
Some books have CD's with them. That might be good for some adults so they can hear the piece as it is supposed to sound. Each one would require an individual plan - even more so than the children - as they have a history of music and usually know what they want.
Years ago, the problem of practicing was surprising. I sugested to some Mothers to practice as soon as the school bus left, as they had trouble finding time. It has to be a priority.
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Postby 65-1074818729 » Sun Sep 11, 2005 5:27 am

When I started piano lessons as an adult, I was starting from the very beginning. I had no previous experience in any field of music. During my first meeting with my teacher, I indicated that I wanted to start at the very bottom and was interested in following the same procedure used in teaching kids. My teacher was quite receptive to this and she started me off in “Grade One” of the RCM system. She also started me on Hanon, scales and reading at the same time.

With few exceptions, I have the teacher pick out the pieces that I will be learning. The reason I do this, is that the teacher knows my weaknesses and strengths. and she assigns pieces that best address my weak points. She also makes certain that I am learning a variety such as baroque, classical, romantic etc.

I have been following this procedure for the past seven years, and I am presently working at the grade seven level of RCM.

To be honest, I didn’t know there were teaching methods specifically aimed at adults until I came to PEP. However, I do appear to be making steady progress, and am enjoying the experience; therefore I plan to continue my present path for awhile longer at least.

I would recommend to any adult student starting out, to make certain that they get the basics down first. Regardless of which system they use, learn the scales, reading, Hanon etc. and be certain to eliminate any hand or wrist tensions. The assistance of a teacher is definitely required to learn these skills. And daily practice is absolutely essential.

There appear to be several adult students going to the studio that I attend. As a point of interest, I recently learned of one elderly lady (somewhere in her seventies) who has been taking piano lessons weekly for the past 14 years. Apparently one of the main reasons for her musical endeavors, is that it is the best treatment she has found for her arthritic hands.

:D




Edited By AFlat on 1126461167
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Postby minorkey » Sun Oct 02, 2005 7:25 am

When I began re-taking lessons as an adult, about 1.5 years ago, I had already learned as a child (using, in part, Thompson)- so there was no need to incorporate any specific methods book in my current lessons. On my own, however, I have periodically gone through "Piano for Dummies" (don't laugh!) and would strongly recommend it for anyone who wants to fill in any gaps in basic theory or obtain an introduction to other styles of piano music (besides classical). This book contains instruction on chord building and tips for improvising, among other things. I return to it again and again as desired, and it is a fun way to supplement what I learn in my lessons. Even if you feel you're well advanced beyond what the book appears to teach at first glance, you're bound to learn something. To teachers of adult pupils: I would suggest you recommend this book to your students, if their interests indicate; there is only so much you can cover in lessons, and going through this book on their own time would be a fun way to keep the learning process fresh. :O
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sun Oct 02, 2005 9:54 am

minorkey wrote:On my own, however, I have periodically gone through "Piano for Dummies" (don't laugh!) and would strongly recommend it for anyone who wants to fill in any gaps in basic theory or obtain an introduction to other styles of piano music (besides classical).

You won't get any criticism of "Piano for Dummies" from us here at PEP, as that book recoommends PEP in its short list of web sites for people learning piano, albeit with an old URL. Just what I always wanted: to be recommended in a "Dummies" book! :D
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
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Postby Stretto » Tue Oct 16, 2007 12:33 pm

Has anyone had any experience or have any opinions on Faber and Faber's adult piano method?
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