Alfred or music tree? - How do they correlate?

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

Postby celia » Sat Apr 19, 2008 9:21 pm

Hi everyone. I am this week going to an interview to take over from some-one as a piano teacher at a school. I have no experience piano teaching but I have been doing some research. The kids I would be teaching have been learning the Alfred method for about a year, but through research on the internet I would rather be teaching the Music Tree. would it make sense to switch them over or incorporate this method? would it be possible to finish the Alfred book they are on and then switch over, and if so, does anyone know which levels correspond roughly in these two methods? I have been looking at piano books on amazon but I can't look in a local shop as you have to buy the Music Tree mail order in NZ where I live. I would appreciate any advice.
Regards, Celia.
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Postby celia » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:36 pm

Hello again. The guy showed me the first Alfred book for young children and I was actually astounded how similar to Music Tree it was!! Most people would conclude that clearly one has been copied from the other. I have been offered this job so I really would appreciate any comments on this or my other post. Celia.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:41 pm

Welcome, Celia,

You might want to check out our Piano Methods page, where you'll find descriptions and reviews of a number of the major methods. These include both the strengths and weaknesses of the methods we have reviewed on PEP. You'll also find links to the detailed reviews on that page.
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Postby Stretto » Thu May 01, 2008 7:27 am

I know a piano teacher who has taught piano for over 20 years who I have asked about suggested methods. She uses primarily Music Tree. I have only looked thoroughly at the primer level in Music Tree. I have glanced through some of the rest of Music Tree's books at the store and have looked at their books in the higher levels. I have taught out of Alfred's also.

I would say in general, Music Tree caters more to a classical approach. Although, Alfred's goes into strictly classical music in their lesson books at level 5. Alfred's has a strong emphasis on reading by interval but with a method that doesn't emphasize interval reading, it can easily be taught additionally by the teacher. My students liked the Alfred's songs in the level 1 and 2 lesson books, but not so much in levels 3 and 4. Students have enjoyed the Alfred's supplemental "Top Hits" books or the Aflred's Adult "Greatest Hits" supplemental books.

In looking over lots of the main methods out there, I have concluded, the basics covered in them all get a student to the same point in the end as far as learning the basics. I would base your decision more on what you/and or your students prefer. I also ask myself when choosing a method,
"Are the pieces tuneful or nice sounding? Does it cater to good technique? Does it "fit" the individual student as far as styles or type of music the student (and or parent) wants to learn?"

I would suggest making some kind of requirement whereby students have to learn so many supplemental pieces in addition to the lesson book pieces before being allowed to move up to the next level. In using lesson books by level, I've had students want to play strictly lesson book pieces even to the point of ignoring fun, familiar pieces I assign in addition just so they can move to the next level faster.

If you decide to switch to Music Tree, I would let the students finish the Alfred book they are on as long as the student is liking the book and songs and then switch. If the student seems to dislike the book and songs, then you could switch them sooner. Or if a student seems to be taking "forever" to get through the lesson book and you are anxious to switch, then . . . Or if you want to switch and find you really can't stand the books they are on then . . . I'm not sure how they compare as far as moving from say level 2 in Aflred's to level 2 in Music Tree.

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Postby celia » Tue May 06, 2008 11:28 pm

Thanks Stretto for your detailed comments and advice! I will definitely take all that into consideration. The music tree method does teach interval reading and (if you are interested) the other reasons it appeals to me so much is that it makes it easier to develop skills in sight reading, playing duets with the teacher and even composing your own pieces, (all valuable skills which I feel were slightly lacking in my classical ABRSM training which I had as a child.) I am of course very interested in the child and parents' input so there is only so much I can do to prepare before I have actually met the students! Also (if you are interested) the Music tree Time to begin and book 1 are designed to make up the first year of study (older kids can skip time to begin and start on book 1) so i would probably start these kids on book 2 (though I will check out where they're at first). thanks again, Celia.
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