Adult beginner piano book - Adut-beginner

Share your piano experiences with other adult students

Postby LemonThrust » Wed May 23, 2007 5:47 pm

Hi,

I would like to have some suggestions on which piano books to choose in order to teach an adult beginner effectively?

Thanks,
Lemon
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Thu May 24, 2007 8:25 am

Welcome, LemonThrust! :)

If your will look at our Piano Methods page, you'll find descriptions of the strengths and weaknesses of many piano methods, including some for adult beginners. I encourage teachers to add their own ideas here, as well.
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Postby Stretto » Sat May 26, 2007 9:56 am

What styles and types of music is the student interested in learning and what styles and music do you want to teach them?

I've not taught adults but have heard mention of adults using Faber and Faber's Adult piano course or Alfred's Adult Piano Course quite a bit. If I were teaching an adult and choosing between the two, I might be tempted to favor the Faber and Faber course. I have a copy of Bastein's Adult method and feel the course would be especially excellent for those adults who like the old folk-style songs. I really like Bastien's "Favorite Melodies the World Over" and "Classic Themes by the Masters" supplementary books I think would appeal to adults who especially like tunes and melodies of "yesteryear :D . Perhaps for adults who like more of a rock/pop style, I'd go with the Alfred's or Faber and Faber.

A lot I would think depends on the individual. Some adults (like me!) I think wouldn't mind the "child-like" pieces in beginner books while some would be turned off by this.

I'd be interested to hear what others who have taught adults do. I might be tempted to give them a method book through level 1 along with supplemental material and then after level 1, branch off without methods to using supplemental material only at the appropriate skill level.
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Postby hlkok » Wed May 30, 2007 8:13 pm

Thanks Dr. John Zeigler and Stretto for your valuable suggestions.
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Thu May 31, 2007 6:13 pm

Adults come with a history - good and/or bad experiences with music, and a wide variety of skills, and conficence or lack thereof. It may take several lessons to get into the right music for them. I do like some of the Alfred Adult and the Bastien Adult, but I find with most, I do a lot of supplementing.

First you need to ask why they want to take lessons. Some had lessons as a child and always wanted to continue; one woman was giving herself a gift for her 40th birthday, and wanted to be able to know something about music so when her children began piano, she could help them; one woman wanted to be able to play some songs for her first grade; and another was eager and ready to pick up some Chopin Mazurkas again. A new student wants to play hymns and read the bass clef. She played an instrument in band and only read the treble clef. She is 63yo.

It is a challenge to teach adults. They have a hard time getting in that practice time...especially now, with many working parents. It takes more dectective work to start and a great deal of flexibility.

I have taught rote, chords for first harmony, theory and history,and begun with simple folk songs and easy classics. One man liked the big band music. My main idea is still and always to have fun!

:D
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sat Aug 25, 2007 1:05 pm

It's been a while since I looked at this thread. Let me add that we have substantial information for adult students on our Learning to Playpage and on our Tip - Piano for Life page. Other useful information can be found using our Search pages, which you can get to from any page on the site by clicking on the PEP Program in the upper left hand corner of the page.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:25 am

Is it possible to know the author of these two articles?
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:41 am

pianissimo wrote:Is it possible to know the author of these two articles?

It's impossible to answer your question as asked. You seem not to have actually read those pages, since if you had you would see that they are composed of links to multiple other PEP pages, as well as articles. To the extent that the articles are present on those or the linked pages, most are written by me and Nancy Ostromencki. Other authors are so credited, where appropriate.

You can find out more information about uncredited articles on our Credits page, reachable from the About link on the PEP Program. When I and Nancy started the site 12 years ago (see The Piano Education Page - Ten Years On for some of that story), I/we wrote everything and credits weren't necessary. As the site grew and many others participated, we credited their articles, but not ours. Thus, although I update/upgrade/add the articles regularly, the pages still reflect their origins from 12 years ago.




Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1188921166
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:18 am

You seem not to have actually read those pages, since if you had you would see that they are composed of links to multiple other PEP pages, as well as articles.

Of course I read those pages. Your link "Tip-Piano For Life" links to a single page containing title, three subtitles, then three articles headed by one of the subtitles each time, with a copyright statement on the bottom. The articles seemed complete and full articles, and nothing on the page would have indicated otherwise.

There were two points in the "adult" article that piqued my curiosity and I was wondering whether the author would be interested in elucidating, which is why I asked. In any case, thank you for providing a link to two informative articles.
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Postby Honeysuckle » Wed Sep 19, 2007 2:56 pm

I would go along with what "Guest" says about different reasons for coming to the piano as an adult, and the particular challenges facing the adult student. I don't actually like the adult piano methods I have worked with in the past because they typically seem to want to move faster than the adult learner. Lack of confidence is usually an issue with adult beginners, (if not down-right fear!) so if the art of music reading has yet to be mastered, I would sooner make my apologies and use a Childrens' tutor. They move at a more friendly pace. I think I can say unequivocally, that all my adults over the years have been quite happy or even relieved to be following a course designed for 6 to 12 year olds! Once the first book is completed, I generally go on with the second, but never beyond book 2. It's "real music" thereafter!
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:59 pm

My story is possibly an odd one. I taught myself to "read" music by counting down from the tonic in solfege. I was seeing patterns more than reading. Then when I was 16 I took piano lessons for a year. I was quiet and did not know I could or should state any wishes. My first piano books were bright children's books, Dinky Duck Goes Up and Down, which I didn't mind. I was playing the right notes but I wasn't really "reading" music. How was the teacher to know? After several months I wanted the teacher's help with something I had been working on in my grandmother's book, so I launched into Clementi and Czerny in my next lesson. The teacher whisked away Dinky Duck and replaced it with a sober blue conservatory book after asking me about my preferences in music. However, it still did not come out that I could not read.

Thirty years later I sat in on one of my son's lessons. The pattern of key signatures was explained to him and a light bulb went on in my head. I had spent 30 years playing various instruments restricted to music in the key of C major and A minor. I still had the blue conservatory book. I opened it looking for something. There it was, "Note to teacher: student should have sufficient practice of scales and arpeggios in the keys of ...... " For some reason I was unreasonably angry. Those years, struggling with written music, and this teacher had not given me one scale or arpeggio. Yet it was right there in the book she had given me, which was probably part of a larger program.

Was the fluidity with which I played Clementi a good reason to assume I didn't need scales? At 16 I was not quite an adult, but are scales, arpeggios, and studies something that can be skipped depending on the student? More importantly: parents who have had music lessons will know what to look for, and might quickly ask about things such as the absence of studies, scales, or their child's inability to recognize note names. An adult taking music lessons for the first time is even more at sea. How do we even know what is necessary, and do we know that we can ask?
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Postby Honeysuckle » Wed Sep 19, 2007 5:11 pm

You can manage without scales and arpeggios for a certain time but eventually you will need them. As with multiplication tables. They are set solutions to common problems. Apart from that they are a good mind-body coordinator similar to jogging. They exercise the body and clear the head simultaneously, smoothing out the link between brain, eyes and fingers. ONCE YOU KNOW THEM. Until that point (and that can take years) they can be rather a slog, depending on the sort of mind of the student. I teach scales & arpeggios to my students if I think they would benefit at that stage, and not be put off. I find with adult pupils, they will usually say "Do you think I ought to be doing some scales?" I find it often works best if it comes from them. It means they have recognised the need. They are therefore in the right frame of mind for them.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Thu Sep 20, 2007 6:54 am

Thank you, Honeysuckle, for your input. You have helped me clarify a number of things in my mind. The one notion that has been new to me since visiting a few boards is that adult students play a role in determining what they will study. It actually makes sense, in that we come with different experiences that are more varied than those of a young child. I had assumed that there was a given set of skills in handling the instrument and understanding music that needed to be mastered, that the first goal in taking lessons was to acquire these skills, and that there were time honoured proven methods in the form of exercises, studies, scales, and selected repertoire as well as theory to develop these. I though that I would just start taking lessons somewhere, and the teacher would start putting me through a given process which is the same for all students of any age, with a variation according to my abilities and temperament. I would not have to put much thought to that part of it, and I could simply assume that anything I was asked to do was probably necessary for my development, and so settle down to do it. That doesn't seem to be as it works. I even note that teachers asking what their students want do not ask in terms of "I want to develop proficiency at playing the piano" but in terms of repertoire. I guess that in terms of learning, I almost see repertoire as a means to an end rather than the end.

Back to the theme of books: looking at everything, I am attracted to a variation of the RCM program. There is a guided syllabus, a selection of graded material for technique including both scales and studies, categorized graded repertoire - plus I'm already familiar with the RCM as a violin student. My own experience with scales (absence of) is that it was a nightmare to work through a piece in E major and figure out where all the sharps were because there is an endless variation of notes in pieces, but relatively simple and quick to acquire in scales, since you are only dealing with seven notes. It takes me about two weeks to play a new scale smoothly, and I've only returned to piano this year. So that works for me. Scales definitely make it easier for me to tackle new music. They provide a framework as well as ready finger patterns since most music is comprised of common chords and scale-like runs set within the diatonic scale.

The RCM music is designed for children, yet it has a serious appearance, which might matter to some adults. The way we adults are isolated, it's nice to opt for a bit of pressure in the form of exams, which RCM provides, and so be a bit more in the mainstream with some additional motivation. Yet within the program there is the choice to opt out of the exams.
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Postby Stretto » Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:58 pm

I am excited to have my first official two new adult students! Seeing this topic got me to thinking:

Should teachers have adults learning piano from the very beginning use method books at least as a basis or just use music and explain concepts as they come up? Do you think the majority of adult beginners would prefer a lesson book via a method or just learn concepts straight from various music minus a formal method?
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:14 am

Stretto, I think that depends on the adult. I am also starting to get the impression that my expectations may not be those of a large number of other adults, going by what I have been reading in forums - that brings me back to "It depends on the adult student."

My purpose in taking lessons is to gain the skills and knowledge needed to play my instrument well. I am not there to learn pieces. Many people do approach a teacher with the purpose of learning specific types of pieces. However, I know that if I have the skills, I'll be able to play pieces for the rest of my life. Therefore my focus is still on the skills because of what I know. So I guess for me a method book would be the better answer. In the post above yours I've written my conclusions, that for me something like the RCM system is probably my choice - graded pieces incorporating technique taught in the technical area of studies and scales which are also planned separately as part of a curriculum. My wishes are relatively formal, because I believe this is what works best. There is no way that anyone can play an instrument properly without acquiring efficient technique and skills, as well as an understanding of what "music" is about, so that they can know how to approach it. A clever teacher will know how to sneak in the technique through the music if one goes only by pieces. If a novice adult student comes in and wants to play only music, and you as a teacher know that the student will need to learn certain skills, your adult student might still balk at the exercises and instructions because they don't have a clue about that side of it yet. Even such things as playing hands separately - then run into frustration and despair several years down the road when hitting a brick wall and not being able to advance further, because the basic technical things, as well as a way of approaching music, are the things that lead to being able to play well. I don't know how teachers solve that kind of conundrum. There are a lot of things that I wish I would have known 5 years ago with my first instrument.
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