Adult beginner piano book - Adut-beginner

Share your piano experiences with other adult students

Postby poppy » Wed Oct 17, 2007 3:11 pm

Hi. The adult learner topic is interesting to me. I started to learn when I was 32, scooted through John Williams first year book in 6 months, so my teacher started me on John Thompson's third year book. I couldn't cope at all so was told I should just give it up. I left (in tears)that piano teacher and did give up for 2 years. Then I was lured back for 2 years to another teacher who trained me for grade 3 exams prac and theory. The week after passing the exam, i had the grade 4 book plonked in front of me. ( I knew i still wasn't coming close to "playing the piano"). So I gave it up for another 12 years. Then I was started on the grade 5 theory and prac which i passed in 2 years.( I still couldn't "play the piano"). I couldn't face the grade 6 book so I gave it up for another 10 years. Now I have started again(doing grade 6), but privately I am working through Frances Clark's Music tree series from the primer forward. It must be just pure joy to learn each step sequentially. It's no use trying to hurry adults up in my opinion. We just "can't do it". Like learning to read. If I had been taught like that, now, at the age of 62, I would be a lot better off. Incidentally, what's the point of teaching harmony on paper? Surely there should be a lot of input at the keyboard.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:51 pm

It's no use trying to hurry adults up in my opinion. We just "can't do it".
Of course we can. But an adult must be taught properly, in order, just like anyone else. You worked your way through sequentially. That's what is done for a child. Instrumental skills are taught in steps. Oh, I'm an adult student too, btw.
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Postby Tranquillo » Mon Nov 05, 2007 5:19 am

poppy wrote:Hi. The adult learner topic is interesting to me. I started to learn when I was 32, scooted through John Williams first year book in 6 months, so my teacher started me on John Thompson's third year book. I couldn't cope at all so was told I should just give it up. I left (in tears)that piano teacher and did give up for 2 years. Then I was lured back for 2 years to another teacher who trained me for grade 3 exams prac and theory. The week after passing the exam, i had the grade 4 book plonked in front of me. ( I knew i still wasn't coming close to "playing the piano"). So I gave it up for another 12 years. Then I was started on the grade 5 theory and prac which i passed in 2 years.( I still couldn't "play the piano"). I couldn't face the grade 6 book so I gave it up for another 10 years. Now I have started again(doing grade 6), but privately I am working through Frances Clark's Music tree series from the primer forward. It must be just pure joy to learn each step sequentially. It's no use trying to hurry adults up in my opinion. We just "can't do it". Like learning to read. If I had been taught like that, now, at the age of 62, I would be a lot better off. Incidentally, what's the point of teaching harmony on paper? Surely there should be a lot of input at the keyboard.

Not an adult student ... but ... from what you told me those teachers sound so nasty to tell you to give up!
I an a young teen student and I stopped for sometime before getting back on however i am progressing farther than I thought ... my prac and theory teachers are pushing me along ...
... I cant imagine a nasty teacher saying to give up!
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Postby Honeysuckle » Mon Nov 05, 2007 4:15 pm

Sadly some teachers have lost sight of their whole original purpose. They forget that music is actually for everyone, no matter how clever or how mediocre. Everyone should be entitled to give what they want to give, and take what they want to take. Teachers should regard their role as sacred. So much is entrusted to us and we simply have no right to be harsh or dismissive of another's efforts at the piano or any other instrument. If a pupil cannot grasp something then it is the teacher who is at fault. He/she has to find a way to break through. And a good teacher will always break through. It is as simple as that.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:14 pm

It might not even be a question of breaking through, but not structuring the lesson in the first place to build the skills. Is that possible? I get concerned especially when I keep reading teachers suggesting to other teachers that we adults only want to "have fun" and to let us play anything we want. As far as I understand it you can't really learn to play any instrument that way.

In Poppy's story, she does so well that her teacher advances her two grades, and then she is in trouble. A different book is used. Were the skills needed taught? When there were problems, was the cause looked at, and a way of teaching what was missing found? Why would a student who is doing so well that her teacher wants to advance her two grades also be someone who ought to give it up.

This sentence in your writing pops out at me, Poppy:
It must be just pure joy to learn each step sequentially.
Isn't that how we're supposed to learn? Isn't that what they do with the children (Both questions to Honeysuckle, and other teachers).

What bothers me is that adult students take up the instrument by choice. We invest love and passion in it, and then often are not taken seriously. The results can be heartbreaking, as the student believes that he or she is incapable when maybe that is not the case. Someone who has never taken music lessons does not know what to expect of themselves or their teacher and that is a vulnerability.
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Postby Honeysuckle » Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:29 am

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but perhaps Poppy's teacher should have been a little more cautious. Another point is that nothing in Nature ever goes up in a straight line. The graph never goes up without some retracement. And that goes for progress in learning. The fact that progress has sky-rocketted for a while does not mean that it will continue to do so. Nature requires time to consolidate - to rest - before moving on.
A second point is that we tend to teach piano in a one-dimensional way. That is: learning to read music and play it. I wonder if Poppy's teacher had explored further round the musical circumference ie. Improvisation, composition, transposition (to help sight-reading). Was it suggested that Poppy perhaps join a local choral group or have singing lessons. All these disciplines and experiences eventually converge at one point: the ability to enjoy performance.
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Postby Stretto » Wed Nov 07, 2007 7:52 am

I have my first adult student. The student had no experience with reading music at all before. We started out using music rather than a method out of a 5 finger pop supplemental book from a well-known method. This went well and the pieces were great as they were all great songs for that age bracket. It is fairly easy to select pieces as I'm in the same age bracket and so is my spouse so whatever we like or find familiar is the same stuff the student likes. However, the student choose their own book for the next stage of learning that was marked beginner and although they could learn the pieces with some work, it's more level 2 and so we're missing a step that gets the student gradually used to notes outside of 5 finger and also playing two hands at once. The other book was a middle C approach with one line melody split between the hands. The student is quite capable and almost had a song learned from the new book in one lesson but it was really too much new going on all at once for a student not having played hands together at the same time much yet, not recognizes all the notes yet, not having had notes that move around outside of 5 finger positions yet. So this was not a pleasant experience for the student in trying to suddenly incorporate all that at once although they were quite capable more than they realized.

I still plan to help them with the new book but also went out and got an adult method book and another supplemental book that is in between what they were doing and the book they have. I think a method book will be helpful as a core or basis for gradual or graded approach that eases a student into new things. I have tried using music only for several students and whether adult or child, I find it hard to have a gradual, graded approach this way and also it's harder to keep a constant steady climb - at least for me. Maybe some teachers are better at selecting music that keeps a student in a gradual, step-wise learning approach. If a student wants to learn or try difficult music, more power to them. However, I think they should have at least one book in the beginning that keeps them learning very gradually or in a carefully graded manner.

In trying to help this one student, I thought of an analogy. If I were to want to get to the top of a mountain, the two most obvious ways would be to take a car and drive a nice, gradual, graded road or use the mountain climbing method and go straight up the side. Either way, I have a good chance of getting to the top, but which way is going to be a lot more work and a lot more strenous? I think a method book provides that gradual, graded drive up the mountain.

I think some sort of core, basic graded approach is useful. A student can still try anything they wish of any difficulty easier or harder in addition.
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Postby Stretto » Wed Nov 07, 2007 7:54 am

p.s. I think adults especially would enjoy learning chords and how to do improv. and that can begin to be taught without music right away and can be done alongside learning to read music.
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Postby Stretto » Wed Nov 07, 2007 8:10 am

By the way, I did start teaching my adult student scales right away and also chords and having them do arppegios. Also I point out what key we are in on a piece and also point out chords and intervals in the music they are learning.

Also, the student asked for a book of exercises as they said they need something to get their fingers used to playing different patterns.




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Postby poppy » Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:36 am

I must say I have a wonderful patient teacher now who is not only teaching me to progress through the Grade 6 program but has also encouraged me to start a Certificate course to teach beginners.Every lesson includes teaching assignments etc. and all sorts of lovely ideas. So I am having a second chance to enjoy the prelimimary steps and we both know that the "beginner" who will most benefit will be myself.
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Postby Tranquillo » Mon Nov 19, 2007 5:04 am

poppy wrote:I must say I have a wonderful patient teacher now who is not only teaching me to progress through the Grade 6 program but has also encouraged me to start a Certificate course to teach beginners.Every lesson includes teaching assignments etc. and all sorts of lovely ideas. So I am having a second chance to enjoy the prelimimary steps and we both know that the "beginner" who will most benefit will be myself.

Great to hear! Poppy! Glad you are having the real enjoyable learning experience now! Have fun with teaching!
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