First piano book? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I took piano lessons from age 7 to age 15. I sight-read well, but that's about it. (That skill stands me in good stead these days as a choir member.) My 5 1/2-year-old daughter, who recently learned to read English, is quite interested in the piano. She's taught herself to play more than a dozen melodies by ear. (In fact, she can't pass the piano without tinkling out a song.) She also fools around a little with composing her own simple songs, based on themes she experiements with. I'd love to get her started with reading music and then find a teacher in a couple of years, when she'll find the discipline of practice more palatable.

I myself was taught in the beginning on with the John B. Schaum books. Is there a program that works better for teaching music so that, unlike me, she will be able to do more than just sight-read well? I wish I could play by ear, improvise, transpose, and so on. These are skills I think lacked in my own piano education.

Any suggestions for a book or program that will help me get her started?

-- Anne Winthrop (, March 18, 2001


Hello Anne, I would suggest The Music Tree books by Frances Clarke. They teach improvisation, transposition and notes by intervals not by hand position. Be sure to get the most recent revision as they are the most colorful and "fun". "Time to Begin" is the beginners book. Your daughter will be successful with this method as has my 5-year old daughter.

Angie, Kansas

-- Angie (, March 18, 2001.

The best way to get your daughter to be a well-rounded musician is to encourage her to continue her compositional efforts, and to find a teacher that emphasizes eartraining, improv, etc. A good method is very useful, but an interested teacher is necessary as well. If you are going to start her, try to make up your own eartraining, improv, etc exercises to do with her. They can be simple.

-- Julie2 (, March 18, 2001.

For ear-training, try getting Time To Begin or Piano Lessons Book 1 (Hal Leonard) and but the CD and book, but only let your child HEAR THE CD (the book is YOUR reference). You could show her the starting positions, but teach the piece by ear by singing the melody and shaping the melodic direction with your hand, or just demonstrating the tune by rote (showing a good hand position). Either of these will have short tunes that are easy to learn by ear. Hal Leonard's books also have improv pieces and creative work in their "PIANO PRACTICE GAMES" books which correlate directly with the PIANO LESSON books.

Teach her the quarter, half, and whole note, and a basic hand position (fingers 234 on 3 black keys), and write out pieces using finger numbers (RH = stem up & number above; opposite for LH). I often write out a rhythm "grid" and have students fill in the finger numbers ; this gives their pieces a basic form.

EX (in Unit Counting) =

1 1 1-2 / 1 1 1-2 / 1 1 1 1 / 1-2-3-4 //

-- John Bisceglia (, March 20, 2001.

There are many good method books available today. Alfred Prep Course, Faber and Faber Piano Adventures (, and Hal Leonard are all good series. You can see teachers' suggestions and comments on these and others at

-- Jon Ensminger (, April 24, 2001.

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