Piano teaching methods

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Hi my name is Lisa. I had 7 years of piano lessons as a child and have been playing piano for 34 years. Even though I have been playing piano for so long there have been many years that I haven't played except once in awhile. I played for church for eight years but have gotten a little rusty again.

I have decided to teach beginning through third year piano lessons and am a little nervous about it and am not sure where to start.

Through all these years I have saved every piano book I ever had including all the beginning books and even all my piano assignments. I have a lot of materials.

It would be very simple for me to just do what my piano teacher did. But the piano teacher I had as a child was very strict and I don't agree with the methods in which I was taught, furthermore a lot of the music was boring and tedious. I did learn to play piano but a lot of lessons ended in tears! I want my piano teaching to be enjoyable!

What I'm trying to decide is what books to use for my students, what format to use and what techniques to teach. I have gone to a music store and looked at the Alfred, Bastien, and Faber books just to see what is out there.

I have a ton of books by Schaum, Aaron, Fletcher and Hanon, and was wondering if anyone could give me any advise on what to use? Are my old books outdated? They are all in black and white pictures and not the most fun looking books, but on the other hand they have a lot of music such as folk songs, and songs that are familiar. The newer books that I looked at in the music store didn't have songs that seemed very familiar, but were very colorful. I don't know where to start? Any recommendations?

Also, can anyone give an example of what a 30 minute piano lesson consists of? And what a typical homework assignment would look like? What areas should I make sure that I am covering in each lesson, and should I introduce scales and excercises, or when is the appropriate time to do this? If I purchase a new series such as Bastien would I use all the books in one level at the same time or one book at a time?

Any input would greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Lisa

-- Lisa Fitting (herb_lady@hotmail.com), May 16, 2002


I learned with Schaum and John Thompson many, many years ago, and frankly, I don't like them at all, and have never used them in my own teaching. I've used Bastien for a long time, but I've grown bored with that method. I discovered the Faber series (Piano Adventures, I think) and it's quite a nice change! What I liked most was that my students really enjoyed the songs more than in Bastien or any other method. Another method many teachers use is Alfred.

-- alexandra (alidoremi@aol.com), May 17, 2002.

Personally, I like the Music Tree method. It teaches note-reading from an interval perspective rather than a positional one, which in my opinion is very important for the student and aids them greatly in sight-reading and learning to read in general. There are only 2 books at each level, a lesson book and an activity book which reinforces the concepts taught in the lesson book. The Chip and Bobo illustrations are sometimes annoying, but my students don't seem to mind, even the older (10- to 12-yr-old) beginners. I have a transfer student who has to place her hand in C position before she can play anything or find any notes on the keyboard. She was using the Faber method before she came to me, but also had a previous PREVIOUS teacher, and I don't know what method that teacher used, so I can't blame Faber. A lot of people seem to like Faber. You will just have to try one or two out and see how comfortable you and your students are and if they make progress.

As far as the content of a typical lesson, here's what I typically do (I also teach mainly beginners to early intermediate): 1. Technical exercises (finger strengthening exercises, pentascales, diatonic scales, arpeggios, etc. depending on their level) 2. Notereading exercises for my transfer students who are having trouble reading. 3. Play/work on assigned pieces. Suggest practice techniques for problem spots. 4. Assign new pieces. We do some simple analysis of the pieces, e.g. look at time sig, identify some intervals, look for patterns in the piece, discuss any new concepts, etc. 5. Review the theory assignment in the Activity Book.

This is very general; sometimes if a student is struggling with rhythm we will do some type of rhythm activity, such as moving, clapping, tapping the beat to some recorded music. Some of my transfer students who have trouble notereading do a "quiz" on a computer program called Notecard (you can download this off the web from familygames.com), and I record their scores each week in their notebooks.

Hope this helps somewhat, I just started teaching recently myself. I have found this website very helpful. Good luck!

-- Laurie (lbrichards@att.net), May 21, 2002.

I won't post that in the message board, but if you don't want to give some bad habits to your students without ever knowing it, you should take lessons just to freshen up your memory, because technique gets rusty with time and some mistakes in the techinque start creeping in. Some books you might like to read for yourself to get back your technique (this is too hard stuff for a beginning student, but you can more easily explain it to him/her when you have read it)

- Piano Technique (Walter Gieseking & Karl Leimer) - Basic principles in pianoforte playing (Josef Lhevinne) - Piano playing (Josef Hoffman) - On piano playing (Gyorgy Sandor) - This one is expensive but it is a kind of "piano technique bible" while the others are between 4,95 and 8,95 but brings some good points and most importantly differents points of view

-- Olivier Cyr (soran94@hotmail.com), May 22, 2002.


-- Linda Poglish (Lpog@aol.com), February 05, 2005.

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