new student -playing not up to theroy level : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I have a new student who has been playing for four years. She is currently using the Edith McIntosh theory book. She is just starting Book II Part II. Her lesson book is Michael Aaron book three and she is having a very hard time playing hands together! She has never played scales! I am very confused as to why she was pushed so far ahead with her theory and not with her playing. I need to know how to bring her playing ability up to her theory level. I have a degree in Music Education and have just started teaching piano now that my children are older. I feel lost! Where do I begin? I currently have six students. Four of them are beginners and are off to a great start. I would appreciate any suggestions from experienced teachers. Mary

-- Mary Paine (, September 27, 2003


I wouldn't worry too much about it. I guess you'll be able to focus more on her pieces than on theory. Perhaps you could still include theory in her lessons but in a more practical way, ie. ask her leading questions about the pieces that she's playing to get her thinking in an analytical way. Besides that you might just drop the written work for a while. Also, since she's learned theory that she isn't even applying yet in her playing you might want to make sure that she actually has a firm grasp on all the concepts that she's already studied. I find that most of my students need plenty of review on each and every concept for it to really have sunk in, so don't be afraid to go over things she's already "learned". If you do continue to do written theory work with her try to make sure that the concepts discussed are the concepts that she's actually working on in her pieces. It will have a lot more meaning for her if it has a practical application.

On another note: you might want to change the method book that she's using. I don't really know the Michael Aaron series but if she's having trouble reading hands together after 4 years of lessons it might be a problem with the method (ex. HT was introduced too quickly and was never really grasped). I use the Faber method and can recommend it whole-heartedly. If you do decide to switch methods I would suggest using one level lower than the level it seems she should be going into. If she's already having trouble in her current book then a little review will not hurt, and it might give her a boost to be able to make quick progress through the first book you assign her. As for scales: if she's playing scale passages in her pieces (or will be soon) then now is the time to start assigning them.

-- Kate (, September 27, 2003.

I also like Piano Adventures by Faber and Faber. It is usually good to use at least two of their books at a particular level. The "lesson book" and the "technique and artistry" books are my favorite combination. She could probably feel comfortable in about Level 2B or 3A. These books are so well designed that they almost teach themselves. If this girl needs even more supplementary materials, try an easy book of exercises---these have lots of patterns, and this often helps the reading. There is a series called Treasures in Technique, books 1, 2, and 3. FJH publisher. Also a new book by Catherine Rollin is called Pathways to Artistry, Book 1, published by Alfred. The Faber Piano Adventure series also has theory and performance books at each level. Usually two, or at the most three of the PA books are plenty; it helps to have different supplementary material. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR NEW STUDENTS!!!

-- Ruth Farkas (, September 29, 2003.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ