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The Important Elements in Learning and Teaching Music

by William

I originally trained as a pianist , then became a singer. After many years of teaching singing I accepted a piano student.

I hadn't wanted to teach piano because I thought it would be boring compared to teaching voice. I was pleased to discover I enjoyed it and brought insights to it because of my long musical experience.

I listened to the piano teacher who taught in the next studio to me and was perplexed at his methods.
He gave no technique ( scales and exercises )
He did not put music in front of the student ie. he taught by imitation.
His students did not appear to make any progress.
I think it is essential to play from the music from day 1.
Musical literacy is the same as reading and writing literacy , you will get on quicker if you can read.
The books that start with left hand and right hand thumb on middle c are best because they will get you into the treble and bass with each hand working separately and together when necessary.
The earlier you start the better .
Youngsters accept things without always asking why it is so. this allows them to absorb info. When an older person gets bogged down with rationale.
Playing different scales is necessary because you learn to finger more appropriately (and get the neural pathways from brain to fingers open). Children should play black key scales and contrary motion from the outset.
Hanon exercises are essential for finger independence and dexterity.
If you are prepared to do a year of the basics you will be rewarded I assure you.
The Childrens Bach is an excellent early book because it contains lots of keyboard styles.
When the contributor asks how long before he/she can "really" play they may really be asking about ability to read.
I can play almost any piece put in front of me because I can play at sight. This takes many years of practise but is extremely rewarding because, as long as you have the printed score you can entertain and accompany ad infinitum.

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How to handle a child in a piano lesson

How do you handle an 11 year old girl who will not communicate with the teacher during the piano lesson, yet she is confused
at-home during the week practicing.
She has been given an outline to follow, but does not follow directions.

When she does speak after being asked a question several times, she speaks in such a low whisper you cannot hear her.

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How to motivate my student

by Patricia Norton
(Atlantic City, New Jersey)

A 10 year old boy has been taking piano lessons for roughly 2 years and is still in the primer level. As of the past 6 months, he has not really had any lessons prepared to say the least.

He is home alone after school by choice,
as his parents own a shoe store on the boardwalk, so he has plenty of time to practice. He has no outside activities
to speak of. I have tried every possible way to get him to work on the piano and I do give out copies of daily practice sheets to all the students, but he will not even follow the directions. I have to practice every lesson with him week after week, but he does not want to leave.

He, on-the-otherhand does well in the five-finger
pentascales and arpeggios, but they are five-finger keys.

He is at every lesson, has never missed a lesson, and when I bring up the subject of maybe it's time to call it a-day, he cries and does not want to leave.

I'm beginning to think he loves to be with me for the company, as I'm sure he is lonely at home, but that's his choice and Mom wants him to hang-in there and play the piano.

He was the only one at the last recital who had all his music memorized and played well, but only in the five-finger
key of C.

Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


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Resources for new piano teachers

by Stephen McCool
(Alpharetta, GA USA)


I just finished my masters degree in vocal performance this past spring and I'm about to start teaching beginner piano and voice students. I was hoping you could recommend some resources that are especially good at explaining style and analysis of piano music.

I've been listening to a lot of pianists on YouTube and I'd really like some recommendations on studying tempo rubato, and phrasing. I know students should play full phrases at a time, and generally slow down as they approach ending fermatas, but how do I teach when to speed up to the peak of a phrase and slow away from it without being distasteful? Or do you think that is more of a personal choice for whether or not a pianist wants to be objective or subjective in their interpretation? Basically, I want to correctly teach professional level piano musicianship as well as correct touch, pedaling, etc.

I know it may be near impossible to learn unless I find a great piano teacher, so if I’m asking too much, please tell what books you think every professional pianist or professional piano teacher MUST have in their personal library. Thanks.

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To speed up the progress of a beginner....

by Eddie
(Rocky Mount, NC)

It is a good idea to start learning the basic chords and their inversions.
Example: C=C-E-G / E-G-C / G-C-E. Once you are able to play Major and minor triads--C,Cm, D,Dm, etc., you are on your way to a very good start.

Most teachers say you should play the 1-3-5 fingers when playing a simple triad. I say use 1-2-4 fingers so that you can get used to that position for when you will be adding the pinky for 7ths, for example: c-e-g-b = C Major 7 and should be played with thumb, 2nd finger, 4th and 5th(pinky).

This is for the right hand, of course. Now go and get all the basic triads in Major and minor so you can start playing some real tunes like what David is teaching, "Killing Me Softly". Have fun!

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What is a Chorus and a Melody

by Mark Bird
(bristol u/k)

What does chorus mean when playing piano solo and also what is a melody?

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