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Help With Beginner Piano Teaching


Iconoclast

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First: I'm not a beginner. But I've never taught piano.

 

Recently my grandaughter (11 yrs old) moved in with us and has been expressing interest in the piano.

 

I want to find a book that I can work through with her to get her started. My goal isn't really to teach her much but more gauge her interest, get her started, and then get her a real teacher if things go well.

 

Typically I find that learning through a relative is a doomed venture, but I just want to help her get going.

 

What do you guys recommend?

You want me to start this song too slow or too fast?

 

Forte7, Nord Stage 3, XK3c, OB-6, Arturia Collection, Mainstage, MotionSound KBR3D. A bunch of MusicMan Guitars, Line6 stuff

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Personally, I wouldn't advise this. You have a piano, let her play around a bit and feel free to show her things here and there. For anything formal (as a book would be), I'd hire a teacher on the outside. You never want her relationship with music to be mixed up with her relationship with you (and vice versa). For example, if she doesn't like your sessions, it might not be because she doesn't like piano, she might just feel pressure to please Grandpa. Conversely, if they go well, and you decide to get her outside lessons, she may read some rejection into it that you didn't intend, and decide she doesn't want to continue unless it's with you. Even if it all goes well with you teaching her, in two years when the rebellion phase hits in full, she may throw the "baby" (music) out with the bathwater (Grandpa), because she can't "decouple" the two.

 

My own personal advice: hire a teacher to come do a couple of trial lessons with her, and just make yourself available for coaching and practice-help.

 

 

"Ghost of Christmas Present" released 12.2.22 * (Not the jolly kind of Christmas song.)

https://joshweinstein.hearnow.com/

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Well, Math, I respect you immensely and hear everything you're saying. Respectfully I think I'd take a slightly different tack on this question of Iconoclast's.

 

Here's the thing; handing down from one generation to the next is an old tradition that once bound families together. I learned a lot of handyman skills from my old man, who was generally an absentee father and never really said much. But he showed me a lot, and I learned.

 

If Grandpa Iconoclast has it in him to be patient, non-pressuring, able to open the windows to opportunity and play and joy and exploration and all sorts of that without any sense of undue pressure, ruler-on-the-wrists discipline and the like, it could be a wonderful thing that "Grandpa introduced me to the piano". Was a time that parents and grandparents taught music to their kids. I'm told Daryl Hall learned to sing early from his mom, who was a choir director / vocal instructor.

 

Anyway, there's at least two sides to this topic. Just my 0.02. And, in the interest of full disclosure, when my boys were little, I surely DIDN'T have the disposition to teach them. So they each took piano lessons from a good friend in the church - Dad didn't teach them because of all the reasons Math notes above.

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Well, Math, I respect you immensely and hear everything you're saying.

 

It's more than reciprocal. Great points here too. So, mileage may vary depending on Iconoclast's situation and preference.

 

By the way, the "outside" teacher I bring my kids to is none other than the Korner's eminent Bobedohshe. Very cool dude and great teacher for my kids.

"Ghost of Christmas Present" released 12.2.22 * (Not the jolly kind of Christmas song.)

https://joshweinstein.hearnow.com/

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Get her to love sitting at it.

Show her how to use all 5 fingers.

Chords she can play with all white keys.

A few simple melodies.

and in the meanwhile ask around about a teacher that is having success in the area.

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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Another opinion here. I'm retired from any kind of 'regular' day job, and teach keys at a couple of Schools of Rock. They offer a free trial lesson, and most kids who try it end up signing up. It's a fun learning environment, they ultimately get put in groups with others of a similar interest and skill level.

 

Speaking for myself as a teacher there, I teach from the ground up. Traditional scales, exercises, technique, etc, mixed with fun songs and theory when they're ready. It's not just learning to play Smoke on the Water and Brown Eyed Girl! It's learnng to play piano/keys in a fun learning environment.

 

I can only speak for the SOR's where I teach, other locations may vary, so check it out yourself as a player, make sure you approve of the keys teacher(s) if you have a SOR in your area.

I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Teaching family is interesting. A lot of it depends on the art. I'm somewhat respected in something called Budo. I taught my son Judo starting at age 5. Judo was fun. Its very tactile. Its feedback is immediate. If you do it right it works. If you do it wrong you wind up on your keister. I'm more known for a Karate school art called Goju Ryu. My boy wanted to learn Karate but I never taught kids classes. Karate is more tedious with high attention to basic details. The boy got enough of the old man's badgering at home. I sent him to a good friend who taught a different school called Shorin Ryu and that worked great. I couldn't teach my own it drove us both nuts, which in my case is a short trip.

 

Thinking back to my first teacher... I don't think she cared if I quit. She was an old German lady. Daughter of German immigrants she never spoke a word of English until entering 1st grade. Don't get me wrong, she loved her students. She and her sister never married and her piano students were the closest thing she had to children. But piano was piano. Her pedagogy seemed pretty much set in stone. If she cared if I quit she wouldn't have made me play Chopin. I hated that f*****. I was probably 35 years old until I finally appreciated started to appreciate any sort subtlety. I finally like Chopin.

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"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Personally, I wouldn't advise this. You have a piano, let her play around a bit and feel free to show her things here and there. For anything formal (as a book would be), I'd hire a teacher on the outside. You never want her relationship with music to be mixed up with her relationship with you (and vice versa). For example, if she doesn't like your sessions, it might not be because she doesn't like piano, she might just feel pressure to please Grandpa. Conversely, if they go well, and you decide to get her outside lessons, she may read some rejection into it that you didn't intend, and decide she doesn't want to continue unless it's with you. Even if it all goes well with you teaching her, in two years when the rebellion phase hits in full, she may throw the "baby" (music) out with the bathwater (Grandpa), because she can't "decouple" the two.

 

My own personal advice: hire a teacher to come do a couple of trial lessons with her, and just make yourself available for coaching and practice-help.

 

I really don't think I'll teach her much, but I wanted to at least get her started. Honestly, if we only do 2-4 lessons together she'll still always remember that her grandpa taught her to play.

 

My mother was a piano teacher and although she would always have me play in her recitals I was only her student for a couple of months. So I totally get the family teaching dynamic.

 

I never would have attempted to teach my children, but I have a totally different dynamic with my grandkids; we have a common enemy!.

 

So I'm pretty committed to this path, if anyone could recommend a beginners book.

You want me to start this song too slow or too fast?

 

Forte7, Nord Stage 3, XK3c, OB-6, Arturia Collection, Mainstage, MotionSound KBR3D. A bunch of MusicMan Guitars, Line6 stuff

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Well, I use Faber to get kids started. It's good in that it teaches general concepts related to making music on the piano, before locking hands into particular keys. It's pretty "C"-centric at the beginning, and moves VERY slowly, but does a nice general job. If you want to check it out even to see some of the pedagogy attached to beginning-learning, it might be useful as a resource even more than as a guide.

 

I know some people favor Bastien at the beginning because it moves faster from "concept" to "execution." I find it kind of outdated-seeming, all around. But many like it. Same thing, feel free just to read through the Primer-level and adapt the approach.

 

Alfred and Faber (actually, all of the methods) have "Adult beginner" books that nicely compact the initial learning process. They are basically compilations of the method books, with less kid-centered art and song titles. You might have some success picking up one or both of these.

 

Finally, I'm a big fan of (very carefully curated) youtube lessons for kids. My daughter is teaching herself ukulele this way. I am standing five feet away, and actually bought her a method book when I gave her the uke, but the act of searching out and finding her own vids makes her much more connected to the process, and it's still something we're doing "together," since I got her the uke and am right there with her while she's doing it. Plus, I'm learning too by osmosis...

"Ghost of Christmas Present" released 12.2.22 * (Not the jolly kind of Christmas song.)

https://joshweinstein.hearnow.com/

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By the way, the "outside" teacher I bring my kids to is none other than the Korner's eminent Bobedohshe. Very cool dude and great teacher for my kids.

 

He sounds very handsome.

 

I agree with Math's points overall about teaching kids, though I don't really have any. I teach his kids and another kid of a pretty famous jazz pianist actually. In both cases, dad for sure has the chops to teach the kids himself. I was actually pretty terrified to teach the kid of the jazz guy because I'm not remotely on his level musically. But in both cases, they'd rather not conflate the process of learning music with the the parental relationship. Makes a lot of sense. And on top of that, at home now you have an additional objective 'coach' who can reinforce, expand upon and nudge along whatever was taught. I think it's great when kids can learn music in multiple settings from multiple points of view (in this case both in my studio and at home) and this helps that.

 

I also think that there's nothing wrong with mom/dad/grandparent doing a couple lessons to 'gauge interest', as the OP said. I remember this is how I started. My mom, a choir director, sat me down with a copy of 'Middle C and its Near Neighbors' and got me playing the most basic of basics. A couple lessons like that. As well as the Level 1 Bastien Christmas book. It wasn't too structured and the lessons would be who knows, maybe every couple weeks when it occurred to my mom. Some months later we ended up moving and as our lives were transplanted and we had 'new starts' with schools and everything, it was also time to 'start' piano lessons with a real teacher.

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Ooooh, youtube. Great idea. I already have some experience making youtube's for other people. Nothing super polished but it's helped them learn some otherwise difficult or hard to find parts.

 

Faber and Bastien; I'll check them out!

You want me to start this song too slow or too fast?

 

Forte7, Nord Stage 3, XK3c, OB-6, Arturia Collection, Mainstage, MotionSound KBR3D. A bunch of MusicMan Guitars, Line6 stuff

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I hear good things about the Faber books too, though I haven't used them myself. No one lets me teach their kids (a wise choice!).

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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My wife and I put our 3 kids into Suzuki piano at the same time, when they were 3, 5, and 6. We looked at a lot of teachers and methods and were pretty satisfied with Suzuki overall.

My oldest is about to go to college, may play flute on partial scholarship at university, and still plays piano as well. My middle daughter loves choir, while my son is a dedicated jazz pianist in 9th grade thinking about going to music school.

 

I think most of the traditional methods that have young kids start reading music right away are not that pedagogically sound, especially for younger kids. Methods that introduce reading notes a little later and brings in chords and ear training earlier are the way to go, in my opinion.

 

If I were to start my kids over again now, I'd look for a teacher using Edwin Gordon's Music Learning Theory:

https://giml.org

 

The piano method based on this theory is Music Moves for Piano:

https://www.musicmovesforpiano.com

 

As for starting your granddaughter off, I think it's a great idea. The main idea is to keep it fun, and by you modelling your own playing, you'll be showing her that it's something truly valuable. When she wants to take lessons, then you'll know she's bought into it.

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Interesting thread. FWIW, I quickly learned that teaching my kids was tough for the reasons MOI stated and got them teachers. However, I find with my grandkids it's different. I've been able to teach my grandkids some things about music without any obvious negative repercussions. I think part of it has to do with the parent/kid relationship and parent/grandkid relationship being so different. As I reflect back on my childhood my grandfather was by far the most positive family musical influence.
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First: I'm not a beginner. But I've never taught piano.

 

Recently my grandaughter (11 yrs old) moved in with us and has been expressing interest in the piano.

 

I want to find a book that I can work through with her to get her started. My goal isn't really to teach her much but more gauge her interest, get her started, and then get her a real teacher if things go well.

 

Typically I find that learning through a relative is a doomed venture, but I just want to help her get going.

 

What do you guys recommend?

 

My 2 cents:

Show her one cool trick - one part from a song, hopefully one that she knows and likes.

And for a short while afterwards do not offer to show her anything else.

 

She might come back to you for more tips.

 

As a kid my music teacher parents gently beat piano into me, usually with not too much resistance. But every now and again a cool friend of theirs would come over and show me a little snippet or two of rock - I LOVED those guys as a 10 -12 yr old. Every time they came over I just about tackled them in the quest for more cool rock material.

 

 

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All you guys have had some great input! This thread has been way better than I could have hoped. thanks!

You want me to start this song too slow or too fast?

 

Forte7, Nord Stage 3, XK3c, OB-6, Arturia Collection, Mainstage, MotionSound KBR3D. A bunch of MusicMan Guitars, Line6 stuff

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