Apr 30 2012, 09:50 PM
I teach pupils of all ages (youngest 5, oldest in their 70s), but I have just taken on a job at a local junior school (aged 7 - 11) and I was wondering what books you would recommend. Here's what I'm looking for...
I currently use Pauline Hall's "Tunes for ten fingers" and "more tunes for ten fingers" before moving onto "Piano time 1". The younger kids I have been teaching love those books! Are there any other books which you would recommended alongside those? Maybe some song books?
On a related note... I am always worrying whether I do enough technique with my younger pupils - they often have small hands and many of the things that I would usually encourage (curved fingers for example) are very difficult for them. What are your thoughts?
May 1 2012, 10:25 AM
I use Piano Adventures for age 7+ and My First Piano Adventures for 5-6.
You're right about the fingers, they're so little and podgy
but I just keep mentioning it... don't squash the mouse etc (we name the mice!!) and then as they get older and more capable it's in their mind. I don't stress it though but that's just me.
May 1 2012, 10:25 AM
For the past few years I have been using Alfred's Basic Piano Library Prep Course with the same age group as your junior school students. I like the steady speed at which the books progress, and the fact that students don't spend their first two or three lessons repeatedly playing Middle C!
Kids starting lessons in Years 2 or 3 begin with Level A, and kids starting later on in Year 4 begin with Level 1A. Those who started at Level A progress through to the end of Level D by which time they are ready to tackle Grade 1 if they want to.
The progression from playing black keys numerically to playing white keys alphabetically is handled well, as is the transition to reading staff notation, and the majority of students slip easily from one to the other. My only criticism is regarding the reliance on fixed hand positions, which some students rely on very heavily.
Regarding curved fingers: some kids adopt a very natural hand position almost instinctively, whereas others maintain a flat fingered approach. I tend to let the music wean them when they discover that playing legato is easier with curved fingers. Some kids get very anxious if you bother them about their hand shape.
May 1 2012, 11:18 AM
I use quite a variety of books, often varying from pupil to pupil.
I quite like Jane Sebba's Piano Magic for the 7 to 9 or 10 age group.
Microjazz for absolute beginners for older juniors who might like a more 'grown-up' looking book.
(it works just as well with pupils who don't particularly want to play jazz).
May 1 2012, 01:29 PM
I use a selection of books depending on the general ability of the pupil (and I get some insight into that from the school music teacher).
Recently I started a pupil privately who has trouble keeping her wrists floating - they sink dreadfully. Rather than obsess about it when she is learning new pieces in her tutor book, we use a Dozen a Day books and focus carefully on the wrists when doing the exercises. She is allowed to look at her hands to check her wrists during these pieces, and because they are short, we get new exercises every week. Now I can see that during her 'other' pieces, she is keeping the wrists up more. I find Dozen a Day useful throughout the early grades for technical exercises to support the other pieces.
May 1 2012, 06:36 PM
I fully agree with Susie and strongly recommend Dozen a Day.
Children love it.
May 1 2012, 09:49 PM
I do quite a lot of technique with younger pupils.
I had one 6 year-old start a year ago, a very musical lad but with dead flat fingers. We spent about 6 months playing endless variations of little tunes, firstly on the black notes. The real purpose was to get a nice hand position, in my opinion there was no point him playing harder pieces badly because his hands were all wrong.
He was very happy because, being only 6, he loved all those tiddly pieces and had no idea of 'progress' or what is difficult and what's not. We could still work on note learning and, in particular, rhythm - including quavers - even on 3 notes. We played great duets.
And then suddenly he had a light-bulb moment and his hands literally just fell into place, one week to the next. And he's now speeding ahead.
May 1 2012, 09:52 PM
I use a variety of books dedending on the age and ability of the pupil.
For the first time I've started a 6 year old on My first piano adventure, and we're both really enjoying it. (past threads on this forum encouraged me to use it).
Dozen a Day is really useful for short,to the point tech work.
I often use Piano Time books.
May 2 2012, 07:31 AM
I've used a lot of different books over the past 11 years, but over the past couple, I've done quite a bit research into tutor books and have trialed several methods. I now use Piano Adventures for children, Accelerated Piano Adventures for teenagers, and the Hal Leonard Adult Piano Method for adults. If you have very young children, there is a My First Piano Adventures series too. I feel that these books have the right balance of technique, pieces, theory etc. and all the material is well-planned and linked together.
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