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Gifted pupil learned from You-Tube


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#1 jackieja366

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 17:31

A new pupil came to me yesterday, a 14 year old boy who has never had a piano lesson before, but has taught himself to play from You Tube videos. He only started playing in January, so I asked him if he could play some of his favorite pieces for me. Well, I was stunned! He played Fur Elise with such fluency and feeling, and even the beginning section of Clair De Lune and some other pieces all from memory and well executed. Yet he has no knowledge of music theory and barely knew the names of the keys!  So I had a discussion with him and his Mum who said he would like to read music - fine but I feel that what he has achieved is so amazing, it would be a backward step to start playing from a music book. My instinct is to teach him music theory and give him technical exercises, but to encourage him to continue what he is doing. I have only been teaching 10 years and feel a little out of my depth as I have never had this situation before. 


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#2 corenfa

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 17:46

I'm not a teacher, but if he can't read music, how will he learn other pieces? Of course if he isn't interested in learning classical music, that may not matter so much


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#3 sbhoa

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 18:33

I had a  similar student  a few years ago though he played more popular music.

Though many like this don't stick with learning to read the music this boy did. 

He picked up enough music reading skill to be able at least to learn things he knew from a score. 

I can't remember which tutor book we used but I certainly didn't discourage him from continuing with what he was already doing. 

We worked on two levels at once. Basic stuff to practice reading and to learn a bit more about efficient fingering technique and musically on his other stuff.

As I'm not familiar with the style he wanted to play I advised that he look for a teacher who was proficient in that style if he wanted to go further.

I was able to help him to make use of written music by taking it as a guide to the notes and not worrying too much over reading the rhythm but to play as he was used to hearing. He was good enough to get work as a pianist in clubs and went on to do a popular music degree.


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#4 Sautillé

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 19:41

I've had one of these and it was a massive mistake..... I took on a child who was very musical and had, like your prospective pupil, learned a great deal from videos etc etc. I set out with all concerned what needed to be done and discussed what would be required to turn a quite clever party trick into real musical ability....... because, that's the thing..... playing grade 5 ish music isn't that difficult..... it's the myriad of other things that make up being a pianist that are very difficult..... working out a rhythm for yourself, sightreading, understanding keys and scales, developing harmonic intuition, learning technical fluency and command over the instrument..... etc etc. I could suggest you try it yourself - borrow a clarinet/violin/whatever and see if you can play a grade 5 piece......me, I can do a great Bach 1/2 of the double violin concerto but I'm a rubbish violinist, haven't a clue......
If you take this child on you need to be absolutely clear about your expectations, and your timeframe. My child got a distinction at grade 1 but despite my week in week out efforts not one thing changed in 7months. Why bother learning to read music if you can copy someone else playing it?? Even worse, he'd learned from the beginning that it could be easy...... why choose to do it properly if you can shortcut. We parted company.....!
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#5 sbhoa

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  • Tameside

Posted 18 November 2017 - 22:35

I've had one of these and it was a massive mistake..... I took on a child who was very musical and had, like your prospective pupil, learned a great deal from videos etc etc. I set out with all concerned what needed to be done and discussed what would be required to turn a quite clever party trick into real musical ability....... because, that's the thing..... playing grade 5 ish music isn't that difficult..... it's the myriad of other things that make up being a pianist that are very difficult..... working out a rhythm for yourself, sightreading, understanding keys and scales, developing harmonic intuition, learning technical fluency and command over the instrument..... etc etc. I could suggest you try it yourself - borrow a clarinet/violin/whatever and see if you can play a grade 5 piece......me, I can do a great Bach 1/2 of the double violin concerto but I'm a rubbish violinist, haven't a clue......
If you take this child on you need to be absolutely clear about your expectations, and your timeframe. My child got a distinction at grade 1 but despite my week in week out efforts not one thing changed in 7months. Why bother learning to read music if you can copy someone else playing it?? Even worse, he'd learned from the beginning that it could be easy...... why choose to do it properly if you can shortcut. We parted company.....!

Yes, I've had a few who have begun this way and all except one decided that it was too much effort and that they were happy enough continuing with doing what they had been all along.

I think it's worth giving it a shot as long as you've made them aware that it may seem a bit basic/tedious for a while as their reading skills start to catch up with their playing skills. Sometimes it's harder when they also come along with really poor fingering habits that prevent them from playing fluently.


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#6 Fazioligirl

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 14:14

Like Sautille and Sbhoa I too have been down this route with pupils and currently have a teenage boy, who, although delightful, openly admits that he doesn’t want to put in the work required to learn to read music properly but still claims he wants to learn to read notation! Sadly, until he’s mature enough to decide for himself that he’s going to have to make a bit more effort in order to achieve this it’s not going to happen.
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#7 BadStrad

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 14:23

One thing you might try is working from a lead sheet. It introduces note reading but only one note melody lines.  Then using the chord names start with say the bass note, add the other notes and build up to improvising an accompaniment in the bass.  So he's learning chord theory and simple notation.  It might be the gateway to wanting to be able to read a full piano score...


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#8 xini

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 21:27

I've had quite a few like this,  at varying levels of giftedness. As other teachers have said, most find it takes them so much longer to follow the page that they would rather carry on from youtube. I said to one teenage boy recently that that route is ensuring he will always be dependent on other people (such as those who make the videos). I think musicians should develop some independence and understanding. That did seem to go in.

 

So many kids do it now and we coudn't stop it happening if we wanted to! As long as it's balanced with some technique and understanding, it can be beneficial. For example, kids are more likely to discover good music from themselves this way (I have to actively prescribe music for certain other pupils who otherwise do not listen to music at all).

 

 Most of the videos though don't teach technique, just notes. I demonstrated to this one lad how Fuer Elise usually comes out of the end of people's fingers when they have learned from video tutorials, versus the way it's supposed to sound. That was an eye opener for him and he now makes much more of an effort.

 

BadStrad's idea of the lead sheet is a good one. I have been using them with teens and they are much more receptive to that than to piano notation.


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#9 jenny

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 09:37

I have a 13 year old pupil who is suddenly showing an interest in playing more 'popular' piano pieces. He was a transfer pupil from a very strict, exam-driven teacher and was working towards Grade 2 when he came to me. Since he took the exam, I've been getting him to play lots of different pieces (he'd only ever played exam pieces before!) and last week he told me he'd been on YouTube and was trying to play Mad World. I have another pupil who had learned it, so I've borrowed her book (of easy film tunes) so that he can play it from notation. He seems really keen to play other pieces like that - 'tunes that I'll know' was how he expressed it. He mentioned Ed Sheeran songs. I've only occasionally helped pupils to play this kind of thing and would very much appreciate any suggestions for music at his level. Thanks in advance!    


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#10 Ilewydh

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Posted 30 November 2017 - 10:00

https://www.musicroo...ng-summer-2017/

 

The Ed Sheeran Song looks doable for somebody of that level, as does the Ragnbone man 'Human' that has been so popular.  It also includes video tutorial if he (and you) likes that kind of thing as well


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#11 sbhoa

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  • Tameside

Posted 30 November 2017 - 12:21

I have a 13 year old pupil who is suddenly showing an interest in playing more 'popular' piano pieces. He was a transfer pupil from a very strict, exam-driven teacher and was working towards Grade 2 when he came to me. Since he took the exam, I've been getting him to play lots of different pieces (he'd only ever played exam pieces before!) and last week he told me he'd been on YouTube and was trying to play Mad World. I have another pupil who had learned it, so I've borrowed her book (of easy film tunes) so that he can play it from notation. He seems really keen to play other pieces like that - 'tunes that I'll know' was how he expressed it. He mentioned Ed Sheeran songs. I've only occasionally helped pupils to play this kind of thing and would very much appreciate any suggestions for music at his level. Thanks in advance!    

For things like that I have them take a look at something like the 'Really Easy Piano' series and get a book or books that have at least a handful of pieces they know.

For this sort of thing I don't expect them to stick slavishly to the score. Rhythms may not be what they are used to hearing so I let them use the notes as a guide and otherwise play what they know. In some ways the score at least as much for my benefit as theirs as I am clueless when it comes to popular music... I was never clued up about it as a teenager and I'm not now. I will help them with good fingering (the editorial fingering may not be the best fit) and may help to simplify the arrangements if necessary. Sometimes we start with a simplified version and add more over time.


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#12 jenny

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  • Stoneclough

Posted 30 November 2017 - 15:16

Thanks, sbhoa. I'm in the same boat as you - I'm willing to help pupils play this kind of thing, but it's definitely not what I'm comfortable with. The book I mentioned - with Mad World in it - is from the very easy piano series, so I'll suggest he looks at others. He's a really nice boy and tries hard with everything so I'd like to be able to help him with this.  


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#13 sbhoa

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  • Tameside

Posted 30 November 2017 - 15:41

Thanks, sbhoa. I'm in the same boat as you - I'm willing to help pupils play this kind of thing, but it's definitely not what I'm comfortable with. The book I mentioned - with Mad World in it - is from the very easy piano series, so I'll suggest he looks at others. He's a really nice boy and tries hard with everything so I'd like to be able to help him with this.  

I always make it clear that if they really want to learn to play in this style they would be better looking for a teacher who is familiar with it. 

It's a whole different skill set.


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