As a piano teacher, I have many beginners. I've been observing, and coming rather reluctantly to the opinion that beginners (at piano) do better without covering dynamics. I feel like I just want them to play first with good tone, which they can only do at mf. Ask them to play f and they bang. Ask them to play p and they lose tone. Ask them to even think about dynamics - well, why, surely tone, pulse and intention to engage the correct pitches are more important.
So, in the first year I just want good tone. In the second year I want a shape to a phrase. I want the melody to sound more prominent than any accompaniment. If they've been singing it, they will do that quite naturally.
Now, maybe it's just me. When I think of myself as a child learner, I took dynamic indications seriously. If a phrase was marked p then I played it all softly. If the next phrase was marked mp then I aimed to bring the dynamic up, just a little. I think I did genuinely believe that every note in the p section should be quieter than every note in the mp section. The result? I couldn't shape a phrase. I was scared to bring anything out, scared to put any natural accent on a note (unless it was marked) because of the way the music was written.
Any book I pick up has, for the tenderest of beginners, markings starting with f and p, which makes sense because mezzo is a whole other word to learn). So it's kind of hard to ignore them, and I feel a bit philistine saying, I don't want to teach dynamics till the 3rd year. But that really is what I think. Am I the only one?
Can someone help me out here? Give me another way to think about this?