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Beginner Piano Books..

Discussion in 'Music' started by kezzamc, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. kezzamc

    kezzamc New commenter

    Can anyone suggest some good piano books which i might use for my private tuition for beginners under 10 years old?
  2. kezzamc

    kezzamc New commenter

    Can anyone suggest some good piano books which i might use for my private tuition for beginners under 10 years old?
  3. Typhoon

    Typhoon New commenter

    A couple of people on here have reccommended the Bastian Basics series, they have a really nice range of progressive books and simple primers suitable for young children.

    The Alfred series also comes highly reccommended.

    Hope this helps a bit!
  4. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    "Dozen A Day" are a bit more serious, but give a very sound grounding in the basics for wee hands!There are quite a few books which I used to use as my pupils' "studies" pieces.
  5. I've tried allsorts over the years and the best one I have found is the oxford piano course. After the first book move onto the first book of piano pieces. Not thrilled with the second book but I always use the first.
  6. Same here. Up until now, that is one of the best beginner piano books I have seen so far. I somehow teach piano, well just to me nephew.
  7. Play Piano Alan Haughton (free postage musicroom.com) I like this, child's version and adult version both. Two handed playing and very simple progression. Don't stick with it forever, as can become repetitive, but very good to make pupils feel they are making good progress and achieving a lot quite quickly.
  8. Alfred is a good series, but I changed over from their Basic course to their Premier Piano course about a year ago and have not regretted it. From the beginning it works in such a way that children don't start associating note names or lines/spaces with particular fingers and keeps them out of the trap of feeling that a piece has to be in this or that "position". I've tried Bastien, Play Piano and the Oxford series, but th Alfred Premier is the only one that I've never had anyone fall down on.
    The theory books that go with the lesson books are easy and attractive and always relevant to whatever they're learning to play if they keep it up.
    Like a lot of piano teachers I swear by A Dozen A Day and findn them very adaptable, but I use it alongside whatever lesson books I'm using. I find it quite amusing to see the sort of really tricky stuff that appears in books 4 and 5 but still with those little stick men at the top of each exercise :eek:)
  9. netmum

    netmum New commenter

    That is interesting gizzy.
    I began to teach my daughter to play using Piano Time. She has now moved onto a proper teacher thourhg school and is progressing well using Alfred Basic although I do wonder if she is rushing ahead to quickly but I am slightly perturbed by her comments about piecs being in the G position or whatever.
    My husband who has taught piano in the past and plays to post grade 8 standard (he is actually a voice tutor piano was his 2nd instrument) and I never came across this position thing before and we are not sure as we like this method.
  10. It helps them in the short run while the pieces are all in the same five-finger position, but I found some of my children couldn't name a note unless they knew what position the piece was in. And one boy who wanted to start learning a grade 1 piece looked at it blankly and said "How do you know what position it's in?" I had to keep impressing on them that in "real" piano music there is no such thing as a position, positions are replaced with fingerng.
    Piano Time isn't immune to this either, as when they get on to the page where the right hand is sitting on DEFGA (Chiapanecas etc), they constantly put down a wrong finger, seeing E and playing F with third finger.
    What the Alfred premier course does, almost from the beginning, is to concentrate on knowing where the notes are and suggest good fingers to use for them. 3 is reckoned to be your best finger for a good hand-shape; the first piece in which they learn stave-reading (and this doesn't come until they've read notes with letters in them, stepping up and down in a space with no "ladder" to sit on) is called Change on C and plays the C with 333-222-11111 in each hand. Then they learn "landmark" notes - first bass F and later terble G - and play pieces withy C and F in the LH with thumb and little finger, then with the same notes but one of them is in the RH, so they use the 3rd finger of each hand. Starting as they mean to go on. It's worked like a charm with everyone I've used it with so far, and the later books follow suit.
    If you want to start very yung children, an extremely exciting book is My First Piano Adventure by Nancy and Randall Faber. It relies on playing the CD that comes with it every day, and works best with a parent at home (a bit like Suzuki there) - once they get on to reading it's the same principle for fingering, use the most suitable fingers for the range. There's a very good website for this series and I won't waste time and space describing why I find it so good, it will sell itself.
    The first two or three levels in the Alfred premier come in a "Universal" edition which uses minims and bars instead of half-notes and measures, for those who are squeamish about it.
    Premier course isn't as easy to find in the shops as the older Basic course and Prep course; I get all mine from Amazon. I don't regret the change one bit.
  11. mrkeys

    mrkeys Occasional commenter

    Michael Aaron Piano Course and the Adult version for older students and of course Dozen and Day.
  12. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I don't entirely agree with that. When you play, say, a C-major scale with the right hand, you are effectively changing position when reaching F (i.e. 1-2-3 for C-D-E, then the thumb goes under so that the hand position is shifted to 1-2-3 for F-G-A).
    However, I wouldn't refer to these as the "C position" and "F position", as piano fingering is too fluid for that sort of description. But it is still a shift of position.
    As an examiner, I get the impression (from listening to thousands of sight reading attempts) that many piano candidates have very little understanding of fingering. It is something they have learnt by rote for pieces and scales, but many seem totally unaware that from Grade 3 upwards there is additional fingering in the sight-reading tests to guide them through shifts and all but the most obvious extensions.
    There is no penalty for not following the fingering, but it is there to help. What usually happens is that they ignore the fingering for a shift, find they've run out of fingers before the end of the phrase, and grind to a halt (sometimes in a state of tears). [​IMG]
  13. I agree with Gasman - I constantly refer to hand positions - with grade 1 this often remains in the same place, but when there has been a transition, even a small one we talk about the hand moving to the D position. it encourages students to open their hands out once the transition is complete.
    I have used many of the books described here and I no certainly longer use the Micheal Aaron - although it produces very nice results for the pieces it has in it, the techniques required are actually of limited use once you get to grade 1. I use Me and My Piano (Waterman) books 1 and 2 and now use nothing else. Most of my students are 10 yrs or younger. By the time they are half way through book they are ready to start on grade 1 piano (ABRSM).
    Another trick, if you are going down the grade rout is to have taught them all the scales and broken chords for grade 1 before they are ready for the pieces. And don't forget the sight reading.
    Happy days.
  14. I'm surprised not to see the John Thompson piano course getting a mention here.
    A few years ago now, a parent on the playground asked me if I could recommend anyone to teach her daughter piano. As I have grade 8, I thought, why not me?! I used to teach when I was in sixth form for a bit of pin money, so I gave it a shot.
    I'd learned to play piano (c. 1982) using the John Thompson course and I thought if it did me no harm, then why not. It's great for introducing children to "real" music and is very easy. The adult accompaniments that you play alongside them sound different with every piece and give the child a sense of achievement.
    I've not taught piano now for some years due to having children but it's something I would consider taking up again when the kids are older. I'd always consider using John Thompson - especially with the very young.
  15. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    They surely need to by the time they learn a C-major scale? Thumb on C and then thumb on F (right hand) is a pretty sure indication.
    I've never met anyone who can just do it. Those that sight-read fluently are those that have understood the principles of notation and fingering from the word go, and who have found that this gives them the skills and appetite to explore a wide range of music.
    But I do agree that there is a divide. Some pupils love sight reading (a recent thread on the ABRSM forum asked if the board would consider setting-up graded exams in sight-reading alone, which of course they won't), but many do fear/hate it.
    If you feel that is a problem, you should decide the order in which the tests are to be taken, and give your pupils a note to pass on to the examiner. The order of tests is entirely under the control of the candidate, and can be taken in whatever order they please. In my own case, I finish with the aural if they express no preference.
    Writing as a teacher, I've always found that pianists with good sight-reading skills are the first to be willing to try accompanying other pupils, playing hymns in assembly, and (eventually) playing ensemble music (piano trios and the like), as well as being willing to try other keyboard instruments such as harpsichord or organ. It really does improve their musicianship.
  16. But I've never ever taught a scale by having them read it. The problem with position-learning is one of reading (I think)

    I reckon I was luckier than most. Nowadays I not only ask them what they're practising on, but where it is, what everyone else is doing when they're practising, whether it inconveniences anyone else, etc. Having your piano in the same room as the TV with a telly-addict brother is hopeless. My dad was teaching music in school and our piano was in the front room which wasn't used much. I stopped piano lessons at 10 and didn't start again till I was 15, by which time I had grade 6 theory and general musicianship and grade um on the cello. Meanwhile my average playing time on the piano was between an hour and an hour and a half a day, because I didn't need to ask if anyone minded if I played the piano and nobody was listening to me. There always seemed to be little piles of sheet music I hadn't noticed before (I think my Dad used to go to sales or something!) so I was sight-reading all the time. My fingering was eccentric, to say the least, my touch was thump and nobody minded that I went back and corrected things, or repeated notes and chords. What I wasn't consciously doing was "practising sight-reading. I think you learn to sight-read by doing it for the sake of the music, which is why I encourage kids to borrow books and try out for themselves.

    My first exam, btw, was LCM General Musicianship grade 4 which I took at age 10. My dad taught me how to play perfect and plagal cadences in keys up to 2 sharps and flats (though I had NO idea what they were used for) and would prepare me for the exam by pretending to be the examiner, an ancient creature straight out of Molesworth, who snarled "hni' hni' little girlll, play me a plagal cadence in the key of F". I was so used to this frightful spectre that when I went in to the exam and found a very nice young man in a dark suit smiling at me, I was surprised and delighted.

    Maybe we shuld all be putting them in for Practical Musicianship before doing the piano exams?

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