From my experience teaching piano lessons in Vancouver, Canada, I have learned that the right method book for a piano student can play a big role in the speed at which she learns. Not all methods are the same, just like not all children are the same.
When I first started teaching, I had no idea what I was doing. So I went out and bought 5 different method books and tried a different one on each student. Here’s what I found.
1. Some method books have theory workbooks that “jump around” in no particular order. I’ve found that these books are more likely leave a child frustrated because she’s “not getting it” when it comes to note naming.
2. Some methods are just so darn boring. Boring to listen to for both parties. Yawn.
3. Some offer examinations as an incentive to practice a rigorous regime of scales, theory, and tons of memorizing. Great for technique and rapid learning. Unfortunately, this often leaves little time for practicing anything outside of their repertoire, or time for being creative.
4. I’ve learned that “Notespeller” books are a God sent for rapid learning, that is, as long as the student does her homework.
Which one was my favorite one? The ones that had developed a “road map” for learning. I can’t stress enough how important it is that the repertoire book match up with the theory book. For example, if in the theory book we learn the notes FGA in the bass clef, the repertoire book should have a song using the notes FGA in it so that the student can practice playing these new notes, cementing them into her brain. This is why I absolutely love the Hal Leonard books for my beginners. I have had more than one beginner student come to me who had been taking piano for a few years prior with a different teacher and yet was still not able to read notes on a staff. It wasn’t the child’s fault. It was the method book, “jumping around and not making sense.” After asking her parents to buy the Hal Leonard method books for their child, within a month, their child was reading notes on a staff. Hurray!!!!!
If your child has been struggling with music over the last few years and you feel that she hasn’t been progressing as fast as she could be, it may be time to assess the method that she is learning out of. It really can make all the difference in “getting it.”
I have used Bastien, RCM, Noona, Hal Leonard, Alfred, Fletcher, Faber, Kodaly, and Conservatory Canada in my teaching practices. To this day I still experiment with trying different methods.
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