play by ear

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

Moderators: Feg, Gill the Piano

Post Reply
karic
New Member
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: 26 Mar 2010, 07:56

play by ear

Post by karic » 17 Sep 2010, 03:41

Hello,all guys, I'm newbie here. This is my first question.
I have a student who has just transferred to me. She can sightread basic stuff, but doesn't like to, and she won't watch my fingers when I am showing her how to play something. Whether she is supposed to be reading the music or copying what I play, she will only use her ears and try to guess what she heard. If she were good at it, I might not mind so much, but she usually gets it wrong. When I try to correct her, she pushes my hand away or ignores me as she tries to figure it out herself. She is 6 years old and has been playing pianosince she was 3.
I have never had such a stubborn student before and do not know how to handle it. Do I establish myself as "in charge" and insist she follow my instructions, or do I be patient and let her figure it out by ear if that's what she prefers to do?
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1829
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
Contact:

Re: play by ear

Post by Colin Nicholson » 17 Sep 2010, 19:07

Hi there,

Firstly, I would let your new pupil "settle in" first. I've been teaching piano for over 30 years, and myself have come across the "play by ear" pupils. Also - YOU are in charge, not the pupil, and the parents have brought her to you, not the other way round! Let things settle first, like I do, then perhaps start on a new book. I use "Me & My Piano" - book 1 by Waterman & Harewood, and the piano keys are colour coded, and they start from Middle C, then gradually learn each note, and its position on the stave as you climb up to D, E, F and G. If you are just showing her little tunes for her to copy you, thats different, but start by writing the letter names above the notes, then slowly decrease that - say, bar 2 is the same as bar 1, then just write the notes above bar 1, and not bar 2.

'Sight-reading' as such, takes several years to master, so start with good visual tunes with pictures, and invent a story about the tune. For example, when the note G is introduced (with 5th finger, right hand), there is a tune called "Escalator" - I explain what one is (if they don't know), then try and get to imagine they are on an escalator - going up (CDEFG), in the shopping centre, then back down. Also follow each note with your pencil (as a cursor) - and get them to keep their eyes on the music. If they do not read the music, then I cover their right hand with a book!! and get them to 'feel' the keys with each finger.

It also depends on how many lessons she has had, if any, but these bad habits will take a while to sort out - so be patient. As a general rule.... START FROM SCRATCH WITH HER

Also have some stickers/ stars and use the back of her book as a star chart. After a few lessons, award her with a star each week - doesn't matter if she still has bad habits at this stage - still offer her a star, then gradually make it slighty more difficult for her to gain her star (it works every time). What I do then (say after 2 months), start to mark her pieces out of 10. 10/10 or 9/10 gains a star - and for them to do that, correct counting, notes accurate, smooth legato - and generally well played and looking at the music. If there are mistakes in her playing, poor counting, incorrect fingers etc.... then explain what she did wrong, and say offer her 7/10 (write that mark on her music), but not quite good enough for a star...... kids will do anything for a star, and eventually she'll start listening.

Regrettably as I always say, its not yours or the pupil's fault - its either the parents, or the previous teacher who hasn't taught her correctly - or its both of them, and simply by the parents just letting her "get on with it" - poor do really.

After you explain things to her in a few weeks (with the new book), then YOU yourself must be firmer with her - and pre-warn the parents. If she insists on playing it her way - wrong notes, not reading the music - even if you follow the music with her, or play it in unison one octave higher, if its all wrong - you must gently swipe her hand off the keys, and show her correctly - keep doing this, they won't like it at first, but it generally works.

Hope that helps

CN
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

vernon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 1407
Joined: 12 Mar 2008, 10:29
Location: N.E.Scotland
Contact:

Re: play by ear

Post by vernon » 17 Sep 2010, 21:59

What profound and learned advice one gets on this forum and all free
Our mission in life is to tune customers--not pianos.

Any fool can make a piano-- it needs a tuner to put the music in it

www.lochnesspianos.co.uk

User avatar
Colin Nicholson
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1829
Joined: 04 Jul 2010, 19:15
Location: Morpeth, Northumberland
Contact:

Re: play by ear

Post by Colin Nicholson » 18 Sep 2010, 00:47

I know Vernon. Should be charging for this, but its the love of the job!!
Kids psychology is the worst thing to overcome, then I can start to teach them!!!
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest