Beginner

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

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DuncanIdaho
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Beginner

Post by DuncanIdaho » 22 Nov 2011, 14:53

I would appreciate some advice from anyone on my current problems learning to play. First thing to say is that I am no spring chicken and started as an absolute beginner on my 50th birthday back in March. I found a local teacher who I have been seeing weekly since then. I have been practicing most days and have made some progress. However, I am getting more and more frustrated with my teacher. Since March she has taught me the rudiments of reading music etc but she seems fixated on getting me to play popular tunes such as Titanic, Edelweiss, Somewhere over the rainbow to which she widdles away next to me. She has not mentioned scales or practice other than to keep playing these tunes over and over. She has me working through Edna Mae Burnhams ministeps to music books which seem laugheably ancient and infantile. Now I don't have too much against these tunes but I am more inclined toward classical pieces which I told her at the outset. i try and practice every day but playing these four one minute pieces over and over and over again without any variation is driving me to distraction.
My question is am I right to be frustrated by all this lack of real teaching and progress or is this just the way it is? I really feel I could make so much more progress if I was pushed harder and as I try to read and learn myself it feels like I am on a two track path. I wouldnt have started learning to play piano if i wasnt serious about it and my goal isnt just to be able to bash out a few show tunes, I want to really learn about music and the piano.
Maybe she feels I am just too old to do any more and so I am wondering if I try and find another teacher whether I will just find the same.
Any advice gratefully received.

Gill the Piano
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Re: Beginner

Post by Gill the Piano » 22 Nov 2011, 18:43

It might be that she is only used to teaching children and is having a problem raising her sights to adult requirements. Edna Mae Burnham exercises are surprisingly difficult to play WELL. Keep on with them. Have you told the teacher you want to play classical stuff? Most kids can't wait to ditch it, so she may be going for the popular approach with you. But if she doesn't know, you'll have to tell her! There are adult classical piano courses out there; go to the music shop, pick one up and have a look. Then if you like it, suggest it to the teacher, saying it's more your scene.
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DuncanIdaho
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Re: Beginner

Post by DuncanIdaho » 22 Nov 2011, 19:57

Thank Gill, of course I have told her as I said. I agree maybe she is used to teaching children more, and perhaps I am being childish :lol:

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Beginner

Post by Colin Nicholson » 22 Nov 2011, 20:45

Assuming you are approaching around Grade 1 standard, and that you can comfortably read music in C, G, D, F major and A, D minor.... I can suggest a couple of books for you to buy - available on Amazon.

1. "The Best of Grade 1 Piano" (published by Faber)

2. "Keyboard Anthology 2nd series" Book 1 (published by ABRSM)

Also try out the ABRSM Grade 1 piano pieces (2011 - 2012).... even though these are set for 'exam conditions'.... they are realistically well-known short classical pieces of music.

Adult learners who I teach also receive easy editions of classical/ easy listening music - and they often choose themselves what they want to learn. For example - I also do a good arrangement (and easier notation) for Bach's Toccata in D minor (transcribed on my PC using Sibelius)..... or Prelude in C by Bach is also a favourite.
That's assuming though you are at around Grade 1 standard, and that your sight reading is reasonable?.... dont be afraid to order the music and show it to your teacher.... and ask her to play some of the tunes for you.... its what my adult learners do. Mmmmm "Over a rainbow" ? maybe not!!

In terms of your age..... that's young in my eyes for an adult beginner. I used to teach a gentleman - who started at the age of 70 - didnt know a note - complete beginner, and within 2-3 years, he was playing the full (proper) edition of The Entertainer by Joplin.... and regular scale & arpeggio practise...... he then retired from lessons in 2009 at the age of 81!!!....

If you get no joy - look for another teacher.

Hope that's helpful.
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DuncanIdaho
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Re: Beginner

Post by DuncanIdaho » 23 Nov 2011, 12:50

Thanks for the guidance and encouragement Colin, much appreciated. I will get hold of the books you mention and I guess the message is that I need to take greater responsibility for my learning. I think though that I need to try and find a new teacher who is more in tune ( :D ) with me.

Gill the Piano
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Re: Beginner

Post by Gill the Piano » 23 Nov 2011, 17:46

Colin, isn't there a whole course for adults based on classical pieces? It's annoying that I can't think of the name of it; I seem to remember a photo of a woman with shoulder-length grey hair on the front.
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Re: Beginner

Post by Nutroast » 24 Nov 2011, 12:37

Gill the Piano wrote: It's annoying that I can't think of the name of it.
That's yer age, Gill :P

Welcome, Colin! I like Pauline Hall's "Piano Time Classics". The pieces are in order of difficulty, starting with a very nice arrangement of the theme from the Pastoral. I seem to remember that one of the arrangements in this book was a choice for the grade 1 exam a few years ago, the Schubert Unfinishe....

I started learning at 40 and had a few lessons, but can't afford them right now. To be honest, I need some to get me moving as I'm rather stalled at the moment. If and when I can do some, I'll try to chose a teacher who's not concerned about getting me through the grades, I'm never going to be great at playing, I just want to be good enough to play the things I enjoy. Luckily, there are two teachers I know of in the area where we are and they both come well recommended. I just hope one of them is in tune with what I want too.

Good luck!

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: Beginner

Post by Colin Nicholson » 25 Nov 2011, 00:14

Gill the Piano wrote:Colin, isn't there a whole course for adults based on classical pieces? It's annoying that I can't think of the name of it; I seem to remember a photo of a woman with shoulder-length grey hair on the front.
Sorry Gill, no idea! the only picture of a woman with grey hair I know of was in a "Doctor Flute" book.... mainly showing flute breathing techniques and a picky of her blowing a flute! Cant think of any piano books.
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Gill the Piano
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Re: Beginner

Post by Gill the Piano » 25 Nov 2011, 19:48

The Classic Piano Course. See? I knew the old brain would kick in eventually...
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Beginner

Post by dorsetpiano » 25 Nov 2011, 22:09

I have always taken the view that teachers are there to guide and that it's down to you to learn how to do something (remember that those that can do and those that can't.....). I am 63 and have never had a lesson and now in retirement practice every day, I probably have loads of bad habits and there are gaps in my theory knowledge but I never bothered with the Edelweiss type exercises (I can play that by ear now anyway). I play for enjoyment and as a sort of retirement project. Get some easy stuff in books like Chopin Gold or Mozart Gold (find them on ebay under sheet music) and start trying to play things that you like. Get something like the Beethoven Moonlight Sonata which is easy to play at the beginning (but difficult to play well). Use Youtube or Spotify if you want to know what the piece is supposed to sound like then get your head down and work on two or three at a time. I am currently working on four Chopin Waltzes (originals, not arrangements) and I have been playing seriously for about two years after a non playing gap of 40 years.

I would ditch the teacher she sounds like she is holding you back.

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Re: Beginner

Post by Nutroast » 26 Nov 2011, 13:45

Gill the Piano wrote:The Classic Piano Course. See? I knew the old brain would kick in eventually...
Having teased you earlier, I'm embarrassed to say that I have that book :lol: Are we both talking about the one by Carol Barratt? That's the one I have, but it must have changed its cover by the time I bought my copy (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it). It is one of the books I come back to again and again as it takes me beyond Fanny Waterman's book 1 without me buying yet more books. I used Fanny Waterman as it was the one my teacher recommended, yet she was more than happy to combine both books for me.

Gill the Piano
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Re: Beginner

Post by Gill the Piano » 26 Nov 2011, 19:12

:P Ner ner-ner ner ner!!! :P :lol: Yes, looking at it on Musicroom.com it seems to be an abstract design on the cover now...
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DuncanIdaho
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Re: Beginner

Post by DuncanIdaho » 29 Nov 2011, 13:49

Thanks again all for the advice, I take the point that I must take more responsibility for my learning so will try to do just that while trying to find a new teacher. I have been in touch with one locally who can see me in the new year. I will check out the books you mentioned, thanks.

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