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Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner (Read 4605 times)

Offline ardor

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Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner
« on: November 11, 2013, 06:32:31 PM »
I friend of mine wants to learn piano and asked me for lessons. He is a first-time student, and while I've played for a while, I am a first-time teacher. I don't think he expects anything too professional, but I want to give him a good foundation. We are both in our late 20s.

He has classical guitar experience, so he knows how to read music (although a novice with bass clef). I wasn't sure where to start, but I gave him some simple scales and finger strengthening exercises. I also gave him some pieces to just mess around with so he didn't get too bored. The problem is that I don't have any sheet music that's very simple. When I started was so long ago...I don't have that stuff anymore. So, I gave him Gymnopedie and Bach's first Prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier. I (nor he) expect to learn it...just something to tinker with, something to aspire to. I'd like to provide something simpler, though. Does anyone have any recommendations for some simple sheet music pieces or books?


My second question is something I'm not sure how to answer. He has a mechanical quirk on his right hand where his pinky finger goes straight up and out while he plays (I believe this is from his classical guitar experience, where the pinky needs to stay out of the way, more or less). When he needs to use the pinky, he has control, but otherwise it just tenses in that position while he uses the other four fingers. He's concerned that because it's such an ingrained behavior with his fingers he won't be able to undo it, so he was wondering if it'll be a problem with his playing/learning. I wasn't sure how to answer. Do you think that's something that can go away? Will it affect technique?

Thanks for your help

Offline bronnestam

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Re: Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner
«Reply #1 on: November 12, 2013, 02:25:42 PM »
Some easy pieces I think of are from the "Anna Magdalena Bach" book, and for more contemporary music: Ballade Pour Adeline by Richard Claydermann. Sounds much more advanced than it really is and is very appreciated for performances.

Mozart's "Beginner's Sonata" in C Major is also nice and also a good scale exercise, but the disadvantage is that it is rather long to be a beginner's piece. For a beginner, who has so much to sort out, it is good to have some really short pieces to work with.

And then you have all the Bach's Inventions ...

Maybe he should work a lot with slow penta scales in order to resolve the pinky problem? I am sure he can learn the right hand position, just as we all can learn the most difficult movements in piano playing and in time, after much work, even can find them quite easy ...

Offline 1piano4joe

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Re: Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner
«Reply #2 on: November 12, 2013, 04:06:46 PM »
First, have him make a fist with his right hand. Second, have him relax all fingers of his hand except his pinkie that stays tucked away. Give him something to play in the right hand only with fingers one through four. A C major scale is perfect. Play Fingers 123, tuck thumb then 1234, tuck thumb again and keep on going. The right pinkie is never used. This can be awkward or even difficult to do but it should help to give that pinkie its natural curl alongside its brethren fingers. It doesn't need to be held tightly just so that it is not pointing straight out. Eventually, he can learn to relax it and it should stay naturally curled. I had this problem myself many, many years ago. This is how I "cured" it.

"The problem is that I don't have any sheet music that's very simple. When I started was so long ago...I don't have that stuff anymore."

IMSLP has tons of free public domain sheet music. So do many others such as gmajormusictheory. You can join pianostreet which has sheet music. But since your a first-time teacher and he is a first-time student I STRONGLY RECOMMEND using a method book. I like the Bastien the best. I also recommend the children's version and not the adult even though he is an adult in his late twenties. I used them myself personally in my early forties. Anyway, a small investment in beginner method books will reap many rewards.

I hope I have been helpful, Joe.

P.S. He could also make a fist and relax all fingers except 4 and 5. Then have him play 12321232123..for a few minutes each day. This is much easier. This can be done anywhere. A piano isn't even necessary.

Offline ardor

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Re: Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner
«Reply #3 on: November 13, 2013, 12:44:44 AM »
This is great feedback, guys, thank you.

I've forwarded to him the info about the pinky issue and I'll look into some method books.

Offline 1piano4joe

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Re: Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner
«Reply #4 on: November 13, 2013, 01:43:36 AM »
You are welcome. :)

Offline johann_sebastian

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Re: Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner
«Reply #5 on: November 13, 2013, 02:39:36 AM »
I have a recommendation for some simple music. This Diabelli book is perfect for adult beginners.  Here's the link:

http://jafiles.net/file/0tWh7

I've used #6 with a many of my students.

Offline lcrommelin

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Re: Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner
«Reply #6 on: November 13, 2013, 09:43:21 AM »
You can start with the 1st Gnossienne by Satie, it's easier than the Gymnopédies. There is a set of piano pieces (opus 53) by Carl Nielsen, all of them written in one five-finger position. It's not on IMSLP though...

Offline ardor

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Re: Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner
«Reply #7 on: November 15, 2013, 12:03:07 AM »
I have a recommendation for some simple music. This Diabelli book is perfect for adult beginners.  Here's the link:

http://jafiles.net/file/0tWh7

I've used #6 with a many of my students.


Is it possible you could provide this with an alternative download service like dropbox? That site is making me register for things I don't want to register for.

Offline elizasays

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Re: Two questions as an amateur teacher for an adult beginner
«Reply #8 on: January 12, 2014, 07:22:36 AM »
I liked some of the suggestions above. Yes I too use beginner piano books for adults as it helps sight-reading and finger technique. For adults who already know chords and scales, i teach playing broken chords along with this.

For adults with tight fingers or hands :

I make sit facing me, hold my arms by the wrist, lift and drop them and then do the same to them. This loosens up their arms, hands and fingers.

Sit at the piano in the correct position, but further away. So instead of the hands resting on the piano they hang loosely. Shake them gently

Then move the piano stool back to the correct place and play the first Hanon finger exercise - stretching of finger 1&2 and 4&5.

That should take care of the tight little finger of your guitarist student.
Anitaelise