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Teaching a 12 year old who initially learned by ear (Read 2719 times)

Offline zgmusic0114

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Teaching a 12 year old who initially learned by ear
« on: January 15, 2014, 08:59:46 PM »
I have a pre-teen piano student who initially learned piano by ear.  I'm trying to get her to learn to play by reading the notes on the page, because she has the skill to play pretty difficult music. I want her to be able to play the things that she wants to play, but accurately and with correct fingerings and the way that they are written on the page. The trouble seems to be that she only wants to play things the way she wants to play them. She's used to making up the fingerings and playing things by ear, so when I try to get her to do things my way, she resists and puts up a fuss. She is intelligent, but seems to be sort of entitled about the way she wants to learn the piano. My question is, should I allow her to continue to read by ear? I don't want to encourage her to do anything that will be a detriment to her furthering her skills. Also, she's been very stubborn and I'm not sure how to handle that. Any suggestions?

Offline Mayla

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Re: Teaching a 12 year old who initially learned by ear
«Reply #1 on: January 15, 2014, 10:18:44 PM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline quantum

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Re: Teaching a 12 year old who initially learned by ear
«Reply #2 on: January 16, 2014, 07:26:11 AM »
I also started out playing by ear.  However, around the time I was able to pick out a tune on the piano, I started formal lessons.  I did commit to learning the skills play and read.  My ear was naturally more developed than my reading, so it did take a while for me to develop that aspect.  There was a tendency to rely more on the ear, especially when reading certain passages felt difficult or overwhelming.  Nonetheless, I persisted and my reading skills eventually caught up.  

In my own teaching, I have observed that music reading is a separate skill that needs to be taught.  Especially for a student that struggles with reading, it is not enough to teach the lines, symbols and notes, and what they mean.  Just because the student knows what they are, doesn't mean they know how to apply them.  One needs to teach such student, reading as part of the playing apparatus.  

Your student needs to realize that taking the next steps forward will involve tackling certain things she finds challenging.  Nonetheless, she has to be willing to go through with it.  There will be unfamiliarity, uncertainty, a sense that reading is so much more difficult than what she is doing now to make music.  But assure her, if she persists, the results will be rewarding.  

There is no need to have her stop playing by ear.  In fact, cultivate the skill and build upon it.  You can say that reading is just another skill to add to her toolkit.  Not the way to play music, rather an option she can choose to pull out when called for.  
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline ranniks

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Re: Teaching a 12 year old who initially learned by ear
«Reply #3 on: January 17, 2014, 10:27:55 PM »
My absolute pitch sucks beyond words. You couldn't ask me to name the C note if you played it.

But my reading skills are decent.

Not sure if that makes me a bad pianist:(

Offline quantum

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Re: Teaching a 12 year old who initially learned by ear
«Reply #4 on: January 18, 2014, 09:35:55 AM »
Having a skill that needs work does not automatically make you a bad pianist.
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline xdjuicebox

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Re: Teaching a 12 year old who initially learned by ear
«Reply #5 on: February 12, 2014, 09:03:33 PM »
Have her read Neuhaus's "On Piano Playing," specifically the section about fingering. Explain to her that some motions are simply in nature more efficient than others, and give her reasons why, and how you can't play "La Campanella" going 1-2 instead of 1-4/1-5 or something like that.

Then explain to her how every finger sounds different, and you could potentially butcher a song by getting horrible sound if you don't use the fingers that the composer wanted, and how composers right fingerings for good reason.
I am trying to become Franz Liszt. Trying. And failing.