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Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children (Read 1840 times)

Offline wkmt

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Our Piano Teacher, Alex Maclean, shares her experiences with dealing with piano fingerings for young children.

Please feel free to interact.

Alex Maclean
"Getting younger children to use the correct finger position and keeping hands in position


When we have young learners trying to read music, their first pieces provide many challenges to recall all the information required to do this well. I spend a lot of time correcting students on where to put their fingers when playing the notes. Although in simpler pieces, the number of the finger to be used is written above the note, it seems that from the time we originally discuss the finger positions with students, they often forget when applying it to the piece. As we know, thumb is 1 and the index finger 2, and so on. I thought that, as part of every class, it might be a good idea to put thumbs back on middle C at the beginning of the class and go from C to G in the right hand and C to F in the left, pointing out the number of the fingering used. We are often so worried as teachers about our students reading the note’s name correctly we forget this simple exercise can help learners consolidate the importance of fingering. These fingerings help plan which fingers to use so as to execute a particular musical passage most efficiently and comfortably.
Simultaneously, one can take the opportunity to correct hand posture in this exercise, arching the hands and using a child-like analogy of making room for a little mouse to live in the cave- like the hand structure is making over the keyboard.  Also, the learner can practise moving his/her fingers independently from this position, addressing another difficulty for beginners.
All in all, the importance of this whilst using beginner's pieces creates the necessary foundation of solid playing and can be taught with all the necessary repetition. It will be worth it in the long run!"

Offline keypeg

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This appears based on the "middle C approach".  Or is that an oversimplification?

Offline timothy42b

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This appears based on the "middle C approach".  Or is that an oversimplification?

Sounds like a disaster happening.

Middle C approach.

Dependence on finger numbers.

Absence of relationship of note on page to key on keyboard.

Arched tense hand.

Finger centricity.

That's already almost everything a beginner can do wrong.  Transfer wreck in the making. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Transfer wreck in the making. 
Possibly, but we can't really tell from that little bit of information.  Nor can we converse freely with the teacher whose writing for the site got featured here.  The elements highlighted by the teacher are ones any teacher wrestles with: recognizing a finger with a finger number so that when it appears on the page you've got a finger ready, what's happening with the hands shape-wise etc.  If this is a place for dialogue among teachers above all, where any of these ideas can be hashed out, explored, with pros cons and additional ideas - it can't be done like this.  There is a summary by a teacher originally posted elsewhere, placed here, but not by that teacher, and so we can't dialogue with that teacher.  Any of the things you have listed may be happening, or maybe other things are going on to prevent it - but we can't tell and we can't ask.

Offline vaniii

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Sounds like a disaster happening.

Middle C approach.

Dependence on finger numbers.

Absence of relationship of note on page to key on keyboard.

Arched tense hand.

Finger centricity.

That's already almost everything a beginner can do wrong.  Transfer wreck in the making. 

... transfer wreck ...

wow, such an apt phrase; but quite derogatory.

It implies that they are un-salvageable, with no use to anyone ... despite how some make me feel ... I always try.

Never give up on them timothy; of course, unless they give up on themselves, that is.

Offline timothy42b

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... transfer wreck ...

wow, such an apt phrase; but quite derogatory.



I meant it to be critical of the teaching, but your point that it is derogatory to the child is well taken.  Hind sight is 20/20.  Apologies. 

Tim

Offline keypeg

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The term "transfer wreck" was first adopted by a senior teacher in another forum, and (after protests) he explained what he meant, it has sort of slipped into the vocabulary of a lot of us.  Think of a fine car - a Porsche - that is driven carelessly or crashed, or butchered by an inept mechanic.  It is no disrespect to the Porsche itself, but what has been done to it.  The teacher who inherits a mistaught student has a mess to fix.  If the things needing to be fixed are at the foundation stage as they often are, it also means trying to do so without discouraging the student who may find himself back at beginner level material, when he thought he was advanced.  The person who originally coined the term cares deeply about  his students and these things bother him immensely. 

Offline dogperson

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The term "transfer wreck" was first adopted by a senior teacher in another forum, and (after protests) he explained what he meant, it has sort of slipped into the vocabulary of a lot of us.  Think of a fine car - a Porsche - that is driven carelessly or crashed, or butchered by an inept mechanic.  It is no disrespect to the Porsche itself, but what has been done to it.  The teacher who inherits a mistaught student has a mess to fix.  If the things needing to be fixed are at the foundation stage as they often are, it also means trying to do so without discouraging the student who may find himself back at beginner level material, when he thought he was advanced.  The person who originally coined the term cares deeply about  his students and these things bother him immensely. 

Just because this term was coined by a teacher who means well, does not diminish that it is still a derogatory term both regarding the previous teacher, but also implies the student may be so 'wrecked' to not be helped.  I hope this does not slip into common vocabulary, even from those who mean well.

Offline vaniii

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Timothy, you have nothing to apologies for, you meant no harm.

I never heard the term before. It does sum up a very particular type of student.   I guess, I could be a transfer wreck, when my second teacher started with me, I was rebuilt from the bottom up; perhaps, you just hit nerve.


Offline keypeg

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Just because this term was coined by a teacher who means well, does not diminish that it is still a derogatory term both regarding the previous teacher, but also implies the student may be so 'wrecked' to not be helped.  I hope this does not slip into common vocabulary, even from those who mean well.
I was explaining the sense behind the term and its origins, not recommending its use.  But in regards to the idea of the student may be so 'wrecked' to not be helped that does happen and probably more often than we'd like to think.  It is already hard when an adult student has been mistaught, but the adult student will have the understanding and be ready to do the painfully hard work which shouldn't be necessary in the first place.  How about when it happens to a child, and the complication of child and parent without a musical background?  Apparently that is very hard, and having a student quit under such circumstances apparently is common.
It underscores the importance of the beginner stage of piano, and proper and well guided instruction at that stage (subject of another thread).

Offline keypeg

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #10 on: December 08, 2016, 01:20:27 PM »
We've gotten caught up by an unfortunate term and are losing the plot, methinks.  Going back to the topic - Tim wrote concerns which he listed, surmised from the opening post.
Looking at that post:
Although in simpler pieces, the number of the finger to be used is written above the note ...
This appears to be the approach of writing finger numbers above every note - a thing that is often pinpointed as hurting reading because the student will learn to read finger numbers rather than note.  If the approach is by "position" (C position, G position etc.) then you get the association of C=1, D=2, E=3 etc. which can also create problems which have often been discussed.
Quote
that from the time we originally discuss the finger positions with students ..
My immediate question being, what might be meant by "finger positions".  I'm imagining the "C position" etc. type of thing, or another "position" thing where the hand is assigned its place, and each finger has its place.  In music, even if the RH thumb is on C, it does not necessarily follow that 5 will play G, and even if the piece is in G major, you are not necessarily playing the note C with 1.  But we don't have the writer around to clarify or expound on anything.
Quote
it might be a good idea to put thumbs back on middle C at the beginning of the class and go from C to G in the right hand and C to F in the left, pointing out the number of the fingering used.
I know there is at least one method book that has a "middle C approach" which places the hands of beginners this way.  The problem with the hands is that they are mirror images of each other, and if we go 1,2,3,4,5 from left to right that only works for the right hand.  There is an actual problem with this, and I think that the "middle C approach" tries to solve it by placing the hands this way.  Additionally, that way you get the entire octave, whereas "5 finger approach" with "C position", "G position" etc. limits the student to pieces spanning 5 notes to begin with.

What does come across is that the teacher is putting some thought into it, has highlighted some problems and challenges, and has some solutions up her sleeve.  For any method book or methodology, how well it works depends on the individual work the teacher does with each student.  We just don't know.  It might all be good.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #11 on: December 08, 2016, 02:04:53 PM »
  We just don't know.  It might all be good.

True.  Although I lack confidence that is the case.

Regardless of the content, the process is unworkably flawed. 

You simply cannot have a discussion with the participants on different forums.  If we were members of the wkmt forum, wherever that is, we could have direct conversation.  If they were willing to interact here, we could have direct conversation.

They are not willing to entertain either option but prefer posting spam here and apparently posting the spice from us there. 
Tim

Offline keypeg

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #12 on: December 08, 2016, 02:18:44 PM »
True.  Although I lack confidence that is the case.

Regardless of the content, the process is unworkably flawed. 

You simply cannot have a discussion with the participants on different forums.  If we were members of the wkmt forum, wherever that is, we could have direct conversation.  If they were willing to interact here, we could have direct conversation.

They are not willing to entertain either option but prefer posting spam here and apparently posting the spice from us there. 
I agree.  There is one new member who has so far featured the writings of more than one teacher - the teacher him/herself is not a member and did not feature his own writing.  There is even a student at the school whose playing got featured here.  If a student submits her own playing and asks for feedback that's one thing.  But having a student's playing presented here leaves me feeling uncomfortable.
There is actually a site where all these articles (plus ones not featured here) are posted.  It's not a discussion being engendered here.  It's not a discussion.

Offline vaniii

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #13 on: December 08, 2016, 04:26:24 PM »
...
Regardless of the content, the process is unworkably flawed. 
...

Agreed.

The only positions I know of are worked into the design of the keyboard.  It is not designed in groups of twos and threes by accident.

Teaching children 'C position', 'D position' (and so on ...) does not work, because they ultimately imprint on C-finger1, D-finger2 (and so on), regardless of where there position is; the first impression is the most important.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #14 on: December 09, 2016, 03:15:11 PM »
I think that when Timothy said the system is flawed, he was talking about the system where a member quotes writings by people other than himself, and we try to discuss what was written, when we cannot discuss with the person who wrote it.  In this case, it's a teacher who is being quoted.  If that teacher had submitted it herself, she could respond and maybe say "You make a good point.  Let me clarify what I do about that...."  A summary of how one teaches is always going to be incomplete, giving rise to imagination filling in the blanks.

That said, Vanii, your concerns about those particular things and what you wrote about make a lot of sense.  It's not the first time I've seen this discussed.

Offline vaniii

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #15 on: December 10, 2016, 01:08:02 AM »
.

Offline wkmt

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #16 on: December 10, 2016, 12:07:05 PM »
Dear Community,
You can certainly discuss with Alex. She is now in contact with all your answers. She will get back to you as soon as her diary allows her some hours in front of her PC to answer as you deserve.

Thank you for your patience.

Kindest Regards,
WKMT

Offline keypeg

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #17 on: December 10, 2016, 04:08:05 PM »
Dear Community,
You can certainly discuss with Alex. She is now in contact with all your answers. She will get back to you as soon as her diary allows her some hours in front of her PC to answer as you deserve.

Thank you for your patience.

Kindest Regards,
WKMT
Excellent! I look forward to "meeting" her. :)  And a welcome, ahead of time.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #18 on: December 10, 2016, 04:41:20 PM »
Dear Community,
You can certainly discuss with Alex. She is now in contact with all your answers. She will get back to you as soon as her diary allows her some hours in front of her PC to answer as you deserve.

Thank you for your patience.

Kindest Regards,
WKMT

Excellent. 

That will work...........IF and ONLY IF she gets a login to this site and comes here.  If we continue this swapping posts back and forth between sites there is no point.  That cannot work. 
Tim

Offline wkmt

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Re: Piano Lessons for Children - Alex Maclean and fingering for young children
«Reply #19 on: December 12, 2016, 05:13:50 PM »
Dear Timothy,
I have already passed the details with Alex and encouraged her to answer. On the meantime, I will take the lead as director and answer some replies now...