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Topic: Progress after two years of piano study  (Read 8233 times)

Offline fuzzy1

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Progress after two years of piano study
on: June 13, 2017, 08:12:36 PM
Hello Piano Street,

I'm new here, in fact it's my first time ever posting, so please bear with me if my post is not in the right form, or if my question is not a good one. I am a parent of a young piano student, and I myself don't play any instrument or have any musical background, so I may sound naÔve. My son, age 9, has been studying piano seriously for 2 years now. We love his teacher and think she is wonderful for his growth, both technique and musicality. We have been told that my son is quite talented. The teacher does not follow a set curriculum (no specific beginner books), and does not have her students participate in any assessments or exams (she does have her students participate in regular recitals). So, naturally, I wonder if my son's progress is adequate. So my question is - where does one expect a child to be after 2 years of study? Is my son doing well, average, below average? That said, I do understand that everyone progresses at their own pace and there's no one path.

My son is good at note reading and deciphering new pieces, first separate hands, then together. He is still working on his technique (and patience!) and his ability to memorize the pieces as he is learning them (he relies a little too much on note reading). His recent pieces include Beethoven's Sonatina in Gmajor, Ecossaise, Kabalevsky's Clowns, Maykapar's Lullaby, and Schumann's Soldier's March, among others. The Clowns and Soldier's March were easy for him; he was able to learn them in about a week each (by learn them I mean playing by memory with the right strokes, etc.). Lullaby and Sonatina are about the right level of challenge, they require several weeks of work each. His summer homework includes Bach Little Prelude in Cminor and Chopin Waltz in A minor, and I would guess both are fairly challenging for him. In addition to those, he is also working on Czerny etudes (the simpler ones) and scales (Cmajor, Gmajor) in 16s.

Thanks in advance!
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Offline klavieronin

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Re: Progress after two years of piano study
Reply #1 on: June 13, 2017, 11:17:34 PM
This may not be the answer you are looking for but as a teacher I have to say that you really shouldn't be worrying about your son's progress, especially at 9 years old. Instead try to focus on whether he is enjoying his lessons and spending time at the piano. It sounds to me like he is making fine progress but there is a danger of this unraveling if he starts to feel like what he has accomplished isn't good enough.

My advice is to encourage him to play as much as possible without letting it become a chore for him.

Hope that helps.

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Progress after two years of piano study
Reply #2 on: June 14, 2017, 08:42:38 AM
I deleted a previously harsh response pointing out the fact you're probably not in the best position to judge his progress with you having no musical background. (Though ultimately it's negated by the fact you're asking people that may know via a piano forum) It's also worth noting that as a non musician, what you THINK you know about your son's progress can certainly be miscommunicated on a piano forum giving you potentially inaccurate answers.

The previous post above is pretty accurate i'd like to further add, that progress is defined by goals, both long and short term. Maybe if you're hoping for the Next professional concert pianist, then sure you may look to scrutinize the progress, but realistically i'd be focusing on short term realistic goals which actually, and I'm not sure why parents don't do this enough - ask the teacher!

Speak to the teacher find out exactly what they're planning for your son, educate yourself.

Next - ask your son! Sure children need guidance, but they know whether or not they enjoy something and whether or not they're getting better.
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Offline dogperson

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Re: Progress after two years of piano study
Reply #3 on: June 14, 2017, 09:30:51 AM
My heartfelt advice?
Praise him when he does well, encourage a musical environment by attendkng concerts and listening to good music..... but most importantly, create a pressure-free environment for him to learn and play.  Forget about measuring progress, and that he might have 'talent'.

If he  is motivated, and loves music, he will progress. 

Offline j_tour

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Re: Progress after two years of piano study
Reply #4 on: June 14, 2017, 06:41:49 PM
From my own experience:  play what is fun, and he/she will find the good stuff.  This could be legitimate music or learning the rock/blues parts from records.

From my advice now:  play the Art of the Fugue from 1-4, while learning the Sinfonias 1-15 in order.

Bad advice, probably, but it's mine and I like it.
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Offline keypeg

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Re: Progress after two years of piano study
Reply #5 on: June 14, 2017, 09:32:00 PM
My attention was caught by the idea that he relies "too much" on note reading.  That's what we do when we play "classical" music: being able to read, understand, and interpret the score, and go back to the score time and time again is a fundamental and important skill, and also one that many are unfortunately weak on.

Would you say that a student "relies too much" on studying textbooks and making notes in an academic setting, and doesn't watch enough Youtube tutorials for his information?

Offline coolpianoman

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Re: Progress after two years of piano study
Reply #6 on: June 17, 2017, 07:31:17 AM
If I had a 9 year old who could play that repertoire I would just make a cup of tea sit down in a comfortable chair and enjoy it. He will enjoy it more too free from the pressure of progress.  If it is a concern of his not just yours then by all means get some second opinions from other teachers - most give a free first lesson - but there is no universal benchmark with piano playing or probably anything else for that matter.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Progress after two years of piano study
Reply #7 on: June 17, 2017, 10:26:28 AM
...We love his teacher and think she is wonderful for his growth, both technique and musicality......

.... I wonder if my son's progress is adequate
Wonderful and then unsure if it is adequate, gosh a hard customer to please! I think you need to address this yourself since contradicting yourself shows you are a little confused.

The teacher does not follow a set curriculum (no specific beginner books), and does not have her students participate in any assessments or exams (she does have her students participate in regular recitals).
Why don't you ask her to then prepare your son for exams? There is no harm in requesting this and pointing out you would like him to have this to work towards. Exams are not something you must do every year its certainly fine to do one exam then go back to learning in another manner and only sit for the next exam when you feel ready. Too many people think when you do exams it must be the only thing you do, for years and years just doing exams, it is not necessarily the only path to take.

I do understand that everyone progresses at their own pace and there's no one path.
This is a real reason why NONE of us here can tell you if your sons progress is adequate or not. Because you already said you are happy with how your son is progressing that is enough to infer that it is good enough.

My son is good at note reading and deciphering new pieces, first separate hands, then together.
How do you measure what is good in this respect though? Perhaps it is better than his other skills but that doesn't mean its good or fully developed.

He is still working on his technique (and patience!) and his ability to memorize the pieces as he is learning them (he relies a little too much on note reading).
Playing pieces without sheet music is not necessarily a requirement for a good musician. I would rather work with a musician who can read at a high level than one who memorizes. Afterall good reading skills requires an amount of memory work where good memory work does not mean good reading skills.  

His recent pieces include Beethoven's Sonatina in Gmajor, Ecossaise, Kabalevsky's Clowns, Maykapar's Lullaby, and Schumann's Soldier's March, among others. The Clowns and Soldier's March were easy for him; he was able to learn them in about a week each (by learn them I mean playing by memory with the right strokes, etc.). Lullaby and Sonatina are about the right level of challenge, they require several weeks of work each. His summer homework includes Bach Little Prelude in Cminor and Chopin Waltz in A minor, and I would guess both are fairly challenging for him. In addition to those, he is also working on Czerny etudes (the simpler ones) and scales (Cmajor, Gmajor) in 16s.

Thanks in advance!
His pieces seem very heavily leaning on classical music, surely there are other repertoire a 9 year old would enjoy? I would critique the narrow repertoire but many "old fashioned" teachers will stick with only a classical path.
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Offline coolpianoman

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Re: Progress after two years of piano study
Reply #8 on: June 17, 2017, 10:36:58 AM
Good point re over emphasis on classical repertoire.  Some lovely late 20th contrary repertoire which many people don't know.  I am often surprised when it is played at my piano club as never heard of the composer let alone the piece. Lovely composition called Sarah by Thomas Peter-Horas B1959 in the 2018 grade 7 piano book I have just discovered. There will be lots in the exam repertoire if he choses to do his grades. 

Offline beethovenfan01

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Re: Progress after two years of piano study
Reply #9 on: June 18, 2017, 06:03:36 AM
Another good modern composer for him to look at is Dianne Rahbee. She has many easy- and moderate- level pieces that are wonderful for intermediate students (I did quite a few of them!).
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH
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