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First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series) (Read 1221 times)

Offline klavieronin

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First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
« on: July 23, 2021, 01:11:59 AM »
I hope people here will forgive the shameless self promotion, but I want to share a project of mine. It's a series of video lessons aimed at people thinking of starting piano but who aren't yet ready to commit to lessons, or learning to read sheet music. It is for music lovers with no previous musical experience. I tried to get the balance between enjoyment, challenge, and musicality. I'll let members here decide whether or not I succeeded.

The first video introduces the idea of keeping a steady beat. I thought this was the most logical place to start since the beat is (arguably) the most fundamental aspect of music.

The format of all these videos is the same. First you listen to the lesson music, then through a series of gradual steps, learn to play the student's piano part. This culminates in playing along with the accompaniment track of the lesson music.

I'll post just one video a day. There are 25 so far and more planned for sometime in the future. Thanks for watching.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #1 on: July 24, 2021, 12:57:39 AM »
Okay here is the second lesson in the series. In this lesson the student learns to count in twos; 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2…

All the music in this series is original and has been composed specifically for the lesson. This lesson's music is for Piano and Strings.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #2 on: July 25, 2021, 01:43:01 AM »
Here is lesson no.3. This lesson follows the same format and the previous one but this time the student practices counting in threes.


Online brogers70

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #3 on: July 25, 2021, 11:40:11 AM »
I can't comment on these, but I've been very happy working with your trill and tremolo exercises. I find that having the tremolo and trill in the same exercise makes it easy to pay careful attention to the balance between finger action and forearm rotation; sometimes the tremolos at a fourth or fifth make it much easier to feel the rotation than it is in some of the trills. Very helpful. It may still take me more years than I have left to get a 32nd note trill at 90 bpm.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #4 on: July 26, 2021, 02:26:45 AM »
I can't comment on these, but I've been very happy working with your trill and tremolo exercises. I find that having the tremolo and trill in the same exercise makes it easy to pay careful attention to the balance between finger action and forearm rotation; sometimes the tremolos at a fourth or fifth make it much easier to feel the rotation than it is in some of the trills. Very helpful. It may still take me more years than I have left to get a 32nd note trill at 90 bpm.

Glad to hear it. Yes, it is quite a big project tackling those. I was aiming high. I initially created them for my own use and I wanted to create something that was going to last. Still, you don't have to play them all. A selection should serve just as well. And you really only need to get them going as fast as you're happy with.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #5 on: July 26, 2021, 02:32:02 AM »
The next lesson's music is for cello and piano. In this lesson the student practises counting and playing in fours. It's another slow tempo piece but don't worry, the pace picks up in later lessons.

Just a note on these videos. They are meant to accompany the written lessons on my website and they shouldn't be taken too seriously. They are primarily meant as a bit of fun for people with no musical experience and are aimed at a very niche audience, i.e. people music tastes in music similar to my own, which I sure narrows the field immensely.

Anyway, here is lesson 1.4.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #6 on: July 27, 2021, 02:04:16 AM »
Okay, here's the next lesson. This lesson is another chance for students to practise playing in quadruple meter, this time for piano and a small orchestral ensemble.

You may be wondering why these early lessons have the student simply playing repeated or alternating notes. The reason is that these first lessons aren't really about teaching people how to play piano, they are about teaching people how to keep time and count musically. While this might seem trivial for many of you, it definitely isn't for everyone. Especially when it comes to counting while playing, which I am a big advocate for and it is something I stress in the written version of these lesson. I have seen many students playing up to an early intermediate level (think easy Beethoven sonatas) who genuinely struggle to keep time (I think often because their early training was so focused on reading pitch that they largely ignored rhythm).

Since keeping time is so fundamental to music I wanted students to be exposed to the concept early and have plenty of opportunity to practise it before starting to play anything more involved. I felt that if from the very beginning students could have in the back of their mind that keeping time and counting is an integral aspect of music making their playing would surely benefit, even in cases where it takes the student a little longer to develope a steady beat.

Many may disagree with this approach, and perhaps not unjustifiably, but for better or worse that is the approach I have taken.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #7 on: July 28, 2021, 12:40:48 AM »
In this lesson we move on form learning how to count and keep time and start getting aquatinted with the layout of the keyboard. The music in this lesson has the student play on the two black keys. The pace picks up here as well in an upbeat and slightly jazzy piece for piano and two violins.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #8 on: July 29, 2021, 12:16:53 AM »
Next lesson introduces, and allows the student to practise playing on, the group of three black keys. The music in this lesson is for piano, strings, flute, harp, and taiko drum.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #9 on: July 30, 2021, 12:26:11 AM »
Okay, in next lesson the student plays on all the black keys. The music in this lesson is another jazzy piece. Instruments are: piano, two violins, bass, and drum set.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #10 on: July 31, 2021, 02:21:19 AM »
In this lesson the student plays on the three white key, i.e. C, D, & E. The music in this lesson is for solo violin, strings, and piano.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #11 on: August 01, 2021, 12:25:33 AM »
In this lesson the student plays on the group of four white kets: F, G, A, & B. The music is for piano, electric piano, bass and drums.


Online ivorycherry

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #12 on: August 01, 2021, 06:53:10 AM »
Well, if no one will do it, I want to thank you for doing this. I admire you for having taken the time every day to create a really helpful series. There’re been recently requests on the forum to help people find a piano series so  I’m sure a lot of people appreciate it.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #13 on: August 02, 2021, 04:55:05 AM »
Well, if no one will do it, I want to thank you for doing this. I admire you for having taken the time every day to create a really helpful series. There’re been recently requests on the forum to help people find a piano series so  I’m sure a lot of people appreciate it.

Thank you! I appreciate the kind words. But just to clarify, these videos were a long time in the making. I'm not creating a new one every day. I just post one a day here so as to not overwhelm people.

Well then, here is the next lesson. In this lesson the student plays on all the white keys. This lesson's music is a duet for piano and flute.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #14 on: August 03, 2021, 12:04:33 AM »
In the next Step of this series the student learns different ways of moving around the keyboard. The first lesson introduces Static Motion. The music in this lesson is for Piano, Bass, Drums, & Trumpet.


Offline keypeg

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #15 on: August 03, 2021, 04:22:09 PM »
The premise seems very good.  I like the idea of simple and basic, because it's very easy to give too many things, often for the sake of "making it interesting".  And yet when everything is brand new, what may seem overly simple to the teacher since for him everything is 99% reflex, can have  dozen things for the student to pay attention to.  Everything ends up being executed half baked because none of it can get his/her full attention.  That's why I like the idea of simple.

Something that has been bugging me the last time I popped in over here and again today - well my own teacher has been refining my hearing of timing, especially hearing timing played by others since that is my weak point.  I did a few exercises last year where playing "with" the metronome as an exercise, I tended to be shade ahead or behind it and didn't hear it until I learned to hear a kind of b'ding b'ding rather than a strict ding ding of the two sounds merging.   Well ...... when listening to a few of these samples, I seem to be hearing that "b'ding" - like the piano is coming in slightly ahead of the metronome.  A couple of things on that.  The first is simply whether I'm hearing right, since that is my weak point.  The second is a technical one, namely:

My own lessons are on-line, so I record things.  I'll have my headphones on - might have an external source for the metronome - and between hearing one thing direct-electronically, the other from outside, and then what the digital piano receives, there can be some kind of time lag.  It's miniscule but when trying to be super accurate in timing the results can be misleading as to what you can do and hear time-wise (while refining this).   Therefore: if I am actually hearing a kind of mini-syncopation, the piano coming in ahead of the instrument, could something like this be going on?  Because of what I'm working on myself at present, I was listening extra carefully ---- and the lesson itself is about listening carefully to the example.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #16 on: August 03, 2021, 10:58:24 PM »
Hmm… I can't say I've noticed that myself. Is there a specific part you can point out so I can have a listen? Or is it just in general that you are hearing it?

In the mean time, here is the next lesson. In this lesson the student practises moving up the keyboard by step. The music is for piano, solo cello, solo viola, and strings. There is a long intro here without the student playing which may seem strange for a piano lesson but hey, if you play piano in any sort of ensemble you may often have to wait while the other instruments play. So, may as well get use to it now.


Offline keypeg

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #17 on: August 04, 2021, 08:50:41 AM »
Hmm… I can't say I've noticed that myself. Is there a specific part you can point out so I can have a listen? Or is it just in general that you are hearing it?
It's all over the place including the one just before your last one.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #18 on: August 04, 2021, 10:35:59 AM »
It's all over the place including the one just before your last one.

So, I had a look at my original files and in the first exercise in lesson 3.1 there is indeed about a 1/100th of a second delay between the piano and the claves, with the piano coming in after the claves.

If this is what you are hearing then hats off to you. Perhaps you should think about joining the X-Men ;D

On the other hand, I did notice you said the piano sounded like it was coming in ahead of the claves. In which case, I'm not really sure why it might sound like that to you. Perhaps some weird audio illusion? Who knows? In any case, I don't hear it myself.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #19 on: August 05, 2021, 01:22:28 AM »
Next, this lesson has the student play descending steps. The music is for piano, basset horn, bass, and drums.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #20 on: August 06, 2021, 04:51:33 AM »
In this lesson the student practises moving up the keyboard by leap. The music is for piano, cello, bass, and drums.


Offline keypeg

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #21 on: August 07, 2021, 12:22:23 PM »

If this is what you are hearing then hats off to you. Perhaps you should think about joining the X-Men ;D
The X-Man would be my teacher whose hearing I have dubbed "laser hearing" for both time and pitch.  I actually started off relatively weak.  I never had lessons from anyone until close to 50; never played in a group except singing in amateur choirs that were not that precise.   I tend to be "lyrical" and can "make the notes sing" with rubato, but would be told by musicians "I can't find the pulse" even though the notes were "correct" relatively (half = twice as long as quarter).  So I worked with time.  The point is not to become metronomic, but to have the tools to play with.  At some point there was work with a metronome, and in my recordings, I was behind or ahead of the click, but didn't hear it.

So the first thing was to learn to hear if I'm not with the metronome.   If you drop your hands on your lap, if there is a double sound, "b'dat" instead of a single "splat", then it's not totally together.  I learned to listen for "b'dat", the "b'd" thing.  And that is what I heard here.

Oddly enough, if I'm not together with the metronome, and it's wide enough, I was not able to hear which came before the other - only that one of them did.  I know I dyslex visually (left right, up down) but I didn't know I did it audially.  So in recordings, I'd  look to see which was first - slow down the recording - and listen for what I had seen.  Gradually this part started to grow.

In any case, because I've had to learn to hear timing better, your addressing this part seems important.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #22 on: August 08, 2021, 12:31:43 AM »
In any case, because I've had to learn to hear timing better, your addressing this part seems important.

I'm not sure I follow you. Address it in what way? Important how?

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #23 on: August 09, 2021, 03:10:37 AM »
I'm a little behind schedule (been a bit busy) but here is the next lessons: Descending by Leaps. The music is for piano, vibraphone, bass, and drums.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #24 on: August 10, 2021, 01:47:29 AM »
Now we start step 4 which allows the student to re-explore the keyboard layout but with longer and more complex patterns for the student to play. In this lesson the student practises playing on the group of three white keys in music for piano, clarinet, and harp.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #25 on: August 11, 2021, 01:52:53 AM »
Next, the four white keys. This lesson's music is for piano and oboe.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #26 on: August 12, 2021, 12:25:05 AM »
In this lesson the student plays on all the white keys. The music is for piano, saxophone, and drum set.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #27 on: August 13, 2021, 12:23:23 AM »
In this lesson the student plays on the three black keys. The music is for Saxophone, Drum Set, Upright Bass, and Piano.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #28 on: August 14, 2021, 12:32:42 AM »
In this lesson the students plays on all the black keys. The music in this lesson is for Flute, Drum Set, Upright Bass, and Piano.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #29 on: August 15, 2021, 03:25:28 AM »
A short piece this time for Flute, Classical Guitar, Upright Bass, and Piano, with the student playing on the two black keys.


Offline keypeg

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #30 on: August 15, 2021, 06:48:11 PM »
I'm not sure I follow you. Address it in what way? Important how?
You're addressing timing. That's the point of your lessons.  It is important.  If you didn't find it important, you'd not be teaching it.  ;)

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #31 on: August 15, 2021, 10:40:29 PM »
You're addressing timing. That's the point of your lessons.  It is important.  If you didn't find it important, you'd not be teaching it.  ;)

Just to be clear, I wasn't (and am not) trying to argue with you, I'm just looking for clarification. I don't know what you mean by "addressing" it. Are you suggesting that I re-record all the music with more precise timing, then re-upload all the videos with this new, how should I put it, sanitised version of the music?

A point I'd like to make also is that these lessons are not about developing perfect timing. Only the first 5 lessons relate to time and the point of them is to teach counting in certain meters.

These lessons are also intended for people with no musical experience. I would never expect someone who has never played a musical instrument to have such precise timing, or even be able to hear it for that matter.

Granted, my timing is not the best, but I'm also somewhat suspicious of the idea that any human musician could play consistently with much less than 10 millisecond variation (which is about what you are hearing in these lessons). I'm sure there are musicians with much better timing than me, especially drummers, but I'd bet anything you would find some variation within a 10 millisecond threshold even in the most skill musicians, especially within any kind of ensemble.

Given that, and the fact that these lessons are intended for absolute beginners, I do think my imperfect timing here is more than adequate. If for no other reason than millisecond precision just sounds robotic and unnatural.

Feel free to disagree, of course.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #32 on: August 16, 2021, 06:57:55 AM »
Okay, next lesson. This is another lesson were the student plays on the three white keys. Definitely one of my favourite pieces on music in the series. It is for Saxophone, Drum Set, Upright Bass, and Piano.


Offline keypeg

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #33 on: August 16, 2021, 03:27:41 PM »
Just to be clear, I wasn't (and am not) trying to argue with you, I'm just looking for clarification. I don't know what you mean by "addressing" it.
I was saying that what you are doing was a good thing. The question of timing is something that doesn't get gotten into much.  It is a thing that I was somewhat weak in when I came back, so I am glad that somebody is working on timing systematically (addressing it).  As to why I find it important, I was surprised at the question, because you must know why it's important since you're doing it (because it's important).

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #34 on: August 16, 2021, 10:10:14 PM »
 :-[ Forgive me, I completely misinterpreted what you were saying. I thought you were suggesting that my ever so slightly off timing would somehow be damaging to students and that it's important I do something about it. Sorry about that. The perils of the internet, huh?

Yes, absolutely it is important and something that I find does get overlooked quite often, which I why I started this series of lessons with counting and keeping time. I wanted students to start off with the understanding that timing is fundamental to music and can't be overlooked.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #35 on: August 18, 2021, 05:12:59 AM »
In Lesson 8 of step 4, for the first time, the student plays the main melody. The student's part is played using all the white keys. The music is for Drum Set, Upright Bass, and Piano.


Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #36 on: August 19, 2021, 07:24:36 AM »
This will be the last lesson for a while. Here the student plays on the black keys accompanied by a string orchestra. The music in this lesson gives the student an opportunity to compose or improvise their own piano part as well as learning the original part.


Offline dw4rn

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #37 on: August 20, 2021, 10:42:00 AM »
Hi klavieronin,

Very impressed with a lot of this - the thoughtfulness and the detailed work you've done, the nice clean graphics, and not least your beautiful music!

I've only watched bits and pieces, so I might have missed something in the progression, but one thing I reacted to was Step 4:3, All White Keys. It seems to me like you take a bit of a leap here, with the hand constantly changing position - and in a pretty fast and rhythmically advanced piece. I'm just wondering if people aren't going to have a problem here?

As I said, maybe you did prepare for this elsewhere and I've missed something? I guess I'm also comparing to the extreme simplicity and minute preparation you're offering in the first couple of videos, which I thought was almost too much.

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #38 on: August 21, 2021, 12:34:06 AM »
Thanks dw4rn. I really appreciate the comment.

I do se where you are coming from but I think the progression is there. Lesson 4.3 while it might sound challenging rhythmically, if you listen carefully you will notice that there is really only one small rhythmic pattern that repeats over and over. The most difficult part about the rhythm is the syncopation and that appears as early as lesson 2.6. and in several other lessons also. In terms of tempo, there are instances of faster tempo music before this lesson as well, for example lesson 3.4.

Of course I do want student be be somewhat challenged here as well. I can't make it too easy otherwise I'd worry that people would get bored.

Offline dw4rn

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #39 on: August 23, 2021, 07:55:03 AM »
Right, I did miss Lesson 2.6 the first time around. Watching those three lessons again I can see the progression more clearly.

Did you make a conscious choice (I find it very unlikely that you didn't :)) to leave out all special references to fingering - of course you're meant to learn by watching, but in those videos where the hand is moving about a bit, I suppose it could have been possible with some kind of fingering reminder in certain places? I'm not saying it would necessarily be better, just wondering what your thoughts are.   

Offline klavieronin

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Re: First Steps in Piano (Video Lesson Series)
«Reply #40 on: August 23, 2021, 08:21:38 AM »
Right, I did miss Lesson 2.6 the first time around. Watching those three lessons again I can see the progression more clearly.

Did you make a conscious choice (I find it very unlikely that you didn't :)) to leave out all special references to fingering - of course you're meant to learn by watching, but in those videos where the hand is moving about a bit, I suppose it could have been possible with some kind of fingering reminder in certain places? I'm not saying it would necessarily be better, just wondering what your thoughts are.   

In the written lessons that accompany these videos I do talk about fingering but I don't give specific instructions, other than to suggest that if the student is finding it difficult, they should study the video closely to see how I have played it.

I thought for a long time when preparing these lessons about what I needed to include and what could be left out in order to keep the student's focus on their own playing. I decided that the less the student had to think about, and the more they could follow their own instincts, the better (I've seen too many students screw their faces up during my lessons whenever I try to correct things like fingering).

Of course this does run the risk of the student developing some bad habits but it is a fairly short course and given the goals and intended audience, I felt it was justified to leave those sorts of details in their hands (while briefly drawing their attention to them in the written lessons).

If someone finishes this course then goes on to decide to study piano more seriously, then it shouldn't be too much work for them to correct any bad habits they might have developed unknowingly.