Piano Teacher Lessons tips.Teaching instruction helps.Music glossary.Music Instructor Bryon Tosoff,White Rock,B.C.Canada
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Ascertaining the skill level of piano students

Below is a message I wrote for a piano teacher who was looking for some help to ascertain the skill levels of piano students.
It is really a brief suggestion of materials to read coupled with my own experience in dealing with placing students at the right level in their piano development.

I realize there is much more involved, but this did help direct her and others who have read the message to determine how to place a transfer student or one who has come back into the piano study realm.

In conjunction with doing an assessment upon the initial interview, I have students sight read a number of songs, play their performance compositions and then listen to a sampling of their technical capabilities.

Over a period of the next number of weeks (with a new, transfer or adult student resurrecting their piano ambitions) I am able to properly place the piano student at the right level.
Perhaps other piano instructors could email me with their ideas and suggestions an their approach to this sometimes challenging aspect to pegging a student properly without diminishing or holding them back from meeting their full potential as a Pianist.

Posted Message regarding ascertaining skill levels of piano students

There is no easy answer here Joan
The fact is, each student is going to progress at a different pace.
Their development as you know is determined by a number of factors, natural inherent talent, interest, time and competing with other aspects such as sports, computer, school, peer influences.

I have found over the 20 years of being in the music education business some interesting factors.
Each student learns differently, and the teacher has to be aware of the changing needs of the music student as they grow their talents into abilities.
Sometimes the average student will begin to blossom, due to the years they have been playing, and because of the teachers diligence of providing them with a variety of music styles.
This coupled with the technical aspects, such as ear training, sight reading and general rudimentary theory lessons built into their regular piano or other music studies.

Suggested readings

Perhaps read a little book called "The Outline of Piano Pedagogy " by Beryl Rubinstien
Carl Fisher, ISBN 0-8258-0171-0

There is another book worth reading entitled "the Art & Teachnique of Practice "
by Richard Provost, published by Guitar Solo Publications and distributed by Music Sales Corp., ISBN 0-9627832-0-X

It is an eye opening book on the how to approach, covering preparation,technique, memoration, visualization, problem solving and Repertoire maintenance Well worth the read.

Another book which you probably have, or heard of is a standard and has been reprinted many times over the years, entitled "For All Piano Teachers", by Ahrens and Atkinson.
Published by the Frederick Harris Music Co. Ltd ISBN 0-88797-123-7

It covers the Psychology, Physiology, Piano Teachnique and many important aspects of piano teaching and the development of piano students.

Other important books to read about piano teaching.

A suggested reading for piano teachers and students is a book entitled "The Young Pianist", An approach for teachers and students.
This book is especially helpful for beginners and the first few years of piano-playing.
It contains no complicated or advanced theories, it is intended to serve as a guide to teachers gaining their first experience of teaching.
Author: Joan Last, Published by Oxford University Press, ISBN 0 19 318420 6

A book about the Technical Aspects of Piano Playing.
Piano Technique
That's it, a simple title, but full of important facts in the how to aspect of piano performance development.
Walter Gieseking an Karl Leimer teamed up to produce this gem of a book on the technical foundations of piano playing.
Some of the points covered are educating the pupil to develop self-control and the critical aspect of listening skills, an area they considered the most important aspect in music study.
Karl Leimer intimates in the foreward of how these listening skills enable a student to develop a sense of tone, shadings and color in their playing.
So it is that ear training is considered one of his beliefs that will produce the finest students, because they will learn how to listen and what to listen for, while they read music and play.
They will have developed the ability to critique themselves and analyze their works and master them accordingly.

This book is one of the best books I have ever read. Simply put, an indispensable working tool for a piano instructors music library.
Every teacher will benefit greatly from the information presented in this book.

It is a great read, and very helpful in assisting teachers who want to bring out the best in their students.

Published by Dover Publications, Inc., New York. ISBN 0-486-22867-3

Finally, I would like to suggest a book written by James Bastien, A Parents Guide to Piano Lessons

This is a book that will help parents decide how to determine when their children are ready, and if they would be suited to piano lessons.
He covers how to recognise musical talents in children and the best age to start a child.
One area I like is how James Bastien brings out the aspect of the goals and purposes of piano lessons.

He states: "Music is a vital part of human life. In every culture some form of music-making is included...Music is a language which transcends speech and is understood the world over."

I especially note the following remark: "Regardless of special talent, millions of students are engaged in the pursuit of musical instruction as an extention of the general learning process."

I have put into my own mission statement an important adage: "Life Skills through Music" , and it is my vision and hope for all my students, that they will indeed develop skills and attributes through the music experience they have with me.

Bryon Tosoff
Sept 20 2008

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