Choosing the right Method Books has had a major impact on my studio. When I started piano at the age of 7, my piano teacher taught me from a bright yellow book - "Smallwood's Piano Tutor." It has lots of tiny notes and lacked colorful pictures. At the time, I knew nothing else, and the book was fine with me - I just wanted to learn the piano.
Smallwood's wouldn't work with my students. For most of them, piano is just one of many extra-curricular activities. It has soccer, basketball, dance and gymnastics as competitors, so it needs to be equally interesting and enjoyable.
So after trying a few other method, I settled on Piano Adventures and Bastien New Traditions. Both of these books come with apps and play-along tracks - that speaks my students' language. Technology is the thing these days.
Both books contain music that my students enjoy playing. I really like the detailed control of the play-along tracks offered by the Piano Adventures app. It's possible to control the speed of the tracks, the volume of the different parts etc. And super easy to use too. I love that Bastien New traditions is an all-in-one method containing technic, repertoire, lessons and theory. It is so refreshing to have everything in one book, and it has a decent app too.
The apps are fantastic for group lessons. It's like having a whole band at every lesson. I encourage parents to purchase them for home practice too.
My students generally don’t like to repeat anything – even if they made a dozen mistakes while playing. I tell them that practice is “smart repetition”, but that doesn’t seem to do the trick. So I use the apps to do the trick for me!
First we all play the piece at a very slow tempo. Then I challenge them – “Who thinks we can kick things up a notch?”
They always ALL think they can kick things up a notch, (even if they can’t play the piece well). So we take it up a notch and usually there is someone tripping over sections, which gives us a couple more repetitions at that tempo before kicking it up another notch.
When we finally get to the “full tempo”, they have usually got the piece down pretty well, so I send them home to practice it for presenting at the following lesson.
What are the pros and cons of the method(s) you use for your group classes?