Source: Wikimedia Creative License, Attribution Required http://bit.ly/20YdQkG

Source: Wikimedia
Creative License, Attribution Required

The other day, I received an email from a friend asking how I would begin teaching a new adult piano student who is about at intermediate level.

I have enjoyed teaching several such students.  My first thought was, “They’re all different!”  Just as every person has different interests, their own look, speaking voice, and preferences in reading material, movies, food, etc., our approach must honor that person’s individuality.

So in my view, no one series of piano method books will entirely meet any student’s needs.  Giving each student a comprehensive look at a wide variety of sounds and styles requires diverse resources.

This is my friend’s email:

“Hi Gretchen,

I was trying to think who might be able to help me and I thought of you. I have a new adult piano student. She reads music well but has pretty bad technique so she is limited in what she can play well. She has used those collections of 50 favorites and has some fairly good exercise books. I would consider her an intermediate piano student. I would really like to find a series that I could use with her that would be fun but would also challenge her. She seems to like classical music although I would love to try something else too. Any ideas. I looked at the Alfred Adult series but couldn’t figure out what level she might be. I just don’t have enough students to really know…..and most of my adult students have been beginners…..I never had a student where I need to break some really bad habits before. Anyway, any help will be GREATLY appreciated.


And my response:

“Hi C.,

Great to hear from you! I’m honored that you would use me as a sounding board.

My suggestion would be to skip around among different books. Going in sequence probably won’t work. In addition, all series books have pieces assigned to a certain level by the person who compiled the series. Each compiler/teacher thinks differently, and each student has different strengths and weaknesses.

That said, I like Alfred’s adult beginner book, Music for Millions, and skipping around in A Dozen A Day. For the latter, I don’t think it’s necessary to do every exercise, or even complete exercises. Understanding the concepts feels more important to me.

Best of luck! Just go with your gut, and let me know how it goes. Hmmm… I feel a blog post coming on! Maybe you could let me know what you’ve tried and we could take it from there.

Take care,

~ Gretchen

For further thoughts about teaching students at any level, also applicable to teaching other instruments, please see my ebook, “Goal-oriented Practice.”

Thank you!