Am I The Only One....... : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

Am I the only one here on this board who doesn't use PA as their exclusive method book. My students had little or no response to the PA books when I let them take them home, 99% wanted to stick with the method we are using. Almost everyone on these boards seems to think that PA is like the pot of gold to make good students.

Am I the only one who.............oh well.

-- busymom (, June 06, 2001


PA is the answer to my prayers for the area of the country that I live in & the students I'm teaching right now. My students were all using other methods before switching over to PA. They weren't practicing before. Now they're practicing & bragging about how much better the PA books are, & their parents are happy that they no longer have to nag their children to practice.

-- Music Educator (, June 07, 2001.

busymom, Sorry if you have felt like the "odd man out" around here. Please don't feel bad about using whatever works for you. Maybe I just haven't been around here enough, but I hadn't noticed that most people here talk about PA (I don't think I have, although I do use a lot of their materials). Please share what you use that you like the best--I'd love to hear. I think we'd all agree that a knowledgeable and enthusiastic teacher is the best part of a student's lesson, regardless of the material.

-- annie (, June 09, 2001.


No, you are not alone. I think PA is a good method, but certainly not the definitive one (as many would like you to think). It has a lot of appeal on the surface which for many students, who need more of a hook to get going, will often help draw them more fully into their piano study. Of course a good teacher helps too :). However, it is a HIGHLY marketed method and their new materials come out quite quickly (perhaps without being tested as thoroughly as they should) with some selections tending toward the trendy & superficial fair. But they have a huge market to satisfy and are masters at drawing in new customers (via their website club where several listees continually toot the method's horn ad nauseum). Don't get me wrong, there is a lot about the method that is well done and of high quality (the technic books are very nice) and I do use some of the materials with some of my students (mainly for those who need remedial work or need the more pop sounds to keep them interested). However, I it is not the method for everyone. Personally, I prefer to use another method more predominantly in my studio with which I have had no problems or complaints and lots of success. If 99% of your students want to stick with what they've been using, and you're comfortable with this, then do just that. Don't let the marketing push of any company sway you from what has worked well for you and what you believe in. Be open to new things, but keep in mind that new is not always best or even better. Good luck.

-- Gretchen T. (, June 12, 2001.

Am I the only one that doesn't like Music Tree???? I ordered the beginning-level books, CDs & teachers' guides. I'm not impressed. Of course you should use it if you & your students like it. I just can't stomach the books & don't feel like I can effectively use them with my students, especially now that I've switched them all over to PA & am having such success with it.

-- Music Educator (, June 12, 2001.

Probably not. When I first started teaching, Bastien was the method in vogue. Everyone seemed to be jumping on the band wagon. After I jumped on, I kept thinking "why does everyone like this method so much?" I went to several workshops with the Bastiens, read their book on piano teaching, etc., but continued to find myself having to fill in hole after hole in the pedagogy. I was constantly questioning the pedagogy. The kids didn't really complain about the music (altho I grew tired of it's sameness), but the method just wasn't clicking with me and my teaching techinques. So, I looked in other directions and was introduced to the Music Tree. Now, lots of folks are completely sold on the Bastien method, and if it works for them & their students, then I applaud them. Just like for others, PA or Alfred, MT or Noona, etc. fits the bill. Teachers will teach best I believe when they are comfortable with the method and it's pedagogy. I am very comfortable with MT. I am also quite comfortable with PA altho I find myself questioning some aspects of the pedagogy here & there. I also know MT inside and out like the back of my hand. That makes a big difference in how I use it. But before I began using it, I studied it...really studied it. Sketched out lesson plans to see how things would flow, walked myself through a few "lessons" at various places in each book, etc. That's one of the best ways for me to discover the magic of this series. The woman who first introduced me to MT (the oldest version too) took me to her piano and brought some of the simplest pieces to life for me. I was captivated by what she did with the technic, music, and theory. She was a veteran teacher. One I will never forget. If I had looked at MT without her really "showing" me this method, I might have passed on it too. It's not perfect, but one I believe in and feel I teach the best. PA is my second method of choice, Hal Leonard my 3rd.

-- Gretchen T. (, June 12, 2001.

You might be interested to see a new piano methods "mini-survey" I just put up at my home page. It has only been up for a day or two, but already shows a pretty good variety of preferred method books. Just click on the "mini-survey" link, and you will be able to indicate your preference, and see what other preferences are.

-- Jon Ensminger (, June 13, 2001.

I certainly agree that the teacher needs to feel comfortable with a certain method in order to use it effectively & get the maximum benefit out of it.

Perhaps if I knew more about MT I could learn to like it; but after studying the books (although not in depth as you did, Gretchen) I just don't think it's for me & my students. I do, however, love Frances Clark's teaching philosophy, & I think that a lot of her ideas are great. I especially like the landmark approach to reading, which I incorporate into my own teaching curriculum.

The thing I like best about PA is that the Fabers use an ecclectic approach to teaching piano, incorporating ideas that have been used successfully in other methods. Yes, I add my own touches to it, as any good teacher would. But I don't have to fill in as many gaps using PA as I did when I used other methods (Glover, Bastien & others).

I would hope that any teacher would know that there's no one perfect method available, & that there's not one single method that will work with all students. I use what works best with the students I presently teach. I can't be all things to all people, & I don't try to be.

If someone doesn't care about learning to play the piano expressively, then s/he can go find a teacher who doesn't place a big emphasis on technique. If someone doesn't care so much about learning to read the notes, perhaps s/he should seek out a Suzuki teacher. If someone doesn't want to learn theory, perhaps that person shouldn't take piano lessons at all. If someone is very ambitious & dreams of becoming a concert pianist, that person should seek out a high-priced teacher who has students who are heavily involved in contests & auditions, & who places a heavy emphasis on memorization. In my studio, the two areas that get the most emphasis are technique & sight-reading. I teach theory, musicianship & performance as well, but those areas are not quite as important IMO.

There are plenty of teachers around, with different philosophies & different methods, to meet the needs of different people.

-- Music Educator (, June 15, 2001.

Music Educator,

You said "....But I don't have to fill in as many gaps using PA as I did when I used other methods (Glover, Bastien & others)."

I would love to have details as to the gaps you see in these methods and how PA fills them or how you fill them yourself in teaching each student. You may know I am constantly working on our PIANIMALS series to make sure beginning students learn to play without frustration while having fun doing so. It's primarily for young beginners (only going through preread and level 1) so that would be the areas I would like to have your insight on. I appreciate any input you or anyone else would like to give in helping me make the series the best it can be. Feel free to email me privately at Even if you have just one idea or comment, I would welcome it.

Thanks for any help anyone has for me. Flo Arnold

-- Flo Arnold (, June 15, 2001.


I'd be happy to share what I know. As soon as I get some free time, I'll compile some info. to send to you. I'm sure you'll want much more info. than what I can post here.

-- Music Educator (, June 15, 2001.

Flo: I found your Pianimals site today & sent you an e-mail from there. If you didn't get it, let me know. If you'd like to discuss the subject in more depth, feel free to e-mail me. My e-mail address is in the message I sent.

-- Music Educator (, June 20, 2001.

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