What to do with transfer students who are using a "yucky" method book

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Yesterday I inherited two transfer students - two brothers. Their teacher had them using a method book that I am not familiar with. The 8 year old is using Celebrate the Piano Book 1 by Gail Smith (anyone hear of this method?) He is on page 23 of the book. The book has 73 pages. I do not care for the method, do not like the looks of the method, and do not want to continue with this method. I told the mother I would like to put him into a new method possibly Faber Accelerated 1. But the mother insists on using this method since she paid 14.00 for the book. She said her older son went threw this method and she didn't want her children to stray from the familiar since their last teacher was an excellent teacher. I thought I would go ahead and use the Faber book anyways and continue with the Smith book as a supplement. But I don't know how to get around the mother since she insists the child use the Smith method book. The 10 year old is using Michael Aarons book 3. I like the Michael Aarons method and don't have a problem with this method, but once again it would not be my method to teach out of. Also one of his suppementary books is Great Literature for Piano Book II by Gail Smith. I actually have this book in my library but have never used it or given it to the student because of the horrible editing. So I can survive with the Aaron method but not the Smith method - any advice as to how to get around the mother would be great.

-- Ruth Melton (ruthmelton@hotmail.com), November 09, 2001


Music is a language. We did not learn English by reading a single book (like "Fun With Dick and Jane", but rather by reading MANY,MANY books. Music requires the same quantity of materials for adequate reading skills to develop. As a professional you have every right to require parents to purchase the materials you feel are needed to do your job to the best of your abilities. I say require the method of your choice, and supplement using their old method. Your first instincts were right on.

-- John (bisceglia2000@yahoo.com), November 10, 2001.

I agree with the earlier writer, and would like to emphasize that as the teacher, you are most familiar with the various methods available, not the mother. She has to understand that in choosing you as her children's teacher she cannot dictate what books you will use. If she has a problem with buying new books, she may also give you problems in other areas later on. Watch

-- alexandra (alidoremi@aol.com), November 11, 2001.

You are the teacher. The parent chose you to teach her child, and she needs to respect your wishes. A PA Accelerated book is around $9.00 I think - less than a meal for the family at McDonalds. I have tried to teach out of a transfer student book I found less than appealing, and regretted it. You know what works best for you and your students. You have likely spent hours looking through method books, the parent surely has not. Stick to your guns on this one!

-- Beth Carstens (kcarst@megavision.com), November 16, 2001.

I don't think this method issue is about money. If they liked their previous teacher, they don't want to hear that she made a bad choice in the method. So you need to soft-pedal this one.

I always remember that it's easier to move towards a positive than away from a negative. Show the parent and student the book you prefer and tell them what's so great about it. Say, "Kids just love this song--and this one. I wouldn't want you to miss these. Won't it be fun when you can play ___!?" Also explain that you supplement with many other pieces so you will use their old method book in that way. Perhaps the student and parent could look through the method book they have to help choose what they would like to play.

-- Flo Arnold (flo@pianimals.com), November 17, 2001.

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