Method choice for 10 year old : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I am about to start teaching my 10 year old son piano lessons. I know . . . might be a bad idea! But financially right now it is my only option and I have a strong background in piano (25 years playing + piano minor in college).

I have been trying to decide on a method, and where to start in a method in general. He is learning violin using Suzuki, so he does have a background in music, though not piano. Should I start with a Primer level or Level 1? I feel like he will pick new concepts up quickly and don't want him to get bored, but I also don't want to puch him to quickly so that he feels overwhelmed.

As for methods . . . I grew up on John Thompson (which I loved) and Bastien (which I hated). After much time researching, I am considering using the Music Tree series, because I like the idea of the interval approach. Could some of you who have used the Music Tree give me any advice? Any negatives about the series?

Also, does the Music Tree teachers' manual provide information on recommended supplementary material?

Thanks for the info!


-- Angela (, January 06, 2004


I have used Music Tree for several students, with mixed results. I like the intervallic approach. Some of the songs are not as melodic as you might want -- in fact, some sound downright weird to me (although I understand the rationale behind them),so if the sound of what he's playing is really important, you might want to consider something else. I've just started using the Hal Leonard books (with one elementary student); they're very attractive and the pieces sound good, too. The approach in the first book is fairly similar to Music Tree.

-- Alice Dearden (, January 07, 2004.

Hi, Angela- I think it is great that you will be teaching your son, but why use only ONE method? Music Tree is definitely good for intervals, but I would add Piano Adventures by Faber and Faber. Book 1 should be fine since he already has some musical experience.

Supplementary sheet music and seasonal material is always fun for the student; I would rather have too many books, and take turns in them, than have too few things to explore.

-- Ruth Farkas (, January 14, 2004.

I would suggest that you do start with the primer level as opposed to level 1. Even though he has musical experience he doesn't have piano experience. Not only will he need to learn the notes of the bass clef, but he will also have to develop piano technique, including the independence to play hands together. Piano technique is obviously entirely different from violin technique so it would be worth your while to go from the beginning with him (although perhaps at an accelerated rate). I would definitely recommend Faber and since he's 10 I would put him in their method for the older beginner (which starts with "level 1", as opposed to "primer"). It progresses at a more rapid rate than their basic series and would probably be more appropriate for his age and musical experience. Check out this link to the Faber website for more info on the method I'm talking about:

-- Kate (, January 16, 2004.


I use MT almost exclusively with beginners up thru 4th grade. I also teach my own son (he's now 13 and one of my students since 1st grade). A few thoughts... Let your son know that he is the luckiest kid in town cause he has a built in piano teacher right in his family. No fear that the teacher will move away or be too full to take on a new student. Also, he will benefit from having your help and guidance available during his practice times. Be clear with him tho, that when it's lesson time, you will be wearing your "teacher" hat and will expect the same attention, respect, etc. that any of his other teachers do. If your son has natural musical aptitude, let him know that the decision to study the piano is going to be part of his total education and practice will carry the same weight as school homework. Try to set up a regular lesson time with him like other students, but be flexible too. I treat my son like all my other students as much as possible. Teaching you own can be rewarding as well as aggravating. Be prepared for a few power struggles when he hits the next few years. But have fun. Ok, about the Music Tree. I love this method and rarely depart from it for beginners & elementaries. I'm even using the new part 3 and 4 books for several early intermediates with a lot of success. If your son is a good "word" reader, shows natural musical aptitude, and picks things up pretty quickly, I'd start him with Pt 1, not the Time To Begin primer. Do some prep work first to introduce the keyboard to him (black keys, white keys, octave groups, names of white keys, basic rhythms, etc.). The Side By Side primer book works well for this, also Solo Flight. These are companion books for the MT series. I'd have several prep sessions with him before jumping into part 1. Get him moving about the keyboard on the black keys with off staff pieces and/or rote pieces. Present 2nds to him too. Then work into an introduction to the treble/bass staves, the grand staff, and the 3 landmark notes. From here, you're ready for Unit 1. I'd advise using the Activity book along with part A, the Side by Side part A, and later after getting into the book a few units, a supplementary collection like Alexandar's Finger Painting bk 1, one of several in the FJH library, etc. Since your son's already 10, I'd try to work thru part A pretty quickly, assigning one whole unit each week. Personally, I use the new discovery pieces in each unit as warm- ups, not the technic warm-ups offered at the end of each unit. Since you may not be limited to time as much as your other students and can go over some, you can probably cover 1 unit a week. Don't feel you have to assign every single piece either. I will skip a few here and there as long as I draw from the other materials for reinforcement. I hope this helps. Let me know if you'd like more info or clarification.

Gretchen in IL

-- Gretchen (, January 20, 2004.

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