Should Teachers Use Books Assigned By Other Teachers?

It’s the time of year where students are transferring between teachers or resuming lessons after moving.  Students usually bring half finished books with them.  What’s a teacher to do?


One of the things that I pride myself on is that I work with the best method for the individual student.  There is no one size fits all method books series.  Many of my students use the Alfred Premier series.  Others use the Faber older beginner books.  Occasionally, I’ll go old school and pull out the trusty Bastien books.  So as long as the student is successful in their current series, I see no need for parents to go spend money on new books because I might prefer another series.  If the student is not successful in their current books, then I might loan a few books to the student to find out what a better fit might be.  The only series that I won’t use is the Suzuki series.  It isn’t a curriculum problem but more of a methodology issue. 


Parents, if you are talking to a potential teacher, be sure to ask what the teacher’s policy is about books.  It can tell you a good bit about what kind of teacher they are.  Be open to suggestions from the teacher but also be willing to say what works for you child. 

Counting Quarter Notes

Today as I was looking through yet another piano method book, I came across a new way to count 4 quarter notes.  Use the word- ELEVATOR. 


                                                       EL             E              VA           TOR

I wish someone had taught me these tricks before I got to college. 

Thought for the Day

Czerny said:

“every pupil makes much greater progress when he plays all his lessons willingly and with satisfaction.”



As teachers, what can we do to help a student want to practice and to want to practice those pieces that they find less than fun?  We all know that once the piece is learned the student will admit it wasn’t so bad and that they might have even liked it after all. 


School starts this week here in Charlotte, NC and many piano teachers and other types of music teachers are starting back into their school year schedules.  I think we should challenge ourselves to help a student understand why they are playing particular pieces or works.  If the student can understand the reasoning they might be more willing to work through the problems to reach their next goal. 

Piano Odyssey or Piano Perspectives

Sometimes as a teacher, I run into repertoire problems that I just can’t wrap my brain around.  The latest snafu was when I was trying to compare the Student Workbook Level 6 of the Piano Odyssey series to the Level 6 Repertoire Perspectives book.  Both of these publications are by Frederick Harris Music.  However, the pieces were not matching up.


I sent an email today to Frederick Harris Music and received a prompt reply.  The Piano Odyssey Series was the 3rd publication of the Celebration Series.  The Piano Perspectives books are the 4th publication of the Celebration Series.  Due to copy right issues the books are reissued every 7 years but the repertoire does not stay consistent for each re-release.  


Mystery solved.  I guess I’ll go order the correct books now.

Looking for Space

You would be amazed at how difficult it is to find a space to have a recital.  The good news is that I might have found a location for the winter and spring recitals.  So stay tuned for an upcoming announcement. 


It is so important for students to have a chance to perform on a regular basis.  If your church, community center or social club would be interested in hosting a recital or background music for an event please contact me. 

Should I Have to Commit to a Specific Amount of Lessons?

As students are headed back to school, parents begin looking for music teachers for their children.  There are so many choices.  Do you take at a school of music or from an independent teacher?  How much should you pay for lessons?  What do different teachers offer that sets them apart?  Most people do not think about what kind of time commitment that a teacher or school of music is looking for. 


Most schools of music run on a semester or annual basis.  These settings usually want a commitment of at least one term.  Is this beneficial to the student?  My answer would be yes and no.  The idea of being committed to a certain amount of weeks resulting in dedication does have value.  We always want students to be dedicated but if a student really hates their instrument or circumstances have changed and student can’t practice, it really doesn’t do any good for the situation.  It can help a student who is going through a slump in interest to hang in there until things swing back to the norm.  However, it usually just results in a frustrated teacher who can’t discontinue lessons due to the school’s policy and a student with a poor attitude who is being forced through fiscal means to continue.  Does that sound like fun to anyone? 


On the far side of the spectrum are teachers who have no studio policy and allow students to come and go at will with no notice.  Music stores that provide lessons can also fall into this category.  From a parental perspective this might look like a great choice.  You can take the month of December off with no repercussions.  Well, you might not have a time slot when you come back but if that is a risk you are willing to take, then this set up might work for you.  I’ve found that this set up lends it self to students riding off into the sunset never to be heard from again.  The teacher then has to wait until the student either lets them know they aren’t returning or wait a month to be sure.  No so great for a  musician trying to pay their bills.


Is there a happy medium?  Most independent teachers run on a month to month basis for lessons.  If you decide to discontinue lessons, you are asked to give 1 month’s notice or you must pay for the following month.  This gives the teacher time to find a new student or rearrange the schedule or it gives the student time to reconsider if quitting is really what they want to do.  There is commitment and flexibility in this arrangement.  If I was a parents looking for lessons, this is the option that I would choose. 

Thrift Store Finds

In a desperate bid to escape the heat this past weekend, I headed for Hendersonville, NC.  It was futile, but not a wasted trip.  In downtown Hendersonville, there is a charity store that has a nice selection of records.  For approximately 50 cents each, I can find records of great pianists playing the classics.  This weekend’s haul included:


Vladimir Horowitz:  Homage to Liszt

Toscanini:  Schubert Symphony No. 5 & 8

Toscanini:  Mendelssohn and Weber

Van Cliburn:  Chopin

Van Cliburn:  Tchaikovsky

Van Cliburn:  Conducts Interlochen Youth Orchestra

Sviatoslav Richter:  Beethoven & Schumann

Artur Rubinstein:  Beethoven

Artur Rubinstein:  Chopin Op. 21 & 22

Heifetz and Kapell:  Brahms Piano and Violin Sonata in D minor

Baekkelund:  Grieg


In the non-classical realm:


Boston Pops:  Christmas Party

Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir


I will upload these records to my ipod and be able to share them with my students.