I received a review copy of The Classical Piano Method late last year and have finally had a chance to sit-down and play through the pieces.
For those of you who have seen it at conferences and in publishers’ trade books, I thought you might be interested to know how it might be useful in your studio.
I’ve blogged before about methods, with a recent poll gathering considerable interest from around the world. I enjoy trialling new books with my students and avoid the “one method book fits all” trap (no-one falls for that, do they?!).
As I mainly teach teenagers, I particularly keep an eye out for method books that are more adult in presentation, and this is one of them. Teenagers and adults will really like the feel and layout of this book in the same way that I find they like the Hal Leonard Adult Piano Method: it isn’t full of ‘baby-ish’ pictures and cartoons (not that there isn’t a place for these for the right age group).
My main comment about The Classical Piano Method is that it moves fast! It says that it’s designed for “complete beginners or those returning to piano”, but I’d save this method only for the latter.
For example, students only play three very basic pieces of music before the stave is introduced, and one of those pieces (“Black and White”) really pushes the tonal barriers, which I’m not sure will be enjoyed by all. In my opinion, complete beginners need to have a variety of fun and well-known pieces to play off-stave (ie. by ‘following the dots’ and finger numbers) before the stave is introduced, which this book doesn’t have.
For this reason, I believe this method is better suited to those students returning to piano after a break – especially adults. Once you get into the music, there is a good selection of well-known pieces (all from a classical perspective) that are introduced sequentially and most include teacher accompaniments.
I do, however, like the improvisation exercises on the black keys that are found in the first lessons and the theory notes, exercises and composer information spread throughout. Oh, and it comes with play-along and demonstration CD too!
I’m going to trial this book with one of my new adult students this year as she is returning to piano after a 15+ year break and she already knows the basics of reading music – she just needs lots of practice with simple well-known pieces which is exactly what this method is about.
Let me know if you’ve had experience with this method.
Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.