Have you ever wondered how you can possibly fit everything you need to into a 30 minute lesson? There’s just so much ground to cover with scales, pieces, sight-reading, theory, improvisation, composing…the list just seems to go on, and on.
Paul Harris has a fantastic way of looking at lesson structure. His simultaneous learning method flips traditional piano teaching on its head, getting students understanding all the elements of a new piece before they ever look at the music.
With simultaneous learning, all the elements of piano playing can be integrated and relevant to a piece the student is working on.
Take a listen to today’s podcast episode and learn how you can enrich the piano lesson experience for both you and your students!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How to start teaching a new piece without even opening the score…and why you should
- How to get students to improvise on just one note
- Tips for preparing students to play in foreign keys with more flats/sharps than they’re used to
- How to split a piece into manageable “ingredients”
- Whether getting students to write music is valuable
- How to get students to gain a really secure sense of pulse
- How to introduce listening assignments
Items mentioned in this podcast:
- Paul Harris’s website
- Paul Harris on Faber Music’s website
- Improve Your Sight Reading Duets
- The Practice Process
- The Complete Practice Workbook
Today’s free download:
What do you think about Simultaneous Learning?
Do you like the idea of this approach to teaching piano? Do you think it would help your students to learn this way? Have you already been trying out these ideas?
Leave your thoughts below and if you have any questions for Paul, please ask away!
Great interview. Paul Harris is very rational in his thinking.
Thank you so much Tim and Paul for the wonderful podcast! It was very enlightening and helpful in many ways. I think learning and growing as a piano teacher is so important and you help so much in this process of helping to make better teachers. Will be checking out the Simultaneous Learning books.
Still trying to get online piano lessons going and find the best way to market them.
Thank you again for all that you do!
Hi Elizabeth – thanks for your comments 🙂 If you’re looking for more help with online teaching, I did a focus on them for a month. Just use the search feature at the very right corner and search for “online teaching”.
Great podcast! Thanks for doing this!
You’re welcome, Jane! Glad you enjoyed it.
Hi Tim well done on another podcast. Great suggestions, one of the challenges I suppose we have is keeping parents happy with the “exam thing”. I’ve found that if you incorporate some of Paul’s suggestions in your exam preparation perhaps like listen to 2 mins of music from the same genre or style to that which your student is studying – that can get around the parent who is mightily exam focused.
The opportunity to improvise is also great – I was lucky enough to meet Forrest Kinney whilst in the US and his texts are amazing for developing an improvisation framework that is neither stressful for the student OR the teacher ;-).
I’ve done all of the Orff-Schulwerk levels training and would highly recommend them to any piano teacher (or any instrumental or music teacher for that matter). Even though the levels courses are primarily classroom based, you can get a whole heap of practical examples of how to use improvisation that aren’t stressful.
Great work mate!
Thanks Paul – I appreciate your comment. I got to hang out with Forrest at NCKP this year – was sooo great to meet him. If anyone is interested in some of the best resources for creativity at the piano, check out Forrest Kinney’ Pattern Play series – just brilliant. He did a live teaching lesson with a young teen at the piano on stage and it was fantastic to watch him in action.
Hi Tim, This morning I made a point of using Paul Harris’s outline for teaching simultaneous learning. The student was brand new and I honestly had no idea what she was coming in knowing from another teacher. My goal was to teach her a rote piece, Listen for Bells. So first we improvised on black keys and then we were grasshoppers jumping from C to C. Then we went to the floor and kept a steady beat on a large drum as we listened to a recording of the piece. Then I said we were going to learn this new piece and we learned to sing it. Then I announced we would learn it in a totally new hand position – D! So we bounced around Ds and then I had her echo the melodic patterns and because she was in tune moved to solfeggio. Then we found the patterns on resonator bars. Then we found the open fifth by ear using a neutral language. Then we accompanied the piece while singing and playing the open fifth on the piano. Then we added both hands. Then I had her find “Mi” by ear. Then we sang the patterns and found them on the piano. Then we listened to the recording again and played along adding whatever was comfortable. It was awesomely fun. OH, I forgot, when her body got antsy we moved with scarves to Ode to Joy. It is always a delight to work with simultaneous learning. Everything fits together. and you know if you are pushing too far because the child will let you know with their body language. Then you pull back and rethink, what did I skip over and then you skip to the floor or to whatever tool you want to use.
Oh, she asked for Taylor Swift so I showed her piano maestro. Yet I plan to teach her the chords, just like in your program for popular music. It may be open fifths and singing along since she is only 6.
Thanks for making my summer a wonderful learning experience. It is making an incredible difference in my teaching studio.
Wow! What great news, Ellen. Thanks so much for sharing your story and how much fun you’ve been having. It’s really liberating to “get off the page”!!!
Thanks for the podcast. This technique of learning is the basis of my teaching and I appreciated hearing Paul harris describe it. His assignment sounds like mind mapping. I will go check it out.
Thanks Ellen – yes, some of it is common sense and comes naturally, but for other teachers this is quite revolutionary… he certainly got me thinking as I do some of those things, but not nearly enough. I still resort to starting kids at Bar 1 unfortunately, but I’m getting better!
One of my favorite strategy is to learn the coda first. Or the final chord. Or the final cadence. We go through the prep similar to Paul Harris’s learning technique and improvise off the chord progression or a melodic pattern in the coda (I think that was your idea, lol, I am getting everyone mixed up). Then I make sure the student can play the ending by the end of that lesson. What is fun about this is when the student then comes back and shows me they practiced from the first bar, etc. they always surprise me with, “and I know the ending also”. Duh, I had totally forgotten I used the strategy and it is so satisfying that at least we don’t have that part to learn….. Forgive me, but this is what happens when you have been teaching too many students for too many years.
Thanks Tim for this great work. I was a Primary Music Specialist Teacher trained in Orff and Kodaly (in another life!) and have been teaching private piano for many years now. I have always applied my training in music education to my piano teaching and through Teach Piano Today and your website I am finally finding likeminded teachers who regard the process more important than the almighty exam a year scenario.
You have an ability to ask the questions that most teachers would want to know and a style that is not condescending or precious. You are fulfilling a real need for the next generation of young teachers.
Loved the Paul Harris interview – if nothing else to reaffirm and renew my spirit and passion for my approach to teaching. His practice map sounds like a great idea and one I intend to use to clarify learning even more for my students.
Well done and keep up the good work.
Hi Linda. It’s so great to read your comments and know that I’m both affirming what you’re already doing and giving you some new avenues for exploration! Keep up the great work in your studio. ps. I’d love it if you could leave an iTunes review (if you haven’t already done so!). You can easily do it here: https://topmusic.co/topcast-music-teaching-podcast/leave-a-review/
Thanks Tim and Paul for an information filled hour. Can’t wait to try out all the ideas. Tim I love the podcast format. I am an avid blog reader and Internet course taker because of where I live in a fairly isolated place, but your podcasts add a totally different dimension to my professional development. The interview format means you cover all sorts of things that just don’t come up in other formats. Thanks again. Lynda Irvine.
Cheers Lynda – thanks for your feedback. I decided to go into Podcasting for exactly the same reason – I found that listening to things like this in the car is just THE BEST way to engage with content, all without distraction. Keep up the great work that you’re doing 🙂
Just listened to the Simultaneous Learning podcast and realized that I already teach this way thanks to Dr. Edwin Gordon who has researched how students learn best and called his research Music Learning Theory. Marilyn Lowe took his work and with his permission created Music Moves for Piano.
She also has 3 sight reading books with 5 pieces written in each key and asks students to answer a whole series of questions (key, time signature, find common rhythm patterns etc.) so the students are reading with understanding. http://Www.musicmovesforpiano.com
We always move and chant rhythm patterns from pieces before playing to deepen students feeling for the”groove”…pulse…
I just ordered the book Simultaneous Learning. Thanks for the wonderful Podcast.
Thanks for the links Barb. Just been checking out the website and there are definitely similarities in approach. Looks like this method starts with an aural approach each time whereas SL is more varied in its approach to “ingredients” that teachers can start the learning process with. All great to read – I love seeing all the other great ideas about teaching out there.