Theory and Sightreading books for piano

Monica said: Aug 6, 2012
 Piano, Organ, Violin
9 posts

Hello everyone!
I have a couple questions about theory and sight-reading. First, I was wondering if anyone has noticed whether it matters where on the piano reading is introduced. There are a great variety of easy, primer reading books but I’ve noticed a huge trend with the “always on middle C hand positions” in most of the books. Personally, (since I didn’t start learning with Suzuki until I was a couple years into piano) I learned with a book that begins with both hands on C position and for a long time I only felt comfortable on those notes. I can actually remember flipping through music books and only playing the songs in C position because I automatically thought that was all I knew. (eventually, I think there might have been some laziness involved there too…:) I’m trying hard to avoid that “stuck in one place” H.P. with my students and would like to get ideas on which books you use that might help with that. I’m assuming that the same thing would happen to a student anywhere he starts if he stays in one place for too long? On the other hand, would it be too confusing to be switching between different hand positions all the time? Also, does anyone think it would work best to start the student in the upper C octave in cooperation with the Suzuki books since that is where they are comfortable playing? I’ve seen some of the “I Can Read” books for violin and really like the idea of separating pitch and rhythm in the beginning and how they slowly introduce notes one at a time. Is there any equivalent of this for piano? I’ve never really looked through “Methode Rose”, but I’ve heard some good things about it. Any thoughts on how that has worked for you, if you use this book?

This is sort of related but, I will be starting to use Music Mind Games this semester and was wondering what theory book would go well with MMG or if a theory book is even necessary? I was thinking it might be useful for marking/reinforcing progress with each individual student at private lessons. I’ve seen previews of “The Music Road” and they seem like they would work well for this. It looks like these even have both theory and sight-reading together in one book. For those of you who have used this-am I correct? It would be great if you could give me some first-hand ratings on it.

Thanks very much,
~Monica

Monica said: Aug 8, 2012
 Piano, Organ, Violin
9 posts

I just remembered that i once heard that the “Music Tree” series might be a good one for this but I’ve never had a chance to try them before. Does anyone use or recommend these? Are they only for really young kids?

Connie Sunday said: Aug 8, 2012
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I have a pretty extensive list at:

Violin, Viola & Piano Theory

Scroll down a bit; for piano I use the Theory Time Workbooks.

HTH,
Connie

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:
http://beststudentviolins.com/library.html#handouts

Karen said: Aug 9, 2012
Karen Huffman
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Portland, OR
28 posts

I use the Music Tree series a lot. And when I got my masters degree, it focused a lot on the Frances Clark school. In fact, my adviser was Sam Holland, one of the teachers that put that series together. I really like them a lot because the break the staff way way down and make it really easy for the kids to take baby steps into the reading world. Just start with Book 1 instead of the Primer and it should be ok, though some older kids might be turned off by the cute little illustrations that come with them. I have told some of mine to turn the animals into something else (appopriate) if they want and gotten some pretty interesting illustrations! Hope this is helpful.

Monica said: Aug 13, 2012
 Piano, Organ, Violin
9 posts

Thanks…your answers did help! I decided to order one of each “The Music Tree” and “The Music Road.” I’m sure I’ll get some ideas from there. The kids who need help with the sightreading are still pretty young and even the older ones have fun “making fun of” the illustrations! ;) So I think we’ll get along great. I looked into the theory time workbooks a little and will keep those in mind…sometime I’d like to try them out. I’m still wondering if I even need a workbook while doing Music Mind Games. Any thoughts?

Brigette said: Aug 30, 2012
Brigette Weisenburger
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Aberdeen, SD
11 posts

I use both MMG and The Music Road together, it seems to work well. I have group (theory) classes twice a month, and do the Music Mind Games, and use the Music Road in lessons. I do not have a separate theory workbook and still feel my students have a good understanding of theory.

Monica said: Sep 2, 2012
 Piano, Organ, Violin
9 posts

Thanks, we just started lessons last week and I am actually doing pretty much the same thing. It’s nice to know this works for someone else. I really liked the Music Road book and already ordered the book 2 for my more advanced students. I’m just wondering about one thing, though. I noticed that the Music Road doesn’t seem to introduce any bass clef alone or two hand playing until really late. Has that worked out for your students? It just seems a little strange to delay it so much…but maybe it’s helpful to get really good at treble first? I thought I once read somewhere that it’s best to introduce wide, two stave reading as early as possible to get the students used to this, so I’m a little confused at which is the best approach.

Brigette said: Sep 3, 2012
Brigette Weisenburger
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Aberdeen, SD
11 posts

New Comment on Theory and Sightreading books for piano from Pianica19Yea, I guess the belated bass clef is slightly annoying, since MMG introduces the grand staff right away. It seems to be okay though. I really think until they get some competency, it’s all rather confusing for them. Happy teaching!

Cathy Hargrave said: Sep 11, 2012
Cathy HargraveTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Rowlett, TX
50 posts

I want to mention that I wrote a book about applying Suzuki philosophy to the topic of teaching our students to read and specifically based upon using Methode Rose. You can apply the ideas to any reading series though. I also wrote a rhythm book for our students. The books are called Reading Music By Ear and Basic Rhythm Studies. Young Musicians probably has copies. It might help you.

Nina Black said: Sep 12, 2012
Nina Black
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Modesto, CA
10 posts

I want to 2nd the recommendation of Methode Rose, and books by Cathy Williams Hargrave (see above). I’ve had a great deal of success using this method, and is a much more natural approach for Suzuki students.

James said: Sep 12, 2012
James Guerin
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
27 posts

The Method Rose book, which I was introduced to by Cathy Hargrave, gives students who’ve been through most of Book One a remarkable feeling of success in reading. It’s as if the patterns in their Suzuki songs come to life in new melodies and keys. And, by the way, this book answers the concerns of the teacher who sees first readers stuck in the key of C. It is not for pure beginners however.

Cleo Ann Brimhall said: Sep 12, 2012
Cleo Ann BrimhallTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
West Jordan, UT
39 posts

I have used Cathy Hargrave’s book along with Solfeggio singing in book one. It has the advantage of NOT using hand/eye coordination in the very beginning—but focuses on eye/ear. Kodaly said that to be good at music reading you should be able to see what you hear and hear what you see. It is never to early to begin that process—especially when one of the purposes book one of book one is to develop the ear of the student. I have also successfully used some of the Music 19 early games in conjunction with these ideas. The famous blue jello sticks help encourage creativity along with Cathy’s book. There are simple melodic and rhythm dictation games that easily go with solfeggio. The student not only sings what they see—but they recognize the pattern when the teacher sings of plays it—and they use markers on a grand staff card to “write” what they hear. These tools are wonderful for group classes.

Cleo

Cathy Hargrave said: Sep 14, 2012
Cathy HargraveTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Rowlett, TX
50 posts

Just want to say I am happy to hear my books have been helpful to you. Thank you for the feedback. It is always helpful. I am getting ready to put them on the internet as ebooks and also demonstration clips (YouTube) of each unit in the Basic Rhythm Studies.

Lori Bolt said: Sep 15, 2012
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

Hi Cathy ~ Can’t wait for the ebooks and the demos to be available!
Thanks : )

Lori Bolt

Cleo Ann Brimhall said: Sep 15, 2012
Cleo Ann BrimhallTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
West Jordan, UT
39 posts

Way to go Cathy—I always knew you were one smart cookie!

Cleo

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