Beginning students: when the student surprises you.  A six year old student at her third piano lesson.

January 10,2021

C.P.’s lesson on 12/31/20

For the beginner, learning to interpret music notation is sometimes difficult, in particular merging information coming into the eyes from the page of music and physically producing ordered sounds at the piano.  Part of this in turn has to do with whether the student is aware of everything that is on the page or only notices part of it. We must begin with finding out what the student consciously sees.

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Beginners. C.C.’s lesson on 12/16/20

C.C.’s default is to memorize.  She finds this easiest, and less confusing then trying to turn on her ability to comprehend what she sees on the printed page and convert it into a series of actions and sounds at the piano keyboard. For instance, before she plays two first two measures of a particular piece she says to me: “Is this where the notes go C C D C?”  And if I say yes then she plays the notes by recalling from her short term memory the order of what she just said.

She has difficulty multi-processing.  Especially when it involves two

simultaneous procedures that initially seem very distinct and unrelated one to the other, but which is presented to her in such a way as if as if they are somehow meant to accompany each other in time, and a confusing promise that eventually she will form a synthesis of the two so that they appear to her as a single activity.   In this case, she was being asked, on the one hand, to process the visual symbols on the page of music (and to do so in the correct temporal order) while, on the other hand, learning the physical coordinations necessary to manipulate the keys of the piano to produce a series of sounds in the same temporal order.


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Bach: Well Tempered Klavier: Book One: Prelude in C# Major

A.B.’s lesson from several weeks ago.

Confusing the student…the “feel” of what key is under a finger versus the name given that key in the score:

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