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Customer Review

169 of 178 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does not teach kids to read notes..., October 8, 2009
This review is from: Teaching Little Fingers to Play: A Book for the Earliest Beginner (John Thompsons Modern Course for The Piano) (Paperback)
I began teaching beginner piano students in January of this year. Wanting to give unfamiliar methods a try, I chose this book for one of my 6 year old beginners. She seemed to really enjoy the songs...and it wasn't until about 2/3 of the way through it that I realized she was not learning to read the notes. I finally noticed why - EVERY note for every song in the entire book has a finger number under it, and my student was just reading the finger numbers rather than memorizing what the notes looked like. I was wondering why my supplemental note-training was not sticking! I do not recommend this method at all if you want your students to learn to read music, and I am disappointed for the temporary set-back in my student's training. I have switched to Alfred, and it has been perfect for all my young beginners.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 9, 2009 12:10:31 AM PST
Asteroid says:
Try these wonderful flashcards: Jane Bastien's Music Flashcards (GP27)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2010 6:49:28 PM PDT
Jonker says:
No big deal not to read when you're 6 and only playing a few months.

Posted on Dec 18, 2010 9:27:20 AM PST
Patricia says:
I am over 40, and compose my own music. LOTS of it!
Fingering, however, has always been a problem for me, especially when I try to play music composed by other people. If this book, as you say, has fingering written for each note, it seems JUST the book for me!
(P.S. to learn notes, I have this self-invented idea:
Divide the scale into two parts. C, D, and E are in the "smaller" part, having only two black notes in it. F, G, A, and B are in the LARGER part of the scale, having three balck notes in it. As in the alphabet,
each part goes in sequence: C,D,E, ....and F,G/ A, B, (then we go to C again). Sharps are 1/2 step higher in tone than the note named, flats are 1/2 step
lower in tone than the note named. Hope this makes sense and can help both you and your students!

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 2:27:14 AM PDT
consumer says:
This was my first piano book at age ten and my experience was exactly the same. 30 years later, I was trying to learn guitar and still messed up by my first experience and still calling out the notes in my head as numbers. I sing in a chrous and they want me to solo on a very difficult piece. I keep telling them I can only follow other voices and the music in general and am not able to read the music beyond a minimal understanding of sing this note a little higher or a little lower and a little longer or shorter than the last one. I've no bearing for what a note or chord should sound like until I hear it played and even then the memory of it escapes me and I have to be reminded yet again. The leaders act like they simply don't believe me and feel I'm just not trying hard enough. I'll never escape 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 29, 2013 10:31:19 AM PDT
I totally understand what you're saying. I've been singing for years and I still can't mentally "hear" a note until I "hear" it actually being played.

Posted on Aug 19, 2013 1:30:29 PM PDT
Micha says:
I highly recommend Edna Mae Burnham's Step by Step series. I have had a 98% success rate with these books and I don't even have to do supplemental note training! :-)

Posted on Jun 15, 2014 6:41:23 PM PDT
Thanks so much for this review, pointing out what I see as a really bad problem. I began learning piano at age 6 using Schaum, and because the numbers were so much easier to read than the notes, of course numbers were what I read! I'm sure my teacher had no idea, and of course I didn't know enough to tell on myself...so this problem persisted for years. Schaum did, of course, start leaving off some numbers eventually, but never for new notes, only for repeated notes, so my dependence on numbers continued for many years. Schaum also had students playing in strict hand positions, never moving from the initial placement on the piano, so that, combined with numbering every note, made it incredibly easy to play by numbers rather than by notes.

Even when I was drilled by a strict teacher at age 8 or 9, and made to read every note in the piece aloud before I started playing, I still depended on the numbers and couldn't read notes. Piano became an off-and-on thing eventually, because that strict teacher made lessons a miserable, dreaded ordeal, and I was finally allowed to quit, but when my desire to play returned again, I realized what a hindrance my inability was, and started trying harder to break my dependence on the numbers. I wasn't even taking lessons, and never confessed my problem to a teacher, but I'll never forget the day it all "clicked" and I realized I was really reading music rather than numbers! I think I was 11. What freedom! Ever since, I have looked back at the Schaum course with disgust, and determined never to use it or recommend it.

During those early years, I was entranced by my friend's Thompson books, because they seemed more sophisticated and classical--the pen & ink drawings probably helped--but when I tried to play the music, I was handicapped by my inability to read music. Thompson didn't number every note, even in the first grade book! So now, shopping for books to use with my nieces, I am truly dismayed to find out Thompson is making the same mistake as Schaum. Of course I don't remember if the Thompson beginner book back in 1970 used too many numbers like Schaum...and maybe it did...but I sure hope the modern Thompson course stays true to what I remember and doesn't continue on in this way.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 15, 2014 6:47:06 PM PDT
Micha says:
The overplacement of finger numbers, along with the use of hand positions, are the bane of my existence both as a pianist and a piano teacher. If you are displeased with the Thompson series, may I recommend Edna Mae Burnham's Step by Step series? I use it with my students with great success- every one of them is able to read music! ☺
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