Piano Instruction Books For Children
Piano instruction books for children come in two types: conventional and new-school.
The conventional methods basically date back to 1853 when Carl Czerny began to publish his instruction books. All subsequent piano instruction books are based on this method, which insists that children gain fluency with musical notation before they have a chance to enjoy playing music.
The "new school" dates from the 1950s, when some piano teachers finally began to realize that conventional piano methods have a 90% failure rate. The result was that books and products began to be published which de-emphasize reading music and concentrate on what beginning students can actually do comfortably.
Many piano teachers ignored this failure rate and continued to teach using the conventional methods: Schaum, John Thompson, Faber, Alfred and Bastien remain to this day the most used conventional methods.
CONVENTIONAL VS. NEW SCHOOL
Conventional piano teachers were reluctant to embrace anything new for a simple reason. Children start piano at the average age of six, and thus there is always a new crop of "contestants" every year, even if 90% of the last crop quit.
Probably the first product of the "new school" was the Magnus Chord Organ which also included books that used numbers instead of notes to teach the songs. The effort of these new school books was to find a way to get people started playing without reading music.
TRY A SONG WITH NUMBERS
| 1 * 2 * | 3 * 1 * | 1 * 2 * | 3 * 1 * | 3 * 4 * | 5 * * * | 3 * 4 * | 5 * * * |
| 5 6 5 4 | 3 * 1 * | 5 6 5 4 | 3 * 1 * | 1 * 5 * | 1 * * * | 1 * 5 * | 1 * * * |
START WITH WHAT KIDS READILY UNDERSTAND
Kids readily understand the simplified musical language of numbers. There is no difficulty with kids "getting" the logic of numbers. They immediately become lost in the world of music, and "lost" in a good way. This the "comfort zone."
Reading music is so difficult that they must exit their childish "comfort zone" almost every second of their piano experience. There is no fun, just work. No sane child will stand for that for very long.
SAME CURRICULUM NO MATTER WHICH METHOD
There are basic moves that every piano teacher delivers, and they are all concerned with the child grasping the permutations of the numbers 1 2 3 4 5. Play 1 2 3 4 5 on the online piano above.
1 3 4 5
1 2 4 5
3 5 1 2 (Jingle Bells!)
3 2 1 2 3 5 5 (Mary Had A Little Lamb)
This unveiling of the concept 1 2 3 4 5 also gives children the opportunity to spread their fingers in a lateral row, perhaps the most basic physical act of playing the piano.
Since the material ( 1 2 3 4 5 ) is the same in both conventional and new-school methods, the only distinction is the child's reaction to the method.
CONFUSION OR ENTHUSIASM
Your only choice is how you present the information 1 2 3 4 5. You can do it in a way for which most children's brains are not ready (reading music) or you can do it in a way that all kids readily embrace (numbers.)
There is time enough to introduce reading music a little later. But a child filled with enthusiasm and happiness is a better candidate for the rigors of reading music, cleverly presented.
A BETTER START
So give your child a better start by using a "friendly" method at first. They can learn all the basic steps of piano in a friendly and non-confrontational way. Then, switch to reading music, little by little. Out of a 30 minute lesson, try five minutes of reading music. Slowly increase the time, depending on the reaction of the child.
Listen to the child. Observe them. See what they are comfortable with.
Some kids crave complication. Other kids are more hesitant, and you should allow them their hesitation, as long as they are willing to try even a minute of reading music.
Do what produces the most fun, then seize the moment and try a little reading music.