Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Playing ahead in lesson books: When is it ok?

There have been so many times when my students (including my own children) have asked if they can play ahead in the lesson books. "I can play them, mom, I know I can" or, "they're so easy, can I play through the end of the book".  In fact, I heard that so much that I had to develop some "rules" about playing ahead. 

> If you look ahead in the book, you may only play through a song once or twice.  This is so they don't form a habit of playing it their way. 

> When we get to a song/lesson that you have played through once or twice, you have to be willing to listen to my explanation of the song/lesson AND understand that you might have played it incorrectly on your own.  I will help you play it correctly.

If a student keeps asking to look ahead, it might be a sign that the practice load is not enough to challenge them during the week.  This is a great time to bring in supplemental music.  Some of my favorite supplements are Dozen A Day--which is a great finger exercise book, and also the Piano Adventures Popular and Performance books that match the level the student is at.

Keeping students challenged but not overwhelmed is a delicate balance, but one that brings about great accomplishments!


  1. Great suggestions! I use Wolfhart (sp?) exercises for my students who need an extra challenge. Really good, melodic etudes with a very specific challenge in each one. It's been super for the student who practices faithfully and came to me only playing by year - lots of fun notes to learn from the page!

  2. Hey soon to be momma! That book is super helpful. I think that's the one that I used when I was a violin student!
    I'm keeping tabs on you, I know that day is coming soon!