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Student just wants to play pop


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#1 KathyB

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 07:30

I have a really lovely 10 year old who has some real potential. He loved working through piano time and we worked for grade 1. He hated the pieces but we stuck with it because exams are really important to his mum. He passed but not with the distinction I though he would when we started.
As a motivation to keep him going I said we could do some pop songs after the exam which we have done.
He now says he just wants to just play pop music and not do classical ever again.
I’ve had a look at trinity rock and pop keyboard exams and the music would be fine as I play a lot of music with chords but I’ve never been taught improvisation properly so I’m not sure I can teach it.
I know mum wants hime to continue with ABRSM exams so I’m in a bit of a catch 22 here.
Has anyone else swapped to rock and pop exams? And if so how did it work out?
Should I suggest another teacher or tell them I’m happy to give it a go if it keeps him playing as long as they understand we will be learning the rock and pop exam process together.
Any advice appreciated.
Thank you!!
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#2 musicalmalc

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 07:44

I'm afraid I'm not much help with your specific question, but .....

I learned to play by learning how to read music (all types) aged 8-11 I got to G3 sans scales with no teacher although I only found that out when I was persuaded to have lessons. That gave me a big jump start on sight-reading which has proved invaluable, however I always regretted not being able to play from a lead sheet or improvise which is something I am only just starting to do something about now.

 

I wish I had learned in parallel

 

Perhaps you should ask his mother why grades are so important to her - is she hoping to use them as entry criteria to a particular school for instance?


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#3 zwhe

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 08:19

I have one who is a bit like that, although she has now expanded her repertoire to include jazz. She only plays classical for the exams. We do a mixture of songs she has chosen, and pieces I pick during lessons. She's done pieces from The Graded Piano Player, What Else Can I Play and a couple of other books which I lend to her, as there is rarely more than one in each book she will do.  

I may be wrong, but I thought Trinity Rock and Pop was quite different to piano. I don't think you actually play the chords in the early grades, but use the keyboard function to fill them in. I've had a couple of new pupils who have done grade 1 keyboard who have basically had to start again as they have never done any left hand work other than to pick out the chord note with one finger (although they are from the same school, so it could just be the way they were taught). 

Maybe you could suggest he skips grade 2 - he may be more inclined to play a greater variety of music in a year or two.


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#4 Norway

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 08:23

Trinity rock and pop has a combined aural and sight reading test called "playback" so you don't have to do improv. I'd start with the Initial level as the grades are not easy, but the materials are great. I don't do the exams but I do use all the materials (except the improv option) for a bit of variety between grades and my pupils of all ages like it. You don't use function buttons - it's just like piano music.


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#5 Latin pianist

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 09:14

I think I'd let him play pop music for a while and he will probably ,in my experience ,start to find it unsatisfying and become more receptive to other styles
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#6 KathyB

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 09:48

Thats what I'm hoping for Latin Pianist! We've been doing just pop for the last few months and last night I tried to coax him onto something else and he just said 'I never want to play any of that stuff again' blink.png

I don't mind what he plays as long as he keeps playing because he really is good and it would be a shame for him to stop.  That's why I thought Trinity Rock school keyboard might be worth looking at - even if we don't do the exams as Norway suggests.

I might be good for me to learn something new as well laugh.png


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#7 HelenVJ

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 12:11

Have you looked at other repertoire, such as Barbara Arens 22 Amazingly Easy Pieces ( not that easy, but doable, and very satisfying musically) or Ben Crosland's Beans books ( Magic Beans, Easy Beans, Cool Beans etc). Not pop, but not the standard AB Exam Pieces style either ( though some of them have been set for Trinity). Also maybe some Martha Mier duets?
I've found that those who want to play pop exclusively soon fade out altogether, though admittedly that might be partly down to me, as I can't really engage with teaching it after a while.


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#8 Dorcas

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 13:24

I second Musicmalc's suggestion of checking why the mother is keen on exams.  If the mother is happy to follow the youngster's lead, then there is no problem.  Preparing for exams, having to have three pieces to a suitable standard for what can be a good few months, can be the kiss of death for more exam prep.  Looking at different styles is a good idea.  


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#9 Hedgehog

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 18:35

Have you looked at other repertoire, such as Barbara Arens 22 Amazingly Easy Pieces ( not that easy, but doable, and very satisfying musically) or Ben Crosland's Beans books ( Magic Beans, Easy Beans, Cool Beans etc). Not pop, but not the standard AB Exam Pieces style either ( though some of them have been set for Trinity). Also maybe some Martha Mier duets?
I've found that those who want to play pop exclusively soon fade out altogether, though admittedly that might be partly down to me, as I can't really engage with teaching it after a while.

Also what about Elissa Milne's Little Peppers series?


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#10 DMC

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 16:14

+1 on the Elissa Milne Little Peppers books.

 

I would have a chat with mum. The pressure from parents to do exams is almost always counterproductive, and often elicits the type of response your pupil has towards classical music. 

 

If doing pop means your pupil is picking up books and reading new material - great! Will do wonders for their sight reading marks at the next Piano Grade. Point this out. 

 

Music is music.

 

The ABRSM themselves constantly remind us that the exam system is not a curriculum.


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#11 Gran'piano

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 16:42

I'd try to find out what it is about pop which is so much more attractive to him. Has he friends who make music? Has he friends who think classical music is 'silly, girlish'? Does he not want to play classics because that is what his mother wants him to play? Does he like pop songs because he already knows them which makes sight reading and playing them easier? You probably won't get the answers by asking but going at it obliquely might bring up something which could help to clarify things.

I cannot remember where I read of a girl who played the violin very well but suddenly decided she wanted to change to the piano. When someone outside the family asked her why, she said, 'don't tell my mother this, but I wanted to sit down!'


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#12 agricola

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 22:00

I use RSL (Rockschool) exams for those who prefer rock music.  They are in no way a soft option.  It has kept several pupils learning and motivated when they would have otherwise given up.  One has subsequently switched back to classical at his own request and is now working for Grade 5.  You can download individual pieces and backing tracks from their website if you want to try one out.


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