I'm in France, and I've just taken on a 15 year old French girl who according to both her and her mum wants to be a 'pianist' - earn her living as such.
Her previous piano teacher has just retired, she's been with him for 10 years since age 5. Her Mum says she cannot find another piano teacher in the area, and I have been recommended by a fellow violinist.
I was been completely honest, I said that whilst in the past I have taught children successfully to grade 8 level piano, I myself am not a pianist. I accompany my string pupils to Grade 8 including such things as movements of Brahms violin sonatas, so I can get by pretty well, but I do not really practise the piano unless I have to and then it's usually only accompaniments.
OK, Mum was happy with this, but did mention her daughter has a bit of difficulty sight reading on the piano. ( Don't we all ? ).
She was desperately looking for some help, on a temporary basis until her daughter starts working at school for her Baccalaureat with a speciality in music next year.
So, we met for the first time week before last. Understandably nervous, I let the girl familiarise herself with the piano, but before she'd touched it, I did just ask her to sing a Do ( C) if she thought she could . Adamant - 'Sorry, I don't sing'. So I asked her to name a few notes as I played them, which she did, so she's either got very good relative or perfect pitch.
She didn't play any scales, but went straight into a reasonable, musically played if somewhat scrappy rendition of a Chopin Nocturne, though I noticed that her end finger joints were often bent the wrong way, it wasn't very rhythmically stable and it fell apart in places. The fingering seemed to favour 4th and 5th fingers rather a lot too. She also only ever put the pedal flat to the floor so it was a bit of a jumbled mess.
Next I sat down at the piano with her and started probing a bit. Yes, she knew her sight reading needed work. I found something really easy, a grade 1 piece. Not a clue, no idea of what key it was in, she knows the notes or the rhythm, but not together, can't read 'vertically' to sight read both hands together and confuses bass and treble clef... oh dear. no idea of what Andante means either.
So, I had a bit of a heart to heart, during which time I discovered she has played a few scales but never starting on a black note, has never played arpeggios, listens to Youtube to help her learn pieces. Also her previous piano teacher always played pieces for her so she never had to really sight read. There's a real talent there, whether one can undo 10 years of damage remains to be seen
We've gone back to square one, she's doing piano duets with me, I have also suggested we will do some accompanying, I can play a violin or cello part with her and she has to keep going even if there are errors. I've pointed out her hand position, the need to use a degree of logic when fingering and the fact the pedal has a lot more to it than just standing on it. We tried another Grade 1 sight reading test and it took her three goes to get it anywhere near right. Poor kid, I feel sorry for her, but she is game and understands that she has to do this and that it will take time.
I've also mooted Grade 5 - the highest she can do without Grade 5 theory. She is up for it next year. I bought the music but I am sure the pieces look easier than about 25 years ago when I last taught piano ?? I have explained the circle of fifths, the need to look at the key signature and time signature and speed before having a go at a piece, the concept of relative majors and minors... the list is endless.
Anyone suggest the best cheapest scale book with all scales in it ?