Question from Andrea: “What books do you use with a beginning student?”
In teaching a new student, I use three books – “Piano Adventures” Lesson Book, Primer Level by Faber, my book “Basic Alignment & Rotation”, and “The Music Tree” Part 1 from the Frances Clark Library.
I first teach dropping on white keys to work on unifying finger, hand and forearm, and moving correctly from the forearm. I use my book “Basic Alignment & Rotation” to show students how their hands should look during this process.
Immediately in the Faber book there are pieces with black keys only. I feel these are useful for learning where the white keys are, for learning finger numbers, and for reading rhythms. But setting up the fingers on black keys can frequently encourage stretching the fingers. If students can use white keys instead, I have them do that. If not, I move quickly to pieces on white keys.
As soon as students begin to read on the staff, I begin using The Music Tree. I like how this book delays the use of the thumb. Beginning with fingers 2,3,4 works to build a hand that is aligned with the forearm, and keeps the thumb off the keys in its proper position. When the thumb is finally used, it is easier to have it play correctly without creating a twist of the hand away from the forearm.
At the same time, I do continue with the Faber book. But whenever possible, I change fingering to use 2,3,4,5 instead of 1,2,3,4 for the same reasons as above.