Learning Songs from the Audio Recordings
Sheri R., California
Under the subject of “claiming territory” are we to ask that students don’t try to sound out songs from the audio recordings? I have had a few students who have assured me they are not watching the video ahead of time but are trying to figure out things from hearing the songs. I pretty much only teach Shared Lessons, and I don’t hear them play what they’ve picked out from the audio recordings, so I’m not sure if they are getting all the notes, but either which way, I’ve been telling them their enthusiasm is great, etc., but to sound out Honey Dew, Amazing Grace and songs from other audio recordings only and wait for the playing-based instruction for the Simply Music songs.
It seems that because they have permission to listen to the Simply Music audio recordings all the way through, unlike the video, without waiting for the lesson of a particular song, it is harder to expect them not to figure something out if they are so inclined, even though it’s clear they would be temporarily missing out on learning tools by going ahead in this way. Do we just make it very clear they are not to go ahead in any way, shape, or form?
Ginny W., Western Australia
I agree that it can be a bit of a dilemma to always ‘reign them in’. Lately I seem to be getting spontaneous ‘variations’ from certain students, and so I give that some space in the lesson and validate their expressed ability that way.
Two things occur to me here. Firstly, I think the issue is as much about them being willing to follow instructions (which seems to me to be part of the ‘Learning A Way of Learning’).
Secondly, I have noticed that certain students with a strong ear who are auditory learners may appear to pick up the core songs as required without looking a the video, but there are sometimes issues that arise to do with finger choice and not having had the sentences or patterns embedded really strongly into the hands, or the song is mostly correct (i.e. it approximates the legitimate SM version), but there are some omissions or incorrect notes. Or they’re not clear exactly where (i.e. which octave, or where their five fingers go) on the keyboard to play it. It then requires time to unlearn the practiced ‘errors’. So I always validate their highly developed ear, then remind them to use the materials in the prescribed order and to trust that that is the most sure way for them to ‘get’ the piece completely in the long run. I encourage them to listen to the audio recordings in the car going home if possible, or last thing before going to bed, then looking at the relevant video components asap when they first practice as soon as possible after a lesson.
I had an example this week of a 12 yr old, who is usually a ‘model’ student, for some reason deciding not to look at the video to learn The Pipes (she has just begun Level 3). She remembered the finger patterns quite well, but because she hadn’t looked at the video, was playing it in the wrong place. I validated her good memory and at the same time used the moment as an opportunity to point out the consequences of skipping the video, in that she might not remember everything we’ve covered. I reiterated the recommended order in using the materials. She agreed with me that it would have been better to watch the video first, so hopefully she won’t do that again!
Claire L., Western Australia
I have had exactly the same experience – my students who are good ‘listeners’ seem very often to fall into the trap of rushing through the steps (eg: in ‘Sleeping’ they want to go straight to putting the passing notes into the RH melody, and as a consequence the pattern of the RH fingers (1+5, 1+4, 1+3, 1+2) gets lost and if often ‘left behind’ when they play.
It is an ongoing struggle for me to get them to slow down, but worth it for us all, as they piece itself quite simply gets learnt better when the steps are followed – as I’m sure we all know from our own experiences of learning.