I am wondering why the Foundation 1 book starts with Dreams Come True, a relatively difficult song that requires both hands moving at the same time. Why not start with Ode to Joy, the RH of which is demonstrated in the FIS? In my experience, every student comes to the first lesson saying they have been practicing it at home, and want to learn the LH part.
After some experience with teaching Foundation 1, I know I won’t teach Ode to Joy as the first song because it is more complicated putting both hands together in this song than in Dreams. Most of my students had some trouble when putting both hands together when learning Ode.
In my opinion, Ode to Joy is one of the songs most students have difficulty with in putting hands together in Level 1 and they would not be ready to play it HT as the first song. Most of my students want to learn the whole of Fur Elise straight away. I tell them they just have to wait until we get to it. I have never felt the inclination to change the order of any of the material that SM has presented. I think it’s perfect as it is.
Also, Dreams introduces single-note LH playing, and Night Storm, Jackson Blues, and Ode to Joy have a two-note LH. I think the song order is very logical and builds foundationally. I personally wouldn’t change the order. Neil also mentions that Dreams is more challenging than Night Storm by design.
I look at it this way – Neil spent years trying different approaches and different ways of talking and teaching and delivering various aspects of the curriculum to thousands of students. He considered this time a ‘laboratory’ experience and developed the curriculum based on what got the best results during this time. I have trusted this, and discovered over the last 14 years that the more closely I follow the curriculum as designed, the better the results I get.
The logic is to show the steps in playing, opening them to a new way of learning and then slipping into Night Storm which gives them a sense of growth with ‘oh, that’s easy’. Giving them a challenge first gives them opportunity to learn from the start.
I think the single note LH sets up a higher degree of concentration for students compared to Night Storm by design. It establishes 5 over 5 initially with no movement in the hands. It could also be the sound (harmony) that Neil was after. I think it’s a stroke of genius that he created these starting pieces with so much melodic and harmonic interest.
Ode to Joy is probably easier than Dreams as far as learning the patterns, but adding the counting to Ode can be tricky for many students. I like that the students have several weeks before getting back to Ode from the FIS as it makes the counting easier. My experience has been that Night Storm is easier than Dreams for most students, but it’s great that it comes second in the book so that students have the sense of it not getting harder every song.