My online method book, and why I did it

MONDAY, August 3, 2020

I use Finale…

(This is not a paid endorsement. I just know the program will accommodate my editing needs)

The books you buy in stores or online are in a conventional format and cannot be changed or edited to your needs. For teaching purposes, this can be limiting. I do all my work on the computer with Finale, and then print out what I’m working on for my students. (Disclaimer: I only use public domain works, or my own original compositions.)

Revisions are impossible with conventional method books…

Many years ago I wrote to a music publisher to alert them to errors in their method book, at a time when I was using it to teach. The top editor thanked me for my feedback but stated that any changes would be in the future. They only did major revisions under rare circumstances, and it took years to do so.

My method is revised daily…

Using Finale, I have no limitations on what I can edit, or how often. This allows me to accommodate all of my students’ various needs and levels of playing.

My method is interactive…

When you buy a book nothing can be done to make a piece more playable for a given student short of scratching out and scribbling notes on the page.  Simplified versions are often too simple or too hard and may leave out important notations from the standard version. With my method, if a student sees a better way to play something, or if I need to make an accommodation for smaller hands, we do it immediately. The result is that students can then have music that is tailored to their needs. Then their special version is available just for them.

I can blanket-cover problems…

More is often better. If one page of an example or exercise is supposed to cover an idea or problem, then ten pages of variation on that exercise is much more complete, and more interesting to the student. That means that I can blanket cover that problem with like exercises that help the student get the practice they need without being totally repetitive and boring.

I can also skip…

Sometimes you don’t need everything in a book. Sometimes a book does not have what you are looking for. You may already know most of what the book has to offer except for a few pages. And you may feel like you would be wasting money to buy it. 

Everything changes when you only print what you need…

With over three decades of using Finale I have literally written and saved thousands of my own exercises and compositions. These cover everything from the most basic, beginning materials right through to very advanced music. There is no waste. I am able to restructure the method materials for each student, skipping what is not needed. This allows each student to be paced individually. It accelerates the  learning and playing of more advanced music. In short, you have more interesting music much sooner.

I do not distribute anything that is copyrighted…

I only use public domain music or music I have written myself. I never violate copyright, and I don’t copy other people’s original music, therefore I am not “reinventing the wheel”. More importantly, I am not copying other people’s mistakes. The perfect side benefit is that my method allows my students to pick up any music on their level of playing and work through it on their own. 

My own compositions are central to what I teach…

Since I have my own archive of method materials, I find it easy to supplement existing conventional materials with new ideas. This is especially important during the first few years of learning, for which much of the music on the market is incredibly ordinary and boring.

PDF files…

Finale makes it easy to create a format that anyone I teach can open, print, or save. That is the Adobe Acrobat format (we all know it as pdf). Adobe Acrobat Reader is free and is available for many Windows and Mac versions, and Android, and can be downloaded at:

https://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/

So as a student you potentially have access to everything I have ever done. At some point I should create an index so you can ask me for something that may be of interest to you.

What I’m doing is the future of teaching, not the past…

I’m ahead of the curve. At least 20 years back the makers of Finale told me that as far as they knew no one else had done what I’ve done. That has not changed. It’s just a better way to teach and a better way to work. I’m not stuck in the past, and there are no limits on what I can do.

5 thoughts on “My online method book, and why I did it

  1. The amount of effort you put into making sure your students get the material they need to learn is really amazing. One example is how you compose classical pieces that already exist and add some new material to it to make it more interesting.

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