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A resource for music therapists, music educators, and other professionals who work with individuals with intellectual disabilities, as well as their families and care providers.
Choosing a Piano Lesson Book
I wholeheartedly recommend the Piano Adventures series by Nancy and Randall Faber. I have used these lesson books successfully with both children and adults with disabilities, and prefer them for the following reasons:
These books present new concepts at a slow pace, which makes them easier to absorb. Most adult-oriented lesson books cram lots of information into the first few pages, which can be overwhelming for beginners. For example, Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course begins with five notes for right hand followed by fives notes for left hand, quickly followed by skips of a third. When Piano Adventures introduces notation during the second half of the Primer Level, it begins with skips of a fifth, which I believe are much easier for a beginner to distinguish than stepwise motion or skips of a third.
In terms of formatting, there tends to be one piece per page, with some longer pieces spanning 2 pages. I’ve found this to be ideal, as it reduces the temptation for the student to look ahead at pieces that are too advanced. I think it also fosters a greater sense of accomplishment to have learned an entire page of music rather than one exercise on a page with 5 exercises.
The Piano Adventures series offers an unparalleled selection of supplementary material for each level of its lesson books, including a theory book for writing practice as well as repertoire spanning classical pieces and popular tunes to Christmas favorites and children’s songs. The series itself has 6 core levels (Primer and 1-5), in addition to three books (My First Piano Adventures A/B/C) for the youngest students aged 5-6.
The Primer and Level 1 books also feature duets for the student and teacher. This helps to give pieces a fuller sound when students have yet to learn the art of accompanying themselves, and also enables students to practice listening to and playing with another musician, an experience often denied to those who are not in band or orchestra.
There may be some concern about using the child-oriented Piano Adventures with adults with disabilities. However, in general, my adult students enjoy the illustrations and titles.
Where to Buy
You can buy the lesson books and supplementary material for Piano Adventures at Musician's Friend for around $5-8 per book, depending on the level.
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Kirstie Gallacher-Ang, MT-BC