Daniel: “You’ve mentioned that you use Faber. I’ve noticed an observation that there is writing at times. So you use theory and technique as well as lesson.” Okay, so very briefly, I do. I will use the theory book.
Actually I had a chance to go see Randall Faber at one of his summer workshops back when he still did them, like 10 years ago. And I think he has someone who now goes out for him. He said something I will never forget. Someone asked a question in that Q&A time and said, “For every level of Faber there’s like nine books. Should we use them all? And if so, which ones do you see as expendable?” And I will never forget his answer. He said, “I love all the books that we’ve created.” He said, “But if I had to kick something in the lesson for time, it would always be theory.”
And that just blew me away. I mean at the time I’d only been teaching, I think for four years. I had just started my group program. This was back in 2008 and that really surprised me. What I will tell you is that I use theory as a time management tool and as a practical education tool and as they review tool to see if kids are picking up on what is happening.
Now, look, I don’t think I’m splitting the atom here. I’m sure everyone here does some version of that themselves. I think what’s unique about it inside of group is that if I have a bunch of kids all at once that are putting their cards up, if I have a bunch of kids all at once that need evaluation right away and I have to move and I don’t have time with this kid that I just evaluated their song and it’s fine and they need to move on to something new, but I don’t have time to introduce the new song, I will pull that theory book out and I will go back two or three units from where we are, find an exercise from there, and check to see if comprehension is settling in for that child by having them do that.
So I’m using this time management, because I don’t want to have to come back to that child for awhile because I have all these cards up, I need to clear them. And even though I don’t feel any guilt over a child waiting for me because in reality, does it really hurt them to play that song two or three more times while they’re waiting? Of course not. But I do want that child to feel a lot of sense of forward progress and they’re not having to wait constantly in the group. So there is that pressure. I don’t put any guilt on myself, but I do want that child’s experience to be really good.
My point is that that theory book can often be a lifesaver. If you need to do something that’s educationally valuable and you need to buy some time if things, it doesn’t happen often, but if but if things get a little hairy and a bunch of kids all at once are doing things. In terms of the technique book, and I’ll be very clear about this, the reason I do less in theory and technique is the lesson book often provides challenging repertoire for kids.
The technique book provides exercises that can be learned quickly in a lesson and that we can pass right away and so it gets their hands on the piano but gives them bite sized chunks of music that they can master quickly and feel quick wins on and have success with in the context of lesson. It also gives me ease, oh this is so huge. It gives me easy music to demonstrate a new concept on.
So instead of a child learning triplet and having to immediately go to play Amazing Grace on page like 36 of Faber 3A, and having to apprehend that new concept in the context of a song that has some challenging jumps in it for some kids, I take them over to technique and I have them demonstrate that they can get the concept on a simple line of triplets. Again, I’m sure many of you do this.
What I’m saying is is that you no longer have a choice in group. The time factor takes away some choices that you have while giving you new choices that you couldn’t have imagined you would have had before. And some of those is that I have a very specific way that I will move through a unit of material inside Faber because I know what the easiest song is and I make a beeline for that. So I have a a preferred order.
Now here’s the deal. I don’t have any kind of training or chart or handout that says, “Okay, if you do Faber, this is the order in which I do songs for every single level.” This is a result of trial and error for me over time, you’ll probably come up with something different. But there’s that.