Sunday morning, I attended a wonderful exhibiter showcase by Randall Faber, co-author with Nancy Faber of the Piano Adventures method. Mr. Faber’s sessions are always wonderfully pedagogical and inspirational, and this one was no different!
Randall Faber: Ages and Stages: Adventures At All Levels
Mr. Faber began by discussing the “adventure” part of the Piano Adventure method’s title. “Adventure” comes from “adventura” which means “optimism; destined to be great.” Another related word, “advent,” means “anticipation or looking forward to something coming to fruition.”
Where are our students on the adventure? We can take the time to celebrate: “Wow, we finished the purple books and now you get to be in the red books!” Late beginner students can begin with the “Accelerated” version of the Piano Adventures books.
For young beginners, there is the “My First Piano Adventures” books. The focus of these books is play-based or “adventure” learning. Mr. Faber showed a triangle diagram with the corners marked: “fun, foray, and feedback,” which he called the “play” dynamic.
For some students, practicing is probably the least fun part of study — especially scales. We often think of technique as merely scales and finger movement. But technique in the Piano Adventures is about artistry and building larger physical gestures that support finger movement.
Mr. Faber suggested we think of scales as patterns instead of technique. We can play with patterns. We can transpose patterns and improvise with patterns. The brand new “Scale and Chord Book 1 (Elementary)” leads students through the major 5-finger patterns, short pieces they can transpose, and cadences written out. All of the 5-finger pattern scales are written out for reference and feature a teacher accompaniment which with the student can improve using the 5-finger scale (plus you can feel free to add a leading tone or other scale degress). In their improvisations, encourage student shift octaves and change dynamics.
The “Preparatory Piano Literature” book is a great resource of repertoire than is 5-finger and can be used for transposition, too.
The ShowTime to BigTime books have been drawn upon to create a brand new set of books called the “Faber Studio Collection.” These books contain a sampling of all the different styles of the ShowTime to BigTime series plus one new bonus piece. Mr. Faber informed us that there are a variety of new teaching videos available online on the Piano Adventures website for the pieces contained in the Faber Studio Collection books.
Have you seen the new Piano Adventures sightreading books? They are not just new exercises to play; they are short pieces based on the pieces from the Lesson Book with the goal of building pattern recognition. The Sightreading Book for the Accelerated Book 1 and 2 are newly available. A teacher from the audience inquired whether the sightreading examples are designed to be used before or after the corresponding pieces from the Lesson Book is studied. Mr. Faber answered that the Sightreading Book pieces are designed to be used concurrently or somewhat after the student has the Lesson Book piece in their fingers.
Mr. Faber also spent much time discussing some great ways to draw on pieces to create improvisation activities. These types of activities build student’s understanding of harmony and allows them to make the music their own (adventure). The videos on the website mentioned earlier are a great resource for seeing these kinds of activities.