Feedback from teachers using Playing With Colour
Fri, 23 Jul 2010 From: Sue
I met you about a year ago when looking at pianos with the parent of a pupil. You were promoting your book at Chappells. I was initially sceptical, as I use Brian Daveys Recorder playing in colour also. But when one of my younger dyslexic pupils was about to give up piano in frustration, I thought I’d give your books a go. Since then I have used them more and more and the children love them. I have not had a single child stop for reasons of failure, and one child whose previous teacher had given up on him has done wonderfully with your book 1. I want to congratulate you for following your instincts in designing this series of books.
Thank you so much for your ‘Playing with Colour ‘ series.
I have a student of 11 who found conventional teaching books impossible to grasp. I put your Book 1 in front of him, explained the principle of matching the colour of the finger to be used and the note and he was off, and hasn’t looked back! I now open the book on the relevant page for the lesson, explain the new issues it presents and he starts playing at once, generally able to incorporate the new material.I like the clear, uncluttered presentation. I like the early use of sharps and flats and playing with both hands, as these do not come as hurdles later on.
I will certainly use these books for other beginners, as I feel that they get students off to a really sound start.
Thank you for your Email. Yes I am using the Playing with Colour books. I have one student who was finding it particularly difficult reading the music and understanding which notes to play and using the books has transformed his playing and his confidence. He is now able to sit at the piano and practise independently and his parents are really happy with his progress.
Thanks for your email. I am currently using your book on one of my beginners. He is finding it extremely helpful, he was previously using a different book. He also has slight learning difficulties and found his old book quite challenging, however since using your book, his ability to read and music skills have developed far quicker. I think your book is excellent and will be using it on future beginners.
Every single student is thoroughly enjoying your books! I have three new students this year (aged six/seven). As I am able to start these pupils with your books from scratch, this is where I am noticing the real benefits.
After just three lessons they are over half way through the first book and have reached a more sophisticated stage than I am used to seeing by this point. The fun theoretical exercises between pieces are most appreciated, reinforcing the understanding of notation and adding the much needed variety in lessons for younger pupils.
I have introduced book 2 to four students. I have been teaching these pupils for about 18 months – and are the ones that don’t practise enough! It has taken them a couple of lessons to get to grips with the new layout but they are really enjoying the pieces and finding it easier to practise on their own. They all prefer Playing with Colour to the books that they were doing before the summer holidays (mainly Pauline Hall’s Piano Time series).
The Haunted Castle has been a big hit, as has the opportunity to improvise within a piece. One of these students includes an autistic pupil (also dyslexic). He has given your book a rating of “100% Fantastic” (sounds pretty good to me!). He is reading the music with much more ease now. A particular boundary he experienced before was distinguishing which hand to play with, he would often play the hands back to front/upside down. The coloured notes and staves have resolved this. Keep me updated on any news.
I’m trying the first book with Charlotte aged 4 ½. She loves it and is working very hard., So…so far I’m delighted I’ll keep you posted.
I’ve got in my music room a drawing done by Charlotte for you. I’m not quite sure what it is, but never mind!
She’s getting on quite well, thanks. She does like the book and is finding it easy to use. We haven’t progressed very far yet because her concentration span is very low.
I do think, though, that the book (still only on the first one) is very good. I like the idea of the coloured fingers and the “wait” notes. An idea that I had a long time ago, and carry out a lot, is that of calling a crotchet C “C”; a minim C “C wait”; a dotted minim C “C wait dot”, and a semibreve C “C wait no stalk”. I’ll get back to you again when we’ve got on a bit further.
Thank you for sending me the books to trial. You have obviously thought about them very carefully, and I like how you introduce one element at a time, keeping the material visually simple but clear and interesting.
I also like the way you have introduced the left hand, and changed the appearance of the staves so that they are closer together. I think this makes the whole much easier to read. The problem with traditional notation is that because of the gap between the staves pupils perceive a gap between the hands, and find it hard to grasp that middle C is notated the same in both treble and bass – to many it looks like a different note.
I’m looking forward to trying book one with my beginners – at the moment they do about a term discovering the possibilities of the piano through improvisation, and learn to sing tunes and play them from memory before they come to use a book
Hope this is helpful
I have used the Playing With Colour books and I liked them. At present I don’t have any dyslexic pupils but I do teach one six year old and have a few young beginner pupils. The six year old I teach hasn’t been very reliable about bringing the ‘Playing with Colour’ book back every week so I’ve used it as and when. However, it does seem to have helped his note recognition. I’ve also used it alongside his regular black and white print tutor book and this seems to have stimulated the lessons and aided his concentration.
My new 9 year old pupil has been using your books since she started in September. She’s already on to the 2nd book and is enjoying it immensely.
I like the fact that hands together playing is introduced early on – the colours really help here – as I feel many tutors leave this too late (my MA dissertation was on the subject of beginners and coordination of the hands, so this is of particular interest to me). This pupil is particularly quick to learn.
I haven’t any more beginners at present but would be interested to try the books with a less able child to see how the pacing works. So far I’m really impressed and would certainly recommend the tutors to other teachers.
I tried the books with my students, and found out they are really helpful for young students to understand the concept of Rhythm, Time signature, pitches and fingerings etc. I really like the alternative time signature instead of 4/4, and the staff numbers in Book 1.
The books are well structured including theories section by section, but I think it can be improved if each section of new theories have more practice pieces, so the ratio of theory: practical piece will be 1:2 as kids need sometime to pick up things by practice. Yes, changing layout will be easier for the youth to read and not feeling packed.
It’s great for you to adopt colours. It’s a very new and amazing thought. Over all, they are great books and well done to you. One day I wish I could publish a book. All the best!
Thanks for your letter. The book which I am currently using for this 10 year old autistic boy is book 1. I found that this boy had made progress with the first tunes in the right hand, but when I asked him try the first left hand pieces he completely froze and refused utterly to bring his left hand to the keyboard. He was persuaded by his father to have another go with the left hand and very soon he overcame his aversion to this aspect and now plays well with each hand. Each time the smallest unfamiliar feature cops up we tend to have a screaming fit, e.g the semibreve on page 4 and then the sharp on page 16.
The arrival of quavers on page 19 were carefully rehearsed by tapping rhythm on the table top and he now plays quavers quite happily. He handles staccato and legato well but I have delayed getting to grips with accidentals after the scene we had with the first appearance of F# on page 16. Last week the pastoral care lady came with them with video camera and he behaved perfectly throughout the lesson, showing off to the camera. He played all the earlier pieces well and arrived at Three Blind Mice on page 21.
He has now completed 8 lessons so that his first term will end after 2 more lessons. I shall certainly continue to use your scheme and will report to you from time to time.
We have now passed through all 3 books of your series and we have moved on to Michael Aaron book1 where he has already reached Dance of the Wooden Shoes on page 39. The transition to use of finger numbers went well.
I have found Book 1 to be useful with very young children (age 6). I haven’t used book 3 with anybody because my pupils who can play at that level can do so fine with normal music. However I have someone who is using book 2 who may very well move on to book 3 soon. They have done their Grade 1 with another teacher but still have enormous difficulty reading the notes in G and F clefs (basically they learnt their pieces by memory). They have made improvements, I believe partly due to your book but also using a Note Drill computer program.
I think your playing with colour books are great. I’ve bought at least 40 copies already. My students love them and are making excellent progress!! I have also recommended the series to my colleagues. Please keep me informed about any supplementary books!
Keep up the good work!