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Premier Piano Course FAQs

What is the age range of APPC?

Students may begin APPC as young as age 6 and as old as age 12.

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What are the materials at each level of APPC?

The Elementary Levels are 1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B. The following items are available for each of these levels:

  • Lesson Book (with or without CD)
  • Theory Book
  • Performance Book (with CD)
  • At-Home Book
  • Flash Cards (Each set includes music symbols/terms and sight-reading.)
  • General MIDI Accompaniment Disks
  • Christmas Book
  • Technique Book (currently available only in Levels 1A-5)

The Intermediate Levels are 3, 4, 5 and 6. The intermediate levels will not have Flash Cards or an At-Home Book, however there is an Assignment Book with many of the same features as the At-Home Book, useful for students at any level. The Lesson Books are available with or without CD, and all Performance Books have CDs included with the book (not available as book alone). General MIDI disks are available for Levels 1A-3 of the Lesson and Performance Books.

Since Premier Piano Course is a "work in progress," some products may not be available yet in Levels 3 through 6. Please check our websites and catalogs for availability, or contact our customer service staff for more information at or call (800) 628-1528, (Press Option 1).

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What supplementary materials will be available?

Premier Piano Course "Christmas" books and "Pop and Movie Hits" books are now available for all Levels (1A-6).

Technique Books 1A-5 are available now, and additional supplemental books are coming soon. These excellent books are challenging to create but will be well worth the wait. Please be sure to visit our Premier Piano Course video page where you can view an informative video by author Gayle Kowalchyk, about using Technique Book 1A. Click here to view the supplementary materials available.

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What is the At-Home Book?

The At-Home book consists of three parts:.

  • Assignment Pages for the teacher to write the assignment.
  • A story about two piano students, P. J. and Sara, for parents and students to read at home together (The story is a kind of chapter book that continues with each elementary level of the course 1A–2B).
  • Parent Pages answer questions that parents frequently ask about piano lessons and music education. Teachers can use these pages to highlight important points during interviews and ask parents to read it at home. There are specific practice suggestions for each page of the Lesson Book with advice on how parents can help on each page—even if they have no musical background.
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What is included on the Flash Cards?

There are two types of flash cards included in the set:.

  • Music Cards include symbols, note identification, rhythm patterns, and keyboard layout.
  • Sight-Reading Cards contain short playing examples.

The Flash Cards can be used both in the lesson and at home with parents. (Answers to the questions are given on back of card.).

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How can I use the flash cards with my child?

There are two types of flash cards in this course—Music Cards and Sight-Reading Cards. Use the Music Cards to help the student review important concepts. Each card shows the corresponding Lesson Book page number in the upper right corner on the back of the card. Also, on the back of each card is a question for you to ask the child, with the answer given. The Sight-Reading cards contain a short musical example for the student to play on the keyboard. Ask the student to play each example one time daily in practice when studying the corresponding Lesson Book page (shown in the upper right corner of the card).

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Is there a teacher's guide for Alfred's Premier Piano Course (APPC)?

The Parent Pages in Alfred's Premier Piano Course At-Home Books give various ideas for specific activities that can be done on each page of the Lesson Book. While these were written for parents to use at home with their child during practice periods between each lesson, they work equally well for teachers to use in the lesson. As a part of each lesson, teachers should be sure to include the Workouts, Closer Looks, Sight-Reading, Rhythm Patterns and Rhythm Reviews with every student. The Premier Performer and Imagination Station activities are designed as incentives for faster learners. Sometimes, due to limited time at the lesson, or the learning needs of a student, it is not always possible to do these activities.

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Does APPC correlate with Alfred's Basic Piano Library (ABPL)?

Each of these methods follows its own individual order and pacing regarding the introduction of materials. This was done to give the teacher a choice based on the individual needs and learning style of each student.

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How does the course differ from Alfred's Basic Piano Library?

  • The music is all new, with original titles written by the authors and new arrangements of old favorites.
  • The reading is a non-position reading approach based on patterns and landmarks.
  • The concepts are introduced in a slightly different order.
  • The Theory Books of ABPL are primarily written theory; the theory books of APPC are based on a comprehensive musicianship approach that includes written theory, ear training, sight-reading and creative activities (composition and improvisation).
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How does APPC relate to Music for Little Mozarts (MfLM)?

When a student completes Level 4 of MLM, they can continue in APPC, Level 1B. This transition may require some extra work by the teacher on naming notes and moving around the keyboard.

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My student is finishing a specific level of ABPL. Where do I place him/her in APPC?

  • Students finishing 1A of ABPL would go to 1B of APPC.
  • Students finishing 1B of ABPL would go to 2A of APPC.
  • Students finishing Prep Course B of ABPL would go to 1B of APPC.
  • Students finishing Prep Course D of ABPL would go to 2A of APPC.

And so on. Please keep in mind that APPC is not a position approach to reading like ABPL. It may require some extra work by the teacher on naming notes and moving around the keyboard. Also, other concepts may be taught in a different order and require some additional teacher explanations during the transition.

View a chart that shows how the ABPL levels correlate with APPC.

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Are there other factors I need to consider when transferring a student from Alfred's Basic Piano Library (ABPL) to Alfred's Premier Piano Course (APPC)?

There are two additional factors that teachers should consider when moving from ABPL to APPC:.

  • Teachers will need to do extra work with flash cards and sight reading to help ABPL students adapt to the non-position reading approach of APPC.
  • Some of the concepts will be reviewed, but of course the pieces reinforcing those concepts will be different. This is a positive factor because the students can use the review to solidify their adaptation to the non-position reading approach.
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What is the reading approach?

The reading approach is comprehensive-a blend of intervallic, multi-key and Middle C. There is much less focus on the uncomfortable Middle C position with both thumbs on Middle C than other approaches. In APPC, students learn to recognize landmark notes and move by intervals from those landmark notes-yet the music is much more melodic than most intervallic methods. Students learn to name notes, read them by interval without relating them to a position. They also move around the keyboard freely.

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What playing level will my student be upon completion of APPC?

Late intermediate.

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How long should it take my child to complete Level 1A of APPC?

It depends on the age and maturity of the student, the amount of practice time, and the level of family involvement and support. Students should progress through the books at a steady pace, always seeking a balance between being challenged and feeling comfortable. Some students may complete Level 1A in three months, while others may take the entire school year.

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Does APPC meet the standards of the Royal Conservatory of Music auditions?

No more than any other method. It is up to the teacher to determine if the material is suitable.

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When is classical music introduced in the method?

Levels 1A and 1B have simplified arrangements of classical themes. Also, several of the teacher accompaniments introduce students to classical piano music (and folk music). Level 2A has the first original piano solo. From 2A on, classical repertoire is used when appropriate for the concept being introduced. The original, unsimplified masterworks in APPC include these pieces:

  • Lesson 2A: Bartók's Study (Béla Bartók) • Minuet (Alexander Reinagle).
  • Lesson 2B: Dutch Dance (Jachim van den Hove).
  • Lesson 3: Balancing Act (Ludvig Schytte) • Minuet in F Major (Leopold Mozart) • Morning Sunrise (Cornelius Gurlitt) • The Scale Ladder (Daniel Gottlob Türk).
  • Lesson 4: Arabesque (Johann Burgmüller) • Burlesque (Leopold Mozart) •. Peaceful Night (Cornelius Gurlitt) • Waterfall (Ludvig Schytte).
  • Lesson 5: German Dance in A Major (Ludwig van Beethoven) • La petite etude (Felix Le Couppey) • Rondino (Jean-Phillipe Rameau) • Minuet in G Major and Minuet in G Minor (The Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach) (Christian Petzold) • Sonatina in C Major (Op. 36, No. 1, First Movement) (Muzio Clementi) • Song of the Cello (Op. 82, No. 65, Cornelius Gurlitt) • Teasing Song in E Major (Béla Bartók).
  • Lesson 6: Bagatelle (Anton Diabelli) • Ballade (Johann Burgmüller) • Brâul (Romanian Folk Dances) (Béla Bartók) • Écossaise (Ludwig van Beethoven) • Scherzo (Carl Maria von Weber) • Spinning Song, Op. 14, No. 4 (Albert Ellmenreich) • Tolling Bells, Op. 125, No. 8 (Stephen Heller).
  • Performance 2A: Allegro (Alexander Reinagle) • March 1 andMarch II (Daniel Gottlob Türk).
  • Performance 2B: Short Story (Ludvig Schytte).
  • Performance 3: German Dance (Franz Joseph Haydn).
  • Performance 4: Minuet in F Major (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) • Musette in D Major (Johann Sebastian Bach) • Sonatina in C Major (William Duncombe).
  • Performance 5: The Fifers (Jean-François Dandrieu) • German Dance in E Major (Franz Joseph Haydn) • Minuetto, Second Movement Sonata in C Major (Domenico Scarlatti) • Soldier's March (Album for the Young) (Robert Schumann) • Sonatina in C Major, Second and Third Movements, Op. 36, No. 1 (Muzio Clementi)
  • Performance 6: The Avalanche, Op. 45, No. 2 (Stephen Heller) • In the Village (For Children, Volume 1) (Béla Bartók) • Solfeggio in C Minor (Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach) • Sonatina in G Major (Ludwig van Beethoven) • Waltz in B Minor, Op. 205, No. 10 (Cornelius Gurlitt) • The Wild Rider, Op. 68, No. 8 (Album for the Young) (Robert Schumann).
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I would like to put the composers' names in my student's recital program; who wrote the various pieces?

The uncredited music in Alfred's Premier Piano Course was written by Dennis Alexander and Martha Mier. All music by other composers/arrangers has been noted in the books next to each piece.

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Should my child practice each day, and if so, for how long?

Your child should practice on a daily basis. Some teachers recommend that students have one day off each week from practice. Check with your teacher to determine the amount of practice time necessary for your child, based on the student's age, maturity and level of advancement. Don't automatically assume that the child should practice one hour a day. Several short practice periods are usually more successful for younger students than one longer session. Beginners often start with 15 minutes of practice a day, gradually increasing to 30 minutes by the end of the year. Intermediate students usually practice between 45 and 60 minutes. More advanced students may practice one to three hours a day.

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How should my child structure his/her practice?

Use the assignment pages to keep track of what should be practiced and how to practice effectively. Encourage the student to follow the written assignment, but do not discourage experimentation and improvisation at the keyboard. In general, begin with something that is fun and that the child does well. Then, proceed to more difficult things (often new materials). End the practice session with something that the child does well.

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What if my child wants to have long fingernails?

Unfortunately, short fingernails are necessary to develop a good hand position and a fluid technique. Ask the teacher to further explain the importance of keeping the nails at a length that will promote good technical habits.

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What if my child doesn't want to practice?

Accept the fact that most students don't always like to practice, but realize that a child will never play an instrument well without regular practice. If your child is particularly resistant to practice on a certain day, substitute another music activity. If this continues over a long period of time, discuss the problem with the teacher. Many parents establish a reward system for effective practice.

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What if my child doesn't want to count or sing aloud?

Most students dislike counting aloud, but can learn to do so. It is an important phase in gaining independence for students to learn to count for themselves. Counting with a steady, audible pulse is an important step before the student can play with a metronome, Compact Disc, General MIDI disk, or comfortably play duets. First, students should learn to tap the rhythm while counting aloud. When that skill is attained, then they should proceed to counting aloud while playing. Eventually, counting will become a comfortable habit. Singing the words to pieces reinforces many basic issues such as rhythm and note reading. It is a critical key to helping students learn to play with expression. If the student is hesitant about singing, simply say the words in rhythm. As the student progresses to singing, join them. He/she can even count and sing along with the CD.

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What if my child doesn't like a particular piece?

No one specific piece is crucial to the success or failure of a student. However, if a student does not like a piece, it is often because it seems difficult in some way. Students often discover that "least-favorite" pieces later become "most-favorite" pieces after some quality practice. Ask the teacher if there is something the child does not understand about the piece. If the student continues to dislike the piece, sometimes the teacher can find a substitute piece that teaches the same concept.

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What if my child doesn't want to perform?

No student should be forced to perform. However, if they are thoroughly prepared well in advance for a performance and rehearse until they feel confident, most students will conquer their performance fears. Encourage informal performances at home on a regular basis to prepare for more formal performances. Many teachers choose to perform a duet accompaniment with a child who lacks confidence, because the child may feel more secure performing with the teacher. Never force a student who is not adequately prepared to play. One bad performance experience can become a trauma that can stay with the student for years.

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How can I help my child with theory if I'm not a musician?

The Theory Book is designed to enhance all elements of musicianship. With consistent theory work, note reading will improve, and ear training, sight-reading and creative activities will enhance overall musicianship. If you are not a musician, your most important role is to make sure that the student has completed all theory activities prior to the lesson so that a minimum of lesson time can be devoted to the Theory Book. If you are a musician, you can check theory pages to save lesson time for the teacher.

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What is on the Compact Discs?

Both the Lesson Book and Performance Book for each level includes a Compact Disc. Each CD includes two performances of each piece on acoustic piano-a performance tempo and a slower practice tempo.

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Why is the performance tempo recorded first?

The performance tempo was recorded first so that students could hear a model performance. This was done for motivation purposes as well as to be in-line with many educational philosophies that embody ear training as a primary teaching activity. The slower practice tempo was added as a support tool to help students practice for accuracy.

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How should teachers and parents use the CD with students?

Listen to the performance version on the CD to provide a performance model for the student. The practice version on the CD can be used in a variety of ways. Students can clap or tap the rhythm as the CD plays, point to the notes on the page as the CD plays, say note names as the CD plays, or sing (or say) the words as the CD plays. Finally, when the student is secure playing the piece, he/she can play along with the practice version or performance version. The At-Home Book contains other suggestions.

>NOTE: Students who purchase the Lesson and Performance Books with CDs enclosed are granted permission from the publisher to download the CD tracks to an MP3 or digital music player (such as Apple's iPod®) for personal practice and performance. The digital music player provides a convenient practice companion for the student. It can be used with earphones or small portable speakers that sit on the piano.

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