In the first few months of instrumental tuition, teachers and pupils are generally very dependent on whatever method book has been selected for the pupil. These methods usually introduce one new note or rhythmic duration at a time, along with tunes to practise the new introduction. There is a plethora of methods on the market, so it should be possible to find something to suit each individual. However, the material provided at each stage is often insufficient for a pupil to master it. Moving on prematurely to the the next unit can leave the learner confused and losing confidence. Matters may not be helped by the way in which these books often head their units “Lesson 1”, “Lesson 2”, etc., which makes the learner feel they are failing if they are unable to master each in a week or two.
I frequently have pupils invest in two method books so that they have more repertoire at each level. With adult pupils, this allows me to draw their attention to the fact that teachers have different ideas about the way in which new learning should be sequenced: one may introduce note values more quickly, while restricting pitch to very few notes; another will adopt the opposite approach, and so forth.In the same way, pupils may progress in one area quicker than another. I prefer to delay selecting a method for an absolute beginner until I get a bit of a feel for their individual learning style. As a composer, I’m able to produce original materials for my pupils and I greatly enjoy the challenge of composing satisfying music from severely restricted resources. This was the origin of the “…..Start Here” series and “Sheet Music Starters” Many of these pieces are now available as downloads from the “Music for Beginners” section. They are intended to supplement popular method books. When a pupil needs supplementary repetoire for a particular unit, or to revisit an earlier one, it’s great to have access to another source of sheet music!