Monday, January 2, 2012

COLLECTION 133: Vintage John W. Schaum Piano Books


Some of my collection of vintage John W. Schaum books, published in the 1940s. I studied piano from 1957 to 1965.

I admit it. I was not such a great piano student. It was a combination of a few things: a teacher who didn't enforce good piano habits (fingering, sight reading, practice), and a student (me) who cheated every step of the way. I was very naughty. Poor practice habits, a desire to improvise and memorize rather than sight read, and sloppy fingering and note reading, which led to much frustration as my lessons and books became harder and harder through the years.  Simply put, I played by ear.


From the Pre-A book, a simple tune.


I began taking piano lessons when I was about 6, and quit when I was 14. That's an awful long time to be 'faking it'. Although I had others fooled: I performed difficult pieces in school talent shows and recitals, I could play sections of classical numbers that sounded really impressive- but could rarely play them all the way through.  I can still play parts of many of these pieces today, but find that if I try to read the music, I can't really do it well.

The customary way a piano book was marked by the instructor, was to put a date the piece was to be performed for the teacher, usually at the next lesson. Any notes (like 'Watch fingering!') were added, sometimes with exclamation points or grades. Often piano teachers used encouragement stickers, not unlike school teachers, to praise or help the piano student. I didn't get a lot of those!

A quiz I took in book D, when I was 10 years old. It's fun to see my old handwriting!

A rare "Excellent" sticker.
These books were mine as a child. I think I hung onto them all these years because they were stowed safely away in my parent's piano bench. Years after I was married, they decided to sell the piano, and I rescued all of my books. There were lots more, and I have most of them. Of course, a few are missing. My books A & B are long gone, which makes me really sad. Perhaps one of these days I'll find them at a flea market, or buy them on eBay.

A difficult piece in the last book I used... it's no wonder I finally gave up!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

my grandfather published the full collection from pre-A books to the second after either G-H.He was Max Winkler owner of Belwin. I learned from them and loved them.