In and amongst working on I Due Fiumi, I am also starting Alfred's Book Two (II). Sort of. Truth is, I broke open II about two weeks ago or so, and in 30 minutes, I was able to play the very first piece. It was very easy, probably about as easy as some of the pieces in the middle of Book One (I). I understand that the difficulty ramps up quickly in II. Those who have gone before me point out that, on average, it takes about twice as long to make it through II as it does I. For me, that would mean Book Three (um, III) would be about a year and a half away. Seems like a long time.
It is clear to me that II has a lot to offer. I also understand that there are very useful things for a new piano student to learn from it. Some of those lessons will make it easy for me to learn to play very interesting music. And yet, I have not even begun the second piece. Why?
Simple. I Due Fiumi is more fun. More interesting. Sounds better. I don't have hours and hours each day to spend on the piano.* When choosing what to do with that limited time, of course I'll choose to work on the more rewarding piece of music.
* - This is not exactly true, of course. I do have hours of unscheduled time I could be spending on the piano. I simply choose to sleep during those hours instead. Priorities.
Mind you, the Alfred's Method Books are not composed of mindless, numbing exercises. Those are out there, of course. Hanon exercises, scales, arpeggios... those are things generations of piano teachers have foisted upon their students, saying basically "These are good for you. I learned the piano this way. You will learn the piano this way." Alfred's tries to teach those same lessons using actual pieces of music. Yes, some of these traditional exercises are mixed in here and there, but the point of the method is to make music. And yet... and yet... I apparently don't find it compelling enough to set aside I Due Fiumi (or whatever I attempt next).
So the question I ask myself (and any of you, if you care to venture an opinion) is this: am I harming my growth as a piano player by not doing scales, arpeggios, and traditional piano exercises? Am I trying to run before I walk? Or is there long-term technical benefit to doing what I am doing? That is, am I still learning whatever it is that I am supposed to learn from traditional exercises?
I've posed this question to fellow beginners and intermediates at pianoworld. Will let you know what insights I get from that.