Curriculum

The studio library has over 130 supplementary repertoire books so there is plenty of music to choose from!

Beginner piano methods for 5 to 9 yr olds:

Most students begin with Piano SafariThis series gives students a very solid foundation in music reading as well as teaching pieces by rote from day one. A listening CD promotes a listen-imitate approach alongside lots of note reading practice.

Piano Safari has exceeding my expectations in so many areas. These are the benefits I am seeing in my students:
  • enjoyment - the kids love the pieces! (So do I!) There is some very clever composing in this method. They also love the animal characters and the cool zebra book cover.
  • intervallic reading skills - students are happily practising multiple one-line snippets of music notation every week on progressive 'reading cards' that match each unit. Their reading skills are solid!
  • co-ordination - the kids are playing pieces that are coordinationally more difficult and more impressive sounding than my students in the past. This is a big push towards being able to handle more complex repertoire when they get to it.
  • memorisation skills - the rote pieces are developing memory skills right from the beginning. I can put a quirky piece with difficult to read notation in front of these kids and they don't even blink. Their memory skills have opened up a new world of repertoire possibilities.
  • courage to accept a challenge - piano is not an easy instrument to learn. These students have done more on the piano than play a 'one note at a time' piece with crotchets, minums and semibreves as they read it from a page. Where students in the past would get a shock around the early-intermediate level, when pieces suddenly needed more work to learn, these kids are already learning how to stick at something that doesn't come to them immediately.
  • comfort - piano safari may be a challenge in some ways, it is ultra-comfortable in other ways. First year students don't need to go through the exhaustive process of learning note names on the staff, one by one (normally a challenge for young students). Rather than jumping between hands while reading notation (a challenge with little benefit), 'reading pieces' are written for one hand.
  • technique - piano safari has a solid method of developing technique that has seen my students able to play legato without tension,  lift gracefully at the end of phrases, play with flexibility, arm weight and strong fingers, all within the first year of lessons.
  • sound preparation for AMEB P Plate Piano exams - these students are easily grasping the pieces in P Plate Piano because they can read by interval well, they memorise well, and they have learnt the coordination and technical skills needed for P Plate pieces.
I ship Piano Safari from the USA  because I believe it is worth it.

Older beginners want to play cool music right away. My approach is to pull in a variety of resources that suit the individual child. I want to give them motivational pieces to play that are just within reach technically/coordinationally, that engage them and give them instant success. At the same time I aim to teach them to read music through progressive series of simple pieces.

Classical or modern? Standard classical literature is an important and enjoyable part of a well-rounded piano education. Most students play a mix of classical and contemporary repertoire.

Technique is a fundamental part of playing the piano. It is a venue through which we create beautiful sounds. It allows us to play fast, slow, loud, soft etc. without injury. 

I place great emphasis on correct physical motions leading to artistic playing right from the first few lessons. Learning occurs through technique exercises and awareness of technique used in all pieces.

Theory, ear training, sight reading, improvisation, composition: We do our best to fit a bit of everything into private and group lessons!

I use a variety of hands-on activities/tools to teach and review theory/ear training concepts. Theory at the elementary level is interactive between student and teacher and is usually done in the lesson rather than at home. Rhythm exercises and sight reading are assigned for home practice.

Piano Examinations and Assessments

Motivational strategies: I primarily want students to be motivated by the joy of playing great music, progressing through their book and performing to others.

I also run incentives like the "40 piece challenge" or "One Minute Club" with rewards such as stickers, prizes or medals.