By Katherine Fisher
As Julie and I began writing Piano Safari more than ten years ago, our original intent was to create a product for the average age beginner (6-10). As we began testing Repertoire Book 1, however, we quickly realized the method works brilliantly with preschoolers as well! The combination of Rote Pieces with a systematic intervallic reading approach lends itself well for use with very young students. The Rote Pieces sustain interest and motivation while the slower-paced Reading Pieces provide a strong foundation.
While the Sight Reading & Rhythm Cards that accompany Repertoire Book 1 provide substantial reading practice, we found that many young beginners need an additional aid to strengthen their reading skills. As a result, we designed a new product called “Interval Cards.” These small cards provide a one-measure example in either the treble or bass clef, starting on our Landmark Notes (Treble G or Bass C). The size of the notes vary depending on the color of the card. The Purple Cards contain the largest notes, the Green Cards have average sized notes, (still a bit larger than our Sight Reading & Rhythm Cards, however) and the grey cards have very small notes. Students are always excited to graduate to the next color of cards!
The Interval Cards contain only 2nds, 3rds, and unisons. Finger numbers are not provided, so the teacher is able to ask the student to play the card multiple times with different starting fingers. This encourages students to focus on the melodic direction: do the notes move up, down, or stay the same? It can also bring some problem solving into the equation. For example, if the student starts RH Finger 1 on Treble G and the notes move down by 2nd, they will quickly find out this is not the best choice!
There is no time signature provided on the cards since the examples are so short. Additionally, our focus is primarily on melodic direction and the identification of 2nds and 3rds. To this end, the cards contain either quarter notes or half notes. We have found some very young students have trouble noticing the difference between line notes and space notes when the note is filled in (quarter notes) or unfilled (half notes).
I just began teaching my 4-year old daughter, Anna, earlier this summer. She finished the first two units of Repertoire Book 1 a few weeks ago, and we have been having a blast with the Interval Cards! I’ll write another blog post soon explaining how we analyze and mark the cards.