Jingle Bell Jazz, arr. Sean Parsons

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

You may remember the first lesson video of my new 5-year-old student. He started in September and is just flying through Level 1, thanks to his awesome mom who makes him practice diligently! Plus, he’s just a bright and eager student. In fact, after just 2 months of lessons, he started Unit 3 and got on the staff! What an exciting day Staff Day is. This video shows a few of the activities I use to introduce reading sames (unisons) and 2nds on the staff as well as his first (unedited) attempt at playing My Dog Fritz. I hope you enjoy this window into the lesson of a fabulous little student!

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

The following video is an 18-minute condensed video of a 45-minute lesson of this 5-year-old’s very first piano lesson! A bit of background about this student. He just turned 5 in May. His mom is a piano teacher. Dad is also a musician. He has been taking early childhood music classes for a few years. He is homeschooled and is doing Kindergarten/1st Grade work. As you will see, he is very enthusiastic, well-behaved, focused, and he learns quickly. In other words, a dream student!

Everything you see in the video is real-life lesson! Bloopers, mistakes, and triumphs are all included. During the first lesson, I am assessing a student’s concentration, rhythmic sense, pattern recognition, physicality, and ability to follow directions. As you will see, he is above average …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

From experience, I know that Rain Forest Mystery, the Rote Piece corresponding to the legato Tree Frog Technique (from Piano Safari Level 1 and Animal Adventures) can be a challenging piece for both students and teachers. Over the years, I have fine-tuned my presentation of this challenging piece. It now involves teaching portions of the piece over the course of two to three lessons as well as creating a story with the stuffed animals to show the dynamics. In this 7-minute video, you will see this joyful and enthusiastic 7-year-old student learning the second half of the piece (she learned the first half the week before). Enjoy!

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

Recital season is upon us! I generally have the students play each piece 25 times two weeks before the recital, by which they earn chocolate (1 piece if they complete 25 boxes, an extra piece if they complete bonus boxes). Since each student generally plays 2 – 5 pieces for the recital, they can really rake in the chocolate!

For my last round of recitals, I tried something different, as I found that although playing the pieces 25 times was very helpful, sometimes there were still small mistakes in their performances.

So I made cards with 20 Ways to Practice for a Recital, and we chose several in each lesson to try out. I also gave them a list to take home to practice these same ideas. They loved …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

We had a terrific time in Baltimore! Thank you to all who came to our sessions and visited our booth. It was so much fun to meet new teachers and see familiar faces!

One of the highlights was meeting Sally and Angie from the UK in person (and their red elephant). They are from the Curious Piano Teachers, and if you haven’t gotten to know them, check out their site and join this exciting learning community!

Katherine and I presented a session called “Rote is Not a Four-Letter Word. The Role of Rote Teaching in the Development of Reading, Technique, and Artistry.” Some teachers asked if we could put a brief outline on our blog, so here it is!

We presented our new paradigm for rote teaching, to replace the reputation rote teaching has …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

Although stuffed animals are not necessary to teach Piano Safari, they do make things more fun, especially for our youngest students. Here are two short videos of a 5-year-old working on two of the Animal Techniques found in Level 1.

Lion Paw Technique

Larry the Lion is asleep, and when she plays a good Lion Paw arm, he wakes up scared! Kids love this!

Tall Giraffe Technique

This is my student’s first attempt at learning the Tall Giraffe Technique. First we play it non legato. Then we use Bumper the Tall Giraffe to add the graceful wrist lift in the Tall Giraffe Neck part.

If you have fun ideas for using stuffed animals, please share!

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Introduction by Dr. Julie Knerr

We are pleased to announce the release of two new books, Diversions Books 1 and 2 by Juan Cabeza! Juan is from Spain, and last year he emailed us to express his delight with Piano Safari, as he had begun using it in his teaching. As a thank you gift, he sent us Piano Train Trips, which had been inspired by his use of Piano Safari. We were pleased to meet such a gifted composer and teacher and have been privileged to make his books available in the U.S. and around the world.

As you will see as you listen to and peruse his new books, Diversions Books 1 and 2 are an ideal supplement to the late elementary and early intermediate student’s study. The student can be a …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

I have a new batch of little Piano Safarians this year. They are a bunch of wonderful kids! Since my pianos got tuned last week (so excited!), I decided to get some new video clips.

The following is a video of one of my 6-year-olds with his first yellow Level B Sight Reading Card (pre-staff on white keys). A bit about this student. He started piano lessons on January 10, so he is at the beginning stages. His parents both play the piano, and he is very creative, has great ears, and draws great pictures of dinosaurs!! He is currently writing an 8-part-epic book series about dinosaurs. He loves to improvise and create his own music, always wants to learn the Teacher Accompaniments to his pieces, and loves to add …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

This past week I had two young students play the Improvisation Piece “Thunderstorm Over the Prairie” found in Piano Safari Level 1.

They both came up with great, but extremely different, improvisations.

Thunderstorm Number 1

The student below is 6, almost 7, and she recently started studying with me as a transfer student. She had not done any improvisation before, so was a bit hesitant to create music for the beautiful art she colored at home:

But as you will see from the video, by the end of the piece, she was starting to understand that she can create sounds at the piano to create a great sounding piece.

Thunderstorm Number 2

The second student is 6 years old. She has studied violin for several years and started piano in October. She is extremely …

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