By Dr. Julie Knerr

This week in my studio is the last week of lessons (aside from some snow makeups) and the week before the recital (which is this Saturday). What to do during this last lesson? Have a piano zip line!

It’s easy to do. It took me about 10 minutes to set up. I strung yarn around my dining room and clothes pinned directions to the yarn. The children follow the yarn with their finger and do what each sign says.

Here is what my dining room looks like now. Haha. I don’t think I’ll be eating dinner in here this week. It is adjacent to the living room (to the right), which is adjacent to my piano room.

After the first sign said they had to play their recital pieces three …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

We have released new editions of the books in Levels 1 and 2, and we have updated the Piece Cards for Level 1 and Level 2 to match the new artwork in the books.

What are Piece Cards?

They are a motivational supplement for Piano Safari Levels 1 and 2 that have the name for each piece on a card.

Piece Cards are available for purchase, and you may affix them to the free downloadable Unit Maps. The Unit Maps are also available on the Teacher Guide Pages.

The new version of Piece Cards are in black and white to allow students to color the cards as they are assigned and to highlight Elisa Lara Campos’ beautiful artwork.

Because art is important to life (as is music), and children love to color!

Benefits of …

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By Katherine Fisher

We are excited to release the 2nd Editions of Repertoire Book 1, Repertoire Book 2, and Technique Book 2! One important things to note is that the Sight Reading & Rhythm Cards and Theory Books remain unchanged.

Here is a list of what is new in each book:

Repertoire Book 1:

The inclusion of Improvisation Pieces to accompany each animal technique (these are currently contained in Animal Adventures as well).
Contains several new Rote Pieces (taken from Pattern Pieces 1)
Contains a few new Reading Pieces
Slightly different order of pieces
Beautiful new interior illustrations
Updated fonts and layout
Larger size: 9 x 12 in. instead of 8.5 x 11 in.
Length increased to 133 pages

Repertoire Book 2:

Contains several new Rote Pieces (taken from Pattern Pieces 2)
Practice and analysis suggestions are added for many of the pieces
Slightly different …

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By Katherine Fisher

How do I transfer students into Piano Safari from another method?

This is definitely one of the questions teachers ask us most often, especially when they are taking new students at the start of the term. We have hesitated to make a correlation chart, however, because it is too much of a “one size fits all” approach, which doesn’t really work considering the variety of ages and learning styles in students. Also, Piano Safari is quite different in approach from other methods, especially because of the inclusion of Rote Pieces alongside Reading Pieces. Comparing Piano Safari to other methods is difficult because of this fact. For example, a student might have a grasp on reading notation from the other method they started in, but may not have a well …

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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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