by Dr. Julie Knerr


Piece Cards 1 Cover   Piece Cards 2 Cover
We recently released Piece Cards for Piano Safari Levels 1 and 2.
This post will discuss how these cards are enhancing our teaching.Piece Cards for Level 1 have the Title and Picture of each piece in Repertoire Book 1. For Level 2, both pieces from Repertoire Book 2 and exercises in Technique Book 2 are included.
Old MacDonald Piece Card

Why Piece Cards?

The Piece Cards came about because of the “Did I pass it?” Syndrome. I have in the past rewarded students for passing pieces, because although some students love moving on to new pieces, other students prefer to play the pieces they already know. Rewarding students for passing pieces was a way to motivate those students who would rather just play the pieces they know.

However, this backfired with those students who do not like to review pieces. Their sole motivation became, “Did I pass it?” They wanted to learn new music and be rewarded for passing pieces as quickly as possible. They , did not see any reason to review pieces.

It is crucial to balance learning new pieces with reviewing older pieces already mastered. Reviewing pieces:

  • Builds a repertoire of pieces students can play at any time
  • Allows students to refine their technique
  • Builds fluency
  • Builds confidence

The Piece Cards are a way to balance learning new pieces with reviewing completed pieces. There are several ways to use them:

  • Put the cards in a bowl for Review Pieces and have the student draw out several to play each day.
    Picture B
  • Reward the student with a Piece Card as the student masters a piece. Tape the Piece Cards into a long line.
Picture A
  • My current favorite is to use the newly created Unit Maps.

Unit Map
Using the Piece Cards with the Unit Maps

Step 1: Print out the Unit Map for the unit in the book your student is beginning.
Here is a student with her Unit Map for Unit 2 in Repertoire Book 2.

 Student Unit Map
Step 2: Tape the card in the appropriate place on the Unit Map as you assign a piece.

Step 3: Students practice all the pieces on their Unit Map.

Step 4: At the lesson, work through all the pieces assigned on the Unit Map, new and review.

Step 5: After the entire unit is thoroughly mastered, move on to the next unit.

Benefits of the Unit Map

  • Students play all their pieces, without distinction between new pieces and review pieces.
  • Completing each unit is a cause for celebration, almost like passing a book. Students do not have to wait to celebrate until the end of the book. The Unit Maps make it seem like there are six books in one (six units, Introduction through Unit 5 for Repertoire Book 1).
  • The Unit Map becomes the Assignment Sheet. Students have a visual assignment that is easy to see.
  • I also mark the pages in the book with page marking tabs to help the student find them easily.
  • By the end of each unit, students have a mini recital of pieces they can play well.

I started a new student this summer who had four summer lessons. She is almost 8 and has been so excited to start piano lessons! Over the four lessons, she was able to complete the entire Introduction Unit and half of Unit 1. I had originally planned to drop the Introduction Unit pieces when she began Unit 1, as outlined above. However, she still loves playing all the Introduction Unit Pieces, and there is still room for refinement in them also. So she is playing the pieces in both units. She has nearly all of them memorized, and her parents are impressed by how many pieces she has learned in just four lessons. As she plays her review pieces, I can work on refining her technique, concentration, posture, fluency, as well as suggesting variations to build her imagination and creativity in what can be done with a piece. More on that in the next blog post…

Here are the Piece Cards.

Here is the link to download Unit Maps.