By Dr. Julie Knerr Hague

In our Lesson Planning Webinar, I referenced a series of five paintings my mom made to highlight the phases it takes to bring a painting from sketch to beautiful work of visual art. This mirrors the phases student pass through when learning a complicated piece, from learning the notes and rhythms to refining and polishing all the details of articulation, dynamics, pedal, and style, leading to the creation of a beautiful work of sound art.

I commissioned my mom to create this series of paintings to explain this process to my students, especially those entering the intermediate phase of study, when their pieces become longer and more complicated.

This was my first week of teaching for the new school year, and I explained the painting progression to … Read More

We are so excited about the launch of our latest release, Piano Safari Friends! This book is a piano method for our youngest students, ages four to six. Students who complete Piano Safari Friends are well set up to continue into Piano Safari Level 1. In case you missed our recent webinar exploring Piano Safari Friends, below is the replay video. As you will see described in the video, some highlights of this innovative series include:

Follow the Leader Pieces. This innovative new type of piece allows our youngest students to be successful at their first attempts at playing the piano in great sounding pieces!

Rote Pieces. In keeping with our philosophy of the importance of Rote Pieces for beginning students, newly composed Rote Pieces are included in each unit of … Read More

By Dr. Julie Knerr

I trust all of you have settled into your new school year routines with your students! I wanted to share with you some things I am doing this year with my students. It’s nothing fancy, but I find that new charts and organizational structures are very motivating for students, and help me to gauge how the student is progressing throughout the year.

Parent Teacher Conferences

I had Parent Teacher Conferences with all my students the second week of lessons. I have not done this before, but I thought it would be helpful to set expectations for the new school year and talk with each parent alone. During the first 15 minutes of the student’s lesson, I asked the student to practice in my studio while the parent … Read More

Julie and I kicked off the new academic year with a trip to the eastern coast of Maine! We began every day with a Piano Safari planning meeting in the most idyllic coffee shop one can imagine, Sea Folk Coffee. In addition to perfect coffee and pastries, we had a wonderful view of Rockport Harbour from our table. The windows were open and we always had a wonderful sea breeze. Who could not be inspired at a place like this? My husband, Chris, and our two children also joined us.

We were able to finish planning Piano Safari for the Older Student Level 2, and have many exciting new ideas to implement in 2018-2019! It seems that several new projects grow out of every completed project.

The afternoons were spent exploring!

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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 … Read More

Jingle Bell Jazz, arr. Sean Parsons

by Dr. Julie Knerr

Katherine and I are constantly amazed at how closely the tie is between technical patterns and composition. Children truly use the patterns they have in their hands in their compositions.

In Piano Safari Level 1, the patterns they use are found in their Rote Pieces and Animal Techniques.

In Piano Safari Level 2, the patterns they use are found in their Rote Pieces, pentascales, and triads.

In Piano Safari Level 3, we have seen that learning scales, chord progressions, chord inversions, and accompaniment patterns causes an explosion in composition, as students master these basic musical building blocks.

Last week one of my 9-year-old students came in and told me about the new piece she created, called Tiger Rising. I knew right away to expect the patterns she used to connect somehow with the … Read More

By Christopher Fisher

So you are probably thinking, “What does bubble wrap have to do with piano teaching?” I was recently working with my thirteen-year-old pre-college student Kristina to refine the voicing and tonal control of the chordal passages in the Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableaux in G Minor, Op. 33, No. 8, and happened to glance across my studio to notice a sheet of bubble wrap. It was the proverbial light-bulb moment! I grabbed the sheet and placed it on the closed keyboard cover. I asked Kristina to place her fifth finger on one of the bubbles with the other fingers of the chord gently resting on the surface of the bubbles. Then I asked her to sink the weight of her arm deep into her fifth finger until the bubble popped, … Read More

By Dr. Julie Knerr

It’s October! And in piano teacher world, you know what that means…it’s Christmas music time!

We have just released three new Christmas sheets arranged by Dr. Christopher Fisher.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is available in two versions. First, as an elementary level studentteacher duet. This beautiful arrangement of this timeless melody is at the level of a student in the latter part of Piano Safari Level 1or a student studying Piano Safari Level 2.

The second version of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is an intermediate level solo.

Also newly available is an intermediate solo arrangement of Silent Night.

We hope you enjoy these new sheets as you prepare your students for the Christmas season. Merry (early) Christmas!

We are pleased to release a wonderful new supplemental book called Piano Train Trips by composer Juan Cabeza! Julie and I were first introduced to Juan about a year ago when he placed his first Piano Safari order. Juan is a Spanish piano teacher who became inspired to compose patterned pieces for his students after he began using the Piano Safari Rote Pieces in his studio. The result is an engaging collection of late elementary to early intermediate works that may be taught by rote or from the score, depending on the needs and levels of your individual students. We feel this book will be perfect for students in the latter part of Repertoire Book 2 or those in Piano Safari Level 3. It will also work very well … Read More