by Dr. Julie Knerr

I have long wanted to record a longitudinal series of beginning piano lessons to show the progress of one student over the long term.

Inspired by Irina Gorin’s wonderful teaching videos, I have decided to finally start my own series of videos.

Above is the very first lesson for a new student of mine, whom I will call B. She is the younger sister of another another student of mine who is currently in Piano Safari Level 2.

B just turned 6 years old and has had no previous piano experience (except occasional sessions with her sister). As you will see, she is delightful and full of fun. She is starting her piano studies in Piano Safari Level 1.

This video is not perfect, because it is a live, … Read More

By Katherine Fisher

Last week I wrote a article introducing the Interval Cards, so this second post is intended as more of a practical “how to” for use of the cards.

Before a student begins using the Interval Cards, it is very helpful for him/her to understand a few basics about notation such as:

Treble Clef
Bass Clef
Line and Space Notes
Landmark Notes Treble G and Bass C
Intervals: 2nds

Repertoire Book 1 has several Musicianship pages that cover these concepts, (pg.52-56) so it will work well for students to complete these first.

If you have ever seen Julie and I present at conferences, etc. you know we suggest a very specific system of marking and analyzing our Sight Reading & Rhythm Cards. We use this system for the Interval Cards as well. If you have not read … Read More

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 … Read More

By Dr. Julie Knerr

In the previous blog post I wrote about how to use the newly released Piece Cards with the Unit Maps.

I have always thrived on presenting new pieces to students and finding the most interesting and effective ways to present each new piece to each individual student.

However, as we review the pieces on the Unit Maps each week, I have been experimenting with how to keep review pieces exciting by enhancing the pieces through creative repetitions (the Teaching Strategy I like to call, “Fun Repeats).

At the NCKP Conference last week in Lombard, Illinois, creativity in manipulating pieces seemed to be one of the overarching threads of the conference. Forrest Kinney and Elissa Milne both presented lectures on this topic. I had already been thinking in this direction, … Read More

by Dr. Julie Knerr


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.

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 … Read More

by Dr. Julie Knerr

This summer has been fabulous! I resigned my position at the Hartt Community Division to work from home and have been setting up my studio. I love practicing and teaching in this room, and since I’m at home, I get to teach in my slippers!

I also bought a few more Ikea bookshelves to reorganize the Piano Safari inventory/collating/packing station in my basement

But the highlight of the summer so far has been my trip to Ohio to visit Katie and her family. We planned Piano Safari Level 3, which we hope to release by next summer (or possibly by MTNA San Antonio!).

At NCKP, Katie and I presented a lecture entitled “The Role of Rote Teaching in the Development of Reading, Technique, and Artistry.” It was well attended … Read More

by Dr. Julie Knerr

I have had two students recently learn Stormy Seas, from Repertoire Book 2. (Student in the video is not one of the two.)

One student, who has Aspergers and perfect pitch, left the bench during his lesson without explanation, walked over to his mom, and whispered, “Mom. I LOVE Stormy Seas!”

My other student also loves it and is very excited about reaching the end of Repertoire Book 2!! I was so proud of her, as we have been working on the character trait of “diligence” all year (Hard Work Pays Off!). In the past she would try something and say, “It’s too hard” and give up, or put in minimal effort. Although the coordination in line two is difficult, she worked and worked on it in her … Read More

by Dr. Julie Knerr
I have had several requests from teachers who want to read my dissertation on beginning level piano technique. We have made it available on our website under Resources for all who are brave enough to wade through this lengthy document. Here it is.


By Dr. Julie Knerr

We are pleased to announce the release of the Piano Safari Practice Strategy Cards!

What are Practice Strategy Cards?

Forty cards present forty strategies for practicing effectively. Each card has a name for the strategy along with a picture. An explanation of the strategy is on the back of the card. The cards are 5.5 x 4.25 inches in dimension.

Here is the front of the Sevenize Small Sections Practice Strategy Card:

Here is the explanation on the back:

As explained in the book, Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov, naming ideas is very important. Lemov says, “Naming the skills you aim to practice in isolation creates a language for your team.”

In the case of piano study, we believe that naming Practice Strategies provides students with a concrete language for how to … Read More

by Dr. Julie Knerr

I noticed the other day that one of the students I had pegged as “chronically poor sight reader” is fast turning into “one of my better sight readers.” I was astonished to make this realization, because the progress in sight reading was as unnoticeable as glacial movement.

This student, who I will call Stan, is a fabulously musical and vibrant 9-year- old. He transferred to my studio last year, and it took me quite a while to figure out the best way to work with him. He is full of ideas, composes constantly, arranges all his pieces his own way (“I think the composer should have written it this way!”), is a enthusiastic performer, and has discriminating musical tastes. I could tell it was going to … Read More