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 pieces …

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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, followed …

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By Katherine Fisher

Among my favorite Rote Pieces from Piano Safari Level 2 is the dynamic “African Safari” by Wendy Stevens. I am currently teaching my daughter piano (teaching your own children is another blog post for another time!) and she recently learned this piece. We both enjoyed working on it together because there are so many ways to use animal imagery in the learning process. Julie told me she uses the word “elephant” for the RH opening measures:

I like using this animal because it is a reminder for students that the starting note is “E,” and also that they should play the RH with vigorous tone. After three “elephants,” I add the lyrics “calling on the telephone, telephone” to the next two measures:

My favorite part is the somewhat tricky RH …

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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!

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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 for …

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By Katherine Fisher

During the summer, when life is quieter and the hustle of the school year is on pause, I try to catch up on my reading and take time to think more deeply about education and some of the issues we face as teachers. I recently came across an article by Dorthy Sayers entitled “The Lost Tools of Learning” and am inspired to share a quote here:

“Is not the great defect of our education today—a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble I have mentioned— that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils ‘subjects,’ we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning.”

This point struck me and caused me to reflect on the methods piano …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

We thank everyone who attended our Piano Safari Summer Institute this past weekend in Athens, Ohio. It was a wonderful, pedagogy-packed event. We really enjoyed meeting teachers from OH, KY, PA, NC, NY, IL, VA, AL, and even Australia. If you missed it, don’t worry! We have another summer institute planned for Saturday, July 23 in Westport, Connecticut. Here is the Registration page. We would love to have you join us!

One of the topics we discussed at the Piano Safari Summer Institute was how teaching Rote Pieces in the beginning of study, alongside a systematic reading system, can enhance not only a student’s motivation and aural training, but also their Concentration, Confidence, Keyboard Orientation, Reading (yes, it’s really true!), Pattern Recognition, Rhythm, Technique, and Artistry.

In this blog post, I would like …

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by Julie Knerr

Technique Book 3 delves into the world of scales, chord inversions, and chord progressions. Students learn these common pianistic patterns gradually in the keys of C Major, A Minor, G Major, E Minor, F Major, and D Minor. As they are learning these patterns, they are exploring pieces in their Repertoire Book 3 in the same keys, and practicing using these keys in their Sight Reading Cards as well.

Our motto in Technique Book 3 is “Mastery through repetition.” Students become fluent and increase their tempo in scales by building up gradually through repetition. By the end of the book, they should have mastered these basic building blocks of music, so it is time to celebrate by playing the Technique Extravaganza.

 

The Technique Extravaganza is a student – teacher duet at …

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By Katherine Fisher

This past fall when Julie and I were writing Technique Book 3, we decided to include Hanon Exercise No. 1. This was not a decision we made lightly. After all, there have been many impassioned posts on Facebook recently from teachers about either the benefits or drawbacks of students studying Hanon. It seems his exercises have become somewhat controversial in online discussions! With this said, we feel that the benefits far outweigh any negatives, so in this blog post I hope to explain our rationale about how Hanon may be used to enhance the technical development of early intermediate students.

First, we encourage students to play Hanon with multiple rhythmic and articulation variations. This prevents the dry and lifeless repetitions that so many teachers and students object to. We …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

This past Saturday one of my students in Piano Safari Level 2 played her Mini Recital.

What is a Mini Recital?

A Mini Recital is a recital solely for that student, with family and friends in attendance. I don’t know if you had the same experience that I did, but my first time playing a solo recital featuring only me was my Senior Recital in college. It was terrifying!!! Why not begin playing your own solo recitals when you are young?

Ingredients for a Mini Recital:

Student with 6-12 pieces prepared
Family and friends
Mini Recital Program
Mini cupcakes!

How Long is the Mini Recital:

Since my student is 8 and in Piano Safari Level 2, her pieces are quite short. She prepared and memorized six pieces. Her parents, brother, grandma, grandpa, and two of her friends attended. The …

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