by Katherine Fisher

Hello again! We apologize for the long hiatus. Julie and I have been immersed in the logistics of moving this summer and are only now recovering (just in time for the teaching year to begin!). My family and I sold our home in the late spring and bought another that was a better fit for our pianos. We were looking for a dedicated studio space for our two grands. In our previous home, we were not able to practice at night due our open floor plan and two sleeping children. I know many musicians have said they were able to train their children to sleep through practicing, but no such luck with mine! They tend to wake easily. Our new home has a walk-out lower level that is …

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by Dr. Julie Knerr

I have really been conscious of refining my systems for teaching children so that I will be very disciplined about not skipping or rushing through concepts. By systems I mean the order in which I introduce concepts and the teaching aids and activities I use for each one. Although every student is different, they all need to learn the same concepts. When I find a teaching aid or analogy that works well with multiple types of children, that is a winning Teaching Strategy that I want to make a part of each child’s piano experience.

I wanted to write about my system of introducing the Piano Safari Sight Reading & Rhythm Cards for Book 1, as I have had a lot of practice teaching them this year since I have …

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by Dr. Julie Knerr

Snow, snow snow is the theme in Connecticut this winter. So it is a great day to curl up with a cup of coffee and write a blog post!

My first studio recital at Hartt Community Division, where I teach, was a few weeks ago. All in all, it went well. About 20 children played, and at least half of them had never played in a recital before. They each played between 3-5 pieces. I had two recitals, with 10 playing in each. Even though they all played so many pieces, each recital lasted only about 30 minutes! I really believe that short recitals are best for young pianists. It is better leaving the audience wanting more rather than having them looking at their watches and halfway through. For more …

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By Katherine Fisher

Although the majority of my private students are studying intermediate and advanced repertoire, I also have a small class of six students starting in Piano Safari Level 1, and three of my private students are currently in Piano Safari Level 2. I enjoy teaching students of all ages, but find that teaching beginners really helps me hone and develop my teaching skills the most. Recently, I have noticed that my youngest students, in their boundless enthusiasm for new pieces, have not yet come to value mastery and refinement in their playing. As I was considering how to develop this as a priority in their own minds rather than just reviewing repertoire because I assigned it, I decided to try something new. Instead of passing them through each unit …

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by Dr. Julie Knerr

In my new job at Hartt Community Division at University of Hartford in Connecticut (snowy Connecticut right now!), I travel between rooms to teach. This is quite an adjustment for me, as in Oklahoma and Ohio, I had a permanent teaching studio, with my books and props right there. However, the benefits of teaching in such a vibrant school setting outweigh the downsides of having  to carry my teaching stuff around from room to room each day.

In fact, I often feel like I look like the Music Man, as I carry my drum, pedal extender, carpet squares, and three bags of books and teaching aids around the building. But it is worth it when I see the children engaged in learning and excited about piano. I thought I …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

I tried to go to the beach today, in cold, snowy, Connecticut. The beach soothes my soul, so I try to go as often as possible. I don’t mind the cold, but today it was too cold and too windy!! So instead, I am drinking chai at Starbucks while working on the update of the Teacher Guide for Repertoire Book 1.I thought I would take a break from commenting on the Art of Pedagogy Facebook page about rote teaching to write a blog post, as one of our Piano Safari New Year’s Resolutions is to write more blog posts.

Yesterday I had a fabulous teaching day. I realized anew that if I just take three minutes to actually stop and think about each student before the lesson, I …

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by Dr. Julie Knerr

Katherine Fisher has created the video below explaining the seven Animal Technique Videos found in:

Piano Safari Repertoire Book 1
Piano Safari Technical Exercises and Rote Pieces Book (excerpts from Repertoire Books 1 and 2)

The seven Animal Techniques were derived from my dissertation research on beginning piano technique. I interviewed eleven teachers known for their success with pre-college students. After finding the commonalities among how they teach, I formulated these exercises, and we gave them animal names to make them more appealing to students. You can read my dissertation here.

The seven exercises are:

Lion Paw. Arm Weight
Zechariah Zebra. Repeated Notes with Firm Fingertips
Tall Giraffe. Non Legato Articulation
Tree Frog. Legato Articulation with a Arm Bounce
Kangaroo. Repeated Notes with Firm Fingertips
Soaring Bird. Legato Articulation with one Arm Motion for the Three-Note Slur
Monkey Swinging in …

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

In Piano Safari Repertoire Book 1, students read intervallically from the landmark notes of Treble G and Bass C. At the beginning of Repertoire Book 2, we introduce all the note names on the staff using the process explained in this video.

This process of introducing note names works with any reading approach and can be used with any method.

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By Dr. Julie Knerr

Last year I spent the year in Athens, Ohio working on Piano Safari Level 2 with Katherine Fisher. We had a great year, and I taught a small number of students at Ohio University’s Athens Community Music School.

Now I have made my long-awaited move back to my home state of Connecticut and am teaching at the Hartt School of Music Community Division in West Hartford, which is a very large community music school This is  just the kind of school I have always wanted to teach in. It has been very exciting to settle in and meet new people.

I currently have six new beginners. I love beginners!! There is so much potential! They are ages 4 through 8.

I thought I would post some of my thoughts as …

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For more information on various pedagogical topics, see the Mini Essays under Resources.

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