Meaning behind the method

This section contains in-depth discussion and resources related to our research, program development, and teaching philosophy, including:

If you need a more general introduction about how our program works for students, you can read an introduction to Piano Safari here.

Authors Katherine Fisher and Dr. Julie Knerr hold decades of experience in a wide range pedagogical topics. We’re happy to share some of the detailed information and thoughts behind the program.

Dr. Julie Knerr’s dissertation

Julie KnerrMany of the technical ideas for Piano Safari are derived from Dr. Julie Knerr’s 2006 dissertation research for her PhD in Music Education and Piano Pedagogy at the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Knerr observed and interviewed four teachers (along with an additional eight teachers during post-dissertation research) to learn how well-known teachers teach technique to beginners.

Dr. Knerr discovered that although the approaches of the teachers were varied, the basic components of beginning technique were similar. This led to the formation of the seven Animal Technique Exercises found in Piano Safari Repertoire Book 1 and the Animal Adventures Book.

A summary of these seven Animal Techniques can be found in the video Animal Technical Exercises.

Dr. Knerr received several requests from teachers hoping to read this dissertation, so we have provided it here for your reference.

Read Dr. Julie Knerr’s Dissertation

Mini Essays

The following essays discuss many aspects of the Piano Safari method. Discover the philosophy behind our approach.

Click the links below to open a pdf of each mini essay.

Mini Essay 1: Relating to Children
Mini Essay 2: Should Piano Study be Fun, and are Sticker Charts Bad?
Mini Essay 3: What Should be Included in a Beginning Level Piano Lesson?
Mini Essay 4: Assigning Pieces
Mini Essay 5: Technique Basics for Beginners
Mini Essay 6: The Benefits of Rote Teaching
Mini Essay 7: Teaching Strategies
Mini Essay 8: Philosophy of Rhythm
Mini Essay 9: Philosophy of the Piano Safari Reading Approach
Mini Essay 10: How to Teach Reading Pieces
Mini Essay 11: The Benefits of Devoting an Entire Unit to Each Interval
Mini Essay 12: Marking Intervals with Colors
Mini Essay 13: Insurance and Accompaniments
Mini Essay 14: Shaping Versus Simultaneous Perfection
Mini Essay 15: Musicality for Beginners
Mini Essay 16: “Real” Music
Mini Essay 17: Memorization
Mini Essay 18: Recitals
Mini Essay 19: Learning Note Names on the Staff
Mini Essay 20: Things We Have Learned from Teaching Piano Safari
Mini Essay 21: Levels of Repertoire
Mini Essay 22: Group Teaching
Mini Essay 23: Super Awesome Sight Readers Part 1: It Takes a Long Time!
Mini Essay 24: Super Awesome Sight Readers Part 2: False Assumptions
Mini Essay 25: Super Awesome Sight Readers Part 3: The Four Ingredients for Confident Music Reading
Mini Essay 26: Super Awesome Sight Readers Part 4: Ingredient #1 – Patterns and Theory
Mini Essay 27: Super Awesome Sight Readers Part 5: Ingredient #2 – Contours and Intervals
Mini Essay 28: Super Awesome Sight Readers Part 6: Ingredient #3 – Rhythm
Mini Essay 29: Super Awesome Sight Readers Part 7: Ingredient #4 – Note Names

152 Teaching Strategies

These strategies relate to topics including:

  • Working with children
  • Repertoire management
  • Effective use of lesson time
  • Technique
  • Rhythm
  • Correcting mistakes
  • And more

Teaching Strategies