Find out what Piano Safari can do
Read about how our program works for teachers around the world, in their own words.
“Piano Safari is the only method I know of that is based on this experiential and playing-based philosophy. Instead of reading music notation being the core, students are taught to develop beautiful technique, a sense of musicality, freedom to explore, discover, and create, an internal rhythmic pulse, and proficient sight-reading through a rich musical selection of rote pieces, improvisation experiences, guided compositions, and excellently sequenced reading skills.”
Natalie Weber, Independent Piano Teacher and author of Music Matters Blog, Wichita, KS
“Oh, my goodness, ladies .. I am sorry to sound like a broken record, but I have to tell you again what a ball I am having with your books! I have not had this much fun teaching in a long, long time. Every turn of the page is a new adventure. The students are creating music at the piano right from the start, focused on artistry and creativity and the simple joy of music making.”
Kathleen Merwin, Independent Piano Teacher, Hudson, OH
“Yay Safari! Everyone needs to check this fabulous method out. I am speaking from a professional point of view as a fellow teacher and also as a father of a seven year old using this method. It is creative and expansive. It teaches sound and articulation right from the get go, and my daughter has made progress far beyond my wildest dreams. Much farther than I did at her age! Julie and Katie have hit a home run with Piano Safari!”
Ted Shure, Independent Piano Teacher at Shure Studios, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
“Piano Safari is like a melting pot of the best piano methods out today. Dr. Julie Knerr and Katherine Fisher searched for the best and most important technical exercises and musical ideas and transformed them into a clear, fun safari-based piano method. The combination of rote and reading pieces immediately submerses students into different sounds and colors not found in most early piano methods. Student’s ears are developed early on by playing rote pieces, and their reading is so sound with the flashcards that it is easy to transition to more difficult pieces later on. With my piano students (4-6 year olds in groups and young students in private lessons) I see more confident playing, better sound, comfort at the instrument, a better understanding of how to use their bodies/arms/hands, and a more musical approach to pieces. It is amazing to see students so young come away with such a solid foundation after using Piano Safari, and I truly believe that my students are better musicians because of this method.”
Alexandra Jones, Faculty at Centre for Musical Minds, Frisco, TX
“Piano Safari has become my go-to method for starting young piano students. Its seamless blending of rote and reading helps build students’ confidence and allows their playing to “sound like a real piano player” right from the beginning. What student doesn’t love to play a giant glissando (as in Fred the Fish) or use the pedal for atmosphere (used in Outer Space) within the first few lessons? I also appreciate the effective use of animals to teach the techniques needed to make solid piano sounds happen. I highly recommend this series to any teacher interested in building strong technique and a love for piano playing in his or her studio!”
Wendy Blackwood, Faculty at Athens Community Music School, Athens, OH
“I have been searching for years for a method that really satisfied me. Specifically, I was looking for books that not only offered a way of teaching technique (arm/hand technique, not scales, etc.) in a fun, easy manner, but that incorporated songs more exciting than those in middle C position offered in first level books. Over the years, I’ve had countless parents confess that their kids, or even they themselves as children, found lessons boring in the past. Perhaps this is why so many students leave lessons with less than 3 years of study!
While there are many wonderful components to this method such as the sight reading cards, the true gem is found in the technique and rote pieces. I use the Technical Exercises and Rote Pieces book to supplement other methods, even for beginners in middle school and they LOVE them. Students don’t realize they are learning or “working” because their assignments are fun. They get to play songs all over the piano from the first lesson. I have a 5th grade boy who, when he passes a song, never wants to review for fun because he can’t wait to get to the blue book (Level 2). Using stuffed animals as a prop for younger kiddos takes the fun to the next level. They hug those animals like a best friend and are so excited to show Mr. Zechariah Zebra or Mr. Tree Frog how well they can play their song.
For anyone just starting out using this method, I would highly recommend you read the free essays offered on this site. They are full of great pedagogical advice and fun teaching suggestions. Two of their suggestions I have great success with are using “Mr. Fuzzy” to teach a good piano hand and incorporating “review” pieces as an assignment. Once students pass a song, don’t just move on. Ask them if they want to keep playing it for “fun” or “be done.” I was shocked at how much my students choose to keep playing music they love. It was such a simple concept that I never even considered.
Piano Safari offers a strong foundational and yet fun and fresh approach to piano teaching!”
Amy Chaplin, Independent Piano Teacher at Studio 88, Bluffton IN
“I have been teaching for 20 plus years, however for the last 10 years I taught only sporadically as I took time to have my four children. This year my children are older and I’ve come back to teaching full time and have discovered that somewhere in my quiet years you created Piano Safari.
I have started using it over the past several weeks and I can’t believe how you seem to have reached into my brain and created exactly the method I have been wanting forever. I have always been the type of teacher that curates my method, pulling from a million different sources for each child. I am an excellent teacher and pianist so my results have always been good, but your method has taken my skills to completely new heights.
I just wanted to say thank you. I have moved all of my students into your books and everyone is enthusiastic, happy and excelling so rapidly that I am rather left staring in disbelief. Your system of teaching children to read music is ingenious, and I think the addition of rote pieces is brilliant. Rote learning brings out something in students that is almost impossible to access in any other way.”
Starr Meneely, Independent Piano Teacher at Surrey Piano, Milford, Surrey
“Hi, Katherine! We were at the PMTA conference and had the immense pleasure of hearing your session about Piano Safari! We bought all 3 levels from you after the session, and we just have to tell you – we literally LOST SLEEP last night, our brains were so ablaze with ideas and excitement for how we’re going to use Piano Safari with our students!!
After the day’s sessions were over, we ended up staying up really late just poring over each level of the books and marveling at their perfect sequencing/ grading of the material at each level, and the way you use the best ideas of intervallic reading plus the amazing, motivating rote pieces that will allow students to feel – and sound- impressive right away in their playing. They get the best reading-approach PLUS the joy of playing impressive pieces that their beginner reading-level would prohibit them from accomplishing in other methods.
And the attention to TECHNIQUE from the start is possibly the best part. So refreshing and wonderful! We’ve never seen another method teach so much solid technique at the beginning level. You make those techniques so accessible and understandable for kids, there’s no excuse not to teach them to everyone! From young beginners to adults, we plan to use the Animal Adventures to teach these techniques!
You will be getting a big order from us soon, because now that we have one of each level, we’re going to start calculating where our students are currently, and therefore how many Animal Adventures and Pattern Pieces and Theory books we need to get them ready for the switch to Piano Safari – plus we each have a couple new students that we can get started in full piano-safari-mode right away!
We CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH for giving this presentation, because we truly feel Piano Safari will help us to be even better teachers for all our students. We have subscribed to your email list, and we are eagerly awaiting the release of your new older beginner/ adult version!! So far we have never found a method for adults that we’re happy with. We know that Piano Safari will be the one, given what we’ve already learned from you! We just can’t wait to get started!”
Amy and Bonnie Aller, Independent Piano Teachers at Aller Piano Studio, State College, PA
We’re also extremely pleased to receive writeups in industry and peer blogs. Read reviews of Piano Safari here.