Forum Q&A's, repertoire / methods

The July Forum: Discussing Method Books

This month’s discussion topic is about using method books (i.e., Alfred, Faber, Bastien, etc.) in the piano studio:

What do you look for in a method book?  What features are most important to you?  Do you use the same method series for all your students, or do you use a variety?  If you use a variety of different method books in your studio, how do you decide which one is right for each student?  Do you use a method series all the way through the final level, or do you take them out at some point?

Post away!  =)

Photo credit: ragingtornado | CC 2.0

repertoire / methods, Resources

A New Adult Student Book on the Market: “Returning to the Piano” by Wendy Stevens

Check out this announcement at the blog: Wendy Stevens has written a new adult piano book entitled: Returning to the Piano: A Refresher Book for Adults.  I often have a hard time deciding what adult method to use with my adult students.  Especially when they aren’t true beginners and have had previous experience with piano, I don’t like putting them through overly method-y books!  In addition, many adult students want to learn pieces with tunes that are familiar to them.  This book looks like it may be a good alternative for those types of situations, or simply as a supplement to an adult method.

Here is the description from the Hal Leonard site:

I just ordered a copy from and I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can try out all the arrangements myself!  =)

repertoire / methods, Resources

Great Resources for Teachers with Beginner Staff-Readers

Susan Paradis from the Piano Teacher Resources blog has written has excellent review of the The Perfect Start for Piano by Kevin & Julia Olson, a series of books intended for reinforcing note-reading on the staff for beginners and elementary level students.  They look great – I love that fact that they are designed to work with whatever method books you are using with your student!  To learn all about it, read her review here.  Thanks, Susan!

The Perfect Start for Piano also has a corresponding website,, which provides additional FREE resources for the teacher and student.  Check it out and you will find:

  • a variety of printable flashcards
  • note naming worksheets
  • audio files which correspond with the book
  • and other resources, including practice record sheets, keyboard stickers, and posters to post in the studio.
repertoire / methods

Succeeding at the Piano | Method Books

The FJH Music Company website is introducing a new method series, available March 2010: Helen Marlais’ Succeeding at the Piano. I have heard some good things about the method, and am looking forward to trying it with a student once it comes out! Click here to view the page about it and to pre-register for a complimentary copy of the Lesson & Technique book.

repertoire / methods

New Piano Method: Piano Safari

Picture 2I recently heard about a brand new piano method series, called Piano Safari, written by Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr, both grads from University of Oklahoma’s excellent Piano Pedagogy program.  The series looks very intriguing.  I would like to try out the series the next time I get a new beginner student!

The element that I find most unique about this series (based on what I’ve heard/read so far) is the technique exercises (suitable for beginners) which are utilized across the Musicianship and Repertoire books, and into later repertoire.  Each exercise is named in accordance with the safari theme.  An example: if you ask the student to play the “Zechariah Zebra” exercise, they would play the rhythm: eighth-eighth-eighth-eighth-quarter-quarter (think “Zech-ar-i-ah Ze–bra–” ) on Middle C, then on D, working up to G, and then back down to C.  Check out the technique tutorials they have on their website to see a this and more exercises in action!  Other exercises include: “Kangaroo,” “Elephant Stomp,” and “Monkey Swinging,” and “Ancient Tortoise.”  Just think how exciting it could to learn piano while going on a safari!

As an alternative to using the Musicianship and Repertoire books of the Piano Safari method, teachers may instead purchase the Technical Exercises and Rote Pieces book, which is designed to supplement whatever current method the student is using.  It contains all the technical exercises and rote pieces from the both the Musicianship Book 1 and Repertoire Book 1.

Music Camps, repertoire / methods, Resources

A Comparison of 5 different Piano Methods

Picture 5I found a very interesting chart at today, comparing what are probably the top 5 most popular piano methods:

  • Alfred’s Basic Library
  • Bastien Piano Basics
  • The Music Tree
  • Piano Adventures
  • Hal Leonard Student Piano Library

Although this chart is probably somewhat outdated (for example, Alfred has recently introducted their new Premier series), there is still valuable information to be found.  The chart compares the reading approach, rhythm/counting approach, Technique sequence, format/layout, and more.  And the chart is available for download in both pdf and Microsoft Word document form. 

Also available at

  • Some great ideas for holding a summer Music History Camp – click here
repertoire / methods, Resources

Famous piano students

Found this on the homepage of the Faber Piano Adventures website (sorry, it’s no longer there now). Guess who’s using Piano Adventures to study piano! firstfamilyThis picture was originally appeared in Hello Magazine in Canada and Star Magazine in the U.S.  🙂

I’m a huge fan of the Piano Adventures series.  The pieces in their books are so imaginative.  Have you tried them?