Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Celebrate Piano!

Good morning, everyone! Another "spring" like morning here in Iowa; it's hard to believe that winter could still rear its ugly head. Yesterday, it got up to 45 degrees; we didn't need our snowpants outside!

I want to share with you a little bit about the series I use. It's a little bit unconventional, and a little bit eclectic. It's called Celebrate Piano! I can only find it online, and I learned about it when I was in college. I took a piano pedagogy class, and we had to review several methods. I chose Celebrate Piano!, mainly because I thought it looked "cute".

There are four levels in this series, and each level is divided into either one or two lessons books (1A and 1B, for example), and a solo book. You can also buy flashcards, cd's, and other accompanying literature. I mostly stick with the basics, and it works just fine.

The approach is very intervallic, meaning students learn to read notes by first learning intervals and reading by the distance between notes. Now, I didn't learn this way, so it was difficult for me at first to teach this way, but the more I did it, the easier it got. Now, I can consciously find myself reading intervallically when I'm playing. Students don't learn conventional note names until the 2nd level. Although, with struggling students, I do tend to introduce the naming phrases (FACE, etc.) a little earlier; for some students, it just helps. But, on the whole, most of my students move smoothly from reading solely intervallically to reading intervallically and naming notes simultaneously.

The other thing I really like about this series is that there is no theory book. The theory book is combined with the lesson book. In short, students DON'T EVEN KNOW they are doing theory. There are crosswords and games and fun little exercises mixed in with their songs. They don't realize it's work, and they like to do it. All the while, they are learning theory and learning to like it. Sneaky, huh?

Also, the solos in this series are superb, especially in the higher levels. I use their solos books during recital season to choose their piece. They like the songs, they are fun, centered around children, and are songs to which they can relate. Plus, they usually incorporate one or more skills that they just learned. This is often a difficult aspect for students- taking what they just learned in pieces, and combining it to make it whole. For example, in one unit, a student might learn staccato, seconds, and ties. They learn and practice each of these skills individually, but in the solo book, they put it together. It's difficult at first, but truly leads to mastery.

If you have time, check out the link to Celebrate Piano!. It's a wonderful alternative to Bastien or Alfred, and something kids really get into!

Thanks for stopping!


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