In 2007, because I was disillusioned with the traditional approaches to teaching music that I had used over the years, I decided to finally begin the lengthy and difficult process of writing down my own teaching ideas, and make a prototype of my teaching tools. I knew my students needed something different. The teaching tools I have developed and designed in my kit are used to learn the many abstract concepts that are found in music. I was determined to pave an easier and much better way for teachers everywhere to teach music. Joyously, in October of 2011, I received my patent, which is titled KIT AND METHOD FOR LEARNING TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT. My approach can be applied to learning how to read music on any instrument.
My teaching method is called Piano Keys and The Piano Bench, which consists of a kit of teaching tools, and the curriculum in three volumes. My teaching method can be used as it is designed to be used, or a teacher can use The Piano Bench without my Piano Keys curriculum. There are twenty five specific activities outlined in the curriculum that are done with the teaching tools in The Piano Bench away from the piano. The Piano Bench has a Teachers Guide which outlines and describes how to do each of the twenty five activities in the Piano Bench. There is an instructional video on each page of the teachers manual that can be scanned with a QR reader.
What makes my method different than the traditional methods are these aspects:
First, during their piano lessons, in this piano teaching method, the student learns everything there is to know about ALL the rhythms found in music, (not just the easiest rhythms, as with the traditional approach). During this process, with the help of the kit of piano teaching tools, the rhythms become automatic to the student. Traditional methods introduce one or two rhythms at a time, and at the end of the second year, the student only knows four basic rhythms (Whole note, Dotted Quarter note, Half note, and Quarter Note). My method teaches students as young as five years old how to count all the different and various rhythms found in music.There are at least twenty one. They can do it easily because of my approach. No wonder children want to quit taking lessons when they are learning from the traditional methods out there - the traditional methods do not teach musical concepts systematically, nor do they teach the way we learn our language. These days young students are used to instant gratification thanks to computers. If something is boring or too hard, they’d rather skip it entirely. There are many great teachers who know how to supplement methods in fun and interesting ways, but it is very challenging. Teaching complex rhythm is a challenge when using the traditional approach. I’ve taken that challenge out of the equation. In just four weeks I can teach rhythms that usually take several years to learn in the traditional approach.
The second step is for the student to compose music using ALL RHYTHMS. When playing those original compositions on the piano, proper finger technique is learned, so that playing the instrument becomes natural and easy. Traditional methods do not have the student write their own music before they learn to read music. But, think about it....children are hearing and telling stories long before they read the English language. This is the natural process for learning a language. Music is a language. I believe reading music must be taught the same way. The traditional approach presents the staff way too soon, and delays the complex rhythms for years. This is like giving a two year old a book and expecting that toddler to read it. It just doesn’t work that way.
After those two things are accomplished, (usually in five or six months), the
student learns how to read music. My philosophy, in part, is that if a student already knows how to count automatically, then when the Grand Staff is introduced, he then has one less thing to think about. If the student can already play the piano in a fluent way, reading music is that much easier. Reading music has it’s own set of challenges. Why add “counting” as an added challenge at the same time? I use daily drills in order to get the note reading as automatic as soon as possible. Automaticity is very important in so many aspects of reading music.