So, have you started using my No Book Beginners (NBB) Framework to help your beginner students at the piano?
If not, make sure you check it out because in today’s article, I’m going to be talking about how you can continue this creative approach as you start exploring a piano method book.
While there are lots of books on the market, I’d encourage you to base your teaching on one that includes:
My recommendation for teaching beginner children to read after using my NBB Framework is Piano Safari which you can learn more about in Podcast Episode 71: Exploring Piano Safari where I interview the authors, Dr Julie Knerr and Katherine Fisher.
Piano Safari ticks all the above boxes and uses a similar approach to NBB in the creative way in which teachers are encouraged to use it.
PS. Piano Safari is also now distributed in Australia and Inner Circle members get a 10% discount on all Piano Safari purchases. Find out more about membership here.
My first rule of using a method book is: use a piano method book creatively.
Just because it says to do something, you don’t have to do it and once a piece is learnt, that’s often when the fun begins!
Just as exams are only a small part of piano teaching, the method book is just one tool that we can use for teaching.
If students are really enjoying exploring something or have started composing things, go with it. Feel free to explore and always be 100% supportive of their creations.
Never cut students down when they’ve composed something, no matter how “bad” or “simple” it is. Encourage and support. Positivity trumps everything.
Relish in deviations. Don’t rush.
Always start lessons with something creative. Resist the temptation to open the book right away. Doing something away from the tutor book turns on students’ ears, gets them focussed, gets them thinking musically and increases engagement.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking about starting new pieces.
You might not follow all these tasks with every piece, but they give you some idea of a comprehensive way in which you can teach a piece that connects the eye with the ear and body, rhythm with beat and involves preparing the student thoroughly for any new challenges coming up.
These steps are based on Music Learning Theory, Orff, Suzuki and Kodaly.
While this seems really arduous and comprehensive, it is vitally important to instil these skills from the beginning. If students get into these habits from the beginning, they’re going to be much better prepared down the track to tackle more challenging repertoire.
Remember that once the piece is learnt, you can get even more creative!
Your student can then start exploring:
When a new rhythm is introduced:
Explore composition in each lesson, based on elements in their reading pieces. Could your student come up with a story that tells about the:
These are just some of the ways you can continue to be creative while using the method book.
Remember, the book is just a guide. You can be as imaginative and creative as you wish!
I hope this has given you some ideas about how to get more creative in your approach to teaching with a method book.
I’ll finish with a more general list of things to consider in your beginner teaching.
Let me know what you think!
Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.