One form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday.
―Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Happy Chinese New Year! In Chinese society we use an animal to represent each year. This year is the year of dog. And I take this opportunity to introduce you a piano method system that also use animals as concepts: piano safari.
Piano safari is an innovative and progressive piano method system. It consists of 3 levels covering from total beginner to around abrsm grade 3. I am impressed by their emphasis of the importance of “sound before symbol” pedagogy concept. This is reflected by the extensive use of pattern pieces since lesson one. Pattern pieces are those music with lots of repeated patterns and are learnt by rote. They are challenging yet much more musically mature. My students like them very much because pieces in low grades especial in pre-grade are too childish and dull. Pattern pieces help students to be focus on music itself, develop keyboard geography sense, hearing sense, musical sense, memory skill, and as a result sight reading skill indirectly and surprisingly.
Piano safari also includes pre-staff notation like other popular piano methods such as Alfred piano methods. It introduces black-keys only and white-keys only pieces progressively. And for 5-line staff reading, they use intervallic reading approach around treble G and bass F notes. Specific note identification is left in level 2. Moreover sight reading cards sets are available for each level.
Another impressing feature of piano safari is that they use animals to symbolize piano techniques, named animal techniques. I also use pattern pieces to cope with technical difficulties such as hand shape and hands together issue. It is a big topic so let me discuss it in due course.
I start using piano safari since last summer. At first I heard this system in Facebook piano pedagogy discussion groups. Later I attended a piano pedagogy seminar last summer. The speaker just asked us if we had heard this method. I teach in Hong Kong but it is pity that so far this method is not available here. So I order books on their official webpage directly.
Piano safari method system is somehow unconventional when it compares with mainstream score reading-centered approach. I feel satisfied with this innovative method system. I teach in music centre and need to come across with transfer students frequently. Some are indeed sight reading dyslexia but most of them simply because they are used to play by ear. In low grade as the music is simple this kind of piano learning is fine. However, I find students under this kind of piano learning usually have very chaotic and weird sight reading mindset. So gradually they will struggle with learning new pieces from the score when the pieces get more complex. And some even do not care if they have played correct notes from the score. By this way students lose their patience and interest in piano playing very easily. I use this method system mainly as remedy for transfer students with sight reading difficulties so as to reset a more systematic sight reading mindset and hope they can regain their music interest.
Demonstration videos, teaching guides and more information can be found on piano safari official webpage https://pianosafari.com/
Copyright © 2018 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved
With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow nor an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to Choose.
(If Beethoven gives us the courage to fight, then Mozart gives us the infinite confidence.)
―傅雷， <傅雷音樂講堂>內 《独一无二的艺术家莫扎特》(一九五六年莫扎特誕辰２００週年文章)
Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.
音樂，即使在最恐怖的環境下，都不應該令耳朵受罪， 反而是要安撫它， 吸引它， 這才是音樂之道。
―Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.
Last week in a piano lesson, I explained to one of my students that the direction of stem of music notes changes with their location in lines and space of music notation. She asked me why she should obey that rule. Aha, that’s a good question. When we learn the instrument, we must also learn how to read the score. We are asked to memorize pitch names, different type of note duration and other notation rules in 5-line staff music notation system. We just have to obey and memorize them hardly.
In these few years I come across with students with dyslexia. What we think simple tasks are actually difficult for them. Through teaching them piano I know more about the hidden design of music notation. For example, one of my student have spatial problem. She feels messy with right/left and up/down concepts. For example we read and play notes of the notation from left to right. And the pitches of piano gets higher also from left to right. When the notes go with piano the same direction, for example ascending scale, she can manage to play. But when the notes are presented not in the same direction as the piano, for example, a few ascending notes follows by descending notes, she will get stuck. The situation even gets worse when both hands also need to play notes in different directions.
Hope this year I can spend more time to investigate more on this topic.
By the way, today is the first day of Chinese New Year. Wish you all stay healthy and happy in this rooster year 🙂 .
Copyright © 2017 Alice Ho — All Rights Reserved