Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Method Dilemma

E. L. LancasterToo Old for a Children’s Method and Too Young for an Adult Method
By E. L. Lancaster

Today’s students are more sophisticated than ever due to technology and social media. Our seven- and eight-year old students usually like typical beginning methods with colored art work and words to beginning pieces. When beginning students are nine-years and older, sometimes beginning methods appear to be too juvenile for them. At the same time, adult methods present too much information for them to successfully assimilate and move too quickly for technical and musical success. Since the release of Premier Piano Course, many teachers have said that their older students like the music, but they can sometimes move faster.

Premier Piano Express is a method for those students who can progress more quickly than younger students but need less information to absorb than is found in adult methods.
Book 1 includes all concepts introduced in Premier Piano Course, Levels 1A and 1B. Book 2 includes all concepts introduced in Levels 2A and 2B. The features of the “Express Course” follow:
• It is designed for students who need a faster-paced approach to piano study.
• It integrates Lesson, Theory, Technique, and Performance pages into each book.
• Like the regular course, it utilizes a non-position reading approach to avoid fixed hand positions and introduces rhythms in multiple-note patterns.
• Each book includes a CD+ with MIDI files, TNT2 Custom Mix Software, and MP3s of orchestrated accompaniments with piano, orchestrated accompaniments without piano, acoustic piano performances at practice tempos, and acoustic piano performances at performance tempos.

The TNT2 Custom Mix Software allows the user to change tempos in the audio files. In addition, the CD-ROM contains General MIDI files that can be downloaded. For students who do not have a CD-ROM drive, these files can be downloaded at
This comprehensive course is organized into skills-based units that feature clear explanations of important musical concepts, written worksheets to provide review and strengthen understanding, as well as optional duet accompaniments to create fulfilling musical experiences. The Unit titles follow:

Premier Piano ExpressBook 1
Unit 1: Keyboard Basics
Unit 2: The Music Alphabet
Unit 3: The Staff
Unit 4: Steps in Bass Clef
Unit 5: Steps in Treble Clef
Unit 6: Skips on the Staff
Unit 7: Legato and Staccato
Unit 8: Intervals of 2nds and 3rds
Unit 9: The G 5-Finger Pattern
Unit 10: Intervals of 4ths and 5ths
Unit 11: Sharps and Flats

Premier Piano ExpressBook 2
Unit 1: The C 5-Finger Pattern
Unit 2: Dynamics and Tempo
Unit 3: Tonic and Dominant in C
Unit 4: Eighth Notes
Unit 5: Tonic and Dominant in G
Unit 6: Half and Whole Steps
Unit 7: Major 5-Finger Patterns
Unit 8: Interval of a 6th
Unit 9: New Notes on the Staff
Unit 10: Minor 5-Finger Patterns
Unit 11: Intervals of 7th and Octaves
Unit 12: C and G Major Scales and Chords
Unit 13: Dotted Quarter Note

The music in Premier Piano Express was written by Dennis Alexander and Martha Mier. To make the course more appealing to older students, the original art work has been removed and any juvenile words have also been eliminated from the music. The last three pieces in Book 1 illustrate the various styles featured in the course. They include two familiar arrangements and an original piece in a showstopper style. (Click the image below and scroll through to see all the sample pages).
Premier Piano Express
This accelerated approach includes method, theory, performance, and technique pages in each unit – giving students a comprehensive approach upon which to build musical understanding and performance skills. Pages 21–24 of Unit 4 from Book 2 illustrate pages that focus on these four important areas. (Click the image below and scroll through to see all the sample pages).
Premier Piano Express
Choosing a method that appeals to each student is a teacher’s most important job when working with beginning students. In Professional Piano Teaching, Book 1, Jeanine Jacobson lists important criteria to consider when selecting a method. She summarizes in three important points:
• The function of a method book is to provide a logical progression for learning concepts and skills, and music for the practice of these elements.
• Choosing the appropriate method will help students move through the beginning stages with relative ease, while laying a strong foundation for future study.
• The student’s learning style, experience with music, understanding of the keyboard, aural and physical development, reading capabilities, and rhythmic maturity are all factors to be considered when choosing a beginning method.
Premier Piano Express fills the need for students who are too old for a children’s method and too young for an adult method.

Tools to Help You Build Rhythmic Reading Skills

By Sally K. Albrecht

Tools to Help You Build Rhythmic Reading Skills

It’s never too early to integrate rhythmic reading activities into your curriculum, and it’s important to teach and reinforce musical concepts in a variety of ways. For rhythmic reading, try clapping, tapping, chanting, and playing classroom instruments. Alfred offers a wonderful variety of reproducible publications to help!

Rhythm Workshop
575 Reproducible Exercises Designed to Improve Rhythmic Reading Skills
By Sally K. Albrecht
This is an excellent resource designed to encourage and enable students to develop solid rhythmic reading skills! It features 100 pages containing 575 rhythm exercises in a variety of time signatures with concepts introduced and combined together to challenge and motivate your students.

Ready to Read Music
Sequential Lessons in Music Reading Readiness
By Jay Althouse
Just like you need to know the alphabet in order to read text, you need to know the symbols of music before singing or playing! Includes 4 sequential units of 8 lessons each. A very good place to start!

Schoolhouse Raps
8 Educational and Energetic Speech Choir Raps
By Sally K. Albrecht & Melinda B. Smith
This popular and innovative collection of 8 speech choir “raps” is ideal for interdisciplinary study and rhythmic reading!

Let’s Have a Musical Rhythm Band
15 Unique Studies and Arrangements for Rhythmic Reading
By Phoebe Diller
Play rhythm band instruments along with the music of famous classical composers.

Shakin’ It Up!
10 Unison Songs with Rhythm Instruments
By Sally K. Albrecht & Jay Althouse
Each song features a different rhythm band instrument. Some students play, some sing . . . then trade!

Rhythm to the Rescue!
10 Unison Songs in 10 Different Rhythmic Styles with Optional Rhythm Band
By Sally K. Albrecht
Combine clever songs with rhythmic reading and stylistic concepts. Learn the rhythms that go along with the different styles of music. A great way to put all your knowledge together, plus these songs make an entertaining 15-minute performance program.