Thank you for your interest in Simply Music Piano!
The following information is copied from the “Being a Simply Music Piano Student” brochure…
Welcome to a world of music
Part of the Simply Music family of music appreciation programs, Simply Music Piano is a remarkable, Australian-developed piano and keyboard program that offers a breakthrough in music education. This unique method has children, teens, adults and seniors playing great sounding blues, classical, contemporary and accompaniment pieces – immediately – from their very first lessons.
The usual entry into learning piano is a ‘reading-based’ approach. In other words, students are first taught the fundamentals of music reading as the means of learning how to play. Although some students succeed with this approach, for many more the reading process can feel unnatural and slow, and end with the feeling that “music is not for me.”
In contrast, let’s consider how we learn language. We all talked for years before we learned how to read and spell.
Furthermore, we all learned to tie our shoelaces, brush our teeth, and button up our shirt by doing those things, by experiencing them directly, and never by studying the theory of the subject or referring to notes. In other words, we learn by doing.
Our ‘playing-based’ approach is founded on the premise that everybody, without exception, is musical. Life is musical, profoundly so. Our hearts beat a steady “thump” – that is rhythm, the foundation of all music. Walking is a highly rhythmical, graceful, musical act. Conversation is made up of spoken sentences and phrases of astonishing musical complexity, yet is easily and naturally available to all of us.
Our innate connection to music is precisely what gives us the ability to talk. The Simply Music method both draws on and nurtures the natural sense of music we all possess; it teaches students to play the piano by immersing them in the actual process of playing.
The Simply Music method begins by translating pieces of music into a unique of simple concepts that unfold directly onto the keyboard. Beginning students, with no attention on having to read music, are free to relate directly to the piano.
Within months, they easily and naturally establish a hands-on and personal feeling for the instrument and build a Playlist that includes contemporary, classical, gospel, blues and jazz styles. Students also explore, in a natural and non-threatening way, the possibilities of composition and improvisation.
The bottom line is that students get to experience the absolute joy that comes from being able to immediately play a broad repertoire of great-sounding music.
Typically, students in their second year of lessons (and with a repertoire of 35-50 pieces), go on to learn how to read music and understand more theory. Their ability to play piano so well provides a natural foundation.
Simply Music students – children, teenagers, adults and seniors alike – are discovering that they have an ability to learn piano more easily and naturally than they thought possible.
Please read on to find out more about how the Simply Music Piano curriculum works.
Our overriding goal is to create a culture where people of all ages readily acquire and maintain music as a lifelong companion. To support this goal, we have four specific goals for our students. We aim for each student to
- Master a huge repertoire that includes classical, contemporary, blues, jazz, accompaniments, etc.
- Experience playing as a natural self-expression.
- Enjoy music as a highly positive, self-affirming pursuit.
- Learn to “self-generate,” i.e., to progress independently as a musician. This includes developing a strong foundation in music reading and theory.
Musical growth will be influenced by many factors, such as
- your age
- how often you have lessons – weekly, bi-weekly, monthly
- your access to a good-quality instrument
- your practice environment
- how you practice, including frequency and duration, as well as the way you utilize the programs and materials
The Simply Music Piano curriculum unfolds over 6-10 years, depending on your individual rate of progress. Here is a broad outline of the Simply Music Piano Program:
- 35-50 pieces in various musical genres.
- Develop the basics of accompaniment performance.
- Establish a strong foundation of playing music.
- Build a foundation of improvisation and composition.
- Prepare to begin music writing and reading.
- 25-40 pieces of various musical genres.
- Gain a foundation of music reading and writing.
- Build a stronger understanding of blues and jazz.
- Develop greater facility with classical and contemporary music.
- Gain broader experience with accompaniment performance.
- Develop improvisation and composition.
- 15-30 pieces of various musical genres.
- Expand the foundation and understanding of music reading.
- Broaden accompaniment performance.
- Develop a more complex classical and contemporary repertoire.
- Cultivate a more complex blues and jazz foundation.
- Expand composition, improvisation and arrangement.
- Establish an understanding of music theory and its practical application.
Year Four and Beyond
- Develop greater self-generative capacity in reading, composition and improvisation.
- Foster a high degree of responsibility for own learning.
- Explore individual musical interests.
- More deeply explore expression and technique in playing.
- Expand and broaden knowledge of music theory.
How music reading is introduced
Our goal is to equip students with the ability to progress independently. This includes not only building a vast repertoire, but also being able to read and write music, compose, arrange, improvise, and understand music theory.
As with all aspects of the Simply Music Piano program, our approach to achieving this is unique, and built around the ‘playing-based’ principles that students have been learning since their very first lessons. The larger and more fluent the student’s repertoire, the easier it is to successfully move into music reading.
While there is no definite point when students begin the reading process, it begins in the first year, with sight reading the chord symbols used in contemporary accompaniment. It is then more formally introduced after building a solid repertoire of 35 to 50 pieces. The process moves logically and naturally, one skill at a time, as you continue to develop your playing-based repertoire.
It is important to understand that as students venture into the reading process, they do not stop building their repertoire of great sounding music. Reading becomes an additional stream that runs alongside their regular, playing-based projects.
With a strong foundation of playing, reading and writing music, students have a solid basis on which to move forward into more advanced musicianship.
The program can only be presented by a Certified Simply Music Piano teacher. The standard arrangement is for students to attend one lesson each week, in either a shared or private lesson format, according to what is available and appropriate.
When the student is younger, and has not learned the tools needed to sustain long-term relationships, we explore the impact of having the parent or adult guardian present at the lessons. The role of this person is crucial and goes far beyond the obvious.
Our first lesson, the Foundation Session, examines this, and provides parents with a much deeper insight into the extraordinary contribution they can make to their child’s success.
The Foundation Session also explores the practical side of the learning process and the basics of common sense and professionalism, and how they apply to the learning environment.
Choosing an instrument
You will need to have access to an instrument. When choosing a piano or keyboard, budget is often an important factor. Almost all acoustic pianos have 88 keys, and have all of the preferred benefits and features. A local piano technician or piano tuner can provide valuable advice when you’re considering purchasing a second-hand instrument.
When choosing an electronic keyboard, there are certain features to look for. The more features, the higher the cost. Use the following guidelines (in order of importance):
- minimum of 61 regular-sized keys
- if affordable, an 88-key digital piano or keyboard would be ideal
- a sustain pedal (not a sustain button)
- touch sensitive keys
- weighted keys
Obviously there are numerous other features, many of which come as standard on many modern instruments. These, while potentially interesting and/or beneficial, are not a necessary part of a successful Simply Music experience.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions at LindaBernardi@ymail.com!