Piano Learning Resource
The Concept

This series of books has been designed to assist piano teachers in developing ear skills in students of any age or ability. After 13 years of traditional, classical training, I realized how I longed to sit down and play a simple Christmas melody or a children’s folk tune. (My parents wanted that, too!) I had all the knowledge and skills I needed; I just needed to work on putting it all together. It was at this point I realized that learning to play music ‘by ear’ wasn’t just a divine gift, but an attainable skill.

After my path of self-guided discovery, I made it a professional goal in music education to help students unlock the aural skills necessary to reproduce melodies at the keyboard. In the process, students have gained a wonderful awareness of patterns, familiarity with a variety of keys (transposition), facility playing with white and black notes, increased coordination, improved pitch matching and heightened musicianship. Their musical instincts have improved as well as their ability for memorization and melodic playbacks. And most importantly, it’s fun and rewarding! This series provides an inquiry based process for training the ear, followed by instruction in the notation of pitch and rhythm. This “inside out” approach is consistent with current trends and research in education. Students achieve greater understanding and are exposed to theoretical concepts right at the keyboard, in context. Each of the pages provides the necessary information for students to be successful in the studio and at home. The series has been written to complement existing pedagogical methods, but could also be used as an alternative approach for those early days of study. Teachers can use pieces at their discretion, in whatever order they decide, extending the learning when the individual learner is ready.

This series primarily uses folk literature with the inclusion of Christmas songs, popular music and easy classics. Some students may not be familiar with this repertoire from their life experiences or countries of origin. However, audio samples of the selected melodies can be easily obtained from a multitude of technological sources. Teachers can assign songs one or two weeks ahead as “singing songs” in preparation or simply teach them the tunes in the lesson. (Audio sources can also provide inspiration for additional repertoire - just ask to see your students’ playlists!)

The hEarItAbility books unfold in two parts: Ears and Eyes. In the Ears section, lyrics are provided for each song in addition to a visual presentation of the initial pitch and keys used. Students then use this as the springboard for figuring out the given song, discerning melodic contours as they go (up, down, same – close, far – step, leap). After mastering the melodies, students are encouraged to add bass notes, simple intervals and chords. In the Eyes section, students are encouraged to write what they have discovered using letter names for keyboard recognition, traditional pitch notation, rhythm and chord symbols. Extension activities are provided to further enhance the musical experience.