It is also a great supplement for using with other methods as the book is simply an anthology of pieces in a progressive order.
The Middle C Repertoire Series of books grows out of my pre-school piano method — Keyboard Kids. This pre-school method centers on the concept of teaching the student to read music as steps and skips and combines it with more traditional methods of note memorization.
In Middle C Repertoire I’ve purposely introduced musical vocabulary that immediately gives students the tools to learn to think musically about their piano studies. After introducing several compositions using 2-4 3-4 and 4-4 time signatures we have a simple song called THEME.
With the introduction of the composition THEME a conversation can begin with your student about themes and how composers use them to build their compositions. As a note of interest it is at this point that I introduce my students to examples of art compositions for students to grasp on to the various musical concepts that are evoked in the titles of the compositions in the Middle C Repertoire Series. The example I use for THEME is Peter’s Theme from Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. I thought it to be an excellent way to introduce students to the concept of theme. Whenever Prokofiev has Peter featured in his musical story we hear Peter’s Theme.
Maybe with a recording of Peter’s Theme you could better grasp the effectiveness of using musical examples to make a teaching point.
Another departure that Middle C repertoiree Book 1 uses is that everything is in the English language. Tempo’s are marked as Moderate Speed or Fast Speed, not Moderato or Allegro. Loud is marked with an “L” and soft is marked with an “S”, not “f” or “p”. D.C. al Fine is marked F.B. to End (from the beginning to the end). In Middle C Repertoire Book 2 the traditional Italian language is used. But, in this first volume students, who are often at the most elementary levels in their reading skills, are first introduced to these common markings in English.
Middle C Repertoire does not create lyrics for every composition. Occasionally it does. When the concept of song is introduced, then lyrics are essential. This is another occasion when a music example is most appropriate. Keeping with the humorous nature of I Forgot My Brain Today I introduce students to Aaron Copland’s arrangement of I Bought Me A Cat.
Since the concept of theme was introduced early in the book we can explore how these themes can be manipulated by composers. The Theme and Variation can now be logically introduced, expanding the student’s concept of theme. Not only does the simple piece study Theme and Variation form it also explores Time Signatures. Each variation is based on in different key signature. I point out to the student that the FIRST NOTE of EACH VARIATION plays the THEME TONE. When students see this they all seem to have a “light bulb moment”. They begin to see that music is not so mysterious and is something they can truly understand.
To finish the lesson on Theme and Variation I play Mozart’s Theme and Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I only play the very beginning of each variation. I stop the recording at the end of each variation and ask the student if they can hear Mozart’s disguise of the THEME. Most students do very well; but there are some variations that are difficult for students to follow. I use this as a lesson that music is something that must be studied and if they put forth their best effort they will be able to understand the music of these great geniuses even better.
The composition MARCH! introduces students to eighth notes. I have found that it’s best to introduce eighth notes as repeated notes until the rhythmic impulse is neurologically understood. I also introduce the eighth note as a rhythmic group of THREE notes — the two eighth notes and the succeeding note. The three note groups are marked in blue in the graphic. Our ear naturally organizes these sounds into three notes so I think the best way to introduce the eighth note rhythm to students is in three note groups. After the student has neurologically mastered the rhythm then the student can slowly be introduced into playing this rhythm with more complex step and skip patterns.
Middle C Repertoire also gives the student several opportunities to play the same composition in different keys. Again, I feel this is very important because composers will often take their themes and reintroduce them in various keys. It is important to get exposure in transposition early on because if it is delayed it becomes a bit of a struggle to learn the same music in a different key.
While students learn their compositions in Middle C Repertoire they are also learning all of the white key hand positions (five-finger scales) and chords. They are thoroughly given exposure to various techniques they will encounter as composers manipulate their themes.
I have been working on Middle C Repertoire for about 20 years and have been very pleased with the results. I’ve dedicated a major part of my teaching career to the teaching of the very young student so this method is tailor-made for young students. Most of my students playing Middle C Repertoire are in kindergarten or first grade. The progression of materials best fit this age of student. Through the summer of 2011 I will be making the Middle C Repertoire Method Books and accompanying Middle C Repertoire Theory Books available for sale on at http://www.pianoteacherpress.com/