October 2020

Drill & Excel On the Piano

Piano Method Books That Make Teaching Easy!

Hey fellow piano teachers, what if there were piano method books that made your teaching job so easy, you feel you’re hardly working at all? That’s exactly what the “Drill & Excel On the Piano” book series does! Click any book to watch a movie where the author goes through each page with commentary. Most piano method books are songs with little information included. This means you have to explain in detail every new concept. And since piano method books don’t include every part of the lesson needed, you have to supplement books for teaching exercises, scales, theory, note naming, and rhythm games to improve their reading ability. Having multiple books also makes it challenging in the lesson for both you and the student.

Everything in one book

At Melody Music Publishers, the “Drill & Excel On the Piano” series has everything in one book. Each book is in 3 chapters and includes multiple note reading and interval worksheets, rhythm drills, exercises, and special exercises for specific skills, scales, and 20 original songs per chapter (totaling 60 songs per book)! Since the author, Kathi Kerr, writes the songs, a student has to read the notes and not rely on their ear to play. Most method books brag about having songs students are familiar with. However, if reading music fluently is the goal, a student can trick the piano teacher when playing a song if they rely on their ear instead of reading the notes.

Easy Steps to follow

Teaching from the “Drill & Excel On the Piano” series is nice because it lays out the information in an easy to follow step format. Without a book to guide the teacher and student, it’s easy to forget about important steps the student needs. However, with these books, the piano teacher can relax and know each critical step is included, taught straightforwardly with examples, drills, and exercises. The repetition given ensures the student fully understands each step before moving on to the next one.

Written Worksheets

Why are writing assignments so important? I believe writing the information is the first layer of understanding and retaining the information. When a student repeatedly writes the names of the notes or intervals, they’re more likely to retain the information. With the “Drill & Excel On the Piano” books, there are multiple worksheets to help students learn and remember notes. No acronyms are taught, like “Every Good Boy Does Fine.” Instead, the staff’s logic is shown, and five sets of notes are taught at a time with multiple worksheets per set of notes.

Rhythm Drills

Where’s the rhythm in most method books? Most piano method books may give the value of each kind of note, but nothing else. I have found rhythm is the most neglected part of piano method books and lessons. A student needs more than just shown each note’s value. To read rhythm fluently requires playing multiple rhythm drills. In “Drill & Excel On The PIano,” the note’s value is taught with multiple rhythm drills for the student to play. Playing them with a steady beat, and counting the beats out loud is recommended.

Exercises

As mentioned earlier, most piano instructors will use a separate book for exercises. However, many exercise books are not suitable for the beginning student when the pattern includes more than a five-note hand position. In “Drill & Excel On the Piano” books, the exercises correspond with the chapter’s songs and skills needed. For example, in chapter 1 of book 1, only five-note pattern exercises are given that go with the songs. As the hand position expands, the exercises do as well. There are also “special” exercises that go along with the skills needed for the songs. In book 1, chapter 3, an exercise to teach the skill of independence of hands is given. This helps when playing the songs with one hand louder than the other, and one playing staccato while another playing legato. A student first learns the skill in the exercise before applying it to a song.

Scales

Another supplemental book piano teachers often use is scales. In “Drill & Excel On the Piano,” each chapter has one key signature (except the recap chapters), and all the songs, exercises, and scales will be in that key. This makes everything they’re learning correspond to each other and creates a clear path for learning. Also, most scale books show the scale by notation. Playing scales by reading the notes may not help the student remember what sharps or flats are in each scale and key signature, or even understand them. In the “Drill & Excel On the Piano” series, the student plays scales by knowing what’s in each key signature. This helps the student have better retention and understanding of the scales, which is the foundation for learning music theory.

Intervals

Intervals are taught beginning in book 2, chapter 3. The emphasis in book 1 and book 2, chapters 1 and 2, are reading fluently and exercises to acquire the skill of playing. Chapter 3 of book 2 starts by showing the staff’s intervals in the key of C (C/D, C/E, C/F, C/G, etc.), with the interval number beneath. However, it doesn’t stop with merely explaining intervals. There are multiple worksheets for the student to identify the interval number without counting. Once a student can identify the interval at sight, this helps in sight-reading. Without repetitive written assignments, most students are not able to identify them at sight.

Songs, songs, and more songs!

And finally, the best part of “Drill & Excel On the Piano” are all the beautiful songs written by author Kathi Kerr. As mentioned earlier, the songs correspond with the chapter’s key signature. Written melodically, a student will find themselves singing the songs apart from playing them on the piano. Starting from book 2, each piece is in a different style with a commentary written by the composer. And best of all, they’re fun to play!

Each book recaps the previous books

Whatever the student’s level, he or she can start with any book in this series, since from book 2, the first chapter is a recap of the previous books—this way, no critical steps, and information are missing. For a beginning student ages 8-adult, book 1 is recommended. If a student has played a little piano, they can start with book 2 that begins chapter 1 with hands together. This book is also great for a self-taught student that plays well but may have missing information or someone taught incorrectly. Book 3 is excellent for the early intermediate student. And finally, book 4 is for the late intermediate student. There are more exercises, special exercises, rhythm drills, and lots of theory worksheets in books 3 and 4. “Drill & Excel On the Piano Book 5” is set to come out in late 2021 for the advanced student.

My first experience with this piano method book

When I had finished book 1, I used it on the students I was teaching at the time (I called them my guinea pigs). One of my students in particular had struggled in reading. However, when he started playing the multiple songs in each position, he was so accomplished at reading, he began sight-reading the songs nearly perfectly by the end of the chapter! I remember feeling so at ease and thinking “The book is doing all the work!” It was so much fun to see him go from struggling to sight-reading!

Order today and enjoy teaching

Order your copy of “Drill & Excel On the Piano” to relax and have a great time teaching your students, knowing they’re getting all the essential steps. Using drills and repetition, your students will have a deep understanding of all concepts and play the piano like a pro. It’s exciting to see the students’ progress and growth. If you’re a piano teacher who hasn’t registered, click here to sign up to receive discount codes for free shipping and 50% off your first copy, then free shipping and 20% off all recurring orders! Thank you for your passion and dedication to teaching private piano. We welcome your comments and suggestions to this post.

Kathi Kerr - owner Melody Music Publishers

Kathi Kerr founded Melody Music Studios in 1989, a nationwide music instruction studio. In 2017, she founded an independent publishing company called Melody Music Publishers. They offer piano and singing method books using small steps and repetition, how students think and learn.

Piano Method Book for Children

Piano Method Book for Children

Welcome the newest addition: “Color It Say It Play It and Create It Too”

“Color It Say It Play It and Create It Too” is the newest addition to Melody Music Publishers. This piano method book for children ages 5-8 is the sequel to “Color It Say It Play It and Create It.”. A student aged 7-8 can start with this book that may be too old for book 1. The beginning steps are taught, so no concepts are missing when starting with this book. It starts with technique, keyboard geography, and exercises, as in book 1. Then it moves onto playing hands together in the C hand position using letter names. As the book continues, it adds rhythm and big notes with the names and rhythm. And finally, the staff’s notes are introduced, starting with the treble clef and bass clef separately, then the grand staff. By the end, the student is playing songs with both hands in the C hand position. And for a bonus, the back of the book has Christmas songs arranged for any part of the book the student may be on at Christmastime.

Copycat Games

Copycat games are In the first few pages of the book. This game teaches the young student to “listen” and hear the notes being played. Listening to notes is a great learning skill and helps develop ear training. When a student is concentrating on reading while playing, it’s easy for a student of any age not to “hear” the notes. The first few songs in “Color It Say It Play It and Create It Too” are familiar songs with no title. The student plays the notes and has to figure out what the name of the song is. This exercise is fantastic to teach him or her how to listen while playing. The second skill learned with this game is creating a steady beat. When the teacher plays a set of notes with a steady beat, it allows the student to “copy” with the same steady beat, saying the note names aloud. And playing without looking at their hands is emphasized right from the beginning to create this good habit.

Why Start With Letter Names?

Most method books for the young beginner jump right into teaching notes on the staff. However, this skill requires the student to figure out the staff’s note name and then what key to play. Studies have shown that young children have difficulty with this process, and may cause them frustration. Thus, it may cause the student to cancel even before getting started. By starting with reading only the letter names, the young student can play more quickly and helps to develop dexterity in their playing. This book even includes exercises using the letter names, which I’ve never seen in piano method books for this age. The songs start with one hand at a time, then with hands together playing the same notes in each hand. Then the final step is playing different notes in each hand. The letter names go up and down, thereby teaching the concept of notes on a staff, without the student even being aware of it. I have found that a student can easily transition into reading notes on the staff after playing with letter names that ascend and descend.

Rhythm

The next step introduced is rhythm using drills and writing assignments. Rhythm is the element that is the most neglected in method books, especially for young students. However, I believe rhythm is the most critical aspect of playing and reading music. I’ve noticed that when the rhythm is emphasized early in the child’s lessons, they have no problem playing the rhythm correctly as they progress. I also emphasize a steady beat and counting, showing how each beat has a unique feel. There are rhythm drills in “Color It Say It Play It and Create It Too” that include clapping to a metronome on different beat numbers. Since rhythm is introduced in a clear yet fun way, it takes the guesswork out of it for the young student.

Combining Rhythm and Note Names

Once they are familiar with the rhythm, the next step is big notes with the rhythm and note names in the center. Once again, the notes ascend and descend to show the logic of the notes on a staff. The student is counting out loud while playing the various notes in the song. By now, the young student remembers where the keys are in their hand position so as to focus on the rhythm. Counting out loud and playing with a steady beat is emphasized, as well as not looking at their hands.

And Finally The Staff

The next and final step is introducing the staff. First, the treble clef notes are taught with worksheets and songs, then the bass clef, and finally, the grand staff. The note names are no longer given in the middle of the note. The first few songs on the grand staff start with both hands playing C to focus on the rhythm. Then the grand staff with random notes but the same notes in each hand with whole notes, then half notes, dotted half notes, and quarter notes. The last and final step is hands playing different notes in each hand, and all the rhythm taught.

Watch Video With Commentary

Songs in “Color It Say It Play It and Create It Too”

All the songs except two (“Ode to Joy” and “Pop Goes the Weasel”) are original songs. The purpose in writing the songs is to make sure the student is actually reading. While ear training is critical and included in this book, when playing songs, the skill of reading is most important. I wrote the songs to sound fun, so the student will enjoy playing and learning them. Learning to read music also teaches the concept that reading is essential to playing songs they may not be familiar with.

The Next Step

This book helps the young student to smoothly transition into our “Drill & Excel On the Piano” series. All the important concepts are taught. Students seven or eight can continue with “Drill & Excel On the Piano Book 2” which starts with both hands in the C hand position. If the student is seven or younger, I recommend starting with “Drill & Excel On the Piano Book 1”.

Thank You For Choosing “Color It Say It Play It and Create It Too”

I appreciate all teachers that order books at Melody Music Publishers. Remember to register if you haven’t already to receive discount codes for free shipping and 50% off your first copy.  Then when ordering for your students, you’ll receive free shipping and 20% off all future orders. I wrote these books from my own experience teaching this age group how they think and learn. My hope is the young student will be excited about learning to play the piano and are given the steps needed to succeed for a lifetime. Thank you for doing the best job in the world, sharing your joy and passion for music with others.

Kathi Kerr - owner Melody Music Publishers

Kathi Kerr founded Melody Music Studios in 1989, a nationwide music instruction studio. In 2017, she founded an independent publishing company called Melody Music Publishers. They offer piano and singing method books using small steps and repetition, how students think and learn.

Drill & Excel Sight-Singing

“Drill & Excel in Sight-Singing Book 1”

How to Sight-Sing is Now a New Addition to Melody Music Publishers

Sight-Singing For Music Majors

If you were a music major in college, you probably had to take sight-singing classes. The problem with most college courses is it’s “expected” that you already know how to sight-sing. If you’re not a piano or vocal major, this skill can be daunting. As a piano performance major, it was always easy for me to sight-sing. However, I remember the percussion majors, and even stringed instrument students, struggling with this skill. When I began teaching voice and sight-singing, I realized there needed to be a book designed to approach it in a step-by-step way. If you’re a young student who intends to make music your major in college, this is a must-need book no matter what your instrument. You’ll be years ahead of your colleagues, having gone through this book.

Sight-Singing For Choir Members

What about singing in a school or church choir? Most choir directors have to take time in the rehearsal to go over parts, especially for the alto, tenor, and bass that aren’t singing the melody. What if each choir member could read the notes for themselves without the pianists playing them? How much more can be accomplished in the rehearsal without taking the time to plunk out notes?

Sight-Singing For Lead/Backup Singers In a Band or Studio Musician

What about lead or backup singers in a band, or studio musicians? This book will greatly benefit them. Time is money, so if a singer can walk in a studio and be handed a lead sheet and be able to sing the notes, he or she will most likely be hired. If a lead or backup singer in a band can sight-sing, it will take less time in rehearsal.

The Singer is in Control

Being able to sight-sing puts you, the singer, in the driver seat. No more relying on an instrumentalist to play your part; YOU can sing it for yourself!

Sight-Singing Takes Time

The skill of sight-sing does take time to acquire. This 128-page book may take students a year or more to finish, however the rewards are great! Order your copy of “Drill & Excel in Sight-Singing Book 1” today and begin to learn the excellent (and fun) art of sight-singing!

Would you like to preview each page of the book? Watch our movie where the author goes through every page with commentary and audio.


Kathi Kerr founded Melody Music Studios in 1989, a nationwide music instruction studio. Then in 2017, she founded Melody Music Publishers, an independent publishers for piano and singing method books, and how students think and learn.