1. What makes Piano Adventures different from other piano methods?

Piano Adventures is unique for its foundation on a “triangle of learning” called ACE. The three components within the triangle—ACE—stand for Analysis, Creativity, and Expression. The books are imbued with these three learning principles to create a full, successful music experience. For more, check out Teach and Learn with ACE.

Piano Adventures also offers methods that recognize four different age levels. Each method caters to attributes of that age group for pacing, repertoire, theory, technique, and creative activities. For an overview,

  • My First Piano Adventure (ages 5-6)
    Written for the young beginner, this course captures the child’s playful spirit with five “friends at the piano,” charming songs, and rhythm and technique games.
  • Basic Piano Adventures (ages are 6-11)
    Piano Adventures Basic offers an exciting exploration. Its varied 8-level curriculum has appealing repertoire, theory, improvisation, composition, and a systematic technique program right from the start.
  • Adult Piano Adventures (ages 17-100!)
    Ideal for the beginning adult or as a refresher course for the returning adult, the All-in-One Books teach skills to play hundreds of familiar songs. Enjoy online support with 3-Minute Theory and Technique pages.

One of the most valuable features that sets Piano Adventures apart is the teacher and student support for all levels. Check out Resources for a full overview.

2. Why are there four books per level?

The four core books—Lesson, Theory, Technique & Artistry, Performance—were created for wholistic learning based on the ACE triangle—analysis, creativity, and expression. The Theory, Technique & Artistry, and Performance Books give valuable perspectives that reinforce and develop concepts in the Lesson Books.

The four core books address things easy to miss in lessons: ear-training, sightreading, improvisation, games, and, importantly, its unique system of technique development for all 8 levels. Taking the time for deeper learning with the four core books also prepares the student for success at the next level.

3. How do you use the four core books in a 30-minute lesson?

If possible, all students will benefit most from a 45-minute lesson to a one-hour lesson for older students. Lesson time is short and the week is long! However, for a 30-minute lesson, the teacher has several options:

  • Make the Lesson Book the focus.

For Primer students, use the Adventure Learning Videos  (Question 4) to introduce new Lesson Book pieces at home and for practice support.

  • Assign Theory Book pages to be done at home with parent support as needed.
  • Make the Technique & Artistry Book a staple at the lesson.
  • As needed, assign Performance Book pieces as “Show What You Know” pieces to learn at home as an independent learner.

4. What are the Adventure Learning Videos™? How do I use them?

The Adventure Learning Videos feature close-ups of the hands with simple text to tap the student’s “musical mind” for theory analysis and technique tips.

The videos can be used in different ways.

  • The teacher has the student watch a video at home for a piece presented at the lesson. Since it offers unique practice support, the video reminds the student of key musical points for a successful next lesson.
  • The teacher may assign a new piece not presented at the lesson. This fosters independent learning. Students “adventure” on their own and grow in self-confidence.
  • The teacher could suggest using Adventure Learning Videos for a holiday vacation project.
  • The teacher shares an Adventure Learning Video at a Zoom lesson. The student reads the text aloud in order to participate as well as watch.
  • The teacher shows the video at a group lesson to introduce the piece.

Currently, the Adventure Learning Videos are available for the Primer Lesson Book in the Basic Piano Adventures Method. (More Adventure Learning Videos are planned for the next levels.)

5. Questions about specific series and books? See below.

BOOK ARRAY

6. My student is six. Should we start with Book A in My First Piano Adventures or the Primer in Basic Piano Adventures?

Each entry point is a little different. A teacher will usually know after a first interview with the student and parent which series is the best fit.

These descriptions may help.

My First Piano Adventure Book A for 5 to 6-year-old children was created to mirror the world of the child. Discovery at the piano is filled with friends, animals, and places for an imaginative learning environment. Children explore music through what they know how to do best—play, sing, move!

Basic Piano Adventures Primer Book for 6 to 11-year-olds begins staff reading sooner than “My First” Book A. The Theory Book requires the ability to write— more than simple circling used for Book A. Sophisticated artwork and song titles span the 6-11 age group well. Sample titles include “My Invention,” “Petite Minuet,” “The Dance Band,” “Football Game,” and “Yankee Doodle.”

7. Why are eighth notes not presented earlier in Piano Adventures? Why are eighth notes used in some PlayTime Piano books?

Eighth notes are introduced in Level 2A. The Primer Level and Level 1 do not use 8th-note patterns. Instead, the emphasis is on a natural, rather quick pulse with quarter, half, dotted-half, and whole notes.

This creates a more flowing approach to rhythm with special emphasis to play “over the bar line” as early as the Primer Technique & Artistry Book. The faster pulse produces natural, singable phrasing. All too often, if 8th notes predominate early, the result can be a plodding, arhythmic sound—certainly something to avoid.

Once students have learned a basic set of notes and can maintain a strong, rhythmic pulse, then 8th notes are introduced in songs, five-finger scales, and other exercises.

In PlayTime Books, 8th notes are indeed used in some songs. These songs are almost always familiar to students, such as “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” or “Let it Go” in PlayTime Disney.

Students unfamiliar with 8th notes may be taught using a “combo approach” of descriptive words and imitation.

  • First, circle the 8th notes in the music.
    Teacher and student chant “ta” for quarter notes and “ti-ti” for 8th notes. Or, “walk, run-ning.”
  • Teacher demonstrates on the piano. Student imitates.

8. What books do you recommend for siblings? Can they share?

Families can certainly share books. It saves the family from purchasing new books, and often a younger sibling has heard pieces being practiced by the older brother or sister. There is a certain joy in playing the piece the older sibling learned. Often, progress is faster for the younger child as a result.

If two siblings are beginning at the same time, and one is, for instance, 6 and the other sibling is 8, the teacher can:

  • Have both students study in the Primer Lesson Book, letting both children and parents know the older child usually progresses faster and that is natural.
  • Theory Books would need to be purchased for each child.
  • The Technique & Artistry Book can be shared.
  • The teacher could choose different solo books instead of using the Performance Book for both siblings. Or, one child might enjoy the Sightreading Book while the other uses the Performance Book.

If there is a wider age gap, the teacher could begin the younger student in the Primer and the older student (10-11) in the Book 1 Accelerated Course.

9. How long should a student practice each day?

The length of practice depends on how much is assigned. Beginners should aim for 15 minutes minimum. If practice is focused, a lot can be accomplished in 15 minutes! Some students may be able to practice 20 minutes in a sitting or divide the time into two 10-minute sessions.

Entering Level 1 and beyond, the 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week is always a good basic goal. Parents and students should recognize that progress is completely based on regular practice. By Level 3B, 45-minutes a day is excellent as many students are also studying piano literature. At level 5 and beyond, an hour a day will yield great results with the student expressing self-confidence and focus as a dedicated player.

The goal, from 15-minute practice sessions to hour-long practice sessions (or beyond), is to develop the student’s love of piano and have a gift for life.

10. My student plays slowly and still fumbles with rhythm. What can I do?

If a beginner in “My First” or the Basic Primer Level has a poor sense of rhythm, see Primer Q&A, Question 12. There are fun things that can be done.

The teacher will want to determine if the rhythmic problem is indeed a rhythm problem. Or is it a challenge in note reading or perhaps a technical challenge? Sometimes it can be two at once! If it is a rhythm challenge, here are possible interventions:

  • If the problem is just a measure here and there, demonstrate the measure an octave higher or lower and have the student imitate. Go back and forth 4-5 times so the student is comfortable and “has it.” Imitation may be more natural for the student than metric counting. The rhythm is now in the student’s“muscle memory.”As a follow-up, the counts may be written in. Then tap and count the measure aloud and ask the student to do the same. Go back and forth several times. The rhythm is now in the student’s “mental memory.”Next, play from the beginning of the line and we can coach the student to “own that measure.” Then play from the beginning of the piece. Voila!
  • One common rhythm ailment is rushing the tempo. This is often accompanied by not being attentive to holding half notes or whole notes their full value. Playing the Teacher Duets is an excellent way for students to feel the steady beat and also check their rhythm accuracy.
  • The orchestrations take the Teacher Duets to the next level with added layers of rhythms. The orchestrations are a tremendous advantage as the student is now part of a bigger ensemble, be it a jazz band or orchestra! Students quickly consciously realize their own part needs to be accurate. As they play, they also unconsciously process the small subdivisions of the beat via the orchestrations. An invaluable aid in developing a sense of the interplay of rhythm!

11. My student plays fast, loud, and sloppy. What can I do?

This question is a close relative of Question 10 above. Diligent playing of the Teacher Duets, and doing this at slow, medium, and fast tempi will help students set and reset tempi with the required rhythmic adjustments.

The orchestrations are a rhythm coach in themselves and can produce some remarkable changes.

All of this being said, sometimes enthusiastic students have a rollicking good time seeing how fast their fingers can go, come what may! We also want to let them enjoy exploring “a bit wildly” as part of the adventure.

The teacher must ascertain if it is best to do a rigorous reset of that particular piece or if it might be better to move on, knowing this tendency can best be handled working with new pieces. New practice strategies can be set, such as playing the “fast piece” at an adagio tempo, even giving it a new name! Then use this as preparation for the faster, challenging tempo.

12. When is a piece good enough to pass?

This is a good question and “the bar” may change slightly from piece to piece and student to student. A few points:

  • Most of us know that flawless performances may not be achieved on every piece. Overall, however, we can expect correct notes, rhythm, and dynamics. This is the goal.
  • In general, the method book pieces are on such a gentle incline that most students can achieve a high degree of performance. Some pedagogues have said that often we leave a piece just a little too soon—before we have gleaned the best value from it.With this in mind, we can have different perspectives for when a piece is “good enough to pass.” One goal is notes, rhythm, and dynamics. Another might be understanding the harmony with a new student ending—even though the performance may not be up to “recital quality.” Another might be to transpose the piece, or part of the piece, with a reasonably successful rendition. And yet another might be to analyze and memorize the piece, playing to a high standard.All of these ideas help build the student’s “musical mind.” They bring the student beyond thinking that playing the piano is only notes and rhythm.
  • What about piano literature? What if a student struggles with a technical passage in a sonatina but plays the rest of the piece well? If, after diligent effort, the passage remains a “trip hazard,” this may be part of a bigger picture of advancing technique. The same technique challenges can be addressed in future exercises and pieces, and so it may be best to go on. Keep the student winning with a feeling of progress.

Lastly, students may not remember every piece studied, but they will remember the joy (or onus) of lessons and the musical understanding achieved through adventurous teaching. The teacher plays a grand role in intuitively guiding the student forward.

13. Are there answer keys available for the Theory books?

Yes! In the top Menu click Resources and look under Support. Here is a quick link: Theory Answer Keys

14. How is the Piano Adventures Performance Book different from the Piano Adventures Gold Star Performance Book?

The Piano Adventures Performance Books are available at 8 levels, Primer through Level 5. They are carefully correlated with the Lesson Book, unit by unit, piece by piece.

The Piano Adventures Gold Star Books are available for the first four levels, Primer through Level 2B. As the title suggests, “Gold Star” pieces are especially appropriate for recitals and are labeled, “Challenging pieces with changing hand positions.”

A fun feature of the Gold Star Books is that they include engaging audio performances with children singing the songs. These can become akin to popular children’s songs. The children’s vocals bring out the character of the pieces, encourage singing and make listening fun. The Gold Star Books include online access to audio for both listening and play-along.

15. For an older beginner, should I use the Accelerated Series or the Adult All-in-One series?

A teacher or older beginner could use the age recommendations of the Accelerated Course for ages 11-17 and the Adult Course for ages 17-100.

Also helpful in decision making is that each of the two levels of the Accelerated Course has 4 core books: Lesson, Theory, Technique & Artistry, and Performance.

The Adult Course is a spiral-bound “All-in-One” Course with two course books. Adult Book 1 and Adult Book 2. Each volume really packs a punch of information! Also included are 3-Minute Theory and 3-Minute Technique exercises in each book.

Supplementary repertoire books are available for both of these courses. The PreTime to BigTime Series is well-suited for the accelerated student, although these books could also be used by an adult. The Adult Course has its own dedicated series, Adult at the Piano, that features Christmas, Classics, and Popular Books.

16. What level comes after the Accelerated Book 2? What comes after the Adult Book 2?

After Accelerated Book 2, a student could begin Basic Piano Adventures Level 3A and continue up the next levels of Level 3B, Level 4, and Level 5.

Four core books are at each level provides a broad, wholistic approach: Lesson, Theory, Technique & Artistry, and Performance.

At Level 3A, students can also begin the FunTime Piano Series that has many musical genres from which to choose: Christmas, Classics, Disney, Favorites, Hits, Hymns, Jazz & Blues, Kids’ Songs, Music from China, Popular, Rock ‘n Roll, and Studio Collection.

In addition, students may also begin The Developing Artist Preparatory Book or Piano Literature Book 1. Also available is The Developing Artist Sonatina Book 1. All of these collections have audio performances available to model sounds, styles, and form.

17. What do you recommend for students when they complete Level 5?

Level 5 is a student bridge to the great piano repertoire. The level promotes recognition of harmony in many keys. Technique is guided with a focus on scales and arpeggios—playing these fluidly and tension free. Students have studied pieces by Clementi, Burgmüller, and Bach, among others. Folk tunes with active L.H. accompaniments mingle with jazz and blues standards.

  • When learning the style of a composer, a good guideline is to learn 3 pieces by that composer. We begin to understand the “composer’s voice,” styling, harmony, and pianism. Students may enjoy the following publications:

3-PIECE COLLECTIONS

The Keyboard Artist: Chopin: Three Mazurkas
The Keyboard Artist: Chopin: Three Easier Waltzes
The Keyboard Artist: Grieg: Four Lyric Pieces

OTHER COLLECTIONS:

The Developing Artist: Selections from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach
The Developing Artist: Music for a Dark and Stormy Night

ACHIEVEMENT LITERATURE SHEETS

BAROQUE

J.S. Bach: Prelude in C

CLASSICAL

C.E.P. Bach: Solfeggietto
Beethoven: Für Elise
Beethoven: Sonatina in G Major
Beethoven: Sonata in G Major
Mozart: Rondo alla Turca
Mozart: Sonata in C Major

ROMANTIC

Chopin: Prelude in D-flat Major, “Raindrop”
Pieczonka: Tarantella

IMPRESSIONISTIC

Debussy: Clair de Lune
Debussy: La fille au cheveaux de lin

CONTEMPORARY

N. Faber: Egyptian Rhapsody

18. Will there be a Sightreading Book for Level 5? Will there be a Technique & Artistry Book for Level 5?

At the present time there is no plan for a Sightreading Level 5 Book. Instead, students may enjoy sightreading the ChordTime or FunTime Books, or other repertoire the teacher recommends.

Level 5 students can also study the Hanon-Faber Book and the Piano Adventures Scale Book 3.

The Hanon-Faber, The New Virtuoso Pianist, edited by Randall Faber, contains select exercises from “Hanon’s The Virtuoso Pianist” and were carefully chosen for their effectiveness. An important feature of the book includes transformative warm-ups to develop gesture, dexterity, and virtuosity. Video support is available here.

Piano Adventures Scale Book 3 addresses scales and arpeggios as the backbone of confident, polished playing. The book has 3 objectives:

  • To play 2-, 3-, and 4-octave scales with security and accuracy.
  • To understand chord geography through transposing based on tonic, dominant, and leading tone.
  • To use alignment, wrist circles, and a weightless thumb for scales that are pearly, rippling, or roaring across the keys!

19. What is Technique & Artistry Online?

Technique & Artistry Online offers an innovative step-by-step approach to technical motions with 30 Technique Secrets carefully conceived from early to advanced levels. Teachers may delve into the “language of technique” with descriptive, memorable words, physical motions, abundant exercises, and artistic pieces.

Browse the three areas:

  • Piano Adventures Method
  • Basic Technique Skills
  • Piano Repertoire

For close-up videos and a wealth of information, visit pianoadventures.com/technique

20. I’m searching for a particular song in the Piano Adventures catalog. Can you help me find it?

While we’re working on a full song search feature across all publications, try using the Search tool inside the current print catalog.

  • Click on the magnifying glass/document icon.
  • Enter the desired text and press the Return key (for more results, try just a portion of a song name).
  • Click on the page result to jump to it.