Incorporating important and healthy principles of The Taubman Approach to Piano Playing, 88 Keys to Mastering the Piano is a unique, graded-level piano method designed to help pre-college age students learn to play the piano with ease, facility, confidence, and artistry. The journey from the first lesson to the last remains engaging as students discover ways to listen, think, and move so that they may create beautiful sounds at the piano and express all of their emotions through music.
Through creative compositions, videos, mp3 accompaniments, rhythm raps, a Technic Treasure Hunt, ear-training, fun off-the-bench activities, improvisation, rote pieces, and the accompanying Piano Exploration books, students will enjoy the learning process and their music-making as they develop strong skills in theory, sight-reading, ear-training, rhythm, and discover the foundations of a healthy, amazing piano technic.
Virtual flip book format available (in addition to print version) is a fabulous resource particularly for online teaching and is invaluable for teaching motion and alignment, technic, as well as providing motivation with the engaging instructional videos and mp3 accompaniments.
Healthy technic: Unique to the series, students will discover a healthy, coordinate piano technic and the secrets of effortless, tension-free playing. From note reading and keyboard theory, to listening and theoretical concepts, the development of an ergonomically correct and subsequently amazing piano technic dictate the progression of all the materials throughout the series. Outdated practices from the 18th and 19th centuries, (which are unfortunately still taught in the 21st century, despite developments in the field of ergonomic motion and injury prevention) are avoided. Instead, the components of an effortless virtuosity at the piano are systematically introduced throughout the course with step-by-step instructions. When these principles of coordinate motion are applied under the supervision of an expert teacher who is trained extensively in the Taubman Approach, students will master the skills necessary for a lifetime of playing the piano with ease, brilliance, and confidence. Click here to learn more about the Taubman Approach and why musicians from around the world --- from concert pianists, to college professors and students, to symphony orchestra players, and piano students of all levels --- seek out and and benefit from instruction with qualified Taubman teachers.
"Virtuosity at the piano and in life ... for a lifetime." These healthy principles may also be applied to typing and other everyday activities so that students can learn to use their hands in ways that avoid excess tension, fatigue, limitation, and even possible future pain or injury …. in everyday life, not just at the piano.
Technic Treasure Hunt! The approach to technic is exciting and easy to grasp. Yes, students eventually learn important scales, chords, arpeggios, and other fundamentals of keyboard theory, yet they will also learn how to execute these skills at the piano with the utmost ease, fluidity, speed, and tonal control. Students will not simply suffer through boring etudes and exercises with no direction as to how to play, only what to play. Instead, they will master important principles of a healthy and ultimately virtuosic piano technic. These principles are broken down systematically and students have fun deciphering clues and collecting gold coins as they embark upon a Technic Treasure Hunt!
In Book 1 the student will be learning how to connect sound with motion. The simplicity of these early pieces and activities allows the student to focus on developing:
maintaining a steady beat at varying tempos
posture and alignment
balance at the instrument
counting aloud while playing
manipulating complex stimuli (playing at a steady tempo while simultaneously listening to accompaniments)
Why is there an entire page devoted to each of the white keys? Why are there so many pages devoted to finger numbers and RH/LH drills? Because over the past 30+ years of teaching, the author has found that most students need a tremendous amount of reinforcement on these concepts. There are often holes in the learning when they progress too quickly without enough reinforcement. If there is an entire page dedicated to each new concept, the student will not only have a better chance of memorizing and absorbing the information intellectually, but also absorbing and memorizing the concept physically.
Each new concept and layer of learning must be mastered not only intellectually but also kinesthetically. Students will be developing superior multisensory skills, changing brain structure, and creating a new instrument ... their body instrument as, for example, they 'rhythm' the white key D to be played with a steady beat, with soft or loud sounds, in the RH or the LH, at fast or slow tempos, in high or low registers of the keyboard, along with the accompaniment part or metronome, while also counting or singing along.
To achieve these goals it is essential the student
use the mp3 accompaniments during home practice as well as the teacher accompaniments during lessons
complete each assignment, even if only playing one time (which will be the reality for most students)
count aloud as they play
include numerous off the bench activities (get a drum, a giant floor keyboard etc.)
participate in the learning process
complete written theory assignments and activities in the Piano Exploration books
Typically, depending upon the student, one unit will be addressed per week/lesson. Hour lessons are ideal, even with younger students. 45-minute lessons minimal. Review pieces from previous units and build "a repertoire".
Watch the technic videos together in the lessons (or, if time is limited, watch part of the video and assign the remaining section to be viewed for homework, reminding the parent(s) to view as well.) Rote pieces will provide challenges. Rote pieces may be simplified or augmented if needed. if needed. General music appreciation videos (i.e. composers) may be assigned as homework.
Home Practice Techniques: Another important objective of Book 1 is to introduce students to effective practice techniques and establish routines and habits. It is important to remember that students will typically only practice at home what they've practiced in lessons. Flashcard drill? Technic drill? (If the student did not properly execute a new motion at least 5 or so times in the lesson, it is unlikely the proper motion will be able to be reproduced at home) Count aloud? Use the mp3 accompaniment? Use the metronome? Complete written assignments?
Divide the introductory pages up and parcel out the information in small bites over the course of all the levels. The introductory pages are included at the beginning of each level in the series so that the student and teacher may easily refer back to them. Mastering successful practice technic is a process and takes many years.
Don't hesitate to reassign a technic challenge (for example if a student failed to observe proper seating by adjusting the bench or using a foot stool). Involve the parent(s) and, if you are providing a "technic treasure box" incentive, do not give the gold coin reward until there is some improvement. However remember that the development of a healthy, coordinate technic is a process and each aspect of technic will continue to improve over time, particularly as new concepts are added. Just as you review repertoire from previous Units, review technic challenges. A "Victory Landing" during the 1st or 2nd month of piano study will look quite different from a "Victory Landing" during the 9th or 10th month, or 3rd year of piano study. For example, the movements will become refined and minimized and as new elements are added, such as forearm rotation, motions combine and become something quite magical.
It is the same with sound. We break this celestial "harmony of the spheres" down into tiny fragments. Then we put them all together again. It can take 3, 4, or 6 years before we begin to experience the whole. It can take a lifetime of perfecting the whole as the metaphysical principle of mathematical relationships combine to form a cosmos ... as the notes, dots, lines, vibrations, emotions, and senses merge together to form music.
It is important to allow the time for the body and the brain to process and absorb the skills of mastering listening and connecting motions with sound. It is impossible to force a technic into a body in a healthy manner.
Learning How to Practice: Even the method book's approach to mastering successful home practice habits is fun and entertaining for students!
Having taught children for over 30 years, the author knows how to appeal to a child's colorful imagination, creativity, and energy. From engaging compositions, accompaniment parts, and presentation of information, there is nothing boring about this method series. It is also "student tested" for over a decade. Those compositions and pedagogical activities that were not deemed successful (by both teachers and a majority of students) were replaced by "approved" material.
Understanding Accidentals (from Book 3):
Technic is taught from the music itself. Whether it is understanding the correct in and out hand/forearm adjustments for Burgmuller's Arabesque, or an earlier introduction to "in", students can enjoy instructional videos which demonstrate the gold coin technic challenge.
There is no other method book series like this available. We are currently in the process of transferring platforms for the virtual book and tweaking with final edits. Final completion (through Book 6) is due for 2026. If you would like to learn more, click below to contact.