Philosophy

Jennifer Philosophy

Learning music is an exciting endeavor for students of all ages and although it is an educational activity it should also be fun! In my nearly 20 years of teaching I’ve learned that keeping students engaged and excited about their lessons is the key to a fast progression through the beginning levels of study. It is much easier to keep students satisfied in the early-intermediate levels and above because there are simply more options and roads to take when a student’s skill-set is more developed.

The other key factor is familiarity of the music assigned in the early stages. Students will obviously practice more during the week if they like the way their assigned music sounds, but you can literally ‘stack the deck’ by also offering them music that is easily recognizable. This eliminates one of the most common woes of beginning students, that inevitable feeling of, “am I doing it right?” when they are at home practicing on their own. This is less of an issue with students at later levels who have acquired enough general skills and confidence that they are less apt to doubt themselves and avoid practicing for fear that they are doing it wrong.

Why did I write this series? I had 3 main goals when I set out on this endeavor back in 2001. First, I wanted a series that was full of music that students really enjoyed listening to and playing. I have road-tested this repertoire on hundreds of students of all ages and from all walks of life and spent years revising and adjusting things to get just the right blend of pieces. I wanted students in the earlier levels to have a wide-variety of musical selections that exposed them to many different genres, something that I feel is lacking in other lesson books. Additionally, taste-testing all types of music gives students an idea of the path they might like to take in later stages of the lesson process. For instance, if they really like the jazz/blues style pieces in the Piano Pronto books they may want to consider focusing on that type of music. If they like the lyrical, pop-sounding solos they will probably like to explore the music of David Lanz later down the road. Same goes with the classical selections, both original repertoire and the arrangements. By exposing them early on we are setting them up with lots of choices for the future and showing them the wide array of available musical genres.

Secondly, I wanted to teach students from day one about how to practice effectively because as teachers we all know that quality practice is essential! The Pronto Prep sections in the series are a unique feature that you won’t find anywhere else. For nearly every piece in the series I have taken out the tricky sections (you know, all the sections that students avoid practicing) and placed them in the “Pronto Prep” section before they start the piece. If you’re only assigning half of the piece you can choose to only assign the prep exercises that apply to what your student is working on that particular week. However you choose to use them, these sections basically do the “leg work” of showing students where they need to focus their efforts. If they practice these prep sections judiciously the repertoire will be learned at a faster pace.

Third, I wanted to create a “non-intrusive” all-in-one type course that could be used with students of any age, but didn’t feel too much like a traditional “method book.” There are no illustrations of dancing frogs in the Piano Pronto books, just a clean, user-friendly layout. The explanations and exercises are all of a practical nature and won’t intrude on whatever other materials you may be using. I realize as a teacher myself that we all get a little set in our ways about what books/methods we like to use. Piano Pronto seeks to add a little “spice” to your current recipe by offering up some fresh materials and music that hasn’t already been ‘done to death.’ For younger teachers the Piano Pronto books are also a great place to start since the pedagogy is very clearly laid out.

You landed on our site for a reason. Probably because you’re looking for something that is different from the two or three standard courses that are most commonly used with students. I applaud your open-mindedness and hope you will enjoy browsing through the Piano Pronto books, our solo songbooks, and the sheet music here on the site. My goal above everything else is to continually put out a high-quality product that I can guarantee will keep your students excited about their piano lesson experience!

~Jennifer Eklund

Author, Piano Pronto