Every piano teacher can agree on at least one thing: you can never do too much lateral supplementation with beginning level students. One of the primary goals of the Piano Pronto® method book series is to get students reading notation on the staff from day one. Additionally, the series does not shy away from using familiar melodies as an entry point for quickly gaining both note-reading literacy and exploring more complex rhythmic patterns early on in the lesson process.
I am a big proponent of mastering reading both notes and rhythms through situational experience. It is never enough to learn a concept, apply it once, and then declare it learned. I often hear of students struggling with eighth notes for instance. In the early period of the lesson process it is essential to offer students many pieces that explore the same basic concepts so that they may begin to master these fundamentals. By learning a large amount of pieces students gain confidence in these vital areas and this sets them up for success as they progress beyond the elementary level.
Because of the reliance on familiar tunes in the Piano Pronto® method books, teachers are sometimes concerned that students are relying on their ears to learn the pieces. The first two books in the Pronto Pizazz series are designed to give beginners (no matter what method books they are learning from) situational experience with basic fundamentals via original compositions in a wide variety of styles. While all of the twenty-six pieces spread across these two collections work as stand-alone solos, the pizazz factor is added via the teacher duet parts and accompaniment tracks heard in the Piano Maestro app.
Rising Starz is a collection of ten primer level solos suitable for beginners no matter their age. The single line melodies are notated on a single staff with stem directions denoting when to use the right or left hand. The pieces in the hardcopy publication offer note names inside the noteheads as well as finger numbers so that each song can be learned by note, rote, or finger number. Note that finger numbers are not offered on repeated notes so students are required to practice tracking the directional shifts in the notation. Rising Starz utilizes a multi-key approach to allow early beginners to explore different areas of the keyboard. This book is ideal for students using Piano Pronto method books like Keyboard Kickoff and Prelude.
Pronto Pizazz Volume 1 features sixteen beginning-level solos and is slightly more difficult than Rising Starz. In Pronto Pizazz Volume 1 students are reading on the grand staff and using simple harmonic intervals in the left hand. The majority of the pieces are centered on a full 5-finger C position (not Middle C position). The music ranges from lyrical pop stylings in songs like “Rising Star” and “Shall We Dance” to jazzy selections like “Rockin’ the Boat” and “Jazz Cat.” Students currently playing from Piano Pronto Prelude and Movement 1 are ideal candidates for Pronto Pizazz Volume 1.
Offering a wide selection of repertoire to beginners is the key to sparking and maintaining motivation levels with students. Supplementing with Rising Starz and Pronto Pizazz Volume 1 will offer students of all ages a wide variety of materials to hone their skills early in the lesson process!