My most recent discovery is Jennifer Eklund’s series “Piano Pronto.” This is an extremely user-friendly group of books that presents reading notes immediately, yet in a clear and cumulative way, allowing students to play familiar pieces very soon after they’ve begun lessons. Along with Piano Pronto, I’ve added “Joy Tunes” interactive app on the iPad and created accounts for students to use and make progress on at home. Many teachers in my forums and facebook groups are doing similar things with digital possibilities and the students seem to be enthusiastically on board.
In addition to the newer methods, I still use the Faber method books most often, with supplemental theory books from Theory Time and Just the Facts. Improvisational materials are from the Westlund Piano Course, Music by Me, and a variety of related books and materials including “fake books” and chord progression exercises. Original compositions are also given attention, suggestions and direction. Arpeggios and Scales are introduced early and are connected to key signatures of current repertoire. Ear Training exercises are also a regular part of lessons.
Students have an assignment book that they bring to each lesson for detailed explanation and directions for home practice sessions. Assignments are given in the theory book, as well as 2 to 3 pieces in the repertoire and lessons books.
Intermediate and advanced students add the Bastien Piano Literature Volumes 1 – 4. A vast amount of literature is available in the 16 volumes of The International Library of Piano Music in my studio. Many other various repertoire books and solo sheet music is presented for variety and ongoing interest. Online sheet music sources supply requested music such as Beatles, Coldplay, Ballet music and Broadway selections.
I use the computer program Sibelius program for creating scores and printing them in a professional style.
The Roland Music Tutor in available and uses interactive disks to assist students in their practice. The Music Tutor’s accompaniment options include practicing a piece at different rhythmic speeds, playing one hand at a time with accompaniment, and instrumental additions creating a virtual orchestra.
Two years ago, I acquired a Roland RM-700 to add to the Yamaha Grand that I’d been using. The Roland has endless possibilities for those students inclined to composition, arranging and simply enhancing standard repertoire with instrumentation and percussion accompaniment. I find the blending of the two approaches attracts almost any student and creates a desire to improve skills.