Testimonials

I find Elza Lusher's invention extraordinary - unique in the world. I am proud that I can support such a creation. Prof. Cecilia Vajda - Student of Kodály and Director of the Kodály Institute of Britain
I would, without hesitation, recommend "Dogs and Birds" as a most wonderful introduction for our youngest children in the commencement of their musical journey at the piano.  Emily Jeffrey – Royal College of Music, Purcell School and Royal Holloway, University of London
I have been using the Dogs and Birds method with my own young daughter, and we have been having great fun with it. She is captivated by the animals, which serve as a very effective mnemonic device, instantly overcoming any sense of obstacle to recognising notes. The use of Kodály principles has been very carefully considered, and knowledge of pitch, rhythm and expression are built up very logically and enjoyably. The art work is superb, particularly the wonderful pictures in the new 'Nursery Rhymes and Famous Melodies' book. I recommend 'Dogs and Birds' wholeheartedly.  Douglas Finch - Professor of Piano and Composition, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
I now have 5 children using Dogs & Birds. They love it and are making amazing progress! Their parents are very impressed, as well! (which is always useful...) In fact one child started learning after hearing her friend, who'd had 4 lessons, playing in my student concert and then nagging her mother to start lessons with me! So a massive thank you! Catherine Jones, Dursley
I absolutely love your method. I am using it with a student (who is 4y 6m at the moment) and it works. I was desperate at the beginning, searching the Internet for hours and hours until I found 'Dogs and Birds'. Thank you, Elza. I am so happy I discovered your method! Marina Chashchina, Harlow
We have received your absolutely great book of songs and melodies. Thanks for teaching kids to love piano playing!!! Alice Vondrys, Innsbruck, Austria
This material is excellent. It uses a multi-sensory approach and encourages children to match the note on the page with the key on the piano. It has been a great success with my pupils, particularly with those who struggle with note-reading. Since using this material, their sense of beat has much improved through the various rhythm exercises and the constant emphasis on counting in. While other piano tutors can be too abstract for children, Dogs and Birds is accessible. It is also great fun and I have enjoyed teaching more since I started using it! Elizabeth Cormack, Cheltenham
A unique tutor book that teaches music rather than notation. Children learn to sing, and find their way about the piano with ease. Caroline Blount, Chertsey
I just wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying teaching my children your delightful piano method. I have got two boys: Oliver aged 6 and Alex aged nearly 5. Both boys are really enjoying their lessons, and it is such a privilege to watch them learn. We are on step 4 already and they are doing really well. Your method is so well thought out and clear to teach. Harriet Bruce, Edinburgh
When I stumbled across your website I was quite intrigued, so bought a starter set of resources to trial with my youngest beginner pianists. I can firmly say, after some months of teaching children as young as four years old, it is a delight to be working with your beautiful materials. I have been teaching for over ten years now and never before have I felt so sure about my approach with the very young. Prior to my discovering these fantastic materials, I felt that it is best to wait until the child is about 6 or 7 before starting piano lessons, but with Dogs and Birds I can confidently deliver my lessons to very young children knowing they will gain fundamental skills and techniques, and are certain to have lots and lots of fun in doing so! Sarah Mead BA(Hons) PGCE, Herne Bay, Kent
My son is only 5 and has been pestering me for some kind of help learning piano for a while now, but I was unsure as I thought he was far too young. But your fabulous book has started him off fantastically and he just loves it. It has a perfect balance of being super easy and suitable for a very young player, but at the same time is not too babyish in its presentation and gives him such a feeling of accomplishment in a very grown up way. I could rattle on forever singing your praises, but to cut a long story short, well done - you have a fabulous product and should be very proud of it! Ruth Carter, Wolverhampton
I just wanted to write to say thanks for developing such a fantastic system! I've been using it with pupils for about 3 years and have had loads of success, but recently was delighted to find that it worked wonders with a 6 year old student of mine who has Autism. She really struggled with music notation and was getting very frustrated, but took to Dogs and Birds immediately. She loves the illustrationsand thinks the animal names for notes are hilarious! It's such a relief for me to be able to communicate musically with her. Heather Minor, Brighton
I have only been using Dogs and Birds for a few months, but I can already see the benefits for my youngest students. In particular they are learning note names and developing their inner ear withou realising it, in a fun, yet permanent way. And the pictures are also brilliant as well as relevant and helpful! I would recommend these books unreservedly, and look forward to additions to the D's and B's catalogue. Nick Edwards, Bath
Animal fun for children, making notation easier to read and remember. Beautifully illustrated with plenty of tunes to play and sing. Gillian Graham, Dublin
I used Dogs and Birds for the first time as I was teaching a 6 year old who was not responding to the more traditional approach of teaching piano. I found Dogs and Birds on the internet whilst searching for inspiration and decided to give it a go. I cannot rate this method highly enough. I have found that the very youngare able to relate to this methodology and the transition from the very visual approach to music to standard musical notes is extremely easy. Well done and I will certainly use you again! Marilyn Farrell, Corby, Northamptonshire
I have found that Elza and Chris Lusher's volumes Dogs and Birds, with Liz Patton's wonderful illustrations have been invaluable in providing our SEVEN grandchildren (ages 5 to 12) with not only an enthusiasm for playing the piano, but also a good standard of general musicianship! The volumes are never off my piano's music stand!! Wynford Evans, Staines(Graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama)
It is a real joy to see my students playing these tunes, and knowing how to work out the notes. They really are reading, right from the beginning, and they understand how this will translate, so easily, to letters of the alphabet. I am really glad I have used these books, and I look forward to sharing them with many more children! Emily Clark, Weymouth
I have been using the Dogs and Birds method as part of my ‘pre-instrumental classes’ for about a year now. The response from the children and their parents has been extremely positive. Parents have been amazed at what their children can achieve and the children feel a real sense of accomplishment that they can learn a number of simple tunes so quickly. The idea of having animals in the note heads means that children as young as 4 years old can learn by this method. The teacher’s/parent’s accompanying notebook is also very useful as this supplements the playing element with other activities. I feel it is so important to build ‘all-round’ musicians and this method definitely does this. I also see it as a great foundation for any child who may not be considering the piano in the long-term, but another instrument. I spent a year following the Dogs and Birds Method with my youngest child. He is now learning the trumpet (at age 7) and it has given him a head start in that he already understands pitch and rhythm so the focus in these lessons is on the instrument itself. Thanks for all you have produced – at times I have had a waiting list for people wanting to join a group. I am now full up until next September! Sarah Leong, Long Ashton, Bristol
The 'game' components of Elza Lusher's Dogs and Birds system is a highlight of my six-year old son's practice sessions. The hands-on activity, which combines listening and singing, results in the whole family learning while having fun. We're amazed at how quickly he learns to hear the notes and rhythms and even my 18-month old recognizes the wooden animals and understands their purpose. We're delighted that my son is learning with Elza's system. Lisa Boyce, Englefield Green
I use Dogs and Birds very successfully with two 5-year-olds. The teacher's handbook gives plenty of ideas of what to do, although this doesn't prevent me from adding a few ideas of my own. The system has been surprisingly useful with a 7-year-old with reading difficulties at school. He was progressing painfully slowly with a couple of different conventional tutor books before the reading difficulties were identified. Once I was made aware of the situation, I decided to try Dogs and Birds. He took to it immediately - loves the stories and drawings - and is whizzing through the tunes now. It has boosted his confidence enormously. SJ
I started using the Dogs and Birds system a couple of months ago with my new, younger, students. I have found it very easy to use and students have taken to it very quickly. I would not hesitate to use it with any child younger than seven; I wish I had discovered it earlier. I certainly do not know of any other method that can be used with children as young as four, as I have been doing. Joanna Kemsley, Greenhithe, Kent
I have used much material for young beginners, but have found Dogs and Birds works really well with the years 1 and 2 and those with word reading problems. Suitable for either keyboard or acoustic piano to start rehearsing on. Alison Raines, Horndean, Hampshire
Before I came across Dogs and Birds, I didn't believe it was really possible to teach 4 and 5 year olds to play the piano satisfactorily. Having read the review in Music Teacher, I thought I would give your scheme a go. Wow! So far I have been staggered to see what my youngest pupils have been able to achieve. Not only are the 4 and 5 year olds able to sing and play the short pieces perfectly at first sight, but using the ingenious wooden animals, they can learn to find the notes on the piano in seconds. Thus, they can find their way around the entire keyboard confidently and accurately. The sung finger exercises and echo game are invaluable in training ear and memory, and with the enhanced understanding of intervals, I am confident that they will continue to be able to play at sight to a better level than my older pupils, who have been using the more conventional tutors. I would like to say thank you for this wonderful series. It has lent a new dimension to my teaching across the different age groups, and certainly helped me out this term, when I started teaching for the local county music service, and was presented with a batch of 4 year olds without warning! What could have been a depressing failure turned into a triumph and a great pleasure. Helen Slater, Surrey
2 pupils are using the books - a boy aged 7 and a girl who is nearly 4, but I use the animals with all beginners. I have a collection of animals for all the octaves, e.g. 7 geese, 8 ants, etc. I also apply the singing-along method with all music being learnt. Natasha Cox, Ely
I found the Dogs and Birds books a few weeks ago on the internet when asked to teach the piano to a young child of 5. I had always thought 7 was the ideal age to start, and didn't think that any of the material I had was suitable, so when I read that Dogs and Birds was for very young children I sent for a book to look at. I was particularly interested because it uses the Kodály approach, which I have used for years in teaching young children aged 2 -7. I have found it an excellent teaching aid for this 5 year old, and am also using it with a 6 year old very successfully. It teaches all the aspects of good musicianship in a fun way, with the marching, improvisation, note finding on the big stave with the wooden animals and the internalisation and sight-singing, as well as playing the piano. In fact I have started to use some of the ideas with my older pupils too, and have them sight-singing and finding notes on the big stave. I am so glad to have discovered it and really enjoying using it - and the children love their lessons. Thank you for such a brilliant resource! Liz Le Rossignol, Ferndown, Dorset
Two children have graduated from Book 1 very successfully, one has moved on to Book 2. I have another pupil who has just started Book 1 and is enjoying it a lot. In the past I have always avoided "schemes"! Peter McLaren, Warwickshire
I have used Dogs and Birds with a number of small pupils to date. They love it. It gets them playing straight away and they really appreciate the wooden animals and stickers. The pictures appeal to their imaginations and they like to weave stories around them and colour them in. The ear training element is also good, singing along as they play and playing note recognition games. Recently, I am having quite a bit of success with a little boy who has just turned 3. He loves the animals and the pictures, and can play all the pieces with dog, bird and egg. I wondered whether it would be a bit young but he's doing really well and loving it. I have taught three pupils who have now successfully progressed to regular notation at age 6, and at the moment have four who are working on "Dogs and Birds" 1, aged between 3 and 5. I have recommended it to my daughter, Heather, who also teaches and is having a lot of success with a 4 year old pupil. She much prefers it to the more usual beginner methods for this age group. Thanks, Elza and Chris for this scheme. Jenny Metherell, Richmond, Surrey
I am now using the Dogs and Birds material on 7 of my younger pupils - all of whom love it. It has shown me that using this technique their ability to coordinate their hands together is proving a natural progression, and already their note recognition with singing is staggeringly improved! I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The younger pupils using the animal notation books are colouring them in at home and bringing them into lessons to discuss how we can use the colours in dynamic interpretation - a bonus! Linda Pegrum, Tring
I currently use the dogs and bird books with two children, and I am about to start with a third child in January 2009. My youngest learner is aged 3 and a half. His parents support him and help him find the animals which is superb for someone so young to be introduced to the piano. My other learner has just turned 5, and after 3 lessons he said 'Ceinwen, I would like to take the stickers off the piano as I can find the animals on my own.' He can after 2 months clap 4 beats in the bar and he practices on his own. The teaching method is fantastic, all children adore pictures when learning and what better way to introduce music to young children who cannot read fluently. I would 100% recommend these books, and stickers for any child who expresses an interest in playing. There is nothing else on the market for small children, unless you want to traumatise them with staves and stuff! Ceinwen Bran, Shirley, West Midlands
I have 3 students working through Dogs and Birds, age 5, age 7 and age 9. All are enjoying working through the books and the younger ones find working with animal notation useful and fun and much easier to read. The 7 year old boy is dyspraxic so I wasn't sure how he would get on, however, he can play hands together with no problem at all. His intelligence is great so he is picking it up really well, and he is looking forward to book 2. These books are so helpful for the very young and the animals make a huge difference, so thank you. Tracey Laws, Ashford, Kent
I currently have 9 pupils using the dogs and birds series. For young children aged 4 - 7 I have found that they quickly learn to follow the music and are soon playing and singing tunes enthusiastically. They are all making stunning progress. The children love the animal characters and can't wait to turn the page and start the next exciting section. I encourage my pupils to make up stories about the pictures, colour in the pictures and add their own words and music to go along with them. It's a fun way of learning music for the pupils and me! I use the manuscript books for writing down their own compositions which the children are very proud to show their class mates and family members. I play games with the wooden animals which is a great way for the children to discover all the notes on the keyboard quickly and easily. Marie Sycamore, Stoke Climsland (Full I.S.M. member and piano teacher with 15+ years experience)
I have been using the Dogs and Birds animals edition with supplementary materials for just one term with a 5-year old and am amazed by the progress she has already made.The tutor book is full of wonderful illustrations which inspire improvisations and exercises which prepare the student for playing the pieces, which are not too long. The supplementary material contains extra ideas and useful lesson plans which helps pace the lesson in small chunks enabling teaching to be as fast or as slow as the individual student requires without getting bored. The method's strong emphasis on singing taps into a child's natural enthusiasm for singing with the added bonus of learning to sight-sing from an early age. Natasha Tindall, Stevenage
I have used your method with two of my young beginners (4 years old and 5 years old). The children have immediately connected with the method because of the reference to animals. They both had the wooden animal shapes and we always made up stories, in most cases related to the drawings accompanying the exercises. The best feature of your method was, in my view, encouraging the pupils to sing and internalize intervals thus developing not only a solid aural awareness but also a better intonation - I've always incited my pupils to sing and it's wonderful when they can do it well! Mima Margiotta, Cambridge
It is a delight to teach with the Dogs and Birds books - even the youngest children are thrilled to be able to make sense of the notes on the page so quickly. I have three very happy youngsters - making very promising progress, with musical parents who like the approach, and siblings in the wings waiting to start. Hilary, Buckinghamshire
I am using your first Dogs and Birds book with three children, all under six, in individual lessons. They have taken to it very well, have stayed interested, and I am impressed with the way that they can sing the notes as well as play them. Carynne Walton, Wiltshire
I use dogs and birds for younger children and children with learning disabilities. I also use the clapping exercises with other pupils as it re-inforces good timing. The introduction of playing with both hands comes in much quicker than other books and the whole approach is very holistic. The illustrations are a fantastic stimulation for all ages as they engage the pupils in the feel of the music and then they talk about them with their parents. The little wooden animals are very tactile and easy to use too. Ceinwen Bran, Shirley, West Midlands
One year on I am really enjoying all aspects of teaching Dogs and Birds. My 2 groups of 5-6 year olds who've had 10 lessons are reading the notes from Book 1 with enthusiasm. The best part of your method is that the infants I teach have such a variety of activities that their focus is kept for the full 30 minutes. I had 3 pupils doing this method last year and now have 9 (in 3 groups). Wendy Johnson, Richmond
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