Report From Guildford Branch
Piano Teachers' Workshop, 28 June 2009
Sue Gillis writes: Twenty five participants met at St John’s Church Centre for a piano teachers' workshop hosted by member Elza Lusher. As a piano teacher Elza was concerned that her youngest students were struggling to progress with the piano using conventional approaches and with the help of her husband Chris developed a successful learning strategy called Dogs and Birds which is based on the principles of Kodály. She found that even those who had not yet learnt the alphabet took to the method with ease. She was able to teach all children between the ages of 4 and 7 using this approach.
Elza demonstrated her success with these young students by showing us video recordings from her lessons. She explained that one of the most important aspects of her method is that the children sing as they play. By encouraging pupils to do this at all stages they develop their inner ear leading to a much more musical approach to playing. At the heart of the method is the use of animal names to represent the notes: Cat, Dog, Egg, Fish, Goose, Ant and Bird. As the children progress they automatically discover for themselves that ‘Cat’ means ‘C’ on the piano. The animals and staves are used in a set of singing games that add variety to the lessons and develop aural skills.
Elza demonstrated how singing the animal names can lead directly to singing relative Sol-fa.
Elza's passion for her teaching was clearly evident and her enthusiasm was felt by everyone. At the end of the afternoon members had an opportunity to ask questions.