Review By Karen Marshall in Music Teacher December 2011
This beautiful colour-illustrated spiral-bound book with 23 simple piano arrangements would be a valuable addition to any young pianist’s music bag. The book forms part of the Dogs and Birds series, which has been developed to teach very young children (three to seven years) the piano. Each note is represented by a different animal, for example, D for Dog and B for bird. Children sing the symbols (at correct pitch) before they play the notation. There are two versions of the Nursery Rhymes and Famous Melodies book – one in standard notation and the other in animal notation, with the symbol incorporated in the note.
Great for sight-reading practice (for students of all ages), each melody – in easy-to-read large notation – is accompanied by a rhythm exercise for right and left hands to pat on the knees (I’d advise hands separately first, then together— even adults can find this challenging). Repertoire includes TwinkleTwinkle, Hot Cross Buns, Frère Jacques (in D, so an F# is introduced) and the beginning of Beethoven’s Für Elise, to name but a few. Progression starts from one hand only, building to simple accompaniments of just one repeated note right through to the broken chords in Für Elise.
There is no fingering – this is addressed in the second method book – and the repeat signs and coda markings did cause a little confusion. But overall, this systematic, Kodály-influenced approach uses excellent familiar folk and classical material which my students truly loved. To see other materials in the series visit the website.