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A piano course that really works?

Pianophonics is a quantum leap forward for piano teaching, just as the Kodaly method was for classroom music. Pianophonics imparts the basics in a virtually foolproof way, with the note-reading, rhythm, technique and motivation all coordinated in a simple and intuitive new synthesis. I’m Mark Freer, an Adelaide concert pianist, teacher and composer. I spent nearly two decades drawing up, testing and discarding one draft after another in my quest for ‘the perfect piano course’. Finally, through 2009, I wrote the Pianophonics Primer for around 30 primary school beginners. The result was something totally new. Every student learned to read music at the piano, fluently and with perfect rhythm. Some ran along this pathway as fast as they could. Others (including sufferers from autism, Downs and Aspergers) took it at a gentler pace. But all succeeded. And since the publication of Pianophonics Primer in May 2010, hundreds of users world-wide are replicating this success. How was it achieved?

Inductive and deductive learning

We reason — and learn — in two ways. One way is to infer structure and order from the concrete things and events around us, just as a young child learns to talk. Here you’re simply immersed in a particular environment and gradually make sense of your surroundings. This is inductive reasoning: from the particular to the general. The other way of learning goes in the opposite direction — deductively — from the general to the particular. You learn a language deductively by learning some grammar rules and vocabulary up front, then deducing from the rules how to use the vocabulary. The ‘whole word’ reading method is inductive, and the phonics method is deductive. Which one is right? Both and neither! Induction and deduction are flip sides of the same coin. Obviously, the best way to learn a language is both to immerse yourself in it and do an intensive course!

Totally new… and totally traditional

So we need the inductive element of ‘immersion’ together with deductive, rule-based learning. Both have to operate in tandem every step of the way. If there's a secret to Pianophonics, then it's this: it has the balance right. Opening Pianophonics Primer for the first time, you'll see a set of nicely laid-out children’s pieces with titles like Spanish Dance, Bells and Echoes, as well as a few small exercises. This is the child’s-eye view, and just what a beginner ought to see. But an experienced teacher will see far more than this. Underneath, it’s a sequence of learning events that has been optimized in every possible way during relentlessly rigorous real-world testing and modification. Pianophonics places a powerful new tool in the hands of serious and dedicated piano teachers around the world. There’s no more hit-and-miss with the note-reading, and motivation is maximized without compromise or dumbing-down. The biggest motivator is always the sense of achievement and mastery that comes with the aquisition of a real skill!