Author Archives: Susan Paradis

Piano Safari Review


Image Used by Permission

Image Used by Permission

Every now and then I come upon something for piano teachers that is so creative and intriguing that I can’t wait to try it with my students.

Piano Safari by Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr (with additional music by Wendy Stevens) is this kind of method.

The authors maintain that most piano methods spend a lot of time teaching note reading and not enough time teaching how to make music “musical.” Often the over emphasis on learning notes can lead to mechanical playing and poor technique. On the other hand, learning to play only by rote makes it very difficult to learn how to sight read later on, in my opinion.

Piano Safari bridges the gap between learning by ear and learning to read music and helps reach children with different learning styles. Rote songs are used to help students understand music, develop their ear, and to have good technical skills. However, the book contains many reading pieces that students learn to read with an intervalic method. Beginning note names are learned using guide notes. By combining these ways of teaching, students get the best of both worlds. Students will enjoy learning the rote pieces, which are more challenging than the reading pieces. Rote pieces can put the “fun” into piano, letting students play pieces for family, friends, and personal enjoyment that would be too hard to read at their level.

The method book, Piano Safari Repertoire, contains a variety of music including:

  • Reading pieces
  • Rote pieces
  • Folk songs
  • Technical exercises
  • Improvisation pieces

There are also Sight Reading and Rhythm Cards to go along with the books at three levels. CD recordings for the Repertoire books are available.

For teachers who would like to supplement their current method book with some of the material from Piano Safari, there is the Technical Exercises and Rote Pieces Book which was written as a supplement to any method book. It contains rote pieces and technique exercises found in the method books. This book is a helpful way to dip your feet into rote teaching and try out some different ideas.

The authors have a website that contains a tremendous amount of resources for teachers. You really need to spend some time there because it is a most interesting site. In order to understand the method, teachers need to study the Instructional Videos on the website. In addition to the instructional videos, there are Reminder Videos of the rote pieces so that students can watch them online in case they need a review. This is so helpful for the student at home who forgets how to play the rote piece. To motivate students, there are videos of Performance Videos of children their own age performing the pieces in Piano Safari. Also on their website are printable Teacher’s Guides and piano teaching articles. It is just a treasure-trove of resources!

If you are a teacher who is looking for something really different and you are ready to challenge yourself, I suggest you take a look. This is not a turn the page kind of series, but a method for a teacher who is willing to take the time to learn how to use it.

Disclosure: This review was my idea and not solicited. The authors kindly sent me some material for review and I purchased additional material. Regardless, I only review music, books, and apps I believe will be of interest to my readers. The opinions are my own. 


Filed under Music Reviews

Summer Treats Funsheet for Beginners

Cherry Popsicles Funsheet

Cherry Popsicles Funsheet

Cherry Popsicles Black & White

Does anyone remember a few years back when I posted some music worksheets with a “Summer Treats” theme? Well, I’ve always planned on adding more to that series, so here is a new one.  This is for an average age beginner to learn some of the basics of piano. And I even made a black and white version that students can color.

I plan to add more to the Summer Treat set of worksheets, so check back. I found some in my files that I’ve never shared!

The sheets I posted previously are for students who already know notes and rhythms. If you want to download them, I’m reposting them here for your convenience.


Summer Treats Note Story 



Orange Popsicles



Frozen Yogurt Rhythms



Snow Cone Signs and Symbols

For my UK friends. I also made some of these worksheets with UK terms and spelling. Here’s the link to my UK page. 

UK WorksheetsPP-2


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Filed under Music Printables, Music Vocabulary, Note Identification, Rhythm, Worksheets

Mother’s Day Composing Activity

Every year I plan to remind teachers about these Mother’s Day composing activities on my website, but I always wait until it’s too late. This year I remembered in time for students to compose an ending and even memorize it before Mother’s Day.  Here is the original post if you would like some suggestions on how to use it. Even if students have learned to read notes on the staff, they enjoy these simple composing activities.

mother-mother-love-notesMother’s Day (pre-reading, no staff)

For older students, below is an  “on the staff” printable. Notice there are skipping notes and hands together. Students can write a melody divided between the hands, or write a melody in one hand and an accompaniment in the other. Clever students can write words to their melody. By having the rhythm already written for them, it makes it easy to compose a melody.


Mother’s Day (beginner, on the staff)

I didn’t want to leave Dad off, so here is one for Father’s Day.


Father’s Day (beginner, on the staff)

These were originally posted about 6 years ago. I hope you enjoy seeing them again!


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Filed under Composing Activities

Easter Egg Hunt – a Favorite Game

Easter Egg Rhythm  Hunt

Rhythm Egg Hunt

I just returned from the MTNA convention in Las Vegas, and I have a lot of ideas I hope that I can share with you! I was so excited to meet many teachers who are using my material and who are looking for alternate ways to learn piano.  Thank you so much for introducing yourself and chatting with me. It is wonderful to see so many musicians who work hard to share our love of music.

I have not been able to blog or post anything for a while, but I can “rerun” this fun Easter season game that I made a few years ago.

There is not much planning, the rules are simple, and all you need is a few minutes to cut out the cards. If you are a parent, this a fun game to play with your children to introduce rhythm names.

Click on the link under the picture above and download the free printable. Print the pages on sturdy card stock and cut them out. Do not laminate the cards. Fold in the middle so the egg is on one side and the notes on the other. (Cardstock is easier to fold if you score it lightly using a ruler and a dull point, such as a dull butter knife. Leave a comment if you need more directions.) After folding, the cards sit up like a tent. Hide them around the room with the egg facing out.


Tell your student that you have hidden eggs cards all over the room. The cards have different rhythm values on the back. The student’s job is to find and collect the ones with half notes (or whatever note you want to work on) as fast as possible.  Depending on how much time you have, you can play again, collecting different rhythms. It is so much fun watching the student run around the room collecting cards!

This is also an excellent activity to introduce a new rhythm note to beginning students.


  • To quickly learn to recognize rhythm note names
  • To learn that stems can go up or down
  • To introduce rhythm names to beginners
  • To play a fast (under 3 minutes) game


  • Early childhood to grade 2 or 3

This is a variation of a game idea from Cecilly called Quarter Note Hunt, and it has been a long time favorite in my studio.



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