Wundervölker, Monstrosität und Hässlichkeit im Mittelalter (German Edition)

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The ideas are not exhaustive and teachers are highly encouraged to build on these activities to help students discover a wider world of sounds on the keyboard and nurture their sense of achievement and ownership of the music. I will unpack what this means in practice in a moment, but first off let me start by saying more about the presentation and … just WOW! To say that these books are attractive would be an understatement. When reviewing the main syllabus books last year I commented on their Initial Grade by noting:. They really are an absolute treat, with lavish full colour throughout, and superb illustrations from the hand of Methanan Sivayathorn.

I would challenge any teacher who works with younger children to hold these books and not fall instantly in love with them. The basic concept of these books is very simple: to create a narrative world in which each of the published exam pieces exists, and then to build a range of musical and educational activities around that narrative. If this sounds somewhat contrived … well, truth be told, it is. But brilliantly and charmingly so!

Ratings and Reviews

The activities are as inspired as they are varied, and include everything from basic theory games and puzzles through to ideas for improvisation, duets, technical exercises, enjoyable colouring projects, ideas for developing creative musicianship — even dance and physical movement make an appearance en route. Using the material from the selected exam pieces, author Nithicha Sivayathorn weaves a taut musical thread that includes, for example, composing new pieces and creating games which use the rhythms to be encountered in the exam piece itself — and always wrapped up in the main story narrative such that when the pupil progresses to the exam piece itself, they will come to it with an imagination that is already fired up and ready to go!

The appeal here is such that I suspect pupils using the Piano Stories books will eagerly learn all the pieces from the syllabus, rather than simply those chosen in the build up to the exam itself. However, this inevitably raises important questions about the boundary between syllabus and curriculum. But this point seems pretty moot to me — the biggest deal here is not so much the teaching and learning activities themselves, but the skill with which they are integrated into the immersive storylines and beautifully presented narrative.

The truth is that we can surely all benefit from exposure to genuinely brilliant creative teaching ideas such as are on offer here. I am in no doubt that younger players will absolutely love the whole package here — and develop wonderful musical foundations through exploring the material. I should mention here that the publications also boast audio content, accessed via third-party website SoundWise. This also requires registration on the SoundWise site, either by setting up an account from scratch or by allowing them access to your Facebook profile info.

IN SHORT: FICTION

The files themselves provide recordings of the teacher duet parts for pupils to play along to and other useful backing tracks. Given my effusive praise thus far, are there any flies in the ointment? Well, there are just a few minor points that teachers may want to note …. Assuming pupils are buying their own copies of Piano Stories and will likewise need the Exam Pieces book, this more than doubles the outlay. Not a particular problem in my view — but a good friend has reminded me that for some of her children and families this could prove a deal-breaker.

Secondly, the books are quite age-specific. I suspect that many children will outgrow the ingredients here well before they reach Grade 3 piano. Teachers will need to be particularly sensitive to this point, I feel. Thirdly, it is noticeable that, while the activities certainly support holistic learning, there is very little mention of scale or key — musical building blocks which should surely be well understood by Grade 3.

100-year-old piano teacher still giving lessons

Given that these are too often taught in dull and repetitive ways, these highly imaginative and immersive books could have provided a creative antidote here, especially as in many cases they include such an excellent emphasis on music theory and historical understanding. An opportunity somewhat missed. Small niggles aside, the Piano Stories publications are just stunning. Beautifully and thoughtfully produced, they offer a rich and varied curriculum for younger pupils working on the Trinity exam pieces.

3 Original Pieces - Stories Without Words \\ Jacob's Piano [14min]

Trinity have with these books produced one of the most innovative and useful resources that I have seen from an exam board, and are to be congratulated on such a bold and visionary move. And for players of a suitable age who like the concept and are hooked in by the stories themselves, the execution of the Piano Stories concept is superb.

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‎Piano Stories by Joe Hisaishi on iTunes

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