*This post discusses utilizing the Suzuki Piano Method, and integrating it with reading, technique, theory and sight reading to create the Core Piano Curriculum.
**The diagram above divides piano study into components that work together to provide a complete study of piano and development of ability. Generally, the diagram works sequentially in clockwise motion. However, at different levels and stages the combinations of these components will vary.
Aural Understanding is at the top of the learning Matrix because it develops the ability for all of the other abilities. “Ability develops Ability”. Aural understanding includes the ability to internalize sound (hear music inside ones self in the same way a person “hears” themselves speaking). It also includes music comprehension, hearing music as a language with repeated patterns and the expression of feelings. Aural understanding is developed through listening.
Technique is the ability to physically produce the sound that is internalized. It includes posture and tactile skills, and the building of patterns which are aural-tactile connection. How to produce sound physically precedes the learning of the repertoire. The twinkles are the first technique which is taught and integrates how to produce tone and how to feel rhythm as well as learning to play the larger sequence of notes which has already been learned aurally.
The repertoire reinforces the technique and pattern building. It is a whole learning experience that integrates the sound of the repertoire with the aural-tactile ability that is developed in the technique focus.
Theory is the verbal terminology for the physical patterns such as “alberti”, diminished chord, etc. In the beginning, an example of a verbal label would be identifying the different twinkles by name when hearing them such as “Twinkle A” etc.
Visual Symbols for Sound
After the child knows the verbal terminology for the sound, they can acquire the visual symbol that matches that term. By using the repertoire the child knows how to play, and understands the patterns from an aural and tactile perspective, the presentation of the visual symbols is natural and fun.
Reading can be defined as looking at the music symbols and making the sounds that the symbols represent. The symbols are grouped together in patterns. This is the same in language where the symbols represent a sound, and are grouped together (words not letters). The symbols represent sound first, and then the tactile response.
Sight-reading is sight to sound to tactile response directly. The sound is internalized sound from the symbol. It is actualized in real time so that the reading and playing happen simultaneously. This is the final point in the circle, and is an important part of the learning matrix, but is not the ultimate goal.
By sequencing skills in an overlapping combination as the student progresses, the teacher can create a program which integrates all of the skills from aural understanding to sight reading in a whole learning experience. The goal is the ability to play piano with fluency and beautiful tone. The ultimate goal is learning how to learn – developing life ability.