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The Art of Effective Piano Teaching.

The Art of Effective Piano Teaching, by Dino P. Ascari. AuthorHouse (1663 Liberty Dr., Ste. 200, Bloomington, IN 47403), 2003. 121 pp. $14.50.

Novice piano teachers will glean practical advice shared by experienced teacher Dino P. Ascari in The Art of Effective Piano Teaching. Ascari uses non-technical language in a narrative style that is easy to read. The ten short chapters cover topics ranging from ideas for the first lesson, to preparation and planning for studio recitals, and each chapter ends with a clear and concise summary. There is a particular focus on teaching young beginners.

The book's strongest features are its consideration of the personal dynamic between teacher and student, especially in the traditional one-to-one tutorial setting and its emphasis on motivation. Inexperienced teachers often underestimate the importance of a structured routine when developing practice habits for beginning students. Teachers will find ideas for establishing appropriate goals and consistently evaluating each student's progress. He advocates clear practice assignments, including the number of repetitions for drills rather than time spent at the piano. Even experienced teachers could benefit from a refreshing reminder that structure and consistency are critical components in a child's learning process. The one glaring oversight regarding motivation is the importance of repertoire as a motivator and the need for teachers to constantly explore new repertoire that will capture a young student's desire to make expressive sounds at the piano. This book does not attempt to offer comprehensive coverage of the information and skills inexperienced teachers will need in the early stages of their careers, and it is not an appropriate choice as a textbook in piano pedagogy or a guide to preparing for professional teacher certification. There is no survey of materials or consideration of the criteria for choosing effective materials. Oddly enough, the author recommends using two method books so beginners have appealing music to play in middle-C position and a structured approach to reading notation using the landmark/intervalic approach. The reader should use discretion when considering some of the recommendations about keyboard theory and technique. For learning a new piece, Ascari recommends that students achieve proficiency playing hands separately at a fast tempo before attempting to put the hands together at a much slower tempo. Creative teachers would do well to search for alternative techniques, like tapping rhythms that develop coordination between the hands.

While there is no mention of technology as a teaching tool or group instruction, Ascari's insights into the traditional piano lesson clearly are based on years of successful teaching. He conveys the importance of respecting each student as an individual and the tremendous potential for motivating students to gain self-esteem through music study. Reviewed by Kenneth T. Williams, Columbus, Ohio.
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Article Details
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Author:Williams, Kenneth T.
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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