Cover of Creative Pedagogy for Piano TeachersJeffrey Agrell’s and Aura Strohschein’s Creative Pedagogy for Piano Teachers is a compendium of over 90 original improvisational exercises that imaginative piano teachers will find very useful.

As the introduction states, it is a “book of creative activity, a book of structured play.” Teachers who have not lost touch with their own creativity and sense of play already know that improvisation can be very useful in the music studio – with students of all ages. The introduction also reminds us that:

Improvisation is extremely beneficial to a pianist’s musicality. When students improvise and truly listen to their every musical gesture, they take personal  responsibility for the phrase, the dynamic, the tone color, the expressive impulse. When this happens, they become artists. Spending time with these games will open up a new sense of excellence for your students.

The book has 12 collections of rhythm games, melody games, harmony games, technique games, and aural games.

Usefully, the names chosen for the games are themselves creative. It will be the rare piano student who will respond unenthusiastically to the question, “Would you like to play a game of Offbeat Metronome? How about Split Personality? Or maybe For the Trill of It?”

The authors suggest that the games can be used as warm-ups, but with a little forethought I’m sure they could be integrated into any part of a piano lesson. And with so many activities to choose from, it will be easy to select just the right game to use for a particular pedagogical purpose.

Most of the games are for one or two players, and some are for more than that. While the authors call them “games,” these are really improvisational or creative activities rather than competitive games to be won or lost.

One of the best things about the book is that multiple variations are provided for many of the games. As a result, there may literally be hundreds of activities to choose from. The average teacher will not tire soon of the possibilities this book provides.

Creative Pedagogy for Piano Teachers is available on its publisher’s website.

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