Music Department

Piano Pedagogy Workshop

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Dr. Julie Knerr teaches piano at her home studio in Windsor, Connecticut. Dr. Knerr is a former faculty member at the Hartt School of Music Community Division, the University of Missouri, Oklahoma City University, and Ohio University, where she taught piano pedagogy, applied piano, and group piano to children and adults of all ages. Julie holds a PhD in Music Education with an

Emphasis in Piano Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma, where her dissertation on elementary level piano technique was nominated for the Best PhD Dissertation Award in 2006. Additional degrees include MM degrees in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, where Dr. Knerr studied piano and harpsichord; and a BM in Piano Performance from the University of Puget Sound. Her mentors in Piano Pedagogy include Jane Magrath, Barbara Fast, Christos Tsitsaros, and Reid Alexander. She has been teaching private and group piano for 20 years.

Dr. Knerr is coauthor with Katherine Fisher of the Piano Safari Method, and innovative piano method for beginners that combines learning by ear with learning to read music from the beginning of study. Launched in 2010, Piano Safari is now used by teachers and students throughout the United States and in 15 countries around the world. Together, Dr. Knerr and Mrs. Fisher give presentations and lectures at national and regional conferences on various pedagogical topics.

Piano Safari Overview
Piano Safari is an innovative piano method for beginners coauthored by
Dr. Julie Knerr and Katherine Fisher. Students learn patterned pieces by
rote while simultaneously learning to read using an intervallic approach. Students develop a solid foundation of technique through concepts derived from Dr. Knerr’s dissertation research. Piano Safari provides a holistic
approach to learning piano that combines ears, eyes, and imagination to allow children to become musically literate at the piano.

The Ten Benefits of Teaching By Rote
The use of rote teaching in the early stages of piano study yields multiple benefits for the beginning student. This session will present ten benefits of rote teaching and present pieces from the Piano Safari Method and other sources that are appropriate for rote teaching in the early stages of piano study.

The Relationship Between Technique and Creativity
Teaching standard technical patterns is not only important for students’
technical development, but also for their creative development. In this session,
the relationship between technique and creativity in the development of aural musical literacy will be explored at the beginning through late elementary stages. Videos of student compositions and improvisations will illustrate the relationship between technical patterns and composition.

Lost Gems of the Teaching Repertoire
This session will present pieces that until now have been lost to history.
Teachers will be inspired to expand their teaching repertoire as they hear
some superb pieces by lesser known composers. While continuing to teach
the standard greats by Bach and Beethoven, students can also study great works by Battmann, Bonis, Boëly, and Birkedal-Barfod. The session will focus on repertoire at the elementary through early advanced levels.

One Size Fits None: Developmentally Appropriate Piano Teaching
This session will focus on developmental norms for each age of development
as it relates to piano teaching. Case studies of students who fall outside
these norms will also be presented to show the importance of considering a student’s emotional and intellectual age, rather than just the chronological
age, when teaching a student. Activities and pieces appropriate for various ages and levels will be presented.

Thinking Deeply about Reading
Are students really reading notation? Or have they formed false assumptions about reading? Teaching students to read notation is a complicated process that takes an extended period of time. In this session, we will explore four ingredients that are necessary for laying to solid foundation in reading music notation. 

Seven Animal Techniques and Beyond
Based on Dr. Knerr’s dissertation research on beginning piano technique, this session presents the foundational motions of piano technique that all beginning piano students should master in the form of the Seven Animal Techniques. Basic foundational principles of technique and ideas for teaching technical concepts will be presented. Ideas for continued technical development into the intermediate levels will also be presented.

Favorite Teaching Games
Bringing joy and variety to the piano lesson can be as easy as creating a few teaching aids. Favorite teaching games will be presented that will bring renewed energy to piano lessons for both the teacher and student. 

152 Strategies for Efficient and Effective Teaching
In response to teaching pedagogy students, I have formulated 152 specific Teaching Strategies Practicing just a handful of the strategies can add depth and excitement to lessons and help all teachers grow in the art of teaching. These session will present a portion of these strategies.