There are so many ‘methods’ these days, why use Encore?

Encore develops genuine musicianship skills as opposed to just reading and playing from the page.  Students are engaged from day one through vibrant and contemporary music styles.  They are motivated because the fun factor is embedded in every course.  A wide range of learning activities and innovative teaching strategies ensure that students develop musical, technical and creative skills to a high level.  This allows them to play from a score, play by ear, write what they hear, transpose pieces and improvise.

How is Encore different from standard method books?

All the Encore courses place rhythm and experiencing genuine musical engagement at the forefront of learning.  A number of other methods treat rhythm as a secondary consideration and instead place more emphasis on pitch.  Yet, without time and space, there can be no music.  So, the Encore courses always start with musical experiences built on a rhythmic foundation.  This is also one of the keys to motivating students because it is the rhythm that makes the music feel more alive.  Syncopation will often be an early and regular feature in the Encore courses because it is intrinsic to so many styles.  Other books tend to avoid syncopation because it is more difficult to teach if only traditional counting methods are used.

Another difference is that Encore is very motific.  This means that students always experience music as a series of motific units, just as we do with all music.  Students become accustomed to hearing and playing music in logical units as opposed to unrelated notes.  Other areas of difference that are specific to Encore on Keys, include playing hands together from day one and treating the hands as equal partners.  Encore on Keys also has a very strong harmonic foundation, as does western music.  This allows students to get inside the music and understand its structures rather than simply play notes from the page.  As a result, students learn faster and play more musically because stylistic elements will have been internalised.  This understanding and experience also lays the foundation for creative engagement through improvisation and composition.

How is it possible for young children to learn the piano before they can read?

Research has confirmed that young children possess very high aural perception.  That is why they are able to learn more than one language with ease just through listening.  Since music is an aural art form, learning from an early age has many benefits.

It is also possible to teach young children almost anything if the methodology is age appropriate.  The multi-sensory Encore approach includes visual, aural and kinaesthetic learning experiences that are layered and interconnected to suit young children.  It uses songs, contemporary styles and props that naturally engage them.  A number of traditionally focused methods equate reading with learning.  Whilst being able to read a music score is a desirable skill, reading is only one mode of learning and only one form of music literacy.

As a teacher, will I need a Teacher Guide?

Each Teacher Guide includes comprehensive lesson plans that show how to integrate every aspect of the Encore SMART System.  They have proven to be an invaluable resource for teachers who are new to Encore plus those who have many years of experience.  All the ‘know how’ is in the Teacher Guides.  They provide a step-by-step approach to each piece plus extension activities.  They also include numerous creative approaches that may otherwise remain unexplored.  The Student Books provide limited teacher guidance because they feature an uncluttered layout that appeals to children.  Without a Teacher Guide, the benefits of the Encore SMART System may not be fully implemented.

How long do students stay on each book?

Most books in the Kinder Beat, Encore on Keys and Encore on Strings series have been designed to provide for 6 to 9 months of learning.  This offers tangible goals for both students and teachers and also gives parents a guide as to what progress can be expected.  Variables will include the duration of lessons, the inclusion of supplementary materials and whether it is group or private instruction.

Why does Encore on Keys have three different beginner courses?

Each age group needs a different approach that is based on their cognitive and emotional development. For very young children, the teaching method needs to be highly creative and stimulating. Visual, aural and kinaesthetic learning experiences need to interconnect so that concepts are effectively internalised and successfully recalled.

For pre-teen children, reading skills can be introduced and used as an effective part of the learning sequence.  Other learning experiences are still very important to ensure a diverse range of musical skills is developed.  These include two-handed coordination activities, playing percussion instruments, by-ear playing, ensemble playing and using flash cards interactively.

Teenagers and adults are well equipped to use a variety of cognitive skills as the basis of their learning.  They often want to know more than what is just on the page.  That’s why introducing music theory concepts early in the teaching sequence is one way to cognitively challenge this group.  Theory concepts and knowledge are also introduced to younger students, but always in an age appropriate way.

Do the Encore materials align with any examination syllabi?

Several Encore pieces are on the AMEB, ANZCA and St Cecilia Music Examinations syllabi.  Those pieces that are not on any of the above syllabi may be used as extra lists or as own choice selections whenever that option is available.
The following table provides a basic guide.  For more detail, please refer to the current syllabus as published by each examination board:

ENCORE ON KEYS

Junior Piano Series
Book 1: No Grading
Book 2: Beginner/Preparatory
Book 3: Beginner/Preparatory
Book 4: Preparatory/Preliminary

Primary Piano Series
Book 1: Beginner/Preparatory
Book 2: Preparatory/Preliminary

Accent Piano Series
Book 1: Beginner/Preparatory
Book 2: Preparatory/Preliminary

Achiever Piano Series
Book 1: Preliminary
Book 2: Grade One
Book 3: Grade Two
Book 4: Grade Three/Four

ENCORE ON STRINGS

Book 1: No Grading
Book 2: Preliminary/Grade One

Are students able to prepare for exams if they use Encore?

Encore provides a complete curriculum that integrates every aspect of teaching and learning music.  It develops a wider range of skills than those that are assessed by examination systems.  Several key pieces from various syllabi are included in the Encore on Keys and Encore on Strings series as a means of confirming measurable standards.  A number of teachers use Encore as their sole curriculum while others use it as their core curriculum.  Either way, Encore provides the flexibility to include examinations as one part of a student’s musical journey, rather than as the sole focus.

My child has just finished the Junior Piano Series. What is the next book?

After the four levels of the Junior Piano Series have been completed, students advance to the Achiever Piano Series.

My child has just finished the Primary Piano Series. What is the next book?

After the two levels of the Primary Piano Series have been completed, students advance to the Achiever Piano Series.

Are the Encore courses suitable for group or private lessons?

All the Encore materials have been specifically developed for both group and private instruction.  Other teaching resources that are directed towards private teaching only, lack the flexibility to work in a group context.  Encore is eminently suited to both contexts.

When is the best time for students to start Theory Wiz?

The most suitable learning sequence for children should always begin with practical experiences before introducing theory concepts.  With that in mind, students using the Junior Piano Series should be introduced to Theory Wiz at around Book Three.  For the Primary Piano Series, Theory Wiz may be started when students are in the middle of Book One.  For Encore on Strings, the starting point would also be in the middle of Book One.

Why do the Encore on Keys and Encore on Strings backing tracks often use lead instruments other than the piano or a stringed instrument?

This is such an important aspect of Encore on Keys.  If the piano part on the backing track is played by a piano, then it is very difficult for students to play along.  This is because the piano sounds cancel each other out and students may not know if they are in time or not.  The same is true for Encore on Strings with regard to not using a stringed instrument as the lead voice.  By using a different lead instrument, students can easily gauge the accuracy of their own playing, and make whatever adjustments may be necessary.

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