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piano safari reviews

Piano Safari: A Great Piano Method Book for Children

Piano Safari: A Great Piano Method Book for Children

Piano Safari Method Book: A Teacher’s Review

Why do I, a professional piano teacher, think Piano Safari by Julie Knerr is a great method book for children?

It has enjoyable tunes that are humorous and are fun for the young pianist to play and sing. Examples include “I Love Coffee, I Love Tea” and “Charlie Chipmunk.” 

Many of the pieces in the Piano Safari books create analogies for children to understand such as bouncing like a kangaroo when they play the “Kangaroo” technique exercise to practice non legato playing and to create a relaxed and bouncy sound. Another example would be playing a loud, long note with a relaxed hand like a lion stuffed animal arm. 

Learning Techniques & Activities 

piano notes on paper

The Piano Safari method books consist of many learning techniques and activities that are useful to students and teachers. It contains reading pieces, sight reading exercises, rote pieces, theory, technique exercises, folk tunes, and improvisation. The book leans towards the Intervallic Reading Approach, but primarily uses an Eclectic Method.

Reading pieces in the Piano Safari Repertoire Book One start with just using black keys and printing all the finger numbers on the page for unit one. In unit two, students start playing on the white keys where the hand, note, and finger number are listed. All the finger numbers are also listed on the page. In unit three, students move to the grand staff. They use treble G as the landmark note for right hand and treble clef and bass C as the landmark note for left hand and bass clef. In Piano Safari Book One , students continue to stay on the landmark notes for the rest of the book. 

In Piano Safari Book Two , middle C is added as a landmark note in both treble and bass clef. It is not until the middle of Piano Safari Book Two that the students graduate from the landmark notes and start using all the notes on the grand staff. Piano Safari slowly moves the students from black keys, to white keys, and then the grand staff so that students can feel comfortable with reading notes and move at a slow and steady pace. When students start learning the grand staff, intervals are slowly introduced.

In book one, students start with seconds and then move to thirds. In the rest of book one, students practice moving in between seconds and thirds. In book two, they learn fifths, then fourths, and practice playing all the intervals together. In book three, they learn the other intervals such as sixths, sevenths, and octaves. It is great that intervals are introduced at a slow and steady pace so that students can become comfortable with intervals before moving to harder repertoire and sightreading. 

Sight Reading Exercises

For sight reading exercises, each method book has a set of color-coded sight reading card supplements, corresponding with the different units for each book or level. The cards are like flash cards. Each sight reading card in level one contains a melodic exercise for right hand in treble clef and a melodic exercise for left hand in bass clef.

In level one, the students will start marching the rhythms and use the syllable “ta” for the quarter notes, “ta-two” for half notes, “ta-ti” for eighth notes, and “ta-two-three-four” for whole notes. In level two, students graduate from marching and saying the ta’s. They move to metric counting, which is what professional musicians use.

For metric counting, the students do not march anymore, they tap the rhythms with both hands . The rhythmic exercises start simple at first such as the left hand playing whole notes while the right hand has a busy rhythm. The difficulty gradually goes up through each unit. 

In level two and beyond, the cards will start including exercises where both hands play together. All the cards in every level and unit also contain a rhythmic exercise where the students only practice rhythms. 

These methods help contribute to student reading skills.

Training to Play by Ear

child playing on a piano

One of the most unique activities that Piano Safari offers in its method books are rote pieces.

Rote pieces are ear training pieces where students learn how to play repertoire by ear. They are taught by playing the entire piece for the student first, and then dividing the music into different parts, usually line by line. I will teach one or two measures at a time to them and tell them to think of an animal or fruit name to help with the rhythm. 

After the first one or two measures are comfortable with the student, I will gradually add on the next one or two measures and review the previous measures consistently until the first part is learned.

After that, I will use the same system for the second part, and the other parts after that. I also constantly review the previous parts. If there are two hands involved with different melodies and rhythms, I will teach one hand at a time and then teach the other hand. 

Rote pieces can take up much time to teach, so typically when I teach a rote piece, I usually stretch it to at least two lessons. Piano Safari includes reminder videos on YouTube for the students to use to remember how to play the piece for when they practice at home. 

In each Piano Safari level, a theory book is included that contains new material that the students learn in each unit. Students get to practice writing the different clefs, time signatures, notes, and intervals. The theory book also contains review material in each unit to keep up the students’ skills and help them remember previous material. 

A unique aspect that the theory book has is compositional practice. This activity is when students are given the time signature, note values, which note to start on, and which intervals to use. Then, they are instructed to write a melody with the given material. The students are given the opportunity to come up with their own ideas or creative variations on the rote pieces.

Piano Safari contains technique exercises in each level that focus primarily on relaxation. In level one, technique exercises are part of the repertoire book and they start with simple exercises such as playing one note at a time with a strong and relaxed sound. In level two, there is a separate technique book from the repertoire book. 

Also in level two, students will start learning basic five-finger patterns in different keys and start early practices into playing scales and arpeggios. Students will start playing triads first before getting into arpeggios. In level three, students start learning Hanon exercises and beginner etudes. Technique exercises are typically taught by rote, then the student reads the music, and lastly the student can transpose the exercise into different keys.

Folk tunes are part of the Piano Safari repertoire books. Usually they are pieces such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,” “The Duke of York,” and “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.” They are similar to the reading pieces where the students practice reading music, but they also use their ears to play the pieces. 

Learning the folk tunes introduces students to playing familiar pieces and how to learn songs and pieces that they know on their own by ear and reading music.

Improvisational Exercises 

colorful notes chalk board

Another interesting activity that Piano Safari offers in its repertoire books are improvisational exercises . In these exercises,  the students are told which notes they can play, and the teacher plays a bass line and or a melody. The students play the notes that they are told to play in any order and can make up a rhythm if they stay in time with the teacher. Improvisational exercises allow students to be creative, explore sounds, and imitate the teacher.

Piano Safari Level Breakdown

Here is a break-down of all the different levels. 

In Piano Safari level one, the students learn pre-staff notation, the grand staff is introduced, the intervals seconds and thirds are introduced, landmark notes are utilized, and students “march rhythms.” Level one includes a repertoire book, a theory book, and sightreading cards. 

In level two, students graduate from landmark notes and start reading all the notes on the staff. They start tapping rhythms, have trickier sight reading examples, and they learn the intervals fourths and fifths. Level two includes a repertoire book, a theory book, a technique book, and sightreading cards. In level three, students learn the other intervals, they start playing more advanced music, and start learning early etude technique exercises. 

Level Three 

Level three has a repertoire book, a theory book, a technique book, and sightreading cards like level two. 

Piano Safari offers all these great activities, and that is one of the reasons that I like to use it  with children.  My students who have used Piano Safari have developed good habits such as having excellent and relaxed piano technique, they do not look at their hands while reading music, they have a good understanding of rhythm, they are good at using their ears, and they enjoy music. 

Enjoying music is the most important thing for students when taking piano lessons. The goal, as teachers, is to keep students wanting to practice and get excited to come to piano lessons. Piano Safari aids the teacher in putting together fun pieces that students enjoy playing and the activities keep students happy and engaged during piano lessons. 

Why I Choose to Use This Method Book As a Teaching Guide

As a piano teacher myself, Piano Safari is my favorite method book to use because of all its fun activities it has for children. It goes along with my teaching philosophy which is teaching students good habits at an early age but also teaching them how to enjoy music. 

Piano Safari is very helpful for the piano teacher in that it provides teaching guides and teaching videos for teachers to use. It is imperative that teachers always plan before having students, especially when using Piano Safari, because there is so much information to cover. For beginning students especially, piano teachers must plan to make lessons efficient.  

When students become more advanced, teachers are mostly reactive to students, meaning students bring in repertoire and teachers aid them on what the students need help with. Piano teachers in general have so much to accomplish with their students. Teachers must break down difficult concepts into something that children can easily understand.  

What I appreciate about Piano Safari is that it helps the teachers introduce concepts one at a time to students and slowly walks them through learning how to play piano and become great musicians . 

To Conclude

I like to use the Piano Safari book with my students because it has the learning techniques of reading pieces, sight reading exercises, rote pieces, theory activities, technique exercises, folk tunes, and improvisation.

The blended Eclectic Method and intervallic approach create the best of two worlds. The result is a resource that provides students with a great way to read music notation, while learning interesting musical styles and listening skills. 

All of Piano Safari’s exercises include fun and silly songs that help students learn to enjoy music and is entertaining for the teachers to teach and introduce new material. I am hopeful that Piano Safari will start to become more popular in the piano teaching world and that more piano teachers will start using this method book for beginning students.

My students have really shown great progress with Piano Safari and they continue to play music and be successful with learning new material. As a music teacher, my goal is to introduce Piano Safari to different piano teachers and encourage teachers to introduce good, early habits and techniques to students so that one day they can become successful pianists. 

Author: Marisa Pickard

Marisa Pickard is currently a graduate student at DePaul University studying piano performance and teaches at the Christopher Laughlin School of Music in Northbrook, IL . She earned her Bachelors of Music in piano performance from the University of Alabama. Being an experienced piano teacher, she has taught piano lessons for five years and has served as president of the Music Teachers National Association chapter at the University of Alabama. During one summer, she participated in the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute.

Piano Teacher Marisa Pickard


“About Piano Safari.” Piano Safari. Accessed June 4, 2021. https://pianosafari.com/about/about-piano-safari/.

Crappell, Courtney. Teaching Piano Pedagogy: A Guidebook for Training Effective Teachers . New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Fisher, Katherine and Julie Knerr. Piano Safari Repertoire Book I . Piano Safari, LLC, 2018.

piano safari reviews

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Inspiring Creativity

Review and Giveaway of Piano Safari Level 3

May 26, 2016 by natalie 69 Comments

Even though I believe that a good teacher can effectively utilize any method or curriculum to help a student achieve success, there is something invigorating about having well-designed resources that capture a teacher’s philosophy and vision for their teaching. That’s how I’ve felt about Piano Safari ever since it’s debut a couple of years ago . It has been the perfect complement to my desire to help students develop creative freedom, technical ability, and musical artistry at the piano while also building a solid foundation of reading and rhythm skills.

piano safari reviews

I don’t know who has been awaiting the release of Level 3 with more anticipation – me or my students – but it’s finally here! The pack includes a Technique Book, a Repertoire Book, and a set of Sight Reading Cards. I’ve had a blast looking through the materials and preparing to teach it. It’s also exciting to see some of the same Classical Education principles that I’m discovering are essential for true learning applied in this method. Namely, repetition, both of content and of processes, is necessary in order for students to attain mastery. I love how this is emphasized in the Technique Book through the use of cool images that the students are instructed to color one small section at a time for every accurate playing of a scale.

piano safari reviews

For this reason, I see the Technique Book being used not so much sequentially, but more in a spiral learning approach where a student continues to revisit the previously learned scales and exercises to develop increased speed, fluency, and familiarity. The Technique Book also references the animal techniques to instruct the students how to play each scale. The visuals are attractive and helpful while maintaining a clean, uncluttered page layout. I also appreciate the various practice strategies emphasized throughout the book. Another great feature is the way that each introduction of a new scale/key includes the same process as previously learned, while also incorporating a new accompaniment style, demonstrating to the student how the chords and chord progressions can be used in a musical way. All of this is then woven together into the Technique Extravaganza at the end of the book that gives the student an opportunity to showcase all that they have learned in a fun, energetic duet!

piano safari reviews

The Level 3 Repertoire Book is a fabulous compilation of original compositions, duets, and Classical pieces in their original form. The pieces are in major and minor keys (C,G,F, and a,e,d), and there are helpful bits of information and questions for the student to consider, along with brief biographical sketches about the various composers. This thoughtfully designed book will leave students well-prepared to continue their exploration of every musical style!

piano safari reviews

Last, but not least, perhaps the most versatile element of the Piano Safari method – the Sight Reading Cards . Whether or not you use the method in its entirety, these cards are a must-have for any piano teacher! We use them in a variety of ways in our studio , and they have done wonders to help my students improve their rhythm and sight reading skills in a sequential and manageable way. Each card includes a 4-measure musical excerpt for the student to play hands together that incorporates dynamics, articulations, and the rhythms they have learned. There is also a single line of rhythm only that can be tapped, played on single notes, or used for a musical improvisation.

Now, for the best part! If you’d like a chance to check out Piano Safari Level 3 for yourself, Julie and Katie have graciously offered to give away a free Level 3 pack to one Music Matters Blog reader (a $45.50 value!). Just leave a comment below to be entered. One winner will be chosen using a random number generator at noon (CST) on Friday, June 3, 2016 . This could be just the thing to re-energize your teaching this summer or in preparation for next fall!

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Reader Interactions

Jennifer smith says

May 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm

I haven’t used this series but it looks like a great one! Would love to have a copy.

May 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm

I have started using Piano Safari so would love to win!

Mary Folkman says

May 26, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Your blog gives some very good information on the use of Level 3. I have one student in it, and would very much like to have my own reference copy.

Kerry Drombosky says

May 26, 2016 at 4:55 pm

I’ve been in search of a new method for a while now and have been hearing good things about this series. I’d love to be able to get a closer look at the materials so that I can decide if this is the direction in which I need to go.

Catharina De Beer says

May 26, 2016 at 5:00 pm

I started using Piano Safari this year and my students are loving it!

Brianne Loberger says

May 26, 2016 at 5:10 pm

I love this method, but haven’t used Level 3 yet! Your review got me excited about it, though!

Barb Grout says

May 26, 2016 at 5:19 pm

I have really enjoyed using the first level of Piano Safari and would a preview of the 3rd level.

Lois O'Brien says

May 26, 2016 at 5:20 pm

I love Piano Safari! I am starting all of my beginners using this series, but haven’t seen level 3 yet.

Nancy Osborne says

May 26, 2016 at 5:26 pm

I have used the first two levels but do not yet own Level 3. Would LOVE to win, but I never do, but I’m hoping!! I think the material is excellent!

Irma Khouw says

May 26, 2016 at 5:47 pm

I love Piano Safari! Currently I have 2 students working on this series and they absolutely love it. The repertoire selections are awesome and I like how scales, chords, cadences, and accompaniment patterns are presented in the technique book 3. Hope to win level 3 pack.

Nancy Wang says

May 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm

I am very interested in trying this method. Thank you?

Juanita says

May 26, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I really like Piano Safari and just started a student on Level 2. I’d love a level 3 set!

Elena Lin says

May 26, 2016 at 6:15 pm

I saw their webinar a few weeks back through MTNA and loved the way they created a fun way for students to learn technique even through their rote pieces. Would love to try it out with some of my students. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

Sheila says

May 26, 2016 at 6:18 pm

I love teaching using Piano Safari!

Brenda P says

May 26, 2016 at 6:22 pm

I am very interested in exploring Piano Safari and would love to win this giveaway.

Debbie Oliver says

May 26, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Piano Safari is on my list of must haves – Thanks for a chance to win a copy

Cherie Norquay says

May 26, 2016 at 6:50 pm

I love Piano Safari and don’t own Bk 3 yet.

May 26, 2016 at 6:59 pm

I would love to receive these Piano Safari books! The method looks superb!

Lizbeth Atkinson says

May 26, 2016 at 7:21 pm

I have been using Piano Safari for about a year now and have fallen in love. My students are thriving and enjoying their lessons. We are having a great time. A level 3 set would be a great addition to the studio. Thank you for this fabulous review!

May 26, 2016 at 7:25 pm

I would like to try this. The approach looks great.! Thanks for the opportunity!

May 26, 2016 at 7:39 pm

I would love to try this!

Lana Doncov says

May 26, 2016 at 7:43 pm

I love Piano Safari and so do my students !

Lauren Sonder says

May 26, 2016 at 8:13 pm

Excited about Piano Safari 3!

Annalise E says

May 26, 2016 at 8:53 pm

I have been hearing such wonderful things about Piano Safari! I am excited to explore what this curriculum has to offer!

May 26, 2016 at 10:05 pm

I have Levels One and Two, and I’m so excited that there is now a Level Three! I have not yet found the right student to begin with Piano Safari, but I plan to begin trying this series out soon. It incorporates all the things I find important to teach my students!

May 26, 2016 at 10:18 pm

I am very interested in this curriculum and would love the chance to learn more about it!!! Keeping my fingers crossed that I’m the lucky winner!!

May 27, 2016 at 12:00 am

This looks so exciting!

Katherine Hutchinson says

May 27, 2016 at 12:37 am

Level 3 looks an exciting extension of an already great piano method. Thanks for the review.

May 27, 2016 at 2:26 am

Piano Safari newbie here. I’ve used Piano Safari a little bit with beginners, and am very curious to check out level 3.

Karen Skelly says

May 27, 2016 at 4:10 am

Thanks for the detailed review. I’d love to win a free copy of level three!

Linda Jamer says

May 27, 2016 at 6:32 am

I have a student who I started out in another method but I am going to switch him over to Piano Safari. After observing and determining his learning style, I feel this method is a perfect match because he is an auditory learner. I believe this method incorporates learning by rote and is not so focused on note learning initially. Haven’t used it yet but am excited to do so! Hope I win the Level 3 packet. Thank you for the opportunity.

Marjasanders says

May 27, 2016 at 7:03 am

After buying the first two books and cards I would love to learn more about the next step and introducing it to my Dutch collegues since they are not familiar with your teaching methods

Marcia says

May 27, 2016 at 7:17 am

I am very interested in reviewing the Piano Safari curriculum for possible use in my studio next year! Your reviews have gotten me very excited about this curriculum, but I have not yet had a chance to actually review it.

Kamy K. says

May 27, 2016 at 7:33 am

I would love to try this series with my students.

Janice says

May 27, 2016 at 8:56 am

I’m interested in finding out more about Piano Safari. Thank you for offering the giveaway!

Helen Grosshans says

May 27, 2016 at 8:57 am

I have used the sight reading cards and like the music and rhythmic notation on each card. Short and easy to include in one lesson.

Tiffany says

May 27, 2016 at 10:36 am

I haven’t used this method but it does sound intriguing! Thank you for the chance!

May 27, 2016 at 3:06 pm

I would love to try-out Piano Safari, as I have heard great things about it from one of my piano pedagogy groups.

Nancy N. says

May 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm

I have heard great things about Piano Safari and would like to try-it-out.

Laurie Sorman says

May 27, 2016 at 4:02 pm

I have a student in Piano Safari Level 1 and will be moving him to Level 2 in the fall. I’m sure Level 3 is just as great as the rest of the series!

May 27, 2016 at 4:55 pm

I have read lots about this method and would love to try it. Thought the visual example shown for C scale was great and am always open to different ways of teaching important technique. Thanks for the opportunity.

Sylvia Thomson says

May 27, 2016 at 5:05 pm

I have been reading about Piano Safari for a few weeks now and I’m excited about adopting this new method. I’d love to win a free pack of Level 3 materials.

Elizabeth M Grace says

May 27, 2016 at 6:31 pm

I just ordered Piano Safari and can’t wait to start using it. Such sound pedagogical material. Thank you!

Lena Purnell says

May 27, 2016 at 10:20 pm

Always looking for new ideas as each student is different

Joy Blumell says

May 27, 2016 at 10:22 pm

I’m liking Piano Safari for my youngest beginners. I’m looking forward to trying level 3

Laura Francis says

May 28, 2016 at 1:24 am

Started using Piano Safari last summer. I especially love the rote pieces! My students are having a blast and learning so much! Looking forward to Level 3!

Karen Lien says

May 28, 2016 at 4:54 am

My students love Piano Safari. I cannot wait to see what’s in level 3.

Mary Pat Todd says

May 28, 2016 at 6:25 am

I’m always drawn to a new method, especially one recommended by fellow teacher Amy Chaplin. The think the idea of a safari will appeal to my young readers.

Barbara Housewright says

May 28, 2016 at 4:14 pm

My most advanced student is now ready for Level 3. She would love the idea of a safari!

Morgan Weisenburger says

May 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm

I’m totally in need of some new ideas and approaches!

Nicole says

May 29, 2016 at 9:08 pm

I started a beginner on Level 1, and am really enjoying it! I also appreciate all the resources on their site. I would love to win!

Linda Wilson says

May 30, 2016 at 6:29 am

I am so excited to learn about Piano Safari. From the materials I see, Level 3 will be perfect for 3 students I’m teaching this summer. I’m anxious to learn more about Piano Safari. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Safari Level 3 giveaway. 🙂

Evelyn Yearty says

May 30, 2016 at 7:10 am

I’ve never used Piano Safari, but am always looking for new, refreshing methods to motivate my students. Would love to win this!

May 30, 2016 at 11:03 am

I have a few young students starting with me this fall, and I’m thinking Piano Safari might be a great fit for them!

Anna Fagan says

May 30, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Studying Levels 1 and 2 this summer, and would love to have Level 3!

Sherrie Johnson says

May 30, 2016 at 9:33 pm

I have never seen this series and would be excited to give it a try!

Andrea Bentz says

May 31, 2016 at 5:20 am

Just started using Level 1 with a student and both of us are loving it! I would love to have level 3 also!

Rebecca says

May 31, 2016 at 2:50 pm

I would love to have the level 3 set – I only have kids on level 1 so far, but it’s been great!

May 31, 2016 at 2:56 pm

I just started using Piano Safari with some of my students and am loving it so far! Can’t wait to use Level 3 soon!

Lori Supernaw says

May 31, 2016 at 5:59 pm

I’ve been looking at Piano Safari for quite some time and would love to win this!

Sophi Albert says

June 2, 2016 at 12:43 pm

It would be great for my students to be introduced to other books, materials.

June 2, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Looks like a fun new book to try!

Julia Andrews says

June 2, 2016 at 10:29 pm

I’m just starting to explore piano safari with my beginners and would love to see how the ideas are developed in level 3. This is a really useful review – thank you!

June 3, 2016 at 9:50 am

Id love to try these books!

Elizabeth says

June 3, 2016 at 9:52 am

This is my new favorite method series

June 3, 2016 at 9:54 am

I’m curious to see the Piano Safari way to transition from a method to “real” classical music 🙂

Kendra says

June 3, 2016 at 10:31 am

I always love trying new materials!

Elisabeth says

June 3, 2016 at 10:32 am

I much prefer to use “current” materials where I can contact the authors and ask lots of questions!

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piano safari reviews

Color In My Piano

A blog dedicated to excellence in piano teaching.

piano safari reviews

The Technique Exercises of the Piano Safari method

On Friday, my local MTNA chapter held a workshop given by Katherine Fisher and Dr. Julie Knerr, co-authors of the Piano Safari method.  Piano Safari has been on my radar for quite some time, although I have not yet used the method books with a student.  I have, however, been experimenting with the technique exercises they have developed.

20131101 Piano Safari 2

Piano Safari is a unique method in many ways, one of which is the integration of rote pieces alongside reading pieces.


Some time ago, I ordered their supplemental book “Technical Exercises & Rote Pieces” (view it in their online store here ).  I was particularly interested in the technical exercises which are taught to students by rote.  The exercises were developed based on Julie Knerr’s dissertation research in which she observed lessons taught by a handful of well-regarded piano teachers across the United States.  She found commonalities in the ways these teachers taught technique and developed exercises based on those commonalities.

Below is a list of the seven exercises used in Book 1 of Piano Safari and the technical motions developed by each exercise:

  • Lion Paw: Arm weight.
  • Zechariah Zebra: Repeated notes with firm fingertips.
  • Tall Giraffe: Non-legato articulation.
  • Tree Frog: Legato articulation with arm bounce.
  • Kangaroo: Repeated notes with firm fingertips.
  • Soaring Bird: Legato articulation in a three-note slur.
  • Monkey Swinging in a Tree: Rotation.

Below is a quick video by Katherine Fisher briefly demonstrating the exercises:

I am a big believer in the importance of giving even beginner students some kind of warmup exercise to play every day.  In the past, my student’s warmup assignment generally consisted of a number of 5-finger patterns (aka pentascales) in various keys.  But in recent months, my students have also been playing various incarnations of Zechariah Zebra and the other animal exercises.  🙂

Since incorporating the Piano Safari exercises, I have seen a huge improvement in my beginner students’ technique and overall physical ease at the piano.  It is so beneficial for students to have a simple exercise/piece where their entire focus can be on developing the basic hand motions that are fundamental to making beautiful sounds at the piano.

Arm weight is an important example.  Sometimes, students do not learn to utilize arm weight until very late in their piano study.  Developing a beautiful tone and a beautiful legato touch is nearly impossible without the proper understanding and use of arm weight.

The wrist roll is another important example of a basic technical movement that is so often required in music.  A wrist roll makes the end of any phrase or slur much more beautiful sounding.

At the Piano Safari workshop last Friday, I gained much more insight into the rest of the philosophies behind the Piano Safari method (besides technique, every method has a unique approach to note reading and rhythm).  I purchased a complete set of books at the workshop and I hope to continue to experiment with this unique method with my students.

You can learn more about the Piano Safari method on their website , where you will find an array of pedagogy articles and videos.  The books are available for purchase also on their website.

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Published by Joy Morin

Joy Morin, MM, is a teacher, pianist, composer, speaker, and writer of a blog at ColorInMyPiano.com. A devoted teacher and lifelong learner, she teaches students of all ages at her independent piano studio near Ann Arbor, Michigan. Joy is a frequent attendee and presenter at conferences and workshops, and enjoys connecting with fellow piano teachers through her blog and beyond. View all posts by Joy Morin

7 thoughts on “The Technique Exercises of the Piano Safari method”

Interesting! I wish I can get the preview online, or perhaps will available in my country, since I also search a fun book to motivate my students to practice regularly 🙂

There are some previews on the website — take a peek here: http://pianosafari2.weebly.com/available-materials.html

Thanks for sharing. I’ve been curious about Piano Safari and I would love to be able to see a presentation about the method. Maybe we can get them to come do a workshop in Fort Worth sometime!

Or better yet AUSTIN!!… I am ordering today the technical exercises Please do come to Texas!

Great article! This is my first time hearing about the piano safari method!

I especially enjoy the lion paw exercise. Teaching arm weight is very difficult, and with this exercise, a student can begin working with arm weight at a young age. I personally disagree with the school of thought that weight should be taught once a student is more advanced.

I look forward to incorporating these exercises with my students one day!

Ha. I’m at a Piano Safari workshop in Athens, OH at OU and they just mentioned you and this blog in relation to rhythm notation cards.

Very cool, Karin! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

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piano safari reviews

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Air's Moon Safari is an era-defining French album worth celebrating, 25 years on

Air's Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin as illustrated on the cover of their 1998 deut album Moon Safari

There's no telling how many special moments have been soundtracked by Moon Safari, the acclaimed 1998 debut album from French duo Air.

An era-defining record of pristine, space-age lounge music delivered with cinematic atmosphere and a distinctively French je ne se quios , Moon Safari was a universal critical and commercial success upon release.

The lush easy-listening music was perfectly suited to post-club comedowns, hip cafes, and make-out sessions: smooth and dreamy enough to be played in the background, but singular and masterfully crafted enough to reward close listening.

It proved highly influential, too. But the wave of mellow, down tempo imitators and 'chill out' CD compilations it spawned struggled to surpass Air's chic, exquisitely woozy beauty.

'It was not meant to be played live'

Jean-Benoît Dunckel, one half of Air alongside Nicolas Godin, never expected Moon Safari's enduring success.

"We never imagined this album could work that way worldwide," he tells Karen Leng on Double J Lunch. 

"It took time, it took decades, [but] the success is not by us, the audience made [it]."

This year, the duo has been playing Moon Safari in full around the world on their first tour in seven years, including Australia.

"It was not made to be played live," says Dunckel. 

"We had to adapt it for the live [setting]. That is what the people want to get — this special feeling they heard the first time… to live again these feelings."

Having played two nights at the Sydney Opera House as part of Vivid Live , Air will live-stream their show at London's Royal Albert Hall this weekend.

"It's a beautiful venue," says Dunckel, who is keen to preserve a pristine performance of the album online for future access.

"It's really important to do that because… people can also discover the band live. Some people appreciate the live versions more than the recorded versions."

Performing as a trio, alongside drummer Louis Delorme, Air play inside an oblong box adorned with dazzling lights and visuals, which morph from swathes of minimalist colour to the perspective of a spaceship enjoying interstellar travel.

"We play in a box of light. It looks a bit like the studio on the cover of 10 000 Hz Legend," says Dunckel, referencing the band's second studio album — a weirder, wilder reaction to Moon Safari.

Air perform on Sydney Opera House stage with visuals of a ship in hyperspace behind them.

"It could be a home, it could be our world, our head, our architectural concept. It helps for people to enter into a world… people like [that] intimacy."

Dunckel says people often ask: "Are you not bored to play these songs you play for 20 years now?"

"Sometimes I struggle — because you have to concentrate, and you have to play. But I'm never bored. It's always a pleasure."

Moon Safari is a product of its era, but it's also aged beautifully.

It's an evocative listening experience, from the moment lengthy opener 'La femme d'argent' ushers you in with the sounds of water and slinky bassline, through to the weightless pop and robot-voiced melodies of 'Kelly Watch The Stars' and 'New Star in the Sky'.

In 1998, its retro-futuristic arrangements already sounded timeless. 25 years later, its ability to transport your mind and imagination elsewhere hasn't dated one iota.

"It could be a journey, a love story," remarks Dunckel. "That's why we're really attached to it. I think the audience is searching for that, too.

"It helps human relationships in every way," adds Dunckel. Over the years, Air fans have shared "so many stories" of what the album means to them.

"Most of the time it's for love. It's always, 'I met my girlfriend or wife this time'."

Back in 1998, Dunckel told triple j that while hiking in Iceland, his guide revealed Moon Safari was his love-making soundtrack.

There's "probably" plenty of babies in the world with some of the album's DNA in them since, Dunckel estimates of a new generation discovering Air for the first time.

"As we are getting old now, it's becoming that people say, 'oh yeah, my parents were listening to Moon Safari when we were travelling in a car; this family time'."

Close up image of two men with brown hair looking at the camera with straight faces

Sexy Boy, the surprising queer anthem

For many, debut single 'Sexy Boy' was their first introduction to Air. A seductive slice of synth-pop that brought vocoder back to the pop charts and sung in both French and English.

It's a seemingly simple song but Dunckel notes there's "a lot of tolerance and freedom" embedded in it.

"Sexy Boy, first of all, is a strange title because it breaks a certain taboo. The taboo is that heterosexual boys can check out other boys," he explains.

"Also, it became a gay slogan in a way. A gay anthem."

The song took on a new meaning in late 90s Paris when the electronic music scene's wider acceptance of the LGTBQI+ community led to more club and techno nights dedicated to queer punters and DJs emerging.

"There was a lot of gay parties," says Dunckel. "Homosexuality is everywhere in the world, and it's always existed, always there. So, it was important to liberate this movement."

Originally, the song's titular phrase was inspired by Parisian fashion culture.

"People are checking each other out all the time… In Paris, when a couple is meeting another couple, the girl is not going to check out the boy. She's going to check out the other girl: analyse what she wears, how she behaves, what is the fashion or type of the boyfriend.

"Sexy Boy is speaking about that. The fact a man wants to be a pretty man and he is checking [out] other boys."

A popular soundtrack choice, featured in teen rom-com 10 Things I Hate About You and noughties TV drama Queer As Folk, 'Sexy Boy' is also a testament to youth.

The French verses are "celebrating that golden age of being young," Dunckel explains.

"When you're young you don't realise you're at the top of your life. You have a lot of power, actually… because you're beautiful. Your skin, hair, you feel great, you have a lot of energy."

The makings of a classic

Despite its iconic status, Moon Safari was actually the last roll of the dice for Dunckel and Godin.

Raised in the conservative suburb of Versailles, the pair began making music together after meeting at school. But after having their demo tapes rejected by every record label they approached, they quit music and instead focused on their studies.

Each had established careers — Godin in architecture, Dunckel in mathematics — when an opportunity presented itself in a close friend landing a role with Virgin Records imprint Source.

They landed a deal with the label but ditching their jobs for a full-time career in music to support their burgeoning families was a gamble.

black and white portrait of French duo Air: Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel

"We were 26 years old. We were not sure we come be musicians for the rest of our life," remembers Dunckel. "I was already working [as] a physics teacher… I had a baby."

Thankfully, their risk was rewarded when their debut album became a breakout international hit. Air was swiftly lumped alongside a fresh wave of Parisian artists reinventing the electronic music scene in the late 90s.

Dubbed French touch, the movement included Cassius, St. Germain, Étienne de Crécy, and Daft Punk, who recorded their breakout 1997 album Homework down the street from where Air made Moon Safari.

"There was a kind of energy circulating all over Paris," recalls Dunckel. "Paris is kind of small; all the media, artists and business part of it [were] working all together."

The worlds of music, fashion, contemporary art, cinema — "everything was mixed," Dunckel says.

"At this time, new generations of young people coming from the suburbs are even inside Paris and mixing all these rich, futuristic concepts together with new machines, samplers, computer programs to make music."

A fond farewell to youth

Despite being poster boys for the future of French music, Moon Safari was an evocative, nostalgia-drenched ode to Dunckel and Godin's past.

"In a way it was the end of my youth… That's why the songs [on Moon Safari], there are a lot of regrets and it's a goodbye to our youth and the innocence of it.

"It's full of vibrations from teenage times."

Although labelled an electronic act, Air's music wasn't rooted in beats and house music. Instead, they armed themselves with analogue Moog and Korg synthesizers, vintage drum machines, vocoders and the trusty Rhodes piano.

The resulting compositions bore the esprit of Serge Gainsbourg, electronic pioneers like Jean-Michel Jarre, and the 1970s film and TV soundtracks of Dunckel's childhood.

There's a fondness for the psychedelic grandeur of Pink Floyd and ELO. But also, Burt Bacharach arrangements, particularly in the wistful French horn topline of ''Ce matin là' (This morning) and the easy-going 'You Make It Easy' and 'All I Need', both featuring the lyrics and vocals of Godin's then-neighbour, Beth Hirsch.

From its lush, otherworldly sounds right down to its title, Moon Safari gives rise to cosmic ideas and conducive to escapism. That spirit is central to Air's entire ethos.

"I think music exists in paradise and you can feel this [album] is in a strange interface between our world and something else."

Such ephemeral expressions might be surprising coming from a former physics teacher, but Dunckel says "both sides of your brain help" when it comes to making emotive art.

"There is a mathematic aspect of music, that analyses and helps you perform and conceive music. But there is something else happening, your heart is talking.

"As a musician you're organising the vibrations of your heart and the feelings into music… vibrations travelling into space and air."

"When I do a song, it's all about 'what do I feel?'" Dunckel concludes.

"For me, good means it affects me. No good means I don't feel anything… if it affects me, it's going to affect others, too. They're going to feel the feelings I do, too."

Air live-stream their performance at London's Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 1 June. Details here .

Hear Karen Leng hosting  Lunch on Double J from midday Monday to Thursday.

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Level 1 Pack

The materials that make up the Level 1 Pack are designed to enhance each other. Students will make optimal progress when all the components are used.

Note: a download code for the audio tracks is located on the cover page of the Repertoire Book.


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  1. Piano Safari Review

    piano safari reviews

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  3. Method reviews return! A review of Piano Safari

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  5. Piano Safari Piano Safari Level 2 Pack

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  1. Piano Safari 2

  2. Piano Safari for the Older Beginner Book 1

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  4. City Stroll Piano Safari Repertoire 1

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  1. Has anyone used Piano Safari before? : r/pianolearning

    Has anyone used Piano Safari before? I have got both Adult Piano Adventures and Alfred's Adult All In One, but I feel that having done most of each book, they never really explained proper finger, wrist and arm movement. I'm aware that Piano Adventures has video supplements ,but these dont feel sufficient. Then I stumbled across Piano Safari ...

  2. Piano Safari Review

    Lauren Lewandowski. Lauren teaches piano to students of all ages in New Orleans, LA. Teaching is her passion. She enjoys creating resources for her students and is the author of Ready for Theory®. Piano Safari review of Katherine Fisher & Julie Knerr's piano method book. The creators have also offered a free giveaway of the level 1 pack.

  3. Piano Safari Review: Learning by Rote as a Piano Method

    After Piano Safari Level 3. By the end of Level 3, students will be playing at an intermediate level. Piano Safari Level 3 is a bit more advanced than other methods' Level 3 books. It includes advanced coordination, reading, and technical skills, mostly through classical etudes. More on the song selection in a bit.

  4. Piano Safari Full Review

    Join my courses: https://piano-tips.comSupport me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/pianotipsBook a piano lesson: https://piano-tips.com/online-lessons/Buy...

  5. Reviews

    Piano Safari in the press We're honored by all of the attention Piano Safari receives in blogs and journals. This page contains select passages from a range of reviews, with links to the full post. Note: some of these reviews reference earlier editions of the Piano Safari Method books. Since writing this review in 2015, I have been teaching the Piano Safari method consistently for two years ...

  6. Teacher's Review of Piano Safari Method Book

    The Piano Safari method books consist of many learning techniques and activities that are useful to students and teachers. It contains reading pieces, sight reading exercises, rote pieces, theory, technique exercises, folk tunes, and improvisation. The book leans towards the Intervallic Reading Approach, but primarily uses an Eclectic Method.

  7. The Best Piano Method Book for Beginners (Piano Safari Review)

    Learn more about Vibrant Music Teaching Membership at https://vibrantmusicteaching.com/membershipPiano Safari is my absolute favourite piano method, so it te...

  8. Piano Safari: The Journey Begins…

    Piano Safari: The Journey Begins…. February 20, 2014 by natalie 5 Comments. I remember sitting at a restaurant in Austin, TX with a group of fellow MTNA conference attendees in 2006. Julie Knerr and Katie Fisher were among the group, and I sat with rapt attention as they flipped through pages of hand-drawn illustrations and notes while ...

  9. Piano Safari Review

    One of the first videos I ever posted on Youtube was a method book review. That video is my most popular video on my channel, so I decided to do a quick summ...

  10. Method Reviews Return! A Review of Piano Safari

    From private studios to concert venues, pianists are teaching, mentoring, and inspiring others every day. We exist to support pianists of all kinds as they touch lives through piano education. Digital: $36/yr. Digital + Print: $48/yr.

  11. Review and Giveaway of Piano Safari Level 3

    If you'd like a chance to check out Piano Safari Level 3 for yourself, Julie and Katie have graciously offered to give away a free Level 3 pack to one Music Matters Blog reader (a $45.50 value!). Just leave a comment below to be entered. One winner will be chosen using a random number generator at noon (CST) on Friday, June 3, 2016.

  12. Home

    Piano Safari Offers: A carefully sequenced, intervallic approach for learning to read music notation Patterned pieces taught by rote that provide engaging music for students from the first lesson Animal themed Technique Exercises that teach the basic motions of piano technique Improvisation ideas for developing creativity A holistic approach combining ears, eyes, and imagination that allows ...

  13. About Piano Safari

    Piano Safari is a piano method that incorporates the best elements of a range of techniques for teaching children and older students. Katherine Fisher and Dr. Julie Knerr Hague combined decades of experience and a variety of teaching and pedagogical research into a detailed, effective method. Piano Safari contains multiple levels of repertoire ...

  14. Piano Safari Resource Roundup

    Lauren Lewandowski. Lauren teaches piano to students of all ages in New Orleans, LA. Teaching is her passion. She enjoys creating resources for her students and is the author of Ready for Theory®. Here is a list of various worksheets, visuals, and games that can be used with the Piano Safari method. These resources will help piano teachers.

  15. Amazon.com: Customer reviews: Piano Safari: Older Beginner Level 1 Pac

    Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for Piano Safari: Older Beginner Level 1 Pac at Amazon.com. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users.

  16. The Technique Exercises of the Piano Safari method

    Below is a list of the seven exercises used in Book 1 of Piano Safari and the technical motions developed by each exercise: Lion Paw: Arm weight. Zechariah Zebra: Repeated notes with firm fingertips. Tall Giraffe: Non-legato articulation. Tree Frog: Legato articulation with arm bounce.

  17. Piano Safari Technique Reference Sheets

    Piano Safari Resource Roundup. Dynamics and Tempo Reference Sheets. Piano Safari Worksheets. Piano Safari Review. 1 Comment. Heidi Neal on November 11, 2016 at 8:05 pm I love having the printables as reminders. After watching the piano safari webinar today I was going to compile some pics that I could print on cardstock and laminate for ...

  18. $$ Piano Safari books are a little more expensive than most

    Head over to my channel to check out my in-depth review of the Piano Safari piano method series!#pianoteacherlife #pianoteacher #pianoteacherbusiness #teachi...

  19. Amazon.com: Customer reviews: Piano Safari Repertoire Book 1

    How customer reviews and ratings work Customer Reviews, including Product Star Ratings help customers to learn more about the product and decide whether it is the right product for them. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don't use a simple average.

  20. Preview for Piano Safari Level 2. This is an Instructional Video for

    Preview for Piano Safari Level 2. This is an Instructional Video for the first piece in Repertoire Book 2. It is called Safari Friends and uses all the animal techniques presented in Repertoire Book 1.

  21. Piano Safari Method

    Level 1 products include: Level 1 Pack - Includes Repertoire Book 1 and Sight Rhythm & Reading Cards 1. The Pack contains the core of the method and is designed to promote the well-rounded development of each student. Repertoire Book 1 - Included in the Level 1 Pack. Contains repertoire, technique, improvisation, and some theory pages.

  22. Fans are mourning a singing beagle who went viral

    CNN's Jeanne Moos pays tribute. 'I touched it!': New Zealand man fined after trying to 'body slam' an orca. A piano-playing beagle named Buddy Mercury has died.

  23. Piano Pronto Review

    Lauren Lewandowski. Lauren teaches piano to students of all ages in New Orleans, LA. Teaching is her passion. She enjoys creating resources for her students and is the author of Ready for Theory®. This article is a review of Jennifer Eklund's self-published piano method book series, Piano Pronto.

  24. Air's Moon Safari is an era-defining French album worth celebrating, 25

    There's no telling how many special moments have been soundtracked by Moon Safari, the acclaimed 1998 debut album from French duo Air. An era-defining record of pristine, space-age lounge music ...

  25. Level 1 Pack

    Level 1 Pack. The materials that make up the Level 1 Pack are designed to enhance each other. Students will make optimal progress when all the components are used. Note: a download code for the audio tracks is located on the cover page of the Repertoire Book. Categories: 2nd Edition 2018, Children, Featured, Level 1, Level 1, Method.