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You Say Read, I Say Play

You Say Read, I Say Play

"You say read, I say play." That is the Piano By Number method compared to all other piano methods. They say, read music. I say, play the piano. It's really a question of what order you do it in. Almost all piano teachers start by teaching kids the rudiments of reading sheet music. In fact, that is all they do.

This is foolish, and here's why: Remember when your child was very young, pre-reading? You read to your child. You filled your child with the wonder of stories, characters and imagination whose source was books, the printed page, and language.

First You Taught The Alphabet

Your next step was to introduce the letters of the alphabet to the child. You were wise enough to let the child feel comfortable with their mastery of the letters before you moved on to forming words and sentences. But in conventional piano lessons, the learning process is foolishly reversed.

Conventional Piano Lessons Ignore Child Psychology

Conventional lessons start by reading music right away. No magic of music, no fun, no easy comprehension of something outside yourself, no bedtime stories, no childish delight. Instead, they must always be tied to the page. Play the notes on the page exactly as you are told. Kids are never shown why to play piano, only how.

The result? Imagine you had taught your child reading this way, read first, play later: Hypothetically, when your child asked for a fun story, you instead made them work on their letters. Of course they need to learn letters, but when? No stories until you can read!

Get On The Child's Level

When it was time for Curious George, you instead insisted on a discussion of sentence structure. And why not throw in a two hour Cambridge-level lecture on the history of Victorian children's literature, as well? You delayed any sense of reward in literature, and traded it for for forcing technical knowledge down their throats.

Finally, after years of effort, it came time for the child to read their story by themselves. The child could only read single syllable words, and thus the story was necessarily simplistic and dull. Now you have a child who can read music, but hates hates being at the piano because the music is moronic.

What's The Point If You Hate Piano?

I submit that a child taught in this way may end up in fact reading music. But they have lost the mutual, human act of storytelling. That's the entire point of literature to a child. It is the same with music. You have to make music, not just read it. This is why the first thing I do in a kid's piano lesson is have them make music.

I don't care if it is Chopsticks or Scooby Doo played with their backwards thumbs. Until a child has had the experience of making music, happily, it is pointless to go further. The answer is to first show the child that we play piano to have fun with music.

No Fun, No Music

Conventional piano teachers reverse this process. They assume that if the teacher shows the child how to read music, the child will somehow absorb the magic of music making. This process also ignores the fact that it will take decades for the child to read music well enough to play an interesting piece of music. Interesting music can be played by ear or other methods while the child is slowly developing the skills of reading music.

The person who loses in this foolish process is your child. The statistics bear this out: 9 out of 10 kids taught piano in the conventional way give up within a year.


We've turned notes into numbers for happy beginners at the piano!


Our PLAY ALONG SONGS are produced by Grammy Award winner Joe Castellon of Sesame Street. They're such an important element in making the piano fun for kids!



Our books and videos are created by Emmy Award winning composer and leading children's educator John Aschenbrenner. Get your child happily started at the piano!



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