Technique and sight reading are two of the most essential skills that we need to pass on to our piano students. I’m constantly in search of new methods, resources and ideas to teach these key concepts.
In this post, I’m sharing my favourite technique and sight reading resources for piano teachers. From all the things I’ve tried (and there have been a lot!) what are the resources that stick around in my studio?
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Best Sight Reading Resources for Piano Teachers
Piano Safari Sight Reading Cards
I’m starting with my most favouritest. Piano Safari sight reading cards are simply wonderful.
If you’re not familiar, let me give you a brief rundown.
- There are 18 levels of the cards.
- Each level includes a new interval, combination or chord pattern.
- Every card includes a line of sight reading (hands separate or together depending on the level) and a rhythm to tap.
The real magic of these cards, in my opinion, is how slowly they progress. Very few other sight reading resources give as much practice of one skill before adding another.
For example, level C includes steps and sames. Then, level D includes skips and sames – not steps, skips and sames – that doesn’t happen until level E.
I use Piano Safari sight reading cards with my students who are in the Piano Safari method, but also with all students who need extra reading practice.
I especially love these cards for my transfer students who come to me suffering from grand staff confusion. The logical progression really helps to clarify things and remove the fuzzy edges.
Keep track of your students’ progress through the levels of sight reading cards using my free charts with you can download below. Colour and black and white versions are included.
Piano Adventures Sightreading Books
Before I found Piano Safari, the Piano Adventures sight reading books were my favourite for beginning sight reading – and they still have an important place in my toolkit.
These books branch off from each piece in the correlating main Piano Adventures book, using variations to provide extra reading practice.
There are some really nice things about these books – whether you use Piano Adventures as a method book or not. The illustrations and “Don’t practice this!” stamps are fun, and they do provide a lot of reinforcement for the various reading skills that students need to develop.
Improve Your Sight-reading Series by Paul Harris
For students sitting exams – the Improve Your Sight-reading series by Paul Harris is my go-to resource.
I have used this series for years (even for my own exams back in the day!) and it has really stood the test of time.
I love that he includes rhythm exercises, suggestions of preparation questions, and a variety of levelling within the one chapter. Sight reading shouldn’t always be a steady upward progression, lateral work is important too.
I highly recommend this series if you have students sitting exams, or just need a comprehensive, graded approach to sight reading – especially at the higher level.
Best Technique Resources for Piano Teachers
Animal Adventures by Piano Safari
Have you noticed that I really like Piano Safari? Their technique resources are just as good as their sight reading cards.
If you haven’t tried out Piano Safari yet, and don’t want to jump into a new method, then you should start with the Animal Adventures book.
This book introduces each of the seven animal techniques that are the basis of great beginning piano playing. These exercise teach students about arm weight, legato, rotation and fluid movement.
The book includes the exercises, accompanying rote pieces and improvisations you can do to expand on the technique and further reinforce the gestures with your students.
If you’re going to try Animal Adventures, make sure to download my free tracking chart below to motivate your students as they progress through the exercises.
Technique Trainer by Jackie Sharp
Some older students might be put off by the animal names in the Piano Safari technique exercises, and for them I like to use Technique Trainer by Jackie Sharp.
This book teaches piano technique in a similar order and progression to Piano Safari, but in a very different style. The videos that go along with Technique Trainer are a great addition – especially for my adult students.
Your Favourite Technique and Sight Reading Resources
So there you have it. Those are my absolute favourite, couldn’t live without ‘em resources for sight reading and technique.
Have I left out your favourite? Let me know in the comments or in the Vibrant Music Studio Teachers community on Facebook.