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Mrs. Stewart's Piano Lessons & Piano Reader Review by Stephanie D. Scarborough

Fran Stewart
6817 North 85th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85250

Elsie M. Stewart first published Mrs. Stewart's Piano Lessons in 1965 and it is currently in its sixth printing. Additionally, Mrs. Stewart's Piano Reader was published one year later, in 1966, and currently stands in its fifth printing. Below I've listed the information and skills covered in this series.

Mrs. Stewart's Piano-Beginners: Grades 1 & 2

Lessons I-XV include learning the keyboard. Learning the major scale, its twelve homes, its black and white pictures, singing and playing by numbers. Learning standard scale fingering, alternating groups of two and three. 10 songs, hands alone and together; harmonizing, transposing them. Key signatures. First position triads. Skills, Matthay piano technique.

Lessons XVI-XXV include the story of grand staff, grand scale, on paper, keyboard, also by thirds. Writing, naming, playing, singing. Fingering as part of note reading. Note singing away from piano, by letters, with piano. 11 studies, combing note playing, fingering, singing letter names. 10 favorite pieces. Second position triads.

Mrs. Stewart's Piano Reader-Part 2: Grades 3 & 4

Twenty chapters with 28 selected pieces with instructions for learning each piece. Balanced lesson and practice routine including major and minor scales, chords and cadences in all the keys, transposing and discovery of tonic and dominant seventh chords. Basic keyboard harmony applied to the keyboard.

Although the lessons are designed for a parent to be able to teach at home, it would be helpful, almost necessary, to have some musical background. Some of the vocabulary and terms seem overwhelming to a person with no musical experience. Perhaps, if you had a resourceful musical professional or friend to consult with from time to time you would be comfortable. Although good descriptions are given it's hard to know if the children are doing it correctly without having seen actual examples and non-examples.

The scope of the program is quite broad thus allowing a child to increase his musical abilities. Similarly, students explore music learning to feel equally at home in all keys. The progression is based on students' age and aptitude; moreover, each of the lessons has a review of the previously learned skills. Who can argue with her over 40 years of success with this program?

Mrs. Stewart's love for music shines as she engages a student's natural aptitudes in such practical ways.

-- Product Review by: Stephanie D. Scarborough, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine