CPTP079: Rote Teaching with Amy Greer - Creative Music Education

CPTP079: Rote Teaching with Amy Greer

By Tim Topham | Piano Teaching

Mar 17

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Rote teaching got a bad rap for a while. But piano teachers are starting to realise the value of teaching pieces by rote and incorporate this puzzle piece into their teaching.

Teaching rote pieces alongside reading pieces provides so many benefits. Kids who learn pieces this way are better at finding patterns, using their ears and navigating the keyboard.

You might feel like a fish out of water when it comes to rote, pattern-based piano teaching. Many teachers are apprehensive of trying this style of teaching if they’ve never done it before. It’s scary not to  have a book to point at.

Amy Greer

Well, Amy Greer is here to help you get started with rote pieces. She’s giving us step-by-step insight into her rote teaching style. I hope Amy will inspire you to give rote pieces a try this week.


If you’d like to download a PDF transcript of this episode, please click below.

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In this episode, you’ll learn

  • How Amy got started with rote teaching
  • The role of rote teaching in Amy’s teaching
  • The idea behind the Repertoire by Rote book
  • How to scaffold the learning of rote pieces
  • The exact steps Amy uses to teach a rote piece in the first lesson
  • Why “circling” helps reinforce learning in the piano lesson
  • What to look for when scouring for rote pieces

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How much rote teaching do you do?

Any? Do you see the value of teaching pieces by rote? If you haven’t tried it yet, what’s holding you back?


About the Author

Best-known for his blogging and teaching, Tim is also a well-respected presenter, performer and accompanist based in Melbourne, Australia. You can check him out on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

  • Margaret says:

    I am a violin/viola teacher – I use rounds a lot, (especially for my adult classes), regular tunes like Happy Birthday, fiddle tunes (I play a lot of Scottish fiddle music by ear) and film tunes or popular tunes they have heard. Rounds are great for basic ensemble skills too, essential for string players.

    • Tim Topham says:

      Thanks for your comment Margaret – I think that’s perfect too. You don’t need music to teach by rote, although we’d call that teaching by ear I’d guess. Keep it up 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Great interview! I’m also a big fan of starting new students with rote pieces. It’s a fun way to teach and the students love being able to play a piece that sounds more advanced than what they might be able to read. I love Amy’s idea of having students keep a rep list that includes the same number of songs as their age. Some great tips here. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy Greer says:

    Thanks for your response, Sarah. I stumbled upon the “age” trick some time ago as a way to come up with an objective number for a goal (rep list, note/key signature/interval flashcards, whatever) that the student could have a personal connection to. Using their age takes the responsibility off me, and when a little one has a birthday (something they are very proud of!), suddenly there is a positive reason to increase the work load ever so slightly. Win-win.

    Happy teaching!


  • Elanna says:

    I found this podcast very interesting! I have always included rote teaching in my practice but never to the extent that you are speaking about here. I like the idea of having a rote piece prepared to teach at an interview lesson. It was nice to hear how you break it down in such detail. I have a few beginners this year and I am going to try the Piano Safari methods with them. I will also be on the hunt for more rote resources to use with those students as well as the rest of my studio. Thanks again!

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