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These are tools and materials that teachers from our state have found particularly helpful in their studios. Feel free to submit contributions!



"A very helpful tool for students looking to boost their theory skills. There are animated tutorials covering basic theory concepts as well as a wide selection of exercises that help students practice note names, keyboard names, intervals, chords, etc. Everything is set up in a clean and easy to use website. This is a very helpful website for older students. They have also created excellent iPad and iPhone apps that I encourage my students to download if possible."—Amy Maier


"Music Teachers Helper has been an invaluable tool for my studio for these past three years. This site helps you schedule lessons, track attendance, invoice parents and provides you with your own website. It is quite customizable to fit your business needs and they are continually taking feedback from teachers and adjusting the site to meet everyone's needs. There is a monthly subscription cost that is determined by the number of students you register. The service it provides is definitely worth the subscription cost!"—Amy Maier


"A great resource for teachers and their students to hear standard repertoire performed. This is an ongoing project at the University of Iowa."—Barbara Fenlason


"Since MMTA has stopped having Student Evaluations, I have started using Carnegie Hall/Royal Conservatory ACHIEVEMENT PROGRAM Celebration Series for Etudes, Listening, Sight Reading, Performance. They have testers with international standards in different areas in Massachusetts. When I taught in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the English School there had testers come from England. This series is used world-wide. Pictures of the books and details about their contents can be seen online."—Barbara Payson


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Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Daily Exercises for Piano Students, by Boris Berlin and Andrew Markow. Series Editor: Scott McBride Smith. Publisher: Frederick Harris Music Company, Ltd.


"Years ago I brushed aside my students’ sight-reading skills by providing them with weekly music literature that might be appropriate for their skill level. 'Take this home and try to get through 3 to 5 pieces each week,' I said. But none of this amounted to developing a solid foundation in sight reading because it lacked methodical, level by level training. Frankly, we could barely get through the music for the lesson, let alone anything extra.


"But after meeting my teacher of my teen years at an MTNA Convention, I learned she had discovered a new text which provided exactly what could fit the ticket: Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Daily Exercises for Piano Students.


"With 10 individual levels beginning from the earliest reading level through the final (pre-college) volume, this text requires 5 to 10 minutes each day for students and includes 2 sight-reading exercises, melodic and rhythmic drills and ear training, which incorporate intervals and chords. Most of my students take pleasure in reading through these short pieces and doing the exercises because they are interesting and even fun (imagine that!)—something new each day.

—Patricia Stowell


Rhythm Clapback/Singback and Melody Playback/Singback books, by Boris Berlin and Andrew Markow. Publisher: Frederick Harris Music Company, Ltd.


"This past year I realized one of my students was not making progress in basic reading skills due to issues she had with rhythm and pitch together. The minute she added rhythm into the mix, she lost sight of her key signature, and when I asked her to observe her sharps or flats, her rhythm fell apart. No matter how much we took these apart, the total product overwhelmed her.


"It was then that I pulled out these simple exercises that Berlin and Markow created, perhaps as a supplement to their Four Star Sight Reading books (see above). The books—the Rhythm book containing 3 levels and the Melody having 4 levels—made a perfect enhancement for rhythm and melody recognition. The student they may serve best could be those with:

  • difficulty singing pitches, or knowing the difference between steps and skips
  • difficulty changing keys and using sharps or flats correctly
  • difficulty reading rhythms accurately—particularly dotted rhythms
  • difficulty with basic pattern recognition
  • inability to maintain a steady, continuous beat


Since the exercises are 3 to 4 measures in length, the demands for concentration are short and manageable. Also, I find that students with this issue feel less stressed when pitch and rhythm are initially separated; adding one more task, then, seems less daunting.


One drawback: the books use only treble clef. Apparently the Frederick Harris Music Company is in the process of reassessing this feature.


—Patricia Stowell