The Mayron Cole Piano Method
a review by
Patty Morell Bilhartz, M.A.
The Mayron Cole Piano Method is a unique, innovative and enjoyable way for students of all ages to learn to play the piano. The author, Mayron Cole, developed and piloted this program in her own Houston studio. Hallmarks of the program include teaching the student to think for him/herself and developing musicality in each student. To achieve these goals, the author emphasizes note reading, consistent counting, and creative thought in each lesson. The Method currently contains nine levels, from Pre-Primer to Early Advanced, plus three Older Beginner levels. Additional materials include a 5-lesson "Blast Off With Piano" sampler, several operettas on varying levels, primer and intermediate level multi-piano ensembles, sequenced disks to accompany all levels and supplementary music, four games designed by the author, and inclusive teacher support manuals and teaching aids. The method may be used for teachers who offer private and/or group lesson formats.
The Pre-Piano level targets rhythm development in the young child. Students learn to count while discovering keyboard geography. Staff reading is reserved for Level 1. The Pre-Piano or "Menehune" (Hawaiian for "little person") Level develops all fingers, and encourages the student to play at various locations on the keyboard.
Levels 1 and 2 continue the emphasis on counting and reading as notes are introduced one-by-one on the grand staff. Cole uses a modified middle C approach to note reading. Students are encouraged to play with different fingers and at different octaves using both black and white keys on the keyboard. No finger numbers are given in the first lessons to that students will rely on reading the staff. Students' hand positions are allowed to develop naturally and correctly as students learn note-by-note reading. Level 2 concentrates on reading the bass staff, Level III works with the upper treble notes.
Enjoyable foci of each level are the "Fun Sheets." Theory sheets in masquerade, the Fun Sheets make theory meaningful to the students by coordinating concepts directly with the pieces that they are playing. Before playing most pieces, the student completes a Fun Sheet about the piece. The Fun Sheet can cover anything from counts to notes to musical aspects such as language, dynamics, patterns, and form. Not only does the Fun Sheet teach the needed theory concepts to the developing student, it helps the student to discover "how" to practice the new piece by breaking the piece into small, more easily learned parts. At the end of each level, the student takes a quiz over the concepts learned. These "Finish Lines" are coordinated with each level of state theory tests.
The Method Books, while more expensive than traditional single method books, are all-in-one entities. Their loose-leaf page format allows the students to receive new music each week. Pages include pieces, theory, sigh reading, some ear training, and technique. Levels II and up include sheets of major and minor scales and cadences. The pieces in the upper levels offer edited classics coupled with the author's own delightful compositions. "Midnight on Boggy Creek" and "Forever River" are favorites of teenagers in Level 6.
The Mayron Cole Method offers a wonderful change from the "traditional piano method" diet. Students who progress through each level will emerge as independent musicians who can read, write, and create music. And for those teachers who already are convinced of the power of group piano lessons, or for teachers who may wish to offer group piano lessons but aren't sure how to get started, Cole's method provides surefire teaching aids and pedagogical advice which are sure to be a success with both students and teachers.
Do You Kmow?......
“According to Dr. Frances Rauscher" (a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin), "musical training, specifically piano instruction, appears to dramatically enhance a child’s abstract thinking skills and spatial-temporal ability skills that are necessary for mathematics and science.”
--American Music Conference