SPRING SALE: 50% Off Puppet Videos, and Discounts on Other Selected Dogs & Birds Material


Dogs and Birds Teachers' Course: Summary


This course for piano and music teachers is based on the last Zoom course, given by Elza and Chris Lusher (creators of the Dogs and Birds Piano Method), and includes many more additional hints and tips and more recent material. It is aimed at making your lessons easier and more beneficial when teaching the very young. It is broken up into 16 sections for ease of viewing. It contains our most recent pedagogy and since it is streamable it will be updated when new developments occur.

The 16 Sections – Part 1

Here we give the contents of each of the sections relating to Dogs and Birds Book 1 and the Nursery Rhyme Book, and include short video samples.

Section 1:

Introduction to the Teachers’ Course (26 min)

  • Answers to some preliminary questions on the structure of lessons and motivating children to practise.
  • Book 1 – Introduction to the topics covered, and the philosophy behind this course.
  • The Golden Rules.

[Note, if you have not yet seen the 17-minute video “The Dogs and Birds Piano Method in Action”, you can find it in the supplementary material at the end of this course, after Section 15. If you wish to get an overview of the method at this stage, then you should watch it now.]

Section 2:

Book 1 – Finger Exercises (34 mins)

  • Introducing the finger positions:
    • “Owl’s Eyes Fingers”,
    • “Owl’s Goggles Fingers”,
    • “Owl’s Goggles Fingers”,
    • “Owl’s Binoculars Fingers”.

When you use these terms to help the child, and need to say them quickly, use your own shorthand, for example “Owl’s”, “Glasses”, “Goggles” and “Binoculars”.

  • Finger Exercises are given in “Notes and Lesson Plans to Book 1 for Parents and Teachers” and form many of the lessons in “Dorian and Miss Bell: Piano Lessons in the Forest".

Section 3:

Book 1 – Rhythm and Pulse (24 mins)

  • Achieving a SLOW and STEADY beat by:
    • Marching,
    • Drumming,
    • Tapping,
    • Counting.
  • Emphasizing the importance of the “Pretending Game”.
  • Rhythm Exercises are dispersed throughout Book 1 and the Nursery Rhyme Book.

[Note: You should make good use of finger puppets to stimulate your child. You can find an excellent selection at a good price from Puppets by Post.]

Section 4:

Book 1 – Improvisation and Composition (20 mins)

  • Improvisation (with finger puppets) for:
    • freeing up the spirit,
    • learning technique and dynamics,
  • Composition (based on the musical pieces in the book),
  • Talking about the stories in the book to fire the child’s imagination.

Section 5:

Book 1 – Pieces (30 mins)

  • For very young children we can use the Tiles and Staves as a “Rubber Ring” at the start.
  • As we approach each piece we:
    • first just read and sing it,
    • then play it, singing the animal names.
  • Gradually we teach all the positions of the animals using the illustrations in the book. In this way we are able to introduce the Blank Book before learning Eggs. After that we use both Animal and Blank Books in parallel.
  • Once we have reached “Old MacDonald”, on page 38, we can start using the Nursery Rhyme Book. Since children often know the tunes in the Nursery Rhyme Book it is good for them if we mostly use the Blank Book.

Section 6:

Book 1 – Use of Coloured Staves (8 mins)

  • When we are working through Book 1 we use the Tiles and Staves for:
    • Copying out pieces from the book – we can copy out pieces from the Blank Book and check them with the Animal Book,
    • Making up our own finger exercises,
    • Composing simple pieces,
    • Ear training – see next section.

Section 7:

Book 1 – Ear Training (29 mins)

  • Helping to develop the inner ear with different musical games.
  • Ensuring that the child is always successful from the start.
  • Using different approaches to motivate the child.

Section 8:

Nursery Rhyme Book – Pieces (21 mins)

  • The Nursery Rhyme Book is a bridge between Book 1 and Book 2. Use it in parallel with them.
  • Start it once we have reached Old MacDonald in Book 1.
  • Contains rhythm exercises based on the musical pieces.
  • Makes use of quavers (not used in Books 1 and 2).
  • If children and parents know these tunes, we can use the Blank Book.