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How it Works

Simple and fun piano method for young children

Why learn piano and why start young?

  • learning music is like learning any language
  • best started from an early age
  • children learn languages naturally and without effort when they are young
  • and the language of music is the same

Recognized benefits for children from learning piano:

  • improves IQ if started below the age of 7
  • has endless positive effects on a child’s development
  • improves reading and maths
  • boosts memory and relaxation
  • teaches concentration, co-ordination, patience and perseverance
  • is an excellent preparation and support for schoolwork
  • strong parent-child bonding

Children gain a solid musical foundation for learning any instrument as they:

  • learn to read, sing and play music
  • develop a sense of pulse and rhythm
  • improve their “inner ear” through singing

Here Hanhan, Alisa and Milana are 3 years old

And here, at age 4, they perform in a recital

Summary of the Dogs and Birds Approach

  • children stimulated by beautiful coloured illustrations and adventures with animals
  • transition to conventional music via blank notes versions of each book
  • rapid progress through use of Small Animal Tiles and Coloured Staves
  • learning through familiar animals is fun for children
  • Cat, Dog, Egg, Fish, Goose, Ant, Bird - show position of notes on keyboard and staves
  • without having to know the alphabet, children as young as 3 can start
  • children sing the animals as they play – reinforcing learning

3 tutor books – recommended order of study:

  • Dogs and Birds Book 1
  • Dogs and Birds: Nursery Rhymes and Famous Melodies
  • Dogs and Birds Book 2

Provides a simple first introduction to music

  • parents can teach Book 1 to their children
  • Notes to Book 1 for Parents and Teachers explains everything required
  • no previous musical education necessary
  • children can practise unaided
  • Nursery Rhyme and Famous Melodies Book has fun, well-known melodies
  • piano teacher required for material in book 2

After finishing the material in the Nursery Rhyme Blank Book and in Book 2 Blank a child is ready to prepare for prep tests for any of the major exam boards (for example the ABRSM Prep Test or the Trinity Initial Exam)

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Background to the techniques

z-kodaly.jpgThe "Dogs and Birds" approach has been developed over the last fourteen years by Elza Lusher. As a native Hungarian, her music education was based on the Kodály principles from the start. She was trained as a piano teacher at the Liszt Academy in Hungary.

However, it was only through her piano teaching experience (both in Hungary and in England) that she came to appreciate fully the importance of singing and the inner ear.

In Hungary all students study solfege for at least a year before starting to learn an instrument, therefore all instrumental teachers assume a basic level of musicianship.

During her teaching in England Elza discovered that it was necessary to build basic musicianship into her piano lessons. The result of this is the "Dogs and Birds" method.


Elza has been living in England since 1991 and she has been teaching the piano for over thirty years. She has a wide range of teaching experience, from very young children to diploma level, and has also was the tutor for piano teachers on the Kodály Institute of Britain's teachers' course.

In addition to giving one-to-one piano lesson to children as young as two and a half, during the development of “Dogs and Birds” Elza taught groups in a Montessori nursery school, getting excellent results. Here children as young as three years old learnt to sing the notes and understand the music using the "Dogs and Birds" approach. She also taught "Dogs and Birds" in a local infant school, to groups of ten children using five keyboards.

Elza has produced three volumes of pieces using this method together with her husband Chris. The books contain delightful full colour illustrations, by the award-winning illustrator, Mark Chambers, which really capture the child's imagination and enhance the learning experience.

The tutor books are supplemented with other resources – a guide to Book 1 for parents and teachers, and a set of small animal tiles and coloured staves (to help visualize the notes) which significantly speed up learning notation. There is also a sol-fa book, written from a pianistic point of view, which helps students to progress from singing animal names to singing sol-fa.

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