The Old Piano Roll Blues

My husband very much wanted our kids to learn piano. Unfortunately our budget couldn’t afford sending four children to piano lessons. I was also a little hesitant to add another outside activity to our list. My guy, very sweetly, suggested that I was “smart enough to do this on my own”. Off I went to conquer the unknown…

I knew how to read music, as I had played flute for several years and sang in high school, but knowing how that relates to a piano is entirely different. I needed a program that would start off with the very basics.

Teaching Little Fingers To Play by John Thompson worked wonders! This curriculum started with the most basic instructions of all; finger placement, hand position, and posture. From there, the children learned to identify basic notes on the piano and to play them, first with the right hand and then with the left. Once the notes and their corresponding keys were learned, songs were introduced. I found that I liked this curriculum for getting started and for teaching them the basics.

John Thompson’s curriculum goes far beyond Teaching Little Fingers To Play; there is also Modern Course for Piano. For those interested, they also have music for Christmas, Disney fans, and more!

Joining the ISP we are apart of now, I noticed that several of the other kids were taking piano lessons. Their progress was quickly achieved and they played more advanced pieces than our children had been exposed to. I asked around and was told that all of the other kids were taking lessons using the Suzuki Method of piano. I was highly impressed with the program and wanted to try it out for ourselves.

We still were not able to afford classes, but having already learned the basics from Teaching Little Fingers to Play, I felt confident that we would pick things up with this new curriculum. I was right! Our kids took to it immediately.

I appreciate that the Suzuki Method teaches children to focus on playing the music by ear and not relying on the sheet music itself. I also appreciated that the curriculum came with a CD so that we could listen to the pieces as our children played, teaching them to keep time and play along with someone else.

So far, we are more than halfway done with Book #1 and going strong. The kids are loving the program and enjoy learning new songs. I am loving the fact that we are learning without having to leave the house, spending time and money we don’t have. I enjoy the Suzuki Method greatly, but I am very glad we started off with Teaching Little Fingers to Play first. I believe it gave us a strong foundation for what we are now learning.

Do you have a piano lesson you do from home? I always love learning about new curriculum and would love to hear what you use!

12 thoughts on “The Old Piano Roll Blues

  1. We just started simply music- I can’t tell you if it’s working or not yet, but it’s a start. Thanks for the tip on the books, both of those have been on my amazon wish list, and you talked me into buying them!


    • I am so glad that you found the reviews helpful! I have never heard of simply music, but I would love to hear how your progress with the program develops. I always like learning about new resources! Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Do you know, almost daily, in the Dallas area at least, so I assume it’s the same in most big cities… people give away pianos for FREE on Craigslist? Many just need tuning; many are antiques that certainly have monetary value. The catch, of course, is that they’re heavy and you have to move them yourself, and that they’ll need the investment of a good tuning once moved. If I had one free square foot at my place, and didn’t live too far out to find someone to come and tune one? I’d have one myself. I took lessons as a kid, but it’s on my bucket list to become more fluent. But it leaves me with pangs of wishfulness when I see the ads online… it amazes me what people will ‘throw away’….


    • Ooooo, that hurts! It really does. I wish we could get a piano. The cost of maintenance is a bit of a pain though. It will cost you a couple hundred a year in maintenance, but it would be worth it. Man… You should consider getting one and brushing up. I am sure you could pick it up again very easily, you are good at that! I say go for it!


  3. You say your kids picked up the new Suzuki curriculum really easily, but how did YOU pick it up? Your link only links to finding a Suzuki teacher, or taking a course to learn how to teach it, while your article implies you did it yourself, without any outside help.

    You wrote: “I also appreciated that the curriculum came with a CD so that we could listen to the pieces as our children played, teaching them to keep time and play along with someone else.”

    What ‘curriculum’? What CD? How does an ordinary home-schooler get access to the materials to be able to use the Suzuki method at home, without having to find a teacher or take the training course?


    • I am sorry if I was unclear on a few points. In my post, I mentioned that I already read music so my only complication was adapting it to learning a new instrument.

      I did mention that I didn’t initially start off with the Suzuki method, but rather started out with “Teaching Little Fingers to Play”. This gave us a foundation of where our fingers ought to be placed and helped us become more familiar with the instrument.

      As for how Suzuki can be purchased, I was able to get ours through Amazon (but I am sure Ebay would work just as well). I purchased Book #1, which came with the listening CD. We would listen to the song and then play it; only moving on when our playing matched up with the CD. I don’t know that I would have tried this method without having the history of using “Teaching Little Fingers…”, but it worked for us.

      Each book IS the curriculum and, again, each comes with a CD. If you are new to piano, I would suggest not starting with Suzuki and beginning with “Teaching Little Fingers…” instead. It will give you a solid background with the basic notes and how to begin. Anything not taught in “Teaching Little Fingers…” could easily be looked up online, but we haven’t found that to be necessary yet.

      I do apologize if some of you were confused about how to purchase the curriculum. I did indeed give a link to the company’s site, thinking to give you an idea of their methods and theory, but failed to give out a link on purchasing. I sometimes forget that not everyone frequents Amazon like I do. It’s amazing what you can find on that site!

      As I mentioned in the original post, we absolutely love Suzuki. I originally came across the material through a friend, but lessons were far too expensive and my husband thought a lot more highly of our skills than I did. We purchased “Teaching Little Fingers…” to start us off and then transitioned into Suzuki.

      If you happen to pick it up or already use it, we would love to hear your thoughts!


      • Thank you for this response. It really helps. I was talking to a homeschooling mother here in central Europe, who had not heard of the Suzuki method and wanted some kind of ‘natural’ and gentle way to introduce piano to her children. I was searching through my vague memories of what I’d read about the Suzuki method some years ago, and so when I came home, I started a search, and your comments were very encouraging, since you ‘did it yourself’. My friend has had piano lessons, can read music, and plays herself (when she has time), but wanted to be more systematic.

        I’m going to recommend the ‘Little Fingers’ books and search Amazon and send her links. I think she’ll be most encouraged by knowing another mother has adapted the Suzuki method herself, and she doesn’t have to try to find a teacher in her small town in central Europe.

        Thank you for your help!


  4. This post was just what I was looking for. I took lessons as a youth and want my children to learn piano but wasn’t sure about lessons. I had heard so many good things about the Suzuki method but there were no teachers in our area and the expense would probably be out of our league anyway. I am going to look into the books you suggested. Thanks for sharing your experience here!


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