Last week, Dr. Julie Knerr and Katherine Fisher wrote this article all about rote teaching, “Are You Afraid of Rote Teaching? Consider This…”. I’m very excited to do more of this with my students especially now that they have convinced me that it won’t produce completely illiterate piano students! But, I know the following question plagued me for years about rote teaching, so I asked them to answer this again for me and many of you who might still wonder:

Won’t teaching by rote keep students from learning to read music?

We certainly understand where this concern comes from, but the answer to this is definitely “no.” When rote pieces are presented in conjunction with our comprehensive intervallic reading approach, students actually become stronger readers (and overall musicians!) in the long run. They typically have a stronger ear, a better understanding of patterns and form, and a more developed technique than those who did not learn by rote. All of these skills aid reading.

Students who are able to see notation in patterns, for example, are more fluid readers than those who read note by note. Additionally, students who have a large repertoire of technical patterns in their muscle memory are able to decode to score without simultaneously having to acquire new motions for their hands. This leaves them free to focus on reading rather than the mechanics of playing the piece.

You might also be interested in seeing other frequently asked questions about the Piano Safari Method and rote teaching in general. See our Piano Safari FAQs to learn more.

What other questions come to your mind when you think of rote teaching?