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  • School of Visual and Performing Arts

    Department of Music


    A Professional Development Day for Music Educators

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    The Pedagogy of Group Piano

    in the General Music Classroom

    8:00 AM- 9:45 AM


    10:00 AM-11:45 AM

    Kathleen Ann Theisen, M. Mus., NCTM

    Nationally Certified Teacher of Music

    CT Certification, Music K-12


    Adjunct Professor of Music, WCSU

    WCSU Professional Development Day 2011 - Kathleen Ann Theisen - Group Piano

  • I. Goals of teaching class piano in the general music classroom?


    Note Reading Skills (Middle C, Multi-key, Intervallic, Eclectic)

    Rhythm Reading Skills (Descriptive/Nominative, Numerical, Metric, Syllabic)




    Piano Technique (Drops, Arm Weight, Posture, Rotation for legato touch)

    II. Teaching Scales


    Tetrachord Scales (KHHW WWWH)

    Octave (or more) Scales with one hand

    All fingerings are in groups of 3s and 4s

    There are three ‘hieroglyphic’ scales (B, F#, C#)

    III. How to choose music

    Is the method systematic and logical in its presentation of concepts and skills?

    Does it provide ample reinforcement?

    Does it present a comprehensive intro to music through piano playing?

    IV. Music recommendations

    Rote Songs (Ebeneezer, Hot Cross Buns, Mary Had a Little Lamb)

    Pentascale Songs (Jelly Bean, Do do do, Ice Cream…)

    Songs by ‘ear’

    Heighted notation (Halloween)

    WCSU Professional Development Day 2011 - Kathleen Ann Theisen - Group Piano

  • Use more sophisticated sound as students get older

    Pop arrangements


    play roots of chords with LH; melody or chords with RH

    create ensembles ‘on the spot’ in class

    Chord Progressions



    V. Recommended Hardware

    Keyboard (MIDI)

    USB Camera: LogiTech HD WebCam C910

    USB Microphone: Blue Snowball

    Projector (or computers for each student)

    VI. Software

    Classroom Maestro (low-tech: Keynote Visualizer)

    Remote Desktop

    Garage Band or Audacity (to record exams)

    Home Concert Xtreme

    Karaoke Player


    For conferencing: Skype, Internet MIDI

    Smart Music (to record exams)

    Online drop box or assignments (e.g. Moodle, Blackboard Vista)

    WCSU Professional Development Day 2011 - Kathleen Ann Theisen - Group Piano

  • Screen Capture Software (for making videos): Camtasia, ScreenFlow

    MIDI files (use a textbook that has MIDI files, such as Alfred Group Piano)

    VI. Setting up your lab

    Pianos with weighted keys

    Pianos at proper height (or raise the benches)

    Built-in ‘extra’ sounds and metronome

    Ability to connect to computer

    VII. Support for Group Piano Teaching

    National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy

    handouts from conferences: NationalConferenceHandouts.html

    Clavier Companion Magazine

    Music Teachers National Association

    GP3 - group piano pedagogy

    Connecticut State Music Teachers Association, Inc.

    American Music Teacher Magazine

    MTNA E-Journal

    Website: (to buy MIDI files, software, guides to setting up your lab)

    Website: (to take online courses in Technology)

    WCSU Professional Development Day 2011 - Kathleen Ann Theisen - Group Piano

  • VII. Piano Pedagogy Books

    Baker-Jordan, Martha. Practical Piano Pedagogy. Warner Brothers.

    Uszler, Gordon, Mach and McBride Smith. The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher. Schirmer.

    Bastien, James. How to Teach Piano Successfully. Kjos.

    Jacobsen, Jeanine (edited by E.L. Lancaster): Professional Piano Teaching: A Comprehensive Piano Pedagogy Textbook for Teaching Elementary-Level Students. Alfred

    Fisher, Christopher: Teaching Piano in Groups. Oxford.

    IX. How students should prepare to major in music:

    Knowledge of Music Theory

    Major and Minor Scales and Key Signatures

    Sense of meter/pulse/rhythm

    All Pentascales (like ‘choral warmups’) and ‘leapfrog’ arpeggios

    Intervallic reading approach

    Ease and comfort at the keyboard

    Solfege/Scale Degrees

    Ability to sing simple melodies at sight

    Good practice skills and strategies

    Link to NASM:

    WCSU Professional Development Day 2011 - Kathleen Ann Theisen - Group Piano

  • Kathleen Ann Theisen, M. Mus., NCTM

    Kathleen Ann Theisen, Nationally Certified Teacher of Music, trained as a bassoonist and classical and jazz pianist before pursuing an operatic career. She has performed as a soprano with The Metropolitan Opera and numerous regional opera companies and symphonies. Theisen has taught at Western Connecticut State University since 2007, where she has taught courses in Keyboard Competency, Arranging, Theory, Piano Pedagogy, Accompanying and Sight-Singing. She is in her fourth semester as the conductor of the WCSU Concert Choir. She also designed an online Music Essentials Course for WCSU that has been offered since 2010. An enthusiast for classical, jazz, and contemporary music, Kathleen has also been on the faculty at the University of Illinois “Illinois Summer Youth Music” Piano Camp (2008, 2010, 2011), Walnut Hill Summer Theatre School, Madison (WI) Country Day School, Wausau (WI) Conservatory of Music, Greenwich (CT) Public Schools, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Piano Project. For four years, she served as Director of Choral Activities at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where her Chamber Singers had the distinction of being the only high school choir invited to perform at the Harvard Festival of Collegiate Womens' Choirs in April of 2002.

    In 2011, Theisen co-founded an online training school for music teachers: The school currently offers four courses in business and technology and will be adding additional courses in 2012 in business, technology and pedagogy. An active member of many music teachers’ associations, Theisen currently serves as President, Newsletter Editor and WebMaster of the Connecticut State Music Teachers Association, Inc. (, Website Designer and Secretary of the Fairfield County Chapter of CSMTA ( and Chair of the Young Musicians Festival in Voice ( for the Schubert Club of Fairfield County. She is also the national chair of the State Presidents Advisory Council for the Music Teachers National Association. Now in her 22nd year of private teaching, she maintains a private voice and piano studio in Greenwich and Danbury. Her current and former private students can be seen on television, in movies and on Broadway. In the Fall of 2006, she spent five weeks teaching movie star Elle Fanning for her piano solo in the movie Reservation Road, which was released in theaters nationwide in October 2007 and is available on DVD.

    A recipient of many piano, vocal and teaching awards, Theisen won the University of Wisconsin Beethoven Competition for her performance of Op. 106, Das Hammerklavier, and was the Wisconsin winner of the MTNA Collegiate Artist Competition. In 2010, she was one of four professors at WCSU to receive the “ClassTech” Grant from the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching for her high-tech approach to class piano. She also received the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association Award of Excellence in recognition of her piano teaching. She has presented workshops on topics such as high tech class piano, online class piano, online music theory, creating videos to enhance your teaching, jazz piano, music technology, website design, studio entrepreneurship and music for life at the MTNA National Conference, College Music Society/Association for Technology in Music Instruction National Conference, National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy and many state and local music teachers associations. Publications include articles in Clavier Companion and American Music Teacher.

    Theisen spent many years playing clubs in the Midwest and has composed classical, pop, rock and jazz music (and even a polka!). She performs her own works frequently throughout the NY metro area. Theisen earned the B.Mus. (Piano) magna cum