hEarItAbility, written by Trixie Hennig is a unique piano book that begins with the aural exploration of sounds. Found on the website Trixie states “As we learn to read and spell language, we are often told to “sound it out”. And yet in piano education, this phrase is rarely used. And how applicable it is – true mastery comes with the integration of sight and sound. One need not be neglected at the development of the other.”
I do include ear training exercises and games in my studio, I must confess that I typically don’t use the ear as the first component. This is one reason why hEarItAbility intrigued me as I wanted to see where it went and how I could easily incorporate it with my students. I was happy to see that my discovery with hEarItAbility went so much farther then I had originally hoped for.
hEarItAbility covers the Hear It- See It; Sound it out; Play it- Write It; Explore It- Explain It concepts. All in one book! Students will play in major and minor pentascales, play with both hands, transpose, do dictation in both rhythm and melody, learn about form, explore the keyboard and more!
The book, which is available both print and digital format is a very clean and simple layout. There are two main categories within the book. Ears and Eyes. Because of what the student does with the pieces found in the book, it lends itself to a variety of learning styles. Many of the pieces are familiar, which is important with the ear aspect. However if a student is not familiar with a piece, this is a perfect opportunity for the teacher to sing the piece or use recording samples to listen to.
hEarItAbility can be used as a main jumpstart at lessons or as a supplementary book no matter what method you like to use. Trixie explains, “”The book was really designed as a supplement to fill the gap in current methods, but can be used as an alternative to the standard pedagogical approach. Several teachers recognize the value of teaching students songs by ear (this is different than rote teaching – the teacher assists the student, doesn’t demonstrate the piece), but don’t have a tool to help them with the “at home” aspect or a purposeful sequence of development. hEarItAbility does that and more!”
Below you will see some sample pages. You will notice the first sample of Hot Cross buns is in the “ear” category. There is a keyboard graph that shows students what notes they will be playing on the keyboard. From there, they will depend on their ear to navigate the melodies going up or down. On the second sample page of Hot Cross buns, which is the “eyes” category; the lines and spaces are introduced. Students can now visually see what those notes are doing on the staff when they are going up and down and mark where those notes should go.
The next sample of “lucky numbers” has students using their ears to discover pieces by playing with finger numbers. And the last sample of Old MacDonald has students playing and creating with both hands and changing up some rhythm ideas for the left hand accompaniment.
hEarItAbility is a book that sets both students and teachers up for success right at the beginning. As a teacher, I like that this book is easy to understand and wouldn’t take much time to implement with my students. Using these simple ideas, students can explore the entire piano in creative ways using their ears, eyes and hands. If you have hesitated to use ear training in your studio, this book would be a perfect book to start with.
There is a second volume currently in the field testing stage. Trixie explains that “it will explore and introduce the concepts of ostinato, labeling tonic-dominant, canons/rounds, half notes, whole notes and much more! All while students play songs they either know or can learn to sing easily, figuring them out by ear, exploring concepts at the keyboard and THEN notating them.”
Trixie has offered to giveaway 4 digital copies of hEarItAbility to some lucky readers. To enter leave a comment below. Deadline to enter is by Thursday, August 15th 10:00pm (mountain time). (*Winner MUST respond within 72 hours of announcement or another winner will be chosen*) The winner will be announced on this blog and on the FPSResources Facebook page by Friday, August 16th. Be sure you subscribe to the blog and like FPSResources on the Facebook page so you don’t miss out seeing if you are a winner!
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own.