Brandman's system of teaching music is based on the "Scope and
Sequence Method" which can be applied to both young beginners
and advanced students.
education in Australia for the past 50 years or so has been
dominated by an examination system that fosters rote learning
of four pieces per year to pass a grade, with little emphasis
on the total musical development of the student.
traditional difficult system of reading by note-names has aggravated
the problem by requiring the student to move extremely slowly,
through having to virtually memorise pieces bar by bar while
looking at the hands on the piano, which both disturbs the reading
and negates the use of the ear for correction.
Brandman's music education materials on the other hand, present
students with a system of music speed-reading and learning,
which can achieve in six months what by other means usually
takes two to three years. Adults play hands together in the
first week and children as young as five are able to play hands
together by the second week of study.
way Margaret Brandman's Contemporary Piano Method approaches
the study of music as a language parallels the manner in which
language acquisition and development is currently implemented
in the school system. Margaret's method is a working example
of a Scope and Sequence method.
approaching reading from the intervallic point of view, notes
are not seen as isolated units but as part of the phrase or
sentence. This is one of several areas in the programme of study
in which the parts are looked at and then put back into the
whole. Approaching music from the internal standpoint enables
students to sight read fluently and therefore reduces the learning
time for new pieces considerably. Hence many more pieces can
be learnt in the wide scope ranging in style from Classical
to Pop and Jazz, while the material is sequenced so that
knowledge is developed systematically with full understanding.
theory of learning music as applied in the Brandman materials
is treated in a very similar manner to the theory of learning
spoken language. A multi-sensory approach is applied; all aspects
of music development are treated in a balanced manner; listening
is encouraged; tactile skills are developed and written work
ensures that the background of the material at each stage of
learning is comprehended. The visual pattern on the music is
transmitted to the keyboard by first being heard in the inner
ear, then by being given concrete form by the feel of the interval
size in the hand. At the same time the corresponding sound of
the size of the interval or shape of the pattern being played
is heard by the ear and assessed for correction.
study of music in this manner can assist students in their general
development in several ways.
memory and visual discrimination are developed by viewing the
movement of notes intervalically and therefore being able to
see the corresponding patterns that occur.
development and reading readiness are assisted by viewing the
scales as interconnected patterns on the keyboard.
sequencing and memory are stimulated by recognising that the
intervals as seen on the music represent sound,
in a similar manner to which printed letters represent the spoken
skills are improved through the early co-ordination of mind
and fingers in handstogether situations, playing in Similar
or Contrary Motion exercises.
study habits, which involve employing known material to begin
with and then building upon it, along with organisation of home
practise time into a regular daily routine, are valuable aspects
that once learned, can be applied to other areas of study.
Contemporary Piano Method encourages analysis at each
level and ensures success at an early stage through training
the student to think critically so as to crack the
code of the music. With traditional systems and
also some of the new Japanese systems, students often fail to
progress because only one aspect is fostered, for instance rote
learning or sole reliance upon either tactile, visual or aural
the Brandman method, a broad range of skills is systematically
introduced and then put into an interest level with practical
applications in books of well-known tunes. Many of the teaching
devices used in the application of this approach to music, are
similar to the way in which the Montessori method approaches
the study of elements such as size, shape and texture through
tactile awareness. Creativity at the keyboard is fostered through
structured improvisation based upon a wide knowledge of both
traditional and non-traditional scales and of many types of
Contemporary Piano Method systematically encourages
the knowledge of all scales and chords and shows them in their
applications in the pieces presented in the books.
The Junior Primer introduces basic interval reading
in a gradual fashion for the 5 to 11 age group
Books 1A and 1B present pieces in all major keys and
is suitable for the teenage or adult beginner as well as
the junior who has completed the Junior Primer
2A and 2B cover all major and minor keys
3 moves on to more advanced harmony in the pieces
and the introduction of modes
4 covers contemporary serious styles of music with
their corresponding use of melody, rhythm, notation and
Books Three and Four provide excellent examples of the types
of pieces that are set for study in Years 11 and 12. Each
aspect is discussed and then pieces of the level that school
students can manage have been written to illustrate the
feature, for instance the pentatonic scale or quartal harmony.
of the other materials are also suitable for use in school situations
as well as in private teaching situations. In particular, the
two books in the Contemporary Theory Workbook series provide
teachers with a straightforward and uncomplicated manner in
which to cover the larger picture of music theory in a series
of 70 lessons per book, which could feasibly represent a year's
study. These books are suitable for both Primary and High School
students and would provide background for those students involved
in school bands, choirs or recorder groups, or valuable information
for those taking music as a subject in High School. The other
series of workbooks suitable for High School students are the
Contemporary Chord Workbooks - One and Two.
One deals with the building blocks of chords, and then all three
and four-note chords. Book Two deals with the extended chords:
9th, 11 th and 13th of all types.
addition, the Contemporary Aural Course, which comprises
nine sets of ear training CDs and corresponding answer books,
can help teachers gradually develop aural skills in a systematic
fashion. The CDs not only present exercises but also demonstrate
how to listen and what to listen for.
below are some of the main features of the interval reading
system as presented in the Contemporary Piano Method and
associated theory workbooks.
is a recognised way of approaching reading, but has been treated
in the past as a system of reading suitable only for more advanced
students. The method that Margaret Brandman has developed makes
interval reading more accessible to both young and old. The
system is suitable for use in any clef, including C Clef and
in any key and makes short work of the task of transposition.
with the concept of a staff as a ladder frame, it therefore
follows that the basic movement of notes from line to space
is like "stepping" up or down the rungs of a ladder or stairs
in a staircase.
may move up or down the staircase by stepping (STEP) or skipping
over one note (SKIP) or passing one note further than a skip
(SKIP-PLUS-ONE), or beginning on a line note and jumping over
another line to land on the next line (JUMP) or repeated notes
on exactly the same position on the staff can be viewed as SAMES.
terminology, when used in the early stages of learning, helps
to avoid the confusion between interval sizes, finger numbers
and counting numbers.
the piano these intervals relate directly to the hand and the
feeling on the keyboard and the sound that the intervals make.
In the Level One books, these interval concepts are demonstrated
by the Koala character "Dexter" (for dexterity).
the larger intervals are approached the traditional interval
sizes are introduced, that is 6th, 7th and Octave.