from teachers and students concerning Margaret Brandman's unique
methods and materials.
A critique of Margaret Brandman's materials by Professor Rick Cohn of Yale University.
June 29, 2018
Thank you for letting me spend some time with these materials. They are extremely
impressive in all sorts of ways - the quality of the music, the diversity of repertory,
the clarity of explanations, the balance and flow of materials, and the imaginative
age-appropriate approach in the beginning materials.
this is a career's work to be proud of (although I know that they are only a fraction of
your career activities.)
Battel Professor of Music Theory - Yale University USA
Comments on the Professional Development Course held at Margaret's studio in Chippendale October to November 2010.
I would like to thank you for the recent Professional Development Course for Piano Teachers. You make everything seem so uncomplicated and easy to follow. I came away with so many new ideas.
I have been testing the notation on my HSC students with their own compositions. It has helped tremendously. They walk away from a lesson with big smiles on their faces and not feeling frustrated at the major task ahead.
Your book "Pictorial Patterns" for scales and chords has revolutionised the way I teach scales. It has helped with recognising key signatures and also with correct fingering in such an easy-to-follow way of learning.
Your Contemporary Piano Method helps teaching and improving music reading skills.
When tested on myself, I was amazed that I could sight read immediately with the alto clef for the right hand and the bass clef for the left hand instead of the traditional treble clef and bass clef.
Usually by the end of the year I feel ready for a break, but after your course I felt revitalised and eager to pass on my new learnings.
I look forward to a follow up next year.
Kathryn Fallas Miranda NSW
holds a unique place in Australian music education and has produced
an enormous amount of practical, theoretical and aural materials,
in addition to her output as a composer, arranger and professional
Contemporary Method books - encompassing Piano
, Theory , Aural and
Chord Workbooks - represent a unique contribution
to the literature. Her experience and insight has resulted in
vast amounts of information presented in a condensed, easy-to-understand
way which will equip contemporary music students with the broad
knowledge necessary in today's music environment.
recommend Margaret's materials in my workshops and they are
one of my own first points of reference.
Bailey., B.Mus(Hons), L.Mus.A, MIMT
composer and Jazz pianist. Composer of the Jazzin' Around series
Cottell - one of the new generation of teachers, offers his
Margaret Brandman’s Contemporary
Piano Method is rare gem amongst the plethora of piano
methods on the market. The student begins with the Junior
Primer and Contemporary Theory
Primer together with the Contemporary
Aural Course – Preparatory set. From the outset, this
kit develops fluent skills in pitch, rhythm, aural awareness
and awareness of keyboard geography.
Junior Primer is one of the best
primers on the market and any beginner of piano would be benefit
greatly from the content and high level of skills it encourages
from the outset. Allowing students to be aware of keyboard geography
is a very important step that allows them to have complete freedom
over the keyboard from the very start. The coloured rhythmic
system allows the student to visually see and ‘feel’
the rhythm giving them a clear and solid rhythmic foundation
from day one. The big feature is the interval system, taking
away weeks of stress for both student and teacher. Within two
weeks students are reading and playing hands together. If you
are considering starting piano or even coming back to it as
an adult I would heartily recommend a dose of Margaret
Brandman’s Contemporary Piano Method, a rare educational
feat produced by a fine teacher and composer.
-Samuel J Cottell
attending your workshop in Canberra I have made the decision
to use your Contemporary Theory Book Series
as the text for the Musicianship Course I teach at our college
- it tracks the 2 year tertiary course we teach very closely
(the best I've come across!) and is a great reference for topic
explanations as well as revision exercises. I've also purchased
one copy of each Aural set for students to use for extra aural
revision. Overall, these exercises are really helpful as a supplement
to class teaching. .... Once again, thanks for the hard work
you've put in to developing these products. It's great to have
such a useful and relevant resource for our teaching.
Pryor Principal - Unity College/School
of Creative Arts in Canberra
for the recommendation of your
Contemporary Theory Workbooks 1 & 2
for my student for Grade 2 Music Craft.
He was struggling with the AMEB Music Craft books
but your books opened the way for him.
He achieved 93 for the exam, which I think is OK for doing it
all on his own.
Collins -Sydney teacher - October 2008
lecture and demonstration today,to the students in the General
Primary program, stimulated a great deal of interest. The two
groups to which you spoke are in the second level of their Creative
Arts study, in which they select the Arts strand they wish to
develop. The subject includes the opportunity for the students
to choose to develop skills on keyboard or recorder. It is an
important learning experience for these students to be able
to see your publications for these instruments and have you
explain your program for reading through the use of intervals,
in patterns of steps and skips. Thank you for sharing your expertise
with the students.
particular I congratulate you on the book, PLAYING MADE EASY
FOR THE RECORDER, with its interweaving of playing techniques
and reading skills. I also believe that the content of the keyboard
volume, HOT TRAX, has great appeal for adult learners.
POWER - Lecturer in Music Education - University of Western Sydney
recommend Margaret Brandman's Contemporary Piano Method
as a very broad foundation for piano and keyboard study. It
is devised and written with logic and filled with clear explanations
by a composer/performer who well understands the need for strong
reading skills, an open ear and enquiring mind for how music
Grisdale -teacher, Central Coast NSW
you have taught by Margaret Brandman's intervalllic approach
along the keyboard pathways it becomes part of you. It is the
simplest, quickest, most logical and effective method of teaching
reading from there on. It is also very helpful in teaching transposition
and improvisation. '
Watts -teacher, Dural NSW
on Margaret Brandman's teaching skills.
teachers are very good performers or improvisers but they may
not realize the essence of the teaching task at hand.
Brandman on the other hand, knows how to get the message across,
even if the musical topic is very difficult. She is able to
decode the essential element of a passage of music and teach
it simply, helping the student to see the solution.
Lau -piano teacher, Sydney NSW
only way to teach and give a total 'sound' knowledge of music'
It is the only way I can teach - my body won't let me do it
any other way'
Allerding - teacher, Randwick NSW
several years now I have used, the 'Contemporary Piano Method'
by Margaret Brandman in my piano teaching practice to teach
both adults and children. ..Both my students and myself have
had great success using these books. I highly recommend them.
Boyton - teacher, Willoughby NSW
Comments on past Professional Development courses conducted by
Margaret Brandman in Canberra and at the Australian Institute
of Music in Sydney....
Brandman is a highly skilled musician, teacher and educator.It
is an inspiration to attend her workshops, where hands-on experience
and practical hints and tips aid the learning experience. The
learning environment is relaxed and friendly. Above all her
workshops will train you in thorough and efficient teaching
methods, introduce you to her teaching materials and repertoire
and equip you with extra skills to be a better teacher."
year's Professional Development courses with Margaret Brandman,
were refreshing courses where information was presented logically
with time for hands- on experience in keyboard harmony and improvisation,
both classical and modern, an improvement of reading skills
using the interval approach and excellent work with rhythm reading
and clapping skills. For we teachers and our students alike,
delving into the inner world of music, as we discovered this
year, reveals the many faceted aspects of music making."
appreciate the content of the Margaret Brandman Piano Course,
as the books contain all the knowledge needed to learn to play
both modern and classical styles of music. Not many courses
offer such a comprehensive account of both styles. I therefore
consider them as valuable resource material for teachers as
well as students. My students have had great success using the
interval and keyboard topography approach which Margaret introduced
us to in her previous presentations. I particularly like the
techniques presented to us during the workshop, which alert
the student to the harmonic structure whether it be in a classical
or modern piece. These techniques can then be followed up, by
the use of Margaret's theory, aural and practical materials.
By being aware of all these aspects, we become better teachers."
HEMMINGSEN - Canberra
has opened up to us a completely new approach to the musical
learning process...... a thoughtfully organised system of learning.
Looking at compositions which emphasise the techniques and background
information students require to establish a secure foundation
on which to build their musical futures.This learning is not
presented piece-meal; it is part of an integrated holistic system.Scale
pathway and musical thinking is developed consistently through
the course and fingers trace connecting notes in the musical
web site. This method has opened up new areas of learning and
gives valuable insight into 'cracking the code' of music, which
underlies musical styles over the centuries."
MARKS - Sydney
have been working with Margaret Brandman's books over the past
twelve months and have been delighted with the results. The
student gets speedily through the introductory pages and into
interval reading and pattern reading-hands together. Only C's
and F's are used for note naming, with interval reading taking
care of the other notes. (Note-naming is taught in an accompanying
theory book - it is not essential in the early stages. A great
deal of time is saved this way).
also like the way the scales and chord patterns are introduced
early and progressively and used. As a student said "I don't
know why people complain about learning scales, its easy!" Introductory
pieces are also used as transposition exercises. The books are
comprehensive, teaching the skills to play both Classical and
the final Book 4, the student is working through various aspects
of 20th Century music, as well as the topics of Root Progressions,
realisation of figured bases and extended chords in jazz and
has also written complementary books to mesh in with her method,
covering chords and harmony, theory and history, finger exercises
and supplementary pieces in a variety of styles, as well as
an accompanying aural course.
feel it is worth the trouble for any teacher to obtain a copy
of the free Teachers Handbook from Warner/Chappell Music and also
to read Margaret's articles in the Australian Music Teacher (magazine).
This is a fresh look at teaching piano, it's Australian and it
TOLMIE Teacher, St. Ives NSW
am teaching Margaret Brandman's Contemporary Piano Method and
find it as spontaneous as the 1990's in which we live. It seems
in my case the pupils find little difficulty in maintaining
a simple grasp of the overall concept of musical language and
the essence of her ideas have brought a breath of fresh air
into the art of music teaching'.
WAINWRIGHT - Teacher, Wahroonga NSW
write concerning the method of musical training devised and
developed by Margaret Brandman. "Musical training" is an appropriate
term to describe this course. Although fundamentally it is a
course in piano playing, it is also a comprehensive course in
theory, musicianship, keyboard harmony and improvisation, aural
training and general musical knowledge.
believing that I was a good piano teacher I always had an uneasy
feeling that my teaching was incomplete. This implies that I
recognised that the available published "methods" were incomplete.
Even the topics that were included often left important, sometimes
fundamental concepts poorly explained or omitted. It seemed
that the minds of the writers of these methods lacked the depth
of inquiry and thirst for detail and understanding which I wished
to give to my students. Driven by this frustration I paid yet
another visit to a large music store and combed through the
shelves, ever optimistic of discovering a complete teaching
method. There concealed among the glitzy piano courses of the
United States, was one volume of a course by an Australian,
Margaret Brandman. Probably with similar reservations to the
store manager who in those days didn't think it advisable to
stock more than one part of the method, I picked it up. How
could an Australian possibly write a piano method to compare
with the Americans? Having thumbed through it I thought: "HOW
COULD THE AMERICANS POSSIBLY WRITE A METHOD TO COMPARE WITH
at last was a writer with the perspicacity to fill the need.
I rebuked the store manager for his lack of discernment and
ordered copies of all volumes of the course. That day transformed
my career as a piano teacher. I know now that any student continuing
with me will receive a complete course in piano playing and
general musicianship. I would describe this method as "standard
piano teaching, updated, improved, expanded, simplified, focused,
clarified and accelerated by the writer's brilliant mind. It
avoids delaying or evasive tactics developed by Europe and Japan
and presents straight down the line didactic teaching of what
the student finally needs to know from the very first lesson,
and as the student completes the course it gives them all they
need to know in all styles of piano playing, theory, musicianship,
improvisation, aural training, musical knowledge etc.
know of no published method to equal it.
CUMMING A.T.C.L, A.MusTCL, A.D.C.M. Syd Uni Conservatorium Teacher,
have been studying music with Margaret Brandman for two and
a half months after having had 10 years of traditional music
training as a child. I have been a singer for many years and
always found learning to be a laborious note-by-note process.
Recently I sang in the Oratorio 'Elijah' as an alto chorister
at 4 days notice.
the benefit of Ms Brandman's accelerated learning techniques
and improved sight reading ability, I was able to sing 'Elijah'
with relative ease, something I could not have done even a few
months ago. I have noticed benefits in many other ways and can
thoroughly recommend Ms Brandman's teaching methods to anyone
wanting to further their musical education, whether a beginner
or more advanced".
son Eric has studied piano with Margaret Brandman for two years.
His progress, predicted by Margaret from the very first lesson
has delighted us. He has played two hands together from the
start and understands the structure and theory of music. He
particularly loves classical music and the pieces he has mastered
are of second to third grade level. His enjoyment and progress
in music is in contrast to my neighbour's daughter who has studied
piano for four years in the traditional methods. Eric has not
only caught up to her but progressed well past her. She finds
her lessons and practice boring.
watching Eric's lessons for two years I put Margaret's ideas
into practice myself and found I too can play simple pieces,
two hands together. I have recently started lessons with Margaret
so that, like my son, I can progress rapidly in my musical education.
Eric and I both know that Margaret's system is easy and really
FROM A STUDENT OF JENNY WAINWRIGHT USING THE CONTEMPORARY PIANO
an adult learner this method has taught me how to sight read
quickly. It is one of the only methods which covers the basics
of playing the piano through many different aspects". This lady
had never had a lesson on the piano before she came to me. She
had practised with the John Thomson's method, however told me
she could not read the left-hand at all.
particularly pleasing feature of the broad scope of this keyboard
series is the way in which the necessary theoretical information
to aid the student's progress is followed through consistently,
so that by the time Books 3 and 4 are reached, the material
is increasingly suitable for practical "keyboard harmony/composition"
projects in the more advanced music courses.
PEACE: BA LRAM ARCO BA Hons Music, Durham Licentiate of the Royal
Academy of Music Associate of the Royal College of Organists Performer,
Lecturer and Teacher - Liverpool, England
am writing to you with regard to your books on the study of
music. I have been teaching children and professional musicians
for many years, and have always noted a lack of complete music
training in the books available for study.
looking closely at the content of your books I see you have,
in a very flowing manner, introduced all the important information
a student needs, traditional and contemporary, so much part
of being a musician. Your approach of developing the ear to
intervalic principals is a marvellous development and I congratulate
you on this approach, it is so very solid as a foundation to
a students ongoing learning and development of music.
is so much to speak of and comment on in your books that I cannot
do them the injustice of selecting but a few points. I believe
it is only a matter of time and the books will be widely accepted
by both teachers and students as standard books of learning.
W CALE Teacher and Composer - Australia
agree with you wholeheartedly about the interval reading system
for I have been trying to do it for some years. I think you
have thought out a very Good Comprehensive Method and next term
I am looking forward to using it'.
HEMMING Teacher - West Sussex UK
Margaret Brandman's RIGHT BRAIN accelerated learning techniques.
Some years ago I was asked to teach a lad who was at the time
attending a special school for students with a handicap. To
begin with I used my knowledge of the Suzuki method, as Christian
could listen and copy without any problem. Then one day I decided
to teach him to read using the interval approach. He caught
on very quickly and since then there has been no looking back.
He reads and plays quite satisfactorily and besides it gives
him a lot of pleasure.
on all the material you have composed for us to work with and
enjoy. I might add, you seem to leave no stone unturned in the
process of teaching. No matter what, it can all be found in
one of your books"
HAYES Teacher - Wavell Heights Qld
daughter Sarah commenced music tuition with Margaret Brandman
in 1989 as a new student without any musical background. Sarah
has progressed steadily since then, and this year (1994) is
sitting for Fifth Grade Musicianship and Fourth Grade Practical
Sarah's musical skills and knowledge grow during this time,
I have been impressed by the emphasis placed on Sarah gaining
a comprehensive understanding of music as she progresses, and
the range and variation of reference material and learning aids
employed to assist this comprehension. As a result, Sarah has
a confident and relaxed approach when introduced to new pieces
or more complex areas of study, as everything seems to fit together.
The variety in instruction has also made it easier to persevere
and cut down on the boredom quotient that seems to have affected
many of Sarah's friends who have been using more traditional
methods of study.
would commend Margaret Brandman's techniques and approach to
musical instruction as a truly interesting and effective way
for children (or anyone) to develop intelligent and useful musical
DEAN - Parent