I have used Piano Explorer since I began teaching. I
charge students for it.
I find that the featured composer is the best part of the
magazine. I require listening assignments from my students
of one or two pieces for the composer of each month. I have
found this to be very effective in my teaching; so few
students actually listen to classical music at home! I feel
that these assignments are preparing young people to be the
future audiences at orchestra halls.
I create very easy worksheets that span late elementary -
high school level students. I usually give a brief
background about the piece, and then ask 3 - 4 questions.
Some typical questions might be:
What instruments do you hear? (for orchestral pieces)
Define the term concerto (or toccata, or rondo, or
whatever the type of piece it is)
Describe the things you hear the pianist doing, such as
chords, arpeggios, scales, etc.
Imagine a story to go with this music. Write your story
If you were my piano teacher and assigned this piece to
me, how would you tell me to practice?
Occasionally I'll put in a more difficult theoretical
question and tell the younger/less advanced students to skip
The last question on the sheet is always, "Did you like this
piece? Why or why not?" I have found that the answer is
almost always "yes" to this question. Students who are
given background and a bit of a guide to listening to the
classical selection almost always enjoy it.