“Sound before symbol”: lessons from history

Supporting teachers • Promoting learning
Written by Andrew Eales


Musicians and teachers often debate the relative merits of aural-based learning versus a notation-driven approach. Seeing the topic wheeled out for discussion again recently, I was reminded of this brilliant quote by the legendary concert pianist Andor Földes, taken from his book “Keys to the Keyboard” written back in 1950 :

“There is no such thing as a proper age for a child to start playing the piano. I avoid saying ‘to start his musical education’ because I believe that an education in music should start very early, perhaps years before the child ever actually learns how to read notes, or can find his way among the black and white keys.”

Földes’ basic point – made some four decades before “The Sounding Symbol” by George Odam re-popularised the phrase “sound before symbol” – is that music is essentially an aural language, and that playing and reading must build on that foundation.

Continue reading “Sound before symbol”: lessons from history

Piano Lessons: Why 45 minutes?

Supporting teachers • Promoting learning
Written by Andrew Eales


During a recent discussion I mentioned that I prefer to teach my students for 45 minutes weekly or fortnightly, even when they are beginners (more advanced students often come for a consultation lesson once a month for 90 minutes).

The question was asked,

“45 minutes for somebody on Grade One is a lot, surely… isn’t 30 minutes long enough?”

Continue reading Piano Lessons: Why 45 minutes?