Karen Baker, Pelican Piano Creator
Karen M. Baker
Credentials: BA from University of California, Irvine
40 years experience teaching and playing piano

How it evolved:

I have been teaching piano intermittently for the past forty years in between raising a family of six children. About six years ago I encountered research indicating that the optimal time for the brain to develop musical skills is between the ages of two through six. I realized that teaching children in this age-range would require a new approach since most beginner books focus on teaching readers ages six or above. I began to use large print color-coded music to help pre-reading students play the keyboard.

I found that their interest in playing the piano was greatly increased when I included recognizable folk and classical music. Individual initiative was sufficient incentive for each student to remove the colored markers that initially identified the letter names of the keys. This method had the great benefit of allowing each student to self-regulate the rate of progress. The use of an increasing number of black notes was also based on individual readiness and completed the transition to the Faber Level One books.

I found that as I was able to fine-tune this method it became accessible to students as young as two or three years old. I was asked to try the method with a severely autistic student and was pleased that within one year of beginning lessons he was able to read and play a Christmas carol for his therapist. This opened up the opportunity to successfully teach other students with autism spectrum disorder. I find this is one of the most gratifying aspects of my work with Pelican Piano. Teaching piano is a supremely satisfying career and teaching with the Pelican Piano method enhances lesson enjoyment for both teacher and student.