Mella Fausto, Lombardy, Italy

Melody is a bird which flies,
Harmony is the air, the sky,
the wind, the light around it.

Nigel James, The University of Sheffield Warrington, England:

Ideally every student should learn to improvise melodies and harmonies. Perhaps the first step lies in developing aural skills which are needed for any true music making?


Yes, most definitely, aural skills as a first step are a bonus! However, you may find that, even though the main objective of the QuenMar books is to train students to create their ‘own’ accompaniment for melodies, the trial & error process finding the desired accompaniment can have a side benefit of considerable aural training!


Jane Kristensen Seattle, Washington:

I’m sure I have no creative ability and it would be of no use to try to create accompaniment for melodies at the piano.


I have to disagree. With focus, most everyone can acquire ‘Creative Keyboard Accompaniment (KA) Skills’. However, like any skill, the degree of proficiency can vary. An example could be general math which is most often a compulsory subject on school curriculums. Not all students are math enthusiasts but with practice and focus they acquire some degree of proficiency. My view is that if music math is a compulsory subject (at the keyboard) all students can acquire a degree of proficiency creating accompaniment for melodies. The major benefit of music math is that the aural and emotional reward can be moving and inspirational. It can inspire creativity to a degree that we never knew was there!


Dr. June Fileti, UK, University of West London & The International School of Musicians:

I simply love what you are doing. I was completely sidetracked today by your work. Amazing.

Your books are fabulous. What a great way to inspire children.


Thank you. You have made my day!


Elizabeth Baird, Toronto, Canada: Music Director, Conductor Composer, Mentor, Teacher.

I think what you do is fantastic and so important.


Thank you. I do feel it is important. Hopefully, more music institutions will include ‘Creative KA Skills’ (at the keyboard) as part of the curriculum, at all levels – the same as for sight-reading and technical skills. It’s important that piano students feel they are well-rounded musicians.


E-mail to June Fileti, UK, Dec 31, 2018

Gayle wrote the following in 2018: June, thanks for connecting. Hope you’re doing well. We have been lobbying for examining institutions to recognize ‘Creative Keyboard Accompaniment’ (Creative KA) skills, at the keyboard, as a viable subject and worthy of marks at ALL grade level examinations. The new RCM curriculum is 2022 and we are hopeful to have this adjustment…

All the best in 2019. Happy Examining.


Nick Burke, IT Engineering Manager in Manchester, England wrote:

Yes – I was brought up on classical music and completed all 8 ‘Grades’ but would maybe have enjoyed that journey more learning about accompaniment and integrating with bands/group etc. rather than just focusing on individual excellence…thankfully I’ve picked up the right combination now to do both.


Maryse S. MYP & DP Music in Mumbai District, India wrote:

Ditto! (Same as Nick, above).


Yes, students should expect keyboard accompaniment skills to be part of their initial training.  Those years are usually the best for the hearing, learning and confidence. Thank you for sharing your views.


Ruth Lenher, Merchantville. New Jersey, US – Composer

Thank you so much for all you have done and keep doing all you can to get others to see how beneficial your books are for others, including teachers. You help the teacher go along in the lessons! Actually, you help guide them better than most books I have read! In going over your books, I have to say that you nailed just what all teachers need to keep their students interested in learning piano… I think teachers hold their students interest longer when the student can create something on their own… Teachers may even get more students by word of mouth and/or by students showing others the books… Schools/music institutions should have your books and see how well the students like them. Thank you so much for writing these instruction books!


Your recognizing important elements of the books and how beneficial they can be for others is very much appreciated.

I agree that when students can create something on their own, it can hold their interest longer and possibly make them feel like well rounded musicians.

There is another element of the books that I hope will prove to be beneficial. From my teaching years, I remember how difficult it can be fitting everything into a lesson (especially the higher grades). I, therefore, tried to make the books a self-study.

Although young students generally need guidance, it seemed important that older students should be able to challenge their accompaniment skills on their ‘own time’. Teachers assign the pages/melodies and with the guidance given in the books, they can enjoy what the students produce. Of course, it would be helpful for students to know that their accompaniment skills are recognized & encouraged – possibly with marks at examinations – same as for other important areas of music.

All the best with your composing, and a ‘special thanks to you’ for the encouragement and understanding of the need for the QuenMar books.


Cheryl Tsui – Piano Teacher in Sydney, Australia

Thank you so much! I took a look at the book you wrote – Melody Adventures, Book 3.

I really like how you’ve incorporated keyboard harmony into it. I can’t wait to use this resource for teaching!

Also, what age group and level did you design this book for?


That is a very good question.

With the music fully notated, levels can vary from one country to another (or one music system to another). The Melody Adventures (MA) series really depends on which books suit the student’s technical ability and the student’s level of understanding. Following the completion of MA PRIMER A & B, it is open to teachers/students – MA Books 1, 2; 1&2 Supplement, 3&4 or a blend of these books. Whichever order, it is hoped that the MA series allows a smooth transition to ‘Keyboard Accompaniment (KA)’ with students creating their ‘own’ accompaniment for melodies.

As for the level of a student’s creative KA ability, this is for music institutions to incorporate/establish.



Should ‘Creative Piano Skills’, at the piano, receive marks at all grade level examinations – same as other music skills?

Answer from Nicole DiPaolo

Saying “receive marks” assumes that piano teachers are all putting their students in examinations. Many of us don’t (or only do it if the student requests it). I teach accompaniment skills as much as time and my students’ current skill level and needs allow.


Yes, I should rephrase – Should ‘Creative Piano Skills’, at the piano, be taught at all levels?
It is WONDERFUL to hear when ‘Creative Skills’ are taught. Thank you for your contribution teaching this subject.

Nicole DiPaolo

Yes, it would be very odd if I didn’t, considering that accompaniment and historical improvisation pedagogy are two specialties for which I have achieved international recognition.


I just referred to your website. You seem to be an inspiration in the area of ‘Creative Keyboard Accompaniment (KA). I would appreciate learning more, anytime. Even though you are not strong on exams, your ideas could possibly help teachers prepare KA when/if it is given marks at exams. The more material available, the better. It might give institutions something to work with. All the best with your ideas/input in this area.

Other thoughts on the question would be appreciated…


Mella Fausto, Lombardy, Italy

I’m honoured for having received your thanks, Mrs. Dunsmoor.
I consider you a sort of institution for developing and transferring
the knowledge of harmony to the people.


FROM ‘PIANO TEACHERS’ (group on Facebook)

Eunhee Kim

Sight Reading can be trained & improved; The ear cannot!

Answer from Nicholas Franck

The ear can be trained too. Some people just gravitate toward learning by ear more than others so they ‘flex that muscle’ more.
If you always play from sheet music, chances are you’ll be using your eyes way more than your ears.

Gayle (answer)

Yes, I agree with Nicholas. We first, however, need to continue finding ways to ‘train the ear’ from beginning lessons to diploma level – in the same routine (step by step) way as for sight-reading. It is a fact that math is a major subject in most education systems & same as for school math, not all music students are going to excel at music math/theory! They can, however, with the music math as an integrated part of their performing works & applying that knowledge (trial & error) to melodies of their choosing, find an emotional involvement that can lift the ear to a whole new level! It is our duty, as teachers, to try our best to bring the two factions together & have all students graduating as well-rounded musicians.

Other thoughts on this subject would be appreciated…

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