Signs and Symbols, Subscribers, Theory worksheets

The musical detective

Playing a piece of music from a score is sometimes a bit like being a detective. If we want to understand a composer’s intentions we have to look at the visual clues on the stave, as well as knowledge we can glean from the context of the composer and their background. These visual clues come in the form of the signs and symbols we find in written music and their place on the page in relation to other elements of music notation.

Mod 6

The sound before symbol approach shows us that it is important to develop the inner ear of the student as well as their theoretical understanding. Students should learn how to create and hear sounds, whilst also learning which elements of written notation tell us to make particular sounds. This distinction between skills (being able to emphasise a particular note in a melody, for example) and knowledge (understanding what an accent symbol tells us to do), is also important in the piano TRACKS curriculum. For each of the progressive stages in our curriculum the checklists book contains both a skill list and a knowledge list. Different students will struggle with or excel at both parts of learning at various points in their journey.

As teachers, it is our role to help them develop both sides of this same coin to the best of their ability, and at piano TRACKS we have developed some worksheets that help students learn to identify different musical symbols with ease. These eight quizzes, one for each level of our curriculum, ask students to connect symbols to their names and descriptions. Used in connection with appropriate repertoire and technical discovery at their instrument, these quizzes can encourage students to build a firm foundation on which to become more independent in their music making.

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This pack is currently only available to our subscribers, which costs £5 per month. Each month subscribers get access to a selection of theory worksheets, some already available on our store and some new. Each pack of resources will be available for no extra cost for three months, then it will remain available for a small extra charge. As with all our downloadable resources your purchase entitles you to keep a pdf copy of each worksheet you purchase or receive through a subscription, and to make as many copies of it as you need for use within your own teaching studio. Visit the subscription page on our Payhip store for more information.

Stage C Signs and Symbols





Piano Star 2

We have already reviewed Piano Star Five Finger Tunes and Piano Star 1, so next in the series is inevitably Piano Star 2.

Piano Star 2 carries on from where Piano Star 1 stops. There are several pieces that would work well as Stage C assessment pieces. The book then moves the student onto Stage D, with repertoire that is accessible to more advanced Stage C students. There are some elements from Stage E in some pieces in the collection, but at student working at a high Stage D level would be able to approach these works.

This book is another favourite amongst young students, providing enjoyable repertoire at appropriately challenging levels.

Here’s how Piano Star 2 links to our curriculum (PDF).




Piano Star 1

We’ve already reviewed how Piano Star Five Finger Tunes fits into the piano TRACKS curriculum, in this post we will look at where Piano Star 1 sits.

Piano Star 1 is the first in the original trilogy of Piano Star books. It largely stays in the middle C position, but incorporates increasingly difficult rhythms and musical sounds.

Some of the required techniques move into Stage D territory, but in a way that would be accessible to students in lower Stages.

This book would be ideal for a student who would benefit from exploring more demanding concepts, whilst building up confidence to move away from a middle C position.

Click the link to show how each piece in this collection fits into the piano TRACKS curriculum. Piano Star 1


New Horizons Book 1

New Horizons is a new collection of piano works, published by Victoria College of Music and Drama (VCM) through their London Music Press (LMP) department. This first collection is intended to provide material for grades one – four of VCM’s Contemporary Piano syllabus. A second collection will cover the later grades.


The pieces in New Horizons Book 1 link to Stages E – G of the piano TRACKS curriculum, although each piece contains a wide range of musical features so it is difficult to assign a single level to each one. Therefore this volume has the potential to either:

  1. provide material for students that need to consolidate areas of earlier learning , or
  2. help students to develop new skills and knowledge of piano technique and musicianship.

The music is printed clearly and retail publications of this volume have a hard copy cover.

The musical content itself is enjoyable and varied. The range of difficultly level is quite wide for the number of pieces presented, and so this volume would best work as a teacher’s loan item (if you do this in your studio) or for a student who might use the collection over multiple exam grades.

New Horizons Book 1 can currently be bought from the London Music Press website for £8 or by post/telephone/email (click here for info).

Download a list of the pieces in New Horizons Book 1, with each piece aligned to the piano TRACKS curriculum.
New Horizons Book 1 (piano TRACKS curriculum)

For information on using the above PDF please visit our How To…  guides.



Mosaic Volume 1

Mosaic is a new series of piano repertoire books from Editions Musica Ferrum. Volume 1 (reviewed here), comprises of 26 contemporary works for ‘easy’ piano. Their website says:

Mosaic will comprise five substantial volumes of music, each covering approximately two grades, which will provide plenty of choice and scope as teaching material for students as they progress.

This 1st volume in the series sits comfortably between piano TRACKS stages C – E. Some pieces include Stage B elements and would be useful for more advanced students wishing to consolidate those skills. There is one work in the collection (Grey Skies, by Andrew Eales), that strays into stage F territory simply because it incorporates so many different elements.

Early level pianists will enjoy sinking their teeth into these pieces that are educational but still satisfyingly musical. Each work is characterful, and the diversity of composers provides students with a wonderful variety of styles to play.


Once again, Editions Musica Ferrum have provided us with some excellent new material that is beautifully and clearly presented. I look forward to seeing future volumes.

To purchase Mosaic (Volume 1), from the Editions Musica Ferrum site, please click here. 

We have identified the main features of each piece and how they align with the piano TRACKS curriculum stages. Download the document for free below.

Mosaic Volume 1

For tips on how to read and use this document visit our How To page.