An introduction to the piano TRACKS project

Over the next few months I’ll be offering a series of blog posts that look at the piano TRACKS project in detail and explain what practical help it can offer to piano teachers and their students. This first post will explore how the project came into being, and uncover the four main areas within it. 

Background: The shift away from graded music exams. 

Some of my students take graded exams, but there are many do not choose to go down this route. In these cases we build skill and knowledge by exploring lots of different repertoire, and for the right person this can often result in well rounded musicianship. However, I noticed that there were a number of learners in my studio who needed something of a middle ground. They required a sense of semi-formal structure that would keep on track towards their goals but also be responsive to their changing needs. These were the students I originally had in mind when I started to design the piano TRACKS curriculum and checklists.

The piano TRACKS checklists


Once I started testing and using the checklists with my own students I found that they actually had a range of uses. Firstly, I found they were a real boost to my planning. I could easily see exactly where the student was and what area they needed to work on next. This meant I could plan both efficiently and effectively to ensure they made progress. 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on


The checklists help students to stay motivated as they can see tangible results, and have a physical record of how far they have come. Of course, the ideal student wouldn’t need any external motivation, but how many of us can say we are the ideal?! This method gives them an extra incentive to keep learning. Students have a reminder to go the extra mile when practising so they can tick something off in their next lesson.


The piano curriculum gave me a simple structure around which I could tailor personalised activities. A core tenet of my teaching practice is that lessons are geared to each individual student. It can be tempting to stick to an area or activity that a student excels at, and avoid pushing them to do something more difficult. Our piano curriculum provides an outline of the musical concepts that most students should get to try during their journey, ensuring that every student builds a thorough foundation at the piano. 

Students enjoy ticking off their achievements!


How often have you had a student transfer from another teacher who isn’t able to tell you where they got to, for whatever reason, or perhaps has Grade 3 but needs more help with the theoretical understanding? These books can help with this problem. Although it is not an exact science, they can provide an idea of the level the student has achieved so far, and the new teacher can avoid taking too many steps backwards. 

Curriculum, Checklists, Teaching Ideas, and Worksheets

There are four main areas of the piano TRACKS project. I have already mention the piano curriculum which is at the heart of everything. This curriculum breaks learning down into progressive stages and content modules. It is free to download so teachers can use it as the basis of their own teaching curriculum. 

A close up of the piano TRACKS curriculum

The piano TRACKS checklists come as a book or a PDF. These checklists can be used in a variety of ways, and are designed to help students and teachers monitor progress and visualise achievement. 

The website website contains a ‘Signposts to Resources’ area, which contains different teaching ideas for each element of learning in the checklists. In the early stages of my career I often struggled to find ideas for teaching, so I wanted to create this area of the website to help those teachers in particular. But, even now, I am still on the lookout for new techniques and resources so this area of the website is ever expanding! 

I design bespoke worksheets and flash cards that follow the piano TRACKS curriculum. These are included in our the ‘Signposts to Resources’ section of our website, but you can also find them by looking directly at our Payhip shop. 

A selection of worksheets from the first level of our programme.

Where to start 

This is a large project, and it can be difficult to know how to get in to it. I would recommend starting with the curriculum, to familiarise yourself with what we have included and make sure it fits with your own beliefs about a strong music education. The piano TRACKS project is designed to complement your own teaching methods, and provide a basic skeleton that you can flesh out with your favourite activities, repertoire, and ideas. I hope that within it you can find something of value to bring to your students. 

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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. Next to each piece is a list of elements that the student will develop whilst learning it. We have given two stages for each piece, the first is the stage at which we believe this piece to be accessible, and the second is the highest stage to which any feature of the piece belongs. Piano Star 1 (pdf download).


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.