Spot the difference…with your ears

Spot the difference...with your ears

(Note: This is a special guest post by the wonderful and amazing Nicola Cantan)

I’ve been loving Samantha Coates’ Rote Repertoire pieces for some time now. I think the way she’s designed the pieces in progressive levels so students can spot the difference and learn to associate the patterns they’re playing by rote with patterns on the staff is genius. This year I’ve found a new way to use the pieces which me and my students are really enjoying. I’ve been getting my students to spot the difference with their ears instead of their eyes. I’ve been doing this in my buddy lesson time but you could absolutely do it in one-on-one lessons too.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: You and your students listen to the piece together a few times and discuss the music. Are there high or low sounds? Is one pattern repeated? How many times?

Step 2: Teach them the piece by rote. It will be easier the more they have actively listened and dissected the patterns in the piece aurally so don’t scrimp on that step!

Step 3: Once they have learned level 1 of the piece thoroughly, listen to the audio for level 2 together and ask them to spot the difference. It will take many students a few listens but if you keep asking questions and using gestures to emphasise the different spots as they listen they should find the major developments.You can then teach them the level 2 piece by rote or they can work it out entirely by ear!

Step 4: Repeat the step 3 process for level 3 after they know level 2 well.

We have been loving this new way of working on Rote Repertoire and these are many of my students’ favourite pieces. They want to play them for any audience, any time!

Let me know how you get on if you try this idea out yourself.


Note from Samantha:

In the video, Nicola mentions two pieces in particular: Spy (a cute and mysteriously rhythmic piece) and The Piano Guy (a modern ballad-type piece that older students love). There is a special on these two pieces until the end of the year – for readers of this blog only! 🙂

Click here for 20% off Spy

Click here for 20% off The Piano Guy

Samantha Coates

Samantha Coates is a professional pianist and teacher with over 25 years experience in both private and group tuition. She is the author and publisher of BlitzBooks, the music education series that has captured the imagination of students across Australia and transformed the teaching of music theory, sight reading and general knowledge.

2 thoughts on “Spot the difference…with your ears

  1. Barbara Miller says:

    I get this error message:An error occurred. Please try again later. (Playback ID: tWiOrE5mNcUsc6E9)
    Learn More

    Are there reminder videos for the students to use at home? Are there listening tracks for the songs?
    thank you!

    • Samantha Coates says:

      Yes, there is a dedicated YouTube channel called BlitzBooks Rote Repertoire, to which you and the students/parents can subscribe!

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