Bringing Rote and Reading Together


One of our very special guest faculty for the 88 Creative Keys Workshop is Samantha Coates. She's coming ALL the way from Australia and this won't happen again anytime soon so now's the time to sign up for our workshop (right here!) We will be closing registration soon so don't miss out on this one-of-a-kind professional development with top-notch presenters as well as cool teachers like you. You can take my word for it that Samantha's dynamite but, if you aren't sold, then read her post about how she discovered that both rote and reading are ideal for teaching piano. 

In fact, Samantha was so moved by this combination that she has created new repertoire for rote AND reading. You have to read more and see what she's cooked up!

Tip: make sure to check out the special codes she's created just for 88PK readers below.


BBRR pic

BBRR pic


Next month I’ll be hopping on a plane for 20 hours or so to come to Denver (after first stopping off at the MTAC conference and maybe, ahem, Disneyland) to meet and work with wonderful teachers! I am very excited to be presenting at the 88 Creative Keys ‘Balance’ Workshop alongside my new friends Leila Viss and Bradley Sowash.

I’ll be talking on several different topics over the week, all of which I am very passionate about. But there is one session in particular, called ‘Rote is Not a Four-Letter Word’, which I am SUPER excited about, because it’s all about my new project, which I have been completely absorbed in for over a year now, and which is just newly launched!

I have created a repertoire series which brings rote and reading together. These two concepts are not usually found in the same sentence, let alone the same lesson!

For example: think of the typical Suzuki transfer student, who goes to a ‘traditional’ teacher and is suddenly thrown into a completely different process whereby they are told to stop playing all the pieces they have mastered and only play pieces they can read. What usually happens in this situation is that the student quickly becomes bored and/or frustrated. I have developed what I think is a way for rote and reading to not just co-exist but to actually complement each other.

My project features specially-composed repertoire and support materials, all of which is featured on a brand new website called BlitzBooks Rote Repertoire.

There are lots of introductory videos on the site explaining the overall concept, and a free Quick Start Teacher Guide which goes into a lot of detail about the approach. The pieces themselves come in ‘packs’ with support materials, and there is a free pack called Opposite Day for you to try out. The collection will grow quickly, as there is a new release every week.

Below is the story of how this all came about. I would love to know your thoughts on rote vs reading (please comment!) and I do hope I get to meet you when I come to the US next month!

The Backstory of BlitzBooks Rote Repertoire

This is the story of how BlitzBooks Rote Repertoire (BBRR) came to be. It is a weird and wonderful confluence of my exposure to three very significant philosophies/methods in the music world: Piano Safari, Taubman and Suzuki, and how I have combined these with three decades of my own teaching experience to create what I think is a unique approach to repertoire and sight reading.

It all started in March 2017 at the MTNA conference in Baltimore, when I decided to attend a fabulous session called ‘Rote is Not a Four-Letter Word’ (yes, this is where I got the title of my session, and used with permission, thanks Julie and Katie!), presented by Piano Safari authors and creators Dr Julie Knerr and Katherine Fisher. As I sat listening to them list all the reasons why rote teaching is so good whencombined with reading (as opposed to the Suzuki approach, which is entirely imitation-based), I started to think about my 15-year old student Josiah and how he was struggling with piano.

Josiah enjoyed playing piano but hated reading. I, of course, wouldn’t let him bypass the reading and made sure he understood every single element on the page prior to playing it. He did not enjoy practising and whilst he was a very capable pianist once he got going, learning pieces was always a slow and laborious process.

I thought to myself, ‘I am going to put Josiah out of his misery.’

Click here to read the rest of the story.

-Samantha Coates

WAIT! Before you read the rest of the story and check out her repertoire, make sure to use the special code Samantha is offering 88PK readers.


Enter this code and it will get you a LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP DISCOUNT OF 30%. The code is only valid until the end of June.

Packs can be purchased individually, or you can opt for a membership which includes ALL current pieces PLUS the new releases will be emailed straight to your inbox every Sunday!

Samantha Coates

Samantha Coates


Samantha Coates is an internationally regarded author, presenter, and piano pedagogue with over three decades of experience in both group and private piano tuition. She loves teaching, playing and sharing new ideas with like-minded piano teachers.