Jeffrey Agrell and Aura Strohschein start out with the premise that Homo sapiens is also Homo ludens and that play is an essential part of any cognitive development, especially musical play and musical development. In this brilliantly conceived book, the authors by no means negate the importance of musical literacy. But they do advocate for the too-often neglected “first step” of listening and creating, even before reading, and remind us that music is a primal part of human activity. Above all, Agrell’s and Strohschein’s exercises are fun! Adults and children will be engaged and are certain to develop improvisational skills of which they may have never known they were capable.
Recording artist, author, Professor of Piano at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro
Piano teachers know that "Fear Factor" is more than just a television show. It can also describe the paralysis that so often impedes our students' innate creative process. Counterintuitive as it may seem, nothing is more daunting than total freedom; an infinite canvas of white space can leave us as frozen as the proverbial deer in the headlights. Therein lies the root of blocked creativity: fear of the vast unknown, and a nagging suspicion that only "special" people can create. Hats off to Jeffrey Agrell and Aura Strohschein for dispelling those notions in Creative Pedagogy for Piano Teachers. The book is a smorgasbord of imaginative games – rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, aural, depictive, stylistic, technical, etc. – that provide musical parameters for activities that serve as catalysts for creativity. Any artistic soul can tell you that getting started is the hardest part. Agrell & Strohschein provide numerous clever ways to get past this psychological hurdle. Some students will require assistance from a teacher to maximize the effectiveness of the musical games. More advanced students, however, will benefit from the games with or without assistance. The sprinklings of wit and humor help convey that playing piano (or any instrument, really) is – or should be – a joy, not a chore.
—Dr. Arthur Houle,
Professor of Piano, Colorado Mesa University, Director of the Festival for Creative Pianists