> Piano Music > Succeeding at the Piano > Comments

Succeeding at the Piano Comments

Reviews of Succeeding at the Piano®

Clavier Companion
California Music Teacher
European Piano Teachers Association Journal


What teachers are saying about Succeeding at the Piano®


Manami Kawamura, Biola University Conservatory of Music:
I went through the method books we received and am very excited to introduce them to my class.

I like your “Succeeding at the Piano” method because the technical aspects are well emphasized and in the right way. I, especially, like the thumb position. Your book is the only method book that talks about the correct place where the thumb needs to press the key. Other books show the thumb being flat. I received a BM in Japan and an MM in the US. When I came to the US, I wondered why so many students play with flat hands. Your method is giving students stronger hands and fingers. At the same time, I also like the "Drip-Drop-Roll" for flexibility. We need both. I feel that even college students need to learn these important techniques. I would appreciate if you could talk about these technical aspects when you meet my class.

Thank you for your great work!


Christopher, Piano Teacher:
In the book 5, I was so glad to find in the unit 8 the review of the different touch releases you often mention in the videos and the other concepts that are what a serious piano student should normally find in a book at this level.

In my opinion, you set up the perfect balance : the method has a steady and well thought flow of concepts being introduced at the right time while keeping it challenging enough to pull students to reach a higher level of piano playing.

With some other methods, I feel the authors did not really put much thinking into what an intermediate student needs to improve, they mostly focused on the first level books ( which are the most sold by publishers ) while with SATP, I feel you did focus on each level EQUALLY, making sure to cater to the needs of each category of students. That is why I think your method is probably the most complete of the market.

By the way, I even bought the previous level books and your whole series of etudes with technique :)

In a nutshell, a big thank you again for this awesome method.


Jennifer White from Michigan:
Just wanted to let you know how much I love and would recommend your piano book teaching series. I wish everyone would use it, especially bc of the technique hints at such an early start, making it easy for the student to really learn proper technique from the start. What a difference this will make in their later years, playing!!!

I don't know a lot of piano teachers but if anyone ever were to ask me, these are by far the best method books I've come across.


PS My younger students especially love the CDs. I think they're great, too, with the fun accompaniments. Excellent product!


Lydia, Piano Teacher:
I do want to tell you again: I LOVE your Succeeding with the Masters books, can't get enough of them! Currently we are studying the Reformation period, and it makes it especially fun to play pieces that were composed at that time! Thank you for uplifting the humanity through those series! And making the teachers' job so much easier! Your practice strategies are priceless! Keep up the good work!


Janet Anderson from Seattle, WA:
I am just writing to thank Helen Marlais and everyone involved in creating Succeeding at the Piano. Since I started using the method with my beginners two years ago, not one SATP student has quit, not one! They're playing happily with beautiful, solid technique, and I couldn't be more delighted with the help the method has given me in keeping them focused on the most essential aspects of piano playing. It has made a real difference in the life of my studio.


Carol Gingrich from Hudsonville, MI:
I have a student who I call my "Marlais baby" because I have only used SATP, SWTM, and all other Marlais material available. She is not going to be a piano major, but she is doing well and I think of you every time she is here. She is playing the Chopin Nocturne in E-flat for her recital and it has been a stretch for her. She has worked so hard on it. She will play all her life, I know. You have this next generation of well trained students going out into the world and making it a more beautiful place. What a legacy for all your hard work!


Phil Erklen from Colorado Springs, CO:
I guess an analogy would be that in the past, I had to gather all the ingredients and put forth a lot of labor to get a good cake. That would be equivalent to using several methods to get that good cake. However, the cake was never great. There were several ingredients missing. Now, I just go to the baker and the great cake is there, made fresh and ready for consumption. That would be SATP. SATP is now the official method at the International Music Syndicate. Phil Erklen, President.


Sylvia Coates, from Clavier Companion July/August 2011 Issue:
One of the major strengths of this method is the combining of healthy technique with the lesson book repertoire. This integration brings attention to technique so that it is a must for student and teacher, rather than only a supplement.


Patti Irwin from Austin, TX:
I began two of my beginners last semester on this method. I was immediately impressed with the clean pages - not an excess of words and pictures.


Nikkol from Aberdeen, WA:
“I LOVE the Succeeding at the Piano® series — my students love this series as well, they like it a lot better than the method I was currently using and so do I. Everything is stated more simple and my students seem to comprehend a lot faster. My students are really pumped up about piano lessons since I switched method books!!! THANK YOU!”


Dottie from Lexington, SC:
“I have received my copy of Succeeding at the Piano® 2A Lesson and Technique Book. Thank you for making it so easy for me to make use of the skills presented. I look forward to trying it out with one of my students. I believe it can save time that I spend writing directions in the assignment book, leaving more time for skill work. After leaving the studio, the student will see the instructions on the Lesson Book page, and hopefully remember the techniques and practice well.


Kathryn from Hampton Falls, NH:
“I love the new Helen Marlais method books and so do my students. The graphics are great and the instructions are clear, plus great music. I look forward to the next books!”


Kristen from Muskegon, MI:
"All I know is that Succeeding at the Piano® is the best thing that has happened to the piano teaching world. They are the most complete books with the best balance of everything a student needs to learn. My newer students that are using the books advance so much faster and have such a complete understanding of music than other students. This method is the only one I will use, and the parents are impressed, too.

I had a fellow piano teacher who wanted to observe my teaching style this past fall. As part of an awards recital every spring, I entered 6 students in 3 different levels, 5 of them placed, and 2 of them took 1st place for their level. I think she wanted to see what I do differently- why my students win that recital. She observed for many weeks, took lots of notes, and even came to a group class and interviewed some students. After all that, one thing she said to me was "I am so impressed how all your students have such great hand shapes. Nobody has flat fingers, and they all move their wrists the way they need to." She asked how I am able to get them to do it, and I told her it was directly because of Succeeding at the Piano®. In this method students learn the correct hand position and wrist movements as just a natural part of playing piano."


Barbara Rice from Chico, CA:
"I wanted to write a note and say how much I'm enjoying Helen Marlais' new method, Succeeding at the Piano®. She has addressed many of the issues we had as teachers with other methods. I appreciate the spiral learning approach and how she's introducing topics earlier than other methods such as key signatures, the concept of Major and minor, and many other issues. I also like how the technique is integrated in the lesson book. It makes it much easier to apply good technique to the pieces when it's right there on the next page."


Gaye Rumsey-Riggs from Portland, OR:
"I love your new series, I have never seen a series that articulates technique so well, I have started Grade 1 with several students and it is a WINNER!"


Millie Bradfield from Whitehall, MI:
"I have 11 students in the Preparatory Level and 4 students in Grade 1. Never have I had students catch on to playing with "no dents" in their fingers...the picture says a thousand words!"


Alfa C from Troy, Michigan:
"It is excellent that the Lesson Books combine together with technique!"


Janet Maus, of Music Maker Studios from Temple Hills, MD:
"Succeeding at the Piano® is great! I love to teach the children to sing with the songs and these songs are easy for them to grasp and fun. I use the CD's, so the students can hear the songs and learn quickly. I really like the theory on each page and showing the position each time. Keep up your great work!"


L Preston from Raleigh, NC:
"I find it wonderful the time you take to explain how to play the piano. The illustrations are a joy and the explanations simple yet accurate. I appreciate all the work, effort, time and labor of love for us piano teachers."


Kevin Coan of from Vernon, CT
"My first impressions of Succeeding at the Piano® are extremely positive. It has avoided an emphasis on any one methodology, including fixed positions. At the same time, it includes areas of emphasis, especially in the area of technique, that are often neglected in beginning methods. The author is obviously a first-rate teacher, and she shares a lot of her secrets with us in this method."


Marci Pittman from Chico, California:
"I was favorably impressed with the pedagogy behind the method and the music included, which includes classical themes and folk tunes with which every music student should be familiar. One other thing that I would add that is unique with the CDs packaged with the Lesson and Technique Books & the Recital Books is that there are 3 tracks for each piece: 1) A slower practice speed; 2) A short verbal instruction by Helen Marlais; 3) Performance speed. The CD also includes authentic string quarter arrangements/ accompaniments so that students might imagine playing in the time of Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven."


Elaine Smith from Chicago, IL:
"Congratulations on your new series. Your presentation of technique within the lesson book is excellent. Marvelous. Keep creating!"


Barbara Rice from Chico, CA:
"Just skimming it over makes me want to start a new student. How landmarks are introduced, adding the other notes in between the landmarks, slurs and tempos at this level, listing the composers, birthplace and dates along with the arranger, showing stepwise movement for intervallic reading, technique ideas all along the way...and all this was just at a quick glance...I can't wait to try it."


Natalie Wickham,
founder of from Derby, KS:


Barbara Collins from Port Huron, MI:
"Bravo. I love the way you incorporated the technique and the connection to the composers. Fresh and bright and interesting!"


Kevin Coan of from Vernon, CT
"I make it a policy not to use materials until they are complete through level four, but I am considering making an exception with this one. I appreciate quite a few features of the course:

  • Meaningful technical work right from the start. She also has some very practical ways of making it happen.
  • An emphasis on phrasing right from the beginning. It is impossible to over-emphasize phrasing. With Helen's course, she gives phrasing its proper emphasis.
  • An emphasis on artistry right from the beginning. She is teaching students to make music, not just to type notes.
  • An emphasis on multikey work as early as grade 1. This is how it should be!
  • Highly interesting music, especially in the performance books.
  • I love her approach of using an imaginary "walk" through the world of music under the guide of one of master composers. The effect will be to make each composer one of the student's friends. Could you ask for more?
  • The avoidance of relying on any one approach to music reading. The student could not possibly get locked into any one position, and yet the student is still given the ability to recognize the patterns that should become automatic.
  • The introduction of classical themes early in the course. It is plain to see that a student using this course will emerge with an appreciation for the classics. Again, what more could you ask for?
  • A spiraling approach to musical concepts. Numerous topics are introduced at once, with a spiraling return to each one. Research has shown this to be highly effective.

Kristen from Muskegon, MI:
"I am amazed at how musically the students play that use your method. Also, their hand shape and other technical issues seem to be so much easier to deal with when your method is used. I have to let you know, your piece "Jack, the Muskrat", in grade 1, is a favorite of every student that plays it! It is very cute".


Jordan Waller, piano teacher from Grand Rapids, MI:
"The new piano method Succeeding at the Piano by Dr. Helen Marlais is absolutely wonderful. The technical exercises within the lesson books create and reinforce the correct position at the keyboard to achieve the desired sound out of the instrument. Children who begin with this method develop good posture, hand position, practice habits, and learn to really enjoy playing the piano. The mixture of classical themes as well as FJH composer originals is excellent, as well as the exposure young children get to composers such as Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart and Brahms. This piano method is truly superior to anything else I have seen on the market!"


Search Our Site | Find a Dealer | Catalog Listing
Piano Music | Guitar Music | Concert Band Music
Jazz Ensemble Music | Orchestra Music | Solo & Ensemble Music
Canzonique Music | Percussion Music | Contact Us
Conventions & Workshops | Permission Requests | About Us

Copyright © The FJH Music Company Inc. All rights reserved.