Review: Little Gems for Piano

Contest, Lesson resources, Reviews

I have confession to make. I don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to teaching by rote. It used to be that teaching by rote was looked at as a negative thing. It was thought if you taught by rote the child would not learn how to read music. Fast forward to recent years, I have seen that attitude change quite a bit and have since learned that there are numerous benefits to rote teaching. You can have the best of both worlds.

Just this last week when choosing some halloween music with my students I came across a piece that I knew would be perfect for a new 12 year old student. The problem? He only has had two lessons. Halloween Festival was 5 weeks away. The piece I was looking at should have been above his reading ability but because it was very patterned AND the fact I had him in Piano Pronto (Prelude) I knew that if I combined a little bit of rote teaching, the knowledge he had so far plus motivation, he could pull it off. Conclusion- he did. He came back the next week and rocked it!

When Paula Dreyer asked me to review her books, Little Gems for Piano; Rote Pieces that Motivate and Captivate, I was excited because rote pieces was something I wanted to try a little more of. It’s always good to try things you aren’t the most comfortable with. Hence the story above. There are two volumes of Little Gems for Piano. The first volume is for beginners and the second volume is for early intermediates. Each includes 27 pieces in various styles to teach by rote. Each volume also includes a CD so if the student is working without the teacher, they can still develop their aural skills and try to play the pieces before reading the notation. One of the features I loved in these books was the “Did you notice?” questions and practice suggestions. I really appreciated them as a teacher who isn’t the most confidant in my rote-teaching skills. These two things helped guide me in the process of rote teaching.

I would encourage you to like the Little Gems for Piano Facebook page where Paula will occasionally share videos of her students playing the pieces from the books as well as notify of upcoming sales, helpful rote teaching articles, podcasts, etc…

Here is a video (from the Facebook page) where one of her students play several pieces from Volume 1.


You can find Little Gems for piano on Paula’s website or on Amazon- Volume 1 and Volume 2. And remember to like the Facebook page.

If you are like me, a teacher who hesitates to teach pieces by rote, why not give it a try? You never know the exciting possibilities that are in store. And if you are totally comfortable with teaching pieces by rote, you will really enjoy Little Gems for Piano.


Disclaimer: I was provided with a free sample in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are of my own and not influenced by the composer or any affiliate program. The amazon affiliate links included help me keep this blog going. It does not affect your purchase price or the composers royalties in any way. Thank you for your support and happy teaching!


  1. Amy Reiff

    Wow! Thanks for this post, Jennfier. I’ve ordered by Book 1 on Amazon – and wheeeee – I’ll get Book 2 as well. FABULOUS. I love using rote pieces.

  2. Paula Dreyer

    Thanks for your order, Amy and keep me posted about how you and your students are doing with them!

  3. Lara

    Are these original compositions or standard piano literature or a combination? I tried to view a table of contents…but couldn’t find one.

    • Jennifer Foxx

      Lara, they are all original compositions.

  4. Susan Dennis

    Really, nothing beats quick success and using the pedal! 🙂 And on the pedagogical side, students must hear and remember melodies and rhythm and begin to get a sense of keyboard geography, all without waiting to learn this in an academic way — which they will, more easily. Of course they must read, but oh! the delight of making real music right away! These are charming pieces. 🙂

  5. Claudia

    These look great – would like to try with some of my students. Thank you for the review and the suggestions, Jennifer!

  6. Paula ganiaris

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment! You make some excellent points in support of rote pieces. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the music.

  7. Katherine Hutchinson

    I am very interested in these two books. I hope they can ship to the UK!

  8. Michelle Murphy

    I only know a couple rote pieces. Would love to learn more!

    • Colleen Branson

      Piano safari and Dennis Alexander also have rote pieces.

      • Jennifer Foxx

        I am aware of Piano Safari, though I really need to check their books out in person. I’ve only seen videos etc. online. I’m even on their Facebook page. I’ve heard very positive things about the series and definitely want to look into them further. I didn’t think about Dennis Alexander! I know there are some other pieces that just lend itself well with rote-teaching. Vandall is a good example as he has very patterned pieces.

  9. Loraine

    I would love to get a copy of the books, I looked at the sample pages that have some instruction suggestion which I love it.

    • Jennifer Foxx

      Yes, I agree. That was one of my favorite features as well! 🙂


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