Margaret Brandman's 'Playing Made Easy' music teaching books and CDs begin with a simplified interval approach, using terminology connected to physical actions for instance - Step, Skip or Jump. The interval approach helps to connect the aural, visual and tactile aspects of music. The approach allows the performer to read the flow of the music, while feeling the interval distances in the hand and listening to the sounds being played. Students are encouraged to sing the pitches prior to playing (for both piano and recorder methods) while in the early levels of the Contemporary Piano Method, a comprehensive piano teaching course, students sing the intervals as they play, using this easy language, which in turn helps the development of inner hearing.

In the Contemporary Piano Method, the music presented for study moves away from the centre of the instrument very quickly using the C's as signpost notes, so that students see the 'Gestalt' view of the instrument and understand spatial concepts on the Grand Staff. The method moves on fairly swiftly to larger intervals, changes of area, transposition and playing in all twelve major keys as the groundwork for all future key, scale and chord work on the keyboard. Keyboard scales are presented as Pictorial Patterns to teach students keyboard topography.

This holistic approach flows through the entire method, blending ear-training through the use of the Contemporary Aural Course - CD and book sets, with written work in the related theory texts: Contemporary Theory Workbook series and the Contemporary Chord Workbook series. The method presents classical and modern techniques, drawing parallels between the common threads of classical and modern music (popular, jazz and contemporary). Areas covered include music speed-reading techniques in the written key, transposed or in C clef, plus improvisation techniques and both jazz harmony and figured harmony at the keyboard.

The aim is to offer the student professional music making skills in an easy fashion, beginning early, so these skills may be incorporated in a very gradual way, rather than being thought of as tertiary study material. Then in time, students can choose the musical direction that suits them best: performing, composing, arranging, recording, teaching in classical, jazz or pop genres.

The Brandman Music Education materials have been frequently used as resources for secondary school and tertiary courses. They provide supporting information and practice questions for many examination syllabi, including the AMEB’s recently developed Music Craft course.

Summary of the Brandman educational series:

Contemporary Piano MethodJunior Primer, Books 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3 & 4, Contemporary Piano MethodDVD, Pictorial Patterns for Keyboard Scales and Chords

Margaret Brandman WPTA Individual Membership LogoContemporary Theory series
Contemporary Theory Primer, Contemporary Theory Workbooks 1 & 2

Contemporary Chord Workbooks 1 & 2

Contemporary Aural Course, (ear-training)
Preparatory Set, Sets 1-8

Recorder materials
Playing Made Easy for Recorder – Method Book, and Tune Book
How to Play the Recorder

High School Text
Accent on Music – Book and CD

Supplementary Teaching Materials for Piano
Blues and Boogie-Woogie
Christmas Favourites
Contemporary Modal Pieces
Daily Dexter-Flexers

Brandman Music Education materials for use with AMEB 'Music Craft' topics:
1st Grade
2nd Grade
3rd Grade

The Junior Primer

The Junior Primer is designed for the 5 to 12 age group. It contains all the skills required to play with both hand simultaneously on the instrument, encouraging the reading of music by intervals, shapes and patterns. Among the many features of the book are: the enjoyable written exercises and puzzles, the graphic boxes to be coloured in to teach rhythm, improvisation suggestions, transposition, and catchy songs to play.

To view some sample pages from the book, click here.

Click here for the complete set of Guide Notes for the Teacher on the use of this book.


Since I finally received a long-waited piano method or yours, I've been studying it. And every page I turn makes me smile as I find lots of features that I've hoped for in piano methods for a long time are actually in there!

Especially the idea of musical ladder which I've done it myself(!) to visualise the piano keybaord high and low as we all know it's confusing for kids as reading direction and keyboard direction are different when it goes down.

And also the interval reading method. I think it's very important to be able to see and hear the interval as you read music especially for little kids. And also as you point out for improvising, which I'm hopeless with.

I wish I'd studied with your method when I started piano lessons when I was 4!

YUKIE SMITH - Cambridge UK.

Go to the Piano page.

The Contemporary Piano Method

  • Junior Primer for 5 to 12 age group.
  • Books 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3 and 4

    " I have enjoyed going through the volumes very much and find that they are well organised, they have excellent follow through, are extremely attractive and I believe almost any piano teacher could make excellent use of the materials. I congratulate you on bringing these volumes to completion.

    Dr Maurice Hinson - Senior Professor of Music - Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kentucky USA

    " I really enjoyed reading through them....I appreciate greatly the way you have included jazz and contemporary rhythms and reading material in varied keys. I like the way you have given an orientation to the black notes in the scales - that is similar to the way I refer to keyboard topography and 'scale paths' in my book "

    Harold Danko B.M.E. jazz pianist and music educator ( USA) author of the Illustrated Keyboard Method.


The Contemporary Piano Method Video/DVD

  • For beginners and also teachers wishing to know more about Margaret Brandman's unique Playing Made Easy music education system.
  • This video/DVD demonstrates the initial stages of Margaret Brandman's PLAYING MADE EASY teaching method, including the streamlined music reading aspect and the early development of an at-homeness at the keyboard. The video medium is used to display animated graphics of notation and interval movements as well as live demonstrations by students.

for Keyboard Scales and Chords

Designed as a companion scale book for all levels of the Contemporary Piano Method.

Pictorial Patterns is a unique book which allows pianists to learn scales by understanding keyboard geography rather than relying on notation.

Through being able to view hand shapes on the keyboard patterns the fingering for scales is simplified and mirror fingerings can be seen. Equally useful for students of classical or modern piano, and for improvisors, it shows both similar and contrary motion patterns and all major and minor chord shapes.

In three sections:

  • 1) Early Level - all major scales and chords
  • 2) Intermediate to Advanced - All major, minor patterns and their derived modes, and chords
  • 3) A Unique Scale and Chord Practice Planner including four note chords, chord resolutions plus connected scales and chords
Click here for some sample pages.

Click here to read
a full review.

Order No: MMP 8019 A$24.95

Dexter's Easy Piano Pieces
The Repertoire Book for Level One of The Contemporary Piano Method'

Containing repertoire for Level One (A and B) of the Contemporary Piano Method, this book presents simple two part arrangements, or chordal accompaniments for many well known pieces, ranging from folk melodies to much loved classics through to the Twelve Bar blues tunes and Margaret's new original piece 'Arabian Rock'.

The arrangements and technical exercises (Dexter-Flexers) are specially designed to allow the fingers of both hands to remain on the keyboard so that the interval reading method can be fostered. (Too many rests disturb the reading process for beginners, so it is better for the reading process to use a legato touch which allows students to feel their position on the keys). The tunes also allow students to consolidate the direction concepts introduced in the Junior Primer and Level One A of the method, and are suitable for transposition.

This newly revised edition of the book contains extra pages for easy rhythm training, using the colour and clap graphics and the Pictorial Patterns for the scales to aid in transposition to all keys.

Daily Dexter-Flexers

Technical exercises for beginning keyboard students using the simplified interval approach combined with scale topography. The fun way to gain finger dexterity and speed reading skills.

  • Finger and reading exercises for beginners
  • Illustrated with lively pictures of Dexter (for dexterity) the Koala

Junior Trax

  • Early grade pieces arranged for both hands simultaneously. (two part writing )
  • Easy to read with the interval approach.
  • Each tune presents an interesting teaching feature.

Arrangements of young children's favourite tunes from early childhood programs and original songs by Margaret Brandman. Designed to present extra two-handed practice for the first year student. Melodies remain within the five-finger hand position along the white note groups in the keys of C and G.

Duet Parts

Duet parts are for either a single lower part or obligato melodies complementing the orginal tunes in the higher register of the keyboard. Simple enough for students to play yet interesting for the teacher to play along with the student to develop good reading and rhythm skills.

Designed for use a supplementary material to the Junior Primer and during the transition to Book 1A of the Contemporary Piano Method.


It's Easy to Improvise

  • The fun way to learn how to bring single line tunes with chords to life, and how to embellish melodies and create your own

Keyboards and treble clef instruments

The easiest and most enjoyable way to learn keyboard harmony! This book contains graded popular and folk tunes with which to learn left hand accompaniment styles and arranging, plus information on the placement of chords and varying accompaniment styles. It also includes suggestions for melodic embellishment and improvisation applicable to keyboards and single line instruments.

'Margaret Brandman's IT'S EASY TO IMPROVISE takes the mystery out of improvisation by presenting a clearly defined and logical step-by-step method that takes the guess work out of the technique and equips the student with the basic knowledge to improvise in a variety of styles and rhythms. A worthwhile and highly recommended publication that will introduce students to improvisation whilst extending their overall developmental skills and enjoyment of music'

-Rita Crews, AUSTRALIAN MUSIC TEACHER Magazine, Vol 4 No 2 May 1995


Playing Made Easy for Recorder (Australian edition) -How to play Recorder (USA edition)

(contributing author - Catherine Weaver)

  • Method Book
  • Tune Book

"Sixty pages of skillfully prepared instruction and music for the beginner. From 'how to hold the recorder' to Twelve Bar Blues and four-part rounds, it covers a wide range of subjects. IT IS THE BEST TUTOR I HAVE SEEN FOR RECORDER BY FAR. Congratulations to Margaret Brandman with addition of this GEM to her collection." -

Neville Thomas, Former Lecturer in Woodwind at Sydney University Conservatorium


"They are the finest collections I have seen on the subject and I recommend them without hesitation."

Dr Maurice Hinson. Senior Professor of Music, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kentucky USA


'I congratulate you on the book 'Playing Made Easy for Recorder', with its interweaving of playing techniques and reading skills'.

Ann Power - Lecturer in Music Education - University of Western Sydney

Accent on Music - High School Text Book

  • Book and accompanying CD
  • Published by Cambridge University Press.


Contemporary Theory Primer

    Basic interval concepts and signpost note drill plus rhythm training through box diagrams and colouring in.

    To be used alongside:

  • CONTEMPORARY PIANO METHOD - the Junior Primer and Book 1A
  • CONTEMPORARY AURAL COURSE - Preparatory Set and Set One.


Contemporary Theory Workbooks

- Books One and Two

    A practical and commonsense approach to music theory covering all the basics right through to the modes and higher grade information.

    The page per lesson format encourages the student to move forward at a page a week pace or faster. (Answers included)

    'Each subject is covered in such a way as to flood the student's mind with light. Sprinkled throughout are topics never covered except in encyclopaedias, refreshingly and clearly explained in easily understood statements displaying breadth and clarity. They are simply a must for every student and teacher's library.'

    -Neville Thomas O.A.M., Lecturer in Woodwind Studies, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Contemporary Chord
Workbook 1

  • Comprehensive guide to chords
  • Includes Modes
  • Suitable for all instruments

Book One: The Building Blocks of Chords, plus all three and four-note chords.

Book Two: Extended Chords - Ninths, Elevenths and Thirteenths.

    'Margaret Brandman has put together a magnificent basic theory text for all instruments. She skillfully lays out the immovable rocks of knowledge that support all western music - pop, jazz, classical, jazz-rock etc...

    -Bruce Clark, jazz guitarist, improviser and music educator

Click Here for a colour graphic of the contents of the Chord Workbook Series.

    'In her Contemporary Chord Workbook Book 1, Brandman yet again succeeds in making the language, structure and application of modern chords readily accessible to teachers and students....

    ....It should be an essential item on every piano student's music shelf.'

    - Abe Cytrynowski - ANZCA Examiner, Stretto Magazine - 2002

    Click here to read the full review


The Contemporary Aural Course

  • Preparatory for beginners
  • Double CD and Workbook set
  • Sets 1- 8 each with CD and workbook

Preparatory: 2 x CDs and accompanying workbook and lift-out answer sheet. The Preparatory Course is designed to equip the student from the earliest stages of learning with aural discrimination and the aural skills necessary to hear the music, both with and without the written score.

'Teaching aural work from a student's first lesson is, in my view and that of most music educators, an essential task and one that is now made all the more easy with the advent of this particular publication. The course provides an easy-to-follow and pleasant method of teaching and improving aural skills. In my view it is highly recommended.'




Set One begins at a basic level and progresses very gradually covering required grade material plus interesting and enjoyable extension work.

'Within each set the material is divided between various musical elements, for example, in Set One the elements are pitch, rhythm and melody while from Set Two onwards these categories are expanded to include cadences and chord progressions.

One of the most useful attributes of this series is the use of review material for revision and reinforcement of work done, which occurs not only at the end of each set, but as the starting points of Sets Two-Seven. Thus there is a satisfying continuity and development which is perceivable by the student as well as the teacher and which helps to increase student self-confidence and feelings of achievement.

Another important attribute is the clarity of presentation. The voice is natural sounding and well-articulated. Students are able to work through the exercises without teacher supervision and at their own pace, and will find the clear enunciation and pleasing tone of voice both encouraging and reassuring.'

-Dr. Helen Stowasser, Associate Professor of Music Education, University of Western Australia

The advanced sets in the series Set 7 (Hear Your Chords!) and Set 8 (Hear More Chords!) deal with the sounds and functions of the chords along with the modes or scales that can be sounded together with them. Each of the sets includes several pieces of music harmonised with modern chords, and requires the student to identify the chord types. Set 8, also covers the sounds of the standard Chromatic chords in classical music the Neapolitan Sixth and the German, Italian and French Sixths.