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Sykes Piano Teacher Training

Sykes Piano Teacher Training creates teachers who are

powerful, successful, inspiring, motivating;

that create students who are

passionateabout playing piano,

extremely capablemusicians with

a loveof piano that lasts forever

Edited Image 2017-12-20 03-58-07

Who is Julia Sykes?

Julia Sykes began learning piano when she was 6 years old, began teaching at age 14, and went on to study a Bachelor of Music Education at the University of Western Australia.


In 2003 she began to develop the Sykes Piano Program and since then, been training teachers, developed many Sykes Music student books and teacher training manuals and videos. 

Who is Julia Sykes

Why was Sykes Piano created?

Julia began developing the Sykes Piano Program because she was not satisfied with any of the other methods that existed. She was passionate about developing wellrounded, flexible and capable musicians with a lasting love of music that would continue throughout their lives. There just were not any programs that ticked all of her boxes. Some had strengths in some areas but were weak in others. She also wanted a program that was enjoyable, well- structured, thorough and capable of preparing students for a successful professional career in music if they so desired.

The philosophy of Sykes Music is that students learn to become musicians as well as good performers of the piano. Julia would often hear stories such as, “I learnt piano up to 6th grade and have never played piano again,” or “I learnt the piano for 7 years and don’t know how to improvise or play by ear.”


Julia learned piano through the traditional approach. By the completion of 10 years of piano lessons, she could play the piano well, read music and understand the theory of music but was severely lacking in other areas. She had no idea how to play music with others, how to improvise, even how to make three arrangements of Happy Birthday. Her aural skills were very undeveloped - something she realised once enrolled in music at university. She also had very little knowledge of any music other than classical music, and even that knowledge was very limited. This was the main motivator for Julia. She did not want students to turn into herself!


The main philosophical error in many piano methods is that students are developed into piano technicians and not musicians. Music should be about enjoyment, creativity and entertainment. Somehow students are being robbed of the real pleasure and purpose of music.

Fingers Playing Piano Keys
Why was Sykes Piano created
Sykes Piano for teachers

Sykes Piano for teachers

The Sykes Piano Program is a rapidly growing approach to learning music and there are a shortage of Sykes trained teachers. Once students learn with Sykes Music, they do not want to change to another program. We have requests for Sykes teachers in the US, UK and all over Australia.

An enjoyable experience

The beautiful thing about the Sykes Piano method, is that it is everything that you need to teacher your students, all in the one program. You do not need to create your program from picking bits and pieces from many different  sources. You longer need to spend thousands of  dollars buying teaching resources nor do you need to spend hours looking for material and preparing for lessons. With the Sykes Piano Program everything is provided for you. Teachers do not need to try to figure out ‘what’ to teach their students, ‘when’ to teach things to their students, or ‘how’ to teach these things. Teachers do not need to worry that they are neglecting an area of their student’s learning. There is no experimental stage of "learning on the job", because once teachers are trained, they teach with knowledge and skills, efficiently and powerfully. Students are no longer guinea pigs for teachers to use to learn how to teach. There is no trial and error.  

With the Sykes Piano Program, a complete developmental program is at the disposal of piano teachers.

It can take students from being complete novices to advanced musicians and not only that, it is done very efficiently and the entire experience is enjoyable for everyone – the student, the teacher and everyone else involved. 


Sykes Music is not a franchised or licensed system. Sykes Music teachers do not pay a percentage of their lessons to Sykes Music. Also Sykes Music teachers receive all student referrals free of charge.

what makes a piano program great

There are many aspects of music that need to be incorporated into a music program
to ensure that it is comprehensive and well balanced. The Sykes Piano Program
incorporates many aspects of music. Each of these aspects is included in each Level
of the Program:

wha makes piano program great

the comprehensive aspects of music


Learning to perform pieces of music


Learning good playing technique and technical exercises to help students become technically proficient at playing the piano


Most theoretical concepts are incorporated with the practical aspects of the program and are not taught in a purely theoretical sense


The aural program incorporates many more aspects of aural than what you find in practical piano exams. It includes Kodaly principles which are used for melodic dictation and also working out how to play music by ear


The Program uses singing as a learning tool and also includes singing exercises and sight singing based on Kodaly


Students learn about chords, how to put chords to songs, common chord progressions, how to read chord symbols, accompaniment styles and how to make arrangements of music


Students learn to improvise in many different styles starting with simple improvisation tasks in the early levels that gradually increase in difficulty as the students progress through the levels of the Sykes Piano Program


The compositions are often based on the improvisation idea of that level. Students write at least one composition per grade

Music Appreciation

This is about learning about composers, bands, musical styles, genres, instruments, music history, etc. When students learn a piece of music, they also learn about the origin and meaning of the piece and about the composer/song writer

th comprehensive aspects of musc

the comprehensive
styles of music

The Sykes Piano Program includes many different kinds of music which contributes to students becoming rounded and flexible musicians.

Incorporated into the Piano Program are classical, jazz, blues, pop, world and other music styles. A lot of effort has been put into selecting pieces of music that sound good, are enjoyable to play and attractive to students. When students enjoy the music that they play, they will play it more, and therefore make better progress and love the piano more.

The wide variety of music included ensures that students learn while playing music that they like. In all of the Sykes Grades, many of the pieces are “own choice” pieces, which means that students can develop the Program to their own taste.

the comprehensive styles of music

The Levels and Grades

The Levels and Grades

The standard Sykes Piano Program begins with Levels 1 - 4. Each of these Levels are carefully designed to take the average student 10 weeks to complete. This ensures that these Levels are short- term and achievable goals. Students, parents and teachers also enjoy the satisfaction of the student progressing from Level to Level. In other methods, or usually if students are learning through an exam-based program, the goals normally take students around a year to complete. These are too long and drawn out. The student, teacher, and parent do not feel the same satisfaction of progress even if the student is progressing. Having short 10 week Levels motivates the student to practise and complete the Level so that they can progress to the next Level.


Following Levels 1 - 4 comes Preliminary Grade, then Grade 1, Grade 2 etc. Each of these Grades is of the same standard as examination Grades such as AMEB, though students learn between 15 - 20 pieces per Grade. All of the Grades have been designed into 3 Levels. For example Preliminary A Level, Preliminary B Level and Preliminary C Level. Each of these Levels are designed to take students 13 weeks to complete. The two main reasons for this division of the Grades into 3 Levels are so that the large goal of a Grade is divided into smaller, more attainable goals.


Each Level incorporates all of the aspects of the Sykes Program listed in the previous paragraph “The Comprehensive Aspects of Music,” ensuring students are always learning through a well-balanced Program. At the completion of all of the Levels, students sit a Theory and a Practical Test.

The Sykes Little Maestro Program is a Piano Program for 4 - 6 year olds. It is an unique and effective method for teaching piano to very young children. It is enjoyable and sees young students become quite competent pianists in a very short amount of time.


The Sykes Little Maestro Program includes approximately 50 pieces and exercises specially chosen for this age group. Students first of all learn to play the piano without any reading of music, and then music reading is introduced towards the later part of the Little Maestro Program. Included in the Sykes Little Maestro Program are all of the pieces and exercises of the Sykes Level 1.


Once students have completed the Sykes Little Maestro Program, they move onto Level 2 of the Sykes Piano Program and then continue through the Sykes Levels. It takes students between 6 - 12 months to complete the Little Maestro program. Therefore it is quite common for students that learn through this Program to be in Preliminary Grade by the time they are 6 years of age. One of the aspects of the Sykes Little Maestro Teacher Training focuses on specific, effective teaching techniques for 4 - 6 year olds.

Learning to read music

how the reading of music is taught
Learning to read music

first play,
then read

The reading of music when learning the piano in traditional methods, often restricts the progress of students. It is difficult and slow. Many students give up before they make it through this slow process. Also, many methods only approach learning the piano through reading music. The method used in the Sykes Program is based on the idea that first play, then read. Therefore in Level 1 students do not read any music, reading is introduced in Level 2. This means that students can enjoy playing great sounding pieces on the piano straight away and fall in love with playing the piano. By beginning to read in Level 2, the reading music process is not delayed too much. In Level 2, students follow two streams: one is they learn to play pieces of music and exercises through not reading music, and concurrently they are learning the principles of music reading through interval writing and reading exercises and the introduction of the written form of High C and Low C. Therefore when these two streams meet in Level 2, Level 3 and beyond, students are able to read music that uses both hands and notes all over the piano, including leger lines at a surprisingly advanced level of difficulty. In fact the first piece of music that they read in Level 2 uses both hands, chords and a jazzy rhythm.

Sykes Music also teaches the reading of music in a way that is much

easier and more efficient than the traditional approach to reading.

It is an interval based method that uses the ‘Cs’ as reference points. Letter names are used to a minimum in the early Levels. Students can read all notes on the piano by Level 4 (in one year of lessons for an average student) and they become very competent and independent sight readers. Because the students are such independent readers they are able to learn the notes of their pieces at home. This means that lesson time can be spent teaching rather than helping students work out how to play the notes. It also frees up more lesson time for other activities such as aural, improvisation and music appreciation.

Child Playing the Piano


The Sykes Piano Program uses an integrated approach with theory, technique, performance, music appreciation, improvisation, composition and aural. For example students will learn about the duration of notes and the names of note values, then learn how to perform rhythms using these notes, then as part of aural they will have these rhythms in their rhythmic dictation and also apply this rhythm knowledge into the performance of their pieces.


Students Progress Quickly

Sykes Piano students progress very quickly. The average student begins Preliminary Grade after just one year of lessons practising only 15 minutes 5 times a week. Then in Preliminary Grade they learn approximately 20 pieces in one year with 20 minutes practise 5 times a week. There are many reasons why Sykes students progress quickly:


Two Hand Coordination

This is one of the most difficult aspects of playing the piano, that is, two hands playing different things at the same time. In the Sykes Piano Program this difficulty is deliberately tackled head on. Level by Level students are provided with coordination challenges that increase in difficulty. In this way students quickly have the ability to play advanced pieces. The Piano Program includes many exercises and pieces which are specially designed with the intent purpose to improve two hand coordination.



The method used to teach students to read is so easy and efficient; it allows students to progress quickly.



The Sykes Piano Program is enjoyable. The music selected has been specially chosen to be nice to play and listen to. Also because the Program is well balanced and includes performance, improvisation, aural, technique etc, the lessons themselves are a pleasure and so are the tasks set for the week to practise. This also allows students with different strengths and weaknesses to shine in at least one area. The way that the program is designed is student friendly. The overall structure of the Program provides satisfaction to the students. The side effect of students enjoying themselves is that they want to play more and because they are playing more, they progress more quickly. This has a catch 22 effect. Because they are progressing quickly, they enjoy playing more. So positive feeds positive.


The Levels

Because the Levels are short-term goals of 10 - 13 weeks, students are motivated to progress from Level to Level and this helps them progress faster. Also because the students have assessments and are graded during these assessments students are motivated to work hard to attain good results.


Parental Involvement

Because parents are involved in their children’s lessons, students are able to turn to their parents for help at home. This in effect means that the piano teacher has a teacher assistant. Also because the parents have more understanding, they tend to be more encouraging and supportive.


Group Lessons

Group lessons are an option and can help students progress quickly.



These help keep students motivated, inspired and gives their music learning purpose.



Students are rewarded for practicing through praise, stickers and prizes.


The Teachers

Because the teachers are qualified, well trained and competent, the students are in capable hands. The teachers write lesson plans, so they have good direction during lessons and are well organised, which means that lesson time is utilised to greatest capacity and the students have the greatest chance of success. Teachers through their training, are equipped with the skills to help students overcome difficulties, and have effective strategies to help students learn their pieces and exercises in the most efficient and effective way.


Comprehensive Program

Because the Sykes Piano Program has a broad approach to the way music is learned, plus includes many aspects of music, students with different learning styles are well catered for. Students are able to progress and are not hampered by a Program that does not suit their style of learning.

Students Progress Quickly
  1. You would like your students to progress quickly

  2. You would like your students to continue to a high level of playing

  3. You would like some students to pursue a career in music

  4. You would like your students to continue playing piano for the rest of their lives

  5. You would like to give your students a holistic music education

  6. You would like more students

  7. You want to be part of a group of like-minded teachers

  8. You want ongoing support and advice to help with your teaching

  9. You would like to teach your students how to improvise

  10. You would like to teach your students how to learn music without sheet music

  11. You would like to teach your students how to arrange music

  12. You would like to teach your students how to compose

  13. You would like your students to be great sight readers

  14. You would like your students to love learning

  15. You would like your students to continue to learn with you for years

  16. You would like to not have to create a program of learning for your students

  17. You have not taught much piano before and would like to learn how to be a good teacher

  18. You would like to use a Program that includes sheet music, theory books, CDs, DVDs and online video and audio files

  19. You would like to improve the way that you teach piano

  20. You would like to teach your students a diverse range of fantastic music

The Training

Training is necessary to deliver the Sykes Piano Program as effectively as possible. The Sykes Piano Teacher Training shows piano teachers how to teach the Sykes Piano Program and become very effective and successful teachers.


The training consists of nine modules. The first three are available completely online, learning independently. However, the following modules can be conducted in person or through online sessions with your trainer.

Sykes Piano Teacher Training Modules

1. An Introduction to Sykes Music and Teaching Piano
2. The Sykes Little Maestro Program and Level 1
3. Sykes Piano Program Levels 2 - 4
4. Sykes Piano Program Preliminary Grade
5. Sykes Piano Program Grade 1
6. Sykes Piano Program Grade 2
7. Sykes Piano Program Grade 3
8. Sykes Piano Program Grade 4
9. Sykes Piano Program Grade 5

20 Top Reasons
The Training
begin your training
expand your skills


Outdoor Reading

Introduction to Sykes Music & Teaching Piano

The Introduction to Sykes Music & Teaching Piano is the first module of Sykes Piano Teacher Training and begins by pursuing the reasons for teaching piano. You will learn what the Sykes Piano Program is and start to see how it is taught. Many aspects of learning piano and conducting lessons are covered including getting parents involved and the lesson format. Lastly, you will discover helpful strategies and methods for conducting your music teaching business.



Sykes Little Maestro Program & Level 1

The Sykes Little Maestro & Level 1 teacher training focuses on how to teach 4 - 6 year olds, using the Sykes Little Maestro Program. At the close, the training explains how to teach Level 1 to adult students.  This training is very practical and includes direction on how to teach over 70 pieces, with tips for potential difficulties that will occur. Many videos are also contained in this module that will assist you in your learning journey. 

Learn more


Practicing Piano Notes

Sykes Piano Program Levels 2 - 4

The Sykes Piano Program Levels 2 - 4 teacher training homes in on the next three levels of Sykes Piano. You will receive an overview of each level and learn how they are taught. You will go into detail about teaching musical conceptions, including sight reading, writing, and theory exercises. Further aspects include teaching students how to practice and creating performances opportunities. This module covers over 80 pieces of music and also includes videos.

Learn more

MODULEs 4 - 9

Young Woman Playing Piano

Sykes Piano Program Preliminary Grade to Grade 5

All of the training from the Sykes Little Maestro Program through to Grade 5, is a combination of reading, watching, feedback from your trainer, assignments and assessments. The training has topics applicable to teaching in general or related to teaching students at these particular Levels. The majority of the training is very hands-on and practical, relating specifically to how to teach pieces, exercises
(including technical, aural, improvisation etc), music reading and theory. Teachers have practical assignments such as filming themselves teaching a particular piece, teaching a lesson or their students performing a piece. There are also written assignments. The assessments have practical elements - such as teachers performing the pieces in a Level of the program during a skype session and explaining to their trainer how they would go about teaching particular pieces or exercises.

Module 1
Module 2
Module 3
Modules 4 - 9



Doing the Sykes Music teaching training course has been the best decision I have made as a
music teacher.


It’s very rewarding to see the kids that I teach have fun during the lessons. Normally it takes students a while to get to a certain level -with Sykes it only takes a term to reach a new level. You cover lots of aspects of music and it’s easier because all the work is there, its easier for the students to understand and for a teacher to teach.


I really enjoyed and found the course inspiring. It has given me a lot more confidence to teach and opened up a new career path, a whole new world, which I hadn’t thought possible. My students are all enjoying the program and excited about being able to play in such a short time. Thank you Julia.


Prerequisites for training

For the piano learning experience to be successful, there are three essential elements:

1. The student is required to put in time and dedication
2. The program needs to be excellent
3. The teacher teaching the Program needs to be an excellent teacher


It is necessary for teachers to have a suitable level of knowledge in music and skills in playing the piano to be an effective and powerful teacher, therefore Sykes Music has prerequisites for teachers to enrol in training. These prerequisites are very reasonable.

Training Level

Module 1 - Introduction training

Module 2 - 4 Little Maestro to Preliminary training

Module 5 - Grade 1 training

Module 6 - Grade 2 training

Module 7 - Grade 3 training

Module 8 - Grade 4 training

Module 9 - Grade 5 training



Grade 3 Piano | Grade 1 Theory

Grade 4 Piano | Grade 2 Theory

Grade 5 Piano | Grade 3 Theory

Grade 6 Piano | Grade 3 Theory

Grade 7 Piano | Grade 4 Theory

Grade 8 Piano | Grade 5 Theory

Don't have a formal qualification?


If you do not have formal qualifications, then an audition can be arranged for you.


The audition consists of two parts, a video call and a theory test:
1. You perform 2 pieces of contrasting pieces of music on the piano
2. A sight reading exercise
3. A couple of aural exercises
4. A few theory questions


At the completion of your audition, you will receive a report outlining what Level of training you will be able to complete at your current level of piano playing and music knowledge.

Person Using Laptop

How to enrol

Enrolling in the first 3 modules of training is easy. Simply head over to our training website and select the course you would like to begin. Module 2 and 3 requires approval - more information will be found on the course pages. These modules can be started at any time and are completely online. Contact us if you would like to complete the following modules of training.

How to enrol
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