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A Musical Journey Begins!

As a leading music and performing arts school, our promise has always been that we will offer the best music and arts education programs available and in the fall of 2017, we introduced a new program: Keyboard Adventures – The Safari™ as our core group music curriculum at Music & Play.

Our music students are about to set out on an adventure unlike any other. The Safari is a group music program that provides children with the elementary and vital building blocks of music they need to become accomplished musicians, while also building important life skills.

We recognize that our world, and the way that we interact with it, has evolved significantly over the past decades. The Safari is the most technologically advanced, and creative music instruction program for children available today. While embracing our planet’s cultural diversity, The Safari also takes another bold leap forward – delivering the program material on tablets instead of the traditional stacks of books. Safari classes are fun, engaging and create an environment that stimulates today’s young minds to think about, learn and play music in new ways.

The Safari is for students aged 4-1/2 to 11. They may begin their Safari journey at a variety of levels and, depending on the age at which a student begins, they may spend between 2 to 4 years on their Safari adventure.  ‘Junior Safari’ students begin the program at age 4½ – 5 and learn essential musical concepts through movement, rhythm, songs and stories, along with basic keyboard skills and note reading.  For older beginning students, they may start their Safari journey at the ‘Intermediate Safari’ level (at age 5½ – 6) or they may begin their journey with the ‘Senior Safari’ level (at age 7 – 8).  In the advanced Safari levels, students continue to build their piano skills while further developing their understanding of important musical concepts.

Once their Safari journey is complete, students will have all the musical skills they need to embrace the rest of their musical adventure that lies ahead.

We look forward to journeying with you!

Please click on the FAQ categories below for more information!

What Do I Need To Know About The Safari?
Q:          What is the commitment if we join The Safari Program?
A:           Students who choose to join The Safari will embark on a year-long journey that mirrors the school year. Each level of the program consists of 36 classes – this is comprised of 34 weeks of classes and 2 recitals.


Q:          How long are The Safari Classes?
A:           The Safari classes are held weekly and are one-hour in length – with some practice time expected to be done at home every day. This small investment of time each day pays huge dividends to the budding musician. For parents who have no musical experience, this is also an enjoyable way to learn along with your child.


Q:          When can my child begin their Safari journey?
A:           Students may start, or join, The Safari at a variety of ages. Starting points and level progressions are as follows:

For a student joining The Safari at age 4-1/2 or 5
• Junior Level 1  >>  Junior Level 2  >>  Intermediate Level 2  >>  Senior Level 2  >>  Advanced Safari

For a student joining The Safari at age 5-1/2 or 6
• Intermediate Level 1  >>  Intermediate Level 2  >>  Senior Level 2  >>  Advanced Safari

For a student joining The Safari at age 7 or 8
• Senior Level 1  >>  Senior Level 2  >>  Advanced Safari

The levels noted above are the most common entry points to The Safari. That said, it is entirely possible for a student with the appropriate piano training to join a level two Safari class – at the discretion of the Studio’s Safari Guide.

Please click here for a visual map of a student’s journey through The Safari.

Please click here for Music and Play’s full music lesson progression map.


Q:          Is there parental involvement required for The Safari like in other group programs?
A:           Yes, and no. We recognize the value that parents bring to their children when they are learning anything for the first time. We also recognize that with parent’s busy schedules, and/or musical interests, it can also be a challenge to always attend class with their child. In The Safari, these needs and benefits have been carefully weighed and parental attendance is structured to, first and foremost ensure the successful music education of the students. Parents join their children on their Safari journey on a full-time basis in the early years of the program and gradually decrease their attendance in class as their children get older and gain confidence. Parent involvement in The Safari is as follows:

Parents Attend All Classes
Junior Level 1, Junior Level 2, Intermediate Level 1

Parents attend first weeks full time (# of weeks is at the discretion of the teacher based on the makeup of each class) then only attend the last 5 minutes of classes (to receive weekly updates and homework)
Senior Level 1, Intermediate Level 2

Parents only attend the last 5 minutes of classes (to receive weekly updates and homework)
Senior Level 2, Advanced Safari, Safari Grade One Group

No Parental Attendance Required
Private Lessons

Studios that deliver The Safari will ensure that classes are staffed appropriately – given the individual makeup of classes – which may include Teacher Assistants. The need for these individuals will be determined by the Studio and may be older piano students, parents or other faculty.


Q:         I am concerned that I will not be able to attend the full class with my child. How will I know what is going on and how will I be able to help them at home as I don’t have a music background?
A:           The beginning levels (Safari Junior 1 & 2 and Intermediate 1) are fully parented. In Safari Intermediate 2 and Senior 1, the first 4 weeks are parented as part of the transition to unparented classes. After those 4 weeks, and for every subsequent level, parents are required to only join their child in class for the last 5 minutes. During this time their child’s job is to show/teach their parents/caregivers the concept(s) that they worked on that day by showing them the assigned piece/s and activities. If the child is unable to do this at that time, the teacher then has the opportunity to review the information again with the parent there. In this way, teachers can ensure that the students have truly understood the concepts/expectations – which isn’t always the case currently. Finally, as is the norm at M&P, homework sheets/info will be made available each week.


Q:          If I choose to move to The Safari from another group music class, how do I know what class to choose next year?
A:           If you are a current student, please login to the parent portal for more information. If you are a new student, please contact our offices directly and we would be pleased to assist you.

Q:          I see that The Safari program only goes to Senior Level 2 and then moves to Grade 1 group classes or private lessons. What has my child achieved when they are finished Senior Level 2 and what is the best way to move forward with their music education?
A:           An Advanced Safari Level – with an all new cast of characters – is currently in development by David Steckenreiter for official introduction in the 2018/19 year. This advanced level will be open to students who complete their Senior Level 2 Safari journey, as well as older beginning students. For the upcoming 2017/18 school year however, students who have completed the equivalent of their Senior Level 2 will have the choice of either working through the interim Safari Grade 1 Group Program – or enrolling in private lessons to continue their piano education.

At the end of the day, the decision has to be about what is right for each individual student. Both options allow students to continue their music education and prepare for exams – following either a contemporary or classical route – using the books from RCM or Conservatory Canada AND they receive a medal when they complete their Grade One level.


Q:          Are there awards for the students when they complete the program?
A:           In a society where awards are commonplace, this is hard to avoid. Some music programs offer certificates and medals and, for many students, this tangible acknowledgement of their hard work and success is a significant motivator to help a student finish a program. Students who complete The Safari will indeed receive a special medal they may proudly display for years to come. For the 2017/18 year, if students are moving into what would be their final year of our previous group music program, they will receive a medal as well – as is the practice with ALL of our music students who complete Grade 1.


Q:          Will my children be able to transition from another group program and not lose any work they’ve already put in?
A:           Absolutely. The Studio’s Safari Guide will ensure that students are placed in the appropriate class and while there may be some new characters to meet and some new terminology, any formal music education they have will never be lost. An ‘A’ is still and an ‘A’ and there will still be 88-keys on the piano 😊.  The Safari enables music students to easily join the program at a variety of ages and levels INCLUDING those who will be coming from a variety of other group music programs (Yamaha, MYC, Suzuki, etc.) and instead there is lots to gain! The creator of The Safari is very familiar with other group music programs and has ensured that a smooth transition is possible, and that multiple entry points are available for all students.


Q:          My child is new to The Safari and didn’t start in Junior Level 1. Will they be behind?
A:           No. The beginning of every level of The Safari features a recap of the previous learning. Students joining the program at later levels are provided with the stories and relevant materials from past lessons to help them understand the storyline that runs through the program and to ensure they fully understand the Program’s theoretical concepts. As The Safari is a digital program, these materials are easily provided and there is no need, and no cost, to purchase any additional materials. If, during the assessment by the Studio’s Safari Guide, it is noted that additional lessons may be beneficial for the student’s progress, this option will be discussed with the parents at that time.


Q:         Will my child learn as much in The Safari as in other programs?
A:          Absolutely – and the Safari addresses the many concerns that have been articulated by parents and educators alike over the last five years. In The Safari, students will not only learn as much as other programs, but they will learn it in a more age-appropriate and musical way. As with all quality music education, the basics are still the basics but The Safari focuses more on internalizing music and the focus from day one is on rhythm, technique, listening and styles. Less time is spent on book work (and this is now in a tablet with a companion resource/activity book), and fewer pieces are used but more is done with them. Theory / history work comes directly from the pieces that are being worked on. Solfège is used, but The Safari focuses more on contemporary pieces and less on traditional folk songs (there are some used but in almost every case they have been modified to make them relate to the program) and there is more focus placed on internalizing pitches. As in all good programs scales, harmonization, triads, etc. are all there as well with a focus on age-appropriate fingerings and theory. One of the biggest differences is the clear program continuity (thanks to one singular creator) and the story links, and the focus on developing actual musicality at the earliest levels of study

The Curriculum.
Q:          What makes The Safari different than the other established programs?
A:           First, The Safari is unique in its approach and curriculum and the majority of the material in The Safari is contemporary. There are themes used from some of the ‘great’ composers, but the songs in The Safari Program are meant to appeal to the modern parent and student. All of the Level One classes are themed with a story that connects the concepts to be taught with the technical, theoretical and musical skills that the student will learn.

Like most group music programs, the important elements of music education that were developed by Kodaly, Orff and Suzuki are incorporated into this Program, as well as rhythm ensembles, pitch awareness, the development of co-ordinative independence of the hands, composition, improvisation and of course, performance.

Musical theory is an abstract concept that is not well comprehended by the brain before the age of seven or eight. The Safari approaches the teaching of this subject through association and students learn theory through the technique of pre-teaching. The concept is then made conscious and reinforced with images and themes that allow the student to grasp the basic ideas without difficult explanations.


Q:          Will my child be exposed to the great traditional composers?
A:           Yes. While their learning will not be dominated by ‘classical” music, they certainly will play some recognizable selections or simplified arrangements.


Q:          Can you guarantee me that the things I love about my old program won’t be lost?
A:           We could not ever guarantee anything like that but we are sure that you will find all sorts of new things to love. Our teachers work diligently to ensure that our students receive the best education possible. If you feel that The Safari is not the best fit for you, we absolutely encourage you to find a teacher in the city who is able to meet the needs of your child(ren).


Q:          It says the program is new, but isn’t The Safari already offered in Calgary?
A:           Yes, and no. Studio Nine in south east Calgary has been offering a few classes of the Junior 1 level of The Safari for a few years. The creator of The Safari – David Steckenreiter – used to own Studio Nine a number of years ago and encouraged the new owners to continue to offer the introductory level of the program. Mr. Steckenreiter has completed the development of the full program over the last year and Music and Play is pleased to be able to debut this ALL NEW full version of The Safari in the fall of 2017.


Q:         Can I find out more about The Safari online?
A:         Yes, please visit for more information.


Q:          Did you create the program?
A:           Given our studio’s leadership in arts education, and our reputation for offering leading programs, we have gotten this question a lot. While we would love to take credit for this new program, the answer is ‘no’. The Safari program has been created by David Steckenreiter and it is simply one of many leading curricula that we choose to offer.

Introducing Tablets Into Class.
Q:         What are the technical requirements for the tablet we will require?
A:          You are free to choose any tablet that meets your individual requirements as long as it meets the following requirements:

–   PC or MAC based tablet with a minimum 9”screen (10” is preferred)
–   A good quality screen with a good viewing angle (minimum 1280 x 800 screen resolution)
–   WiFi connectivity (note: the unit does not require data for the class)
–   Minimum 8GB Capacity (but you will likely find most have a minimum 16GB)
– Decent sound


Q:         My child is going into the Safari Grade 1 Class – do they need a tablet?
A:           Yes, although tablets will not be required as much as they will in the full Safari classes, we will be introducing their use.


Q:         Will I have to find and download a bunch of apps and stuff to make the program work?

A:           When you sign up for The Safari, you will be provided with all the materials you require to successfully complete the course. This will include, your book (delivered on USB or SD card, as well as a full list / links to required apps. While there may be some downloading via Bluetooth required, any payments (if applicable) for the required apps, etc. will be handled within your program fee.


Q:          Will tablets be sufficient to address the delivery of a music curriculum?

A:           Absolutely. The Safari enhances and improves traditional learning through the digital delivery of a significant portion of the curriculum. This environmentally-conscious delivery method not only prolongs the life of the music that the students learn but also introduces and educates them as to the value of a tablet as a necessary tool in today’s learning.
For decades, paper-based music education has been the choice of most older programs since the technology – or interest in embracing it – just hasn’t been there. First and foremost, the tablet is a delivery vehicle and is simply replacing a book. Today, the majority of music (audio and printed sheet music) is accessed digitally and families are already very accustomed to this type of technology. Realistically, comparing a book to a tablet is not really a fair comparison though. A book cannot deliver an animated character or a video or a song file, and a book cannot record a video or take a photo. We see the embracing of this technology on display all around us every day – as musicians and orchestras are converting to tablets for performance and our children need computers and tablets at school at an earlier and earlier age.  The tablet also provides access to some many other resources and musical accessories like rhythm instruments, drum kits, ear training, metronomes, just to name a few!


Q:          I applaud the use of technology, but won’t it be difficult for the students to use tablets?
A:           Kids are drawn to the technology and really, we have yet to see a student who cannot open an app after seeing it done once – or teach their parents how to do it 😊. Not only that, in the early levels, Junior Level 1 & 2 and Intermediate Level 2, parents will be in attendance for the entire year to help the students become fully proficient in their tablet skills. In addition, every level of The Safari contains a companion Activity/Workbook that students will work with alongside their tablet.


Q:          Do we need to own their own tablet?
A:           Yes, a tablet is a requirement for attending The Safari classes. Either a Mac or Windows/Android platform unit is fine and we should you require help to secure the appropriate tablet, we can assist with that as well. From our research, we have found that an investment of about $150 will provide a student with a tablet that will serve their needs for the class and for most of their other personal tablet needs for years to come. Note, if you have more than one child attending The Safari (in separate classes) there is not a need to purchase two tablets.


Q:          I am concerned about increasing the amount of screen time for my child. We attempt to limit screen time.
A:           We totally understand this concern and know that it is very much a personal family issue. ‘Screen time’ is a widely-debated issue especially given the way that we interact with, and use technology, has changed dramatically over even the last half decade. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released new guidelines in Oct 2016.  ‘For the new guidelines, the AAP identifies screen time as time spent using digital media for entertainment purposes. Other uses of media, such as online homework, don’t count as screen time.’ For healthy kids, an average day includes “school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact and sleep — which is anywhere from eight to 12 hours for kids. Whatever’s left over can be screen time.”  We do not feel that properly managed screen time will be significantly impacted by the addition of The Safari to a child’s weekly routine.