Samantha Coates is a professional pianist and teacher with over 25 years experience in both private and group tuition. She is the author and publisher of BlitzBooks, the music education series that has captured the imagination of students across Australia and transformed the teaching of music theory, sight reading and general knowledge.
Samantha attended the Conservatorium High School in Sydney before completing her Bachelor of Music degree at the NSW Conservatorium, majoring in piano performance. She has had extensive experience as a solo performer and accompanist, and also enjoys singing in a cappella ensembles. She continues to teach at Australian Music Schools where she specialises in theory and musicianship classes.
In the 10 years since the first Blitz workbook was published, Samantha has revolutionised theory teaching and has become a sought-after lecturer and presenter on a wide range of pedagogical topics, including sight reading, aural and exam preparation.
In 2007 she was a State finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
Samantha’s ongoing dedication to making music education as fun as possible has seen her find many ways to engage students’ interest and enthusiasm. Her aim is to make music more accessible to all instrumentalists through a holistic approach to the teaching of music theory, sight reading, aural and general knowledge.
In her spare time Samantha enjoys organising professional development seminars for teachers, staring at the ocean, going for long walks, and camping with her husband and two lovely children.
Abe Cytrynowski has been involved in music education since his early days as Music Director at various secondary schools through the 1970s. Since that time, Abe has been teaching piano privately, writing for music journals, examining piano and creating educational resources for piano teachers and students.
His first teaching aid to be sold through major music retailers was The Pianoforte Report Pad in 1983 which facilitated the writing of detailed student reports by piano teachers. In the same year, Abe co-founded a music association for private music teachers and their students called Wesmus, which provided both professional and social interaction for many private music teachers and their students at that time.
Abe was invited to join the ANZCA Board of Directors in 1983 – a position which he held for the next 6 years. During this time he edited the ANZCA journal Stretto and compiled the first ANZCA modern piano syllabus. This also involved designing a new format for the syllabus which is still in use today – the traditional Lists being divided into various modern genres, such as Pop & Rock, Blues, Ragtime, Latin. Jazz. etc. Abe is still very much involved with ANZCA, especially in his role as piano examiner. For some years Abe also examined and taught piano at the Tertiary level – for the Australian Catholic University, Mercy Campus, a position that he found both stimulating and rewarding.
Writing about music has always been one of Abe’s passions. In 1990, he started contributing to The Australian Music Teacher journal and for the next 17 years regularly contributed articles on a wide variety of topics, from the history of the piano hammer to the birth of Rock and Roll!
It is, however, in the area of piano technique – the playing and effective teaching of scales and arpeggios, that Abe specialises. Examining piano and teaching piano generally, brought home to Abe the often unsatisfactory level of Technical Work amongst students. He consequently spent many years creating and gathering together a range of practice methods that would breathe clarity, evenness and speed into scale playing. Abe’s teaching aid, The Scalecard System, was the culmination of all this preparatory work. The Scalecard System has appeared in retail outlets throughout Australia from 2002, and is regarded as a major innovation in scale learning and revision, for both teachers and students. As part of Abe’s mission to “spread the word” about scales, he has conducted a series of workshops in Victoria and NSW over the last decade, where he has presented novel and effective ways for students to learn, reinforce and revise their scales.
It was in fact through his work on scales that Abe met Samantha Coates. It became obvious to both Abe & Samantha that they shared similar views on many issues regarding music education, and thus began a happy and fruitful collaboration which led to the co-authorship of the music student’s companion, How to Blitz General Knowledge in 2008. Abe has joined Samantha on many workshop tours throughout Australia where he has presented masterclasses on scales and arpeggios as well as the General Knowledge requirements for examinations. It was as a result of feedback from these workshops that both Samantha and Abe decided to develop an app. for technical work that would cover all instruments and all syllabi within Australia and overseas.
The road ahead is open-ended and still rather exciting for Abe. Apart from his ongoing work in the area of music education, Abe looks forward to continuing his adventures in jazz improvisation, accompanying singers, and developing more expertise in his hobby of ceramic repairs – a far cry from teaching piano one would think, although the similarities are quite striking, on closer reflection!
BlitzBooks is the series by Samantha Coates that has revolutionised music theory teaching. Students are no longer bored with their theory books! Since January 2001, music students have been able to ENJOY their theory education with fun, user-friendly texts. The conversational, easy-to-use format has made BlitzBooks incredibly popular with students as well as making teachers’ lives easier.
The BlitzBooks® series covers the AMEB syllabus for Grades 1 to 5 in both Theory and Musicianship as well as offering fantastic publications in the areas of beginner music theory, sight reading (piano) and general knowledge (any instrument).
Each Theory/Musicianship workbook is complemented by a comprehensive Teacher Guide and separateAnswer Book, a feature no other theory series offers. There are many additional music resources on the BlitzBooks website, as well as constant updates relating to revisions and changes to the AMEB syllabus.
BlitzBooks® remains on the cutting edge of music theory education, making this series the number one choice for students and teachers in Australia and overseas.
The BlitzBooks titles are available from all good print music retailers.