I am an immigrant from the former USSR (Ukraine). When I was 33, I came in the USA with $500 in my pocket and no English or business skills.
Before arriving, I had never driven a car, and while was waiting on my work permit I volunteered at a daycare center to learn the language and the psychology of toddlers.
I came in the USA with the dream of developing a digital, interactive tool for helping people learn to read music.
With this remarkable event, my journey of searching began. I wanted to find out why we fail most children in music education.
Since I had been able to experience two completely polar learning experiences, I wanted to understand why some students become “stars,” while others do not learn anything in music at all.
After all, in public schools, for example, children know the letters and can read texts regardless of their "talent," but in music, the gap between those who can and those who cannot is huge.
Music for me became like a “third world” country, where we have very rich and very poor students with no “middle class.”
I had to graduate from a music college and receive my master’s of arts to be able to study the problem more profoundly.
Both groups had one thing in common. They were not able to truly see music notation. They stared at keys and notes as we stare at the shelves of spices in a grocery store. Finally, those with music talent, opened their “third eye” and started reading music using their inborn music ear. Sadly, the rest of the students fell off the train of music literacy.
Near the end of the 1980’s, I purchased my first video game: a black and white TV station ping-pong game. The idea that training music should be interactive and visual was born right there! It struck me that learning to play piano and read music is spatial and requires more skills including motor skills and even body awareness.
Piano students are like pilots and need a “simulator” to help them to grasp all these “buttons” at once! It was no doubt to me that technology would be the most effective way to combat music “blindness” of kids and help them develop the eye-sight needed for music notation.
In Ukraine, I had been making $20 a month. There was no way for me to save enough money to buy a computer. That is exactly why I set the goal to immigrate to the USA and develop the technology component of my new approach of teaching music and piano.
When I came in the US, I was prepared to start with any job to sustain myself, but Providence again favored me: I always ended up with jobs connected with children, music and education. In fact, right after receiving my work permit I opened my first small business company called “Little Mozart.” I traveled from school to school with a couple of keyboards and gave group music lessons. On top of that, I taught semi-private and private lessons in homes.
Some daycare-center owners were very serious about music education for the kids -- some not. I noticed that the children facilities with owners who cared about music education had more educational tools in general.
Many daycare and private school directors shared the belief with me that music makes people smarter, better, more compassionate, more creative and united.
Music literacy helps kids to stay focused, develop their attention span, be on top of many things and treat life like a successful project. The importance of music training grows day by day especially with the growth of Internet communication. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest - you name it - are mostly visual social sites. An over-abundance of visual information is destructive. Music lessons in such a situation are a salvation.
In 1999 I read about the “Mozart effect.” It was all over the news! A physicist, Gordon Shaw, from Irvine, California, discovered that students have better scores on tests after listening Mozart. I immediately traveled to California and met with the scientist. Gordon was working on his renowned book Keeping Mozart in MIND. He was about to reveal a new discovery: piano lessons develop kids' mind.
After giving a group of 2nd grade students piano lessons for a year and other groups computer and choir, this scientist found out that “piano kids” have better scores on math and science tests.
Getting to know this great scientist and his work helped me understand that I was on the right path, and whatever happened I should continue my work on building new system of teaching music.
Life in America helped me expand my horizons, learning not only a new language, but also a new way of thinking. This country gave me more opportunities to develop my program. In the early 2000s, I was able to start working on software for my training course. I also filed for a patent.
Testing the computer version of my system exceeded all expectations. Children of any age, even two-year-olds, found joy began to read the notes and develop fine motor skills, coordination, piano skills. Learning to play the piano was a pleasure. It was like a fairy tale! The kids were so amazing that they got on the news and a talk show. The most important part for me was that ALL students succeed - not just prodigies.
We are all musically inclined. Initially it was just a hypothesis. Now I know it for sure.
The system that I developed received a name “Soft Way to Mozart.” I discovered that in the 18th century a glitch happened with music literacy, when the music notation became extremely user unfriendly. Instead of fixing this glitch and re-thinking the way of teaching music, humanity went after prodigies. Wonder children like Mozart became the goal of music education.
You know, watching the media chasing another Mozart made me very sad, because it is alienating normal kids from learning music. Why bother if you are not a Mozart? Prodigies are also not winners in such a situation: they lose educated listeners, who don't care any longer.
I call on everyone back in Mozart’s time to fix a little misconception and revive classical music for all kids. When they learn how to sight-read and move their fingers, the whole new world of sounds opens to them. They won't necessarily be piano competition winners, but their life will be so much better and more meaningful!
Today I have created almost everything that was in my plans when I was 15. My company's name is Music Vision International, because we literally help people see music score as they have never seen them before. We teach students, parents and teachers remotely how to learn and to teach using our digital tools. We teach in English, Russian (of course!), Spanish, German, French and Kazakh.
My invention was called the “missing visual link in music education” by Yuri Rozum, a renowned Russian pianist. My first theses were published by a famous Moscow conservatory. I am currently writing scientific papers with Herzen University and St Petersburg Conservatory. My vocational teaching course is provided through the University of Herzen (Russia)
We have many teachers here, in the USA that have received my personal training and now teach students using the “Soft Way to Mozart” approach. Sunny Abarbanel from Fresno, CA, for example, has already used the method in her piano studio for 15 years! I am very proud of public schools that use my method in piano labs. Such schools are mostly in California for some reason.
What makes this invention different and unique? We have adjusted music notation to the eyes of each learner and developed formats for reading music that gradually becomes more challenging. The analogy of it in reading books: from large print with pictures to novels. We have developed similar formats with interaction. Now the music score is not just adjustable, but also communicative.
After receiving a US patent and experiencing a lot of success with our students (we have piano competition winners in Ukraine, Israel and Spain), I hope to bring this tool to as many schools, daycare centers and homes as possible. We have also had amazing success teaching kids with special needs! Elderly people can restore fine motor skills and coordination with this tool. There is so much we can do for every individual!
The goal of learning music should not be to stick out from the crowd. Music is a loving tool for all of us to have a happier, more meaningful life and to be more creative and compassionate at the same time. I think today is the best time to reboot true music literacy everywhere. We will all benefit from that!
Music Map. The Grand Staff is the Perfectly Symmetrical System. Every music textbook should start with this picture.
Music Notes and Keys. Do you see bold and obvious visual connection between Grand Staff and piano keys? This is the best way for you to learn and teach piano, because it is the most visual!
Text has to fit. When you read or teach how to read, you use different text formats for readers. We created the same in music: the text formats from ABC, elementary level to traditional.
Your eyes feel better with one line at a time. Therefore, all written languages on Earth are linear. You read from left to right, from right to left or from top to bottom, line by line. In music notation each line and each space is an independent track of information. With Hiner Method you will be able to train your eyes to read all lines using our gradual transformations.
Music 'spell check'. Music notes have names, placements on Grand Staff and duration. You will be able to understand everything intuitively with our animated characters.
Interactivity. You/your student 1 on 1 communication with our music text will save you tons of time, effort and funds. We guarantee 100% results to any teacher or learner.
8 year old Katarina (Israel) started learning piano when she was 3 year old with Soft Mozart Academy curriculum. Her mom is a pianist and Certified Soft Mozart teacher. On this video you will see Kataina's beginning in learning to play piano and the current stage of her music development.
‘Soft Way to Mozart’ is a new, patented method of teaching music and piano described in the book 'You CAN be a musician: A Defence of Music'. It was developed by a musicologist and a music educator Hellene Hiner for teachers and parents.
Hiner’s method uses technology aspect for the most effective results with students of any age and aptitudes. The method has been tested in a variety of music studios and public schools as well as in home setting in over 60 countries. It has proven to be the most effective in getting musical education and learning to play piano.
If you are a music or piano teacher, you will be able to significantly expand your business, increase the amount of your students, and effectiveness of your work. You will be able to teach students as young as 24 month. You will also be able to succesfully teach children with special needs. Your prodigies will musically advance in a much shorter time.
If you are a homeschooling or traditional parent, this method will help you organize music classes with your children between the ages of 24 months and 5 years old. Although initially intended only for students, our program unexpectedly sparked parents' interest who expressed desire to study piano along with their children. Today, many households enjoy family recitals where both children and parents perform for their family and friends.
If you are unable to arrange or afford private piano lessons, this method will help your child receive solid music education at home with the aid of our detailed lesson plans and learning materials. If you are able to hire a teacher, he/she can use our method in conjunction with traditional classical approach.
Sophiyka (Belarus) is taking piano lessons with the Soft Mozart certified piano teacher. On this video we showed her progress in 1,5 years of study.
Our graduates can later apply the music skills they acquired through Hiner method in other academic cources as well as in their daily lives.
With the help of Hiner method, teachers and parents will be able to learn and improve ytheir teaching skills in the following subjects:
- Piano sight-reading
- Piano performance
- Solfeggio (sight-singing, ear training, music dictations)
- Harmony (ability to play by chords, to pick up chords for any melody, transposing)
- Music theory
- Music appreciation
- Music history
Alexandra (USA) is receiving her music education with her mom, Soft Mozart certified teacher. On this video 2-year-old Alexandra enjoys the Hayden Surprise Symphony after sight-reading the simplified version of the main theme of the masterpiece and hearing it in Theory Theater Puppet Video.
Hiner method is aimed not only for learning music, but also for creating, developing, and improving the following essential skills from scratch:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Dual hands coordination
- Fine motor skills development (from creating fingers' awareness to fingers' management)
- Skills to focus on the music score without looking on piano keys
- Attention span
- Memory development
- Speech development
- Abstract and creative thinking development
Hiner method pays a great deal of attention to the social aspect of music education. We created a unique online community and school, where every member can receive help and support in his/her teaching or learning needs. We provide heavy lifting for keeping your students and children motivated in receiving their music education and improving their piano skills.
Liliana started her piano journey with Soft Mozart Academy in the winter of 2012. She is on the full scholarship for most of the time and now in the 4th Level of Hellene Hiner's school. She played simiplified version of the Beethoven's master piece in 2013. The original version of the piece was performed at the Winter online recital 'Butterfly Ball' in 2016. The combination of the both performances shows the progress in student's music development.
Our hard-working teachers, parents, and students receive scholarship discounts, certificates, and gifts personally from the method creator - Hellene Hiner.
Uniqueness of the method
Before Hiner method came to existence the most of other approaches in teaching piano tried to accommodate student’s eye-sight to rigid music notation. In contrary, Hiner accommodated traditional music notation to fit the visual needs of young beginners.
Madina Sankibayeva, Soft Mozart certified teacher in her classroom (Astana, Kazakhstan)
We use the similar approach when teaching children to read books. In order to train beginners eyes to read texts we use ABC with pictures, pictures books, and chapter books formats. Gradually we increase the amount of lines on the pages and decrease the art and the font size. Using the same analogy, Hiner created different text formats for reading music from elementary to traditional.
The ability to adjust music texts to the needs of various students greatly enhanced professional experience of music and piano teachers in their daily teaching routines. Hiner approach also made it possible to teach applicable music essentials at home setting through active hands-on learning.
Learning music for beginners of any age requires THREE basic skills:
|Method||Key/Pitch||Placement on Grand Staff||Duration value||Real time interaction||Curriculum|
|Hiner Method||Self-explained||Self-explained||Self-explained||YES||Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced|
|'Traditional'||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||NONE:||Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced|
|Suzuki||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||NONE:||Beginning|
|Yamaha||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||NONE||Beginning|
|Method books (Fiber, Alfred, Thompson, Hal Leonard etc||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||NONE||Beginning, Intermediate|
|Playground sessions||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||YES||Beginning|
|Piano Wizard||Self-explained||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||YES||Beginning|
|Joytunes||Self-explained||Self-explained||Teacher intensive||YES||Pre-beginning stage|
|Casio lighted keys||Self-explained||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||NONE:||Pre-beginning stage|
|Color coded piano methods||Self-explained||Teacher intensive||Teacher intensive||NONE:||Pre-beginning stage|
Teacher intensive mark: if a student can't instantly locate a key, a music note and needs assistance for how long to press the key, .
Self-explained: if a student as young as 2 can locate a key, note and manage their duration
Curriculum mark: how far any method commited to take a student from scratch. We consider Internediate and Advance levels as equal or better for higher education.
Contact us, if you have any question by filling the form below
From General to Specific Structure in Music Education
Don’t miss the forest for the trees.
There are general and specific features that we should consider when teaching any subject.
General features are the foundation that form the entire structure of any subject. The alphabet in reading, the multiplication table in math, the globe in geography, the table of chemical elements in chemistry are examples of the general systems that unite more specific elements of each subject: letters, numbers, continents or chemical elements.
In music education, general and specific are mixed. Some essential pieces of the puzzle are simply lost. To avoid a further decline in music literacy and appreciation, we must completely reconstruct the system of music education.
The following general features are fundamental for creating a whole system for music literacy:
The keys are the lines and spaces, and the lines and spaces are the keys. They are a whole.
To learn the keys and lines and spaces separately is more specific.
Octaves in music notation (he piano’s geography) are subtitles. They have to follow the introduction to the entire unit.II. Pitch and placement on the Grand Staff are General - Timbres are specific.
All music sounds have concrete pitch and concrete placement on the Grand Staff.
Pitch and placement generally unite sounds regardless of their timbre.
On the other hand, the timbres of music sounds are specific for each group of instruments and have no relevance to the musical grammar.
Therefore, we have to start music lessons with piano keys and the Grand Staff to first present the music system as a whole.
Treble and Bass clefs are NOT two separate systems, but rather two parts of one system that mirror each other.
With this idea in mind, it makes more sense to count the lines of Treble and Bass from Middle C, which acts like the 0 on a thermometer--with degrees going higher (to the right) and lower (to the left).
Based on this fact, we have to count the lines of the Bass Clef not from the bottom up, but from up to bottom.
If your music textbook says otherwise, update this information.
The Grand Staff is the general system of music literacy. We have to present it as a whole from the very beginning to avoid any confusion in the future.
Learning different clefs for different instruments is more specific. They can be introduced later after first understanding the major concept.
IV. The duration of music notes is not a static form – it is a timing process.
The general feature of the process is that every sound has a beginning, a development and an end.
In this regard, the graphic representation of each note’s duration is a more specific element.
Only interactive computer technology is capable of adequately communicating the beginning, the development and the end of the physical music sound in real time.
For example, the touch of a key and a sound can be presented as an animated flower (for the beginning and the development) and a butterfly (the end that marks the necessity to move on)
Here is an illustration:
A sound’s beginning
V. The time as a thin moment of line of events.
One single line generally presents the moment of real sounding. It unites all sounds with no regard to their beginning, development or ending stage. Such a line also unites all common elements of music -- the pitch, the lines and spaces (notes) and the keys.
Conclusion: the whole system of all music elements that received the name "Soft Way to Mozart" combines different forms of spatial expression of music into a single whole and in fact is an essential component for music education worldwide.
“Soft Way to Mozart” is a general system upon which music education should be based.
Moscow State Conservatory: Hellene Hiner 'Computer Way to Mozart'. Article is published in the book 'How to Teach Solfeggio in the XXI century. PDF of the English translation
The Gnessin State Musical College and Gnessin Russian Academy of Music: Recommendation letter of Yuri Rozum (1, 2) – People’s Artist of Russian Federation and Dagestan, laureate of international competitions, soloist of the Moscow State Philharmonic society, academician of Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, professor and head of the special piano department of The Gnessin State Musical College, President of Yuri Rozum International Charitable Foundation. PDF of the English translation
1. About the value of mathematical methods in the study of music and professional training of musicians. Written with M.Zalivadny and Irina Gorbunova (Russian language) Science Index
2. Interactive network technologies for training music in School of digital century. The program 'Soft Way to Mozart' Written with Irina Gorbunova Science Index
3. Musical-computer technologies as an information-translation system at school of the digital century. Written with M.Zalivadny and Irina Gorbunova Science Index
Michael Zalivadny is the N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory's Senior Researcher
Irina Gorbunova, Russian scientist, chief researcher and specialist in the educational direction "Musical-Computer Technologies", organizer and head of the Teaching-Methodical Laboratory of Music and Computer Technologies of the Russian State Pedagogical University. AI Herzen, the leading Russian expert in the field of application of music and computer technologies in the system of primary, secondary and higher education, chairman and jury member of several International, All-Russian and regional competitions in the field of electronic music, as well as the creation and practical use in the educational process various training programs and music and computer technologies, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, Professor, Honored Worker of Higher Professional Education of the Russian Federation.
4. Inclusive music education: methodical recommendations for the "Soft Way to Mozart" system for special needs children. PDF of the document in Russian
5. The main characteristics of attention span and effective ways of its development in children (Method of teaching music "Soft Way to Mozart"). PDF of the document in Russian
6. Motivation as an important factor in the successful learning of music by example organization of digital academic concerts PDF of the document in Russian
7. Respect for the student and "gentle training" as the main principles
teaching music on the program "Soft Mozart" PDF of the document in Russian
Spain Accion Piano
Citizen K (Spain) about Soft Mozart in Accion Piano School
Article about a pianist, organist and piano teacher Valeri Rubacha
November 20, 2002 Music director for local school debuts new software
Show 'Soft Mozart' In Kemerovo region
The Mayor of Kemerovo Region (Siberia, Russia) Marat Kallimulin with Hellene Hiner's Address Letter.
The Mayor of Kemerovo Region is trying the software before the show starts.
April 20, 2016 Soft Mozart Piano Games at McDonald Children Festival
Aug 22, 2005 How Traditional Piano Lessons Cripple Children
Best Scientifically Proved Piano System
Only with the Hiner method will you be able to measure your learning results and understand how your skills are built. Hiner's finding and research papers are published by the most notable and significant journals covered by Science Citation Index. “Science begins as soon as we can measure,” D.Mendeleev once stated. “Soft Way to Mozart” is the only program in the world that measures every step of your development and gives you precise figures about your or your child's skill development.
The software for the method was created recently, only in 2002, and the first scientific works appeared in 2006. Despite the very significant results in music education, the abundance of laureates of piano competitions, and the breakthrough in teaching children of any age from 24 months, the music industry does not try to let the general public know about this method. The main reason for this reluctance is the unwillingness to change old, obsolete methods, in which funds and efforts have already been invested for many years.
All the written languages of the world are linear. This is due to the peculiarity of the structure of our eyes. That is why when teaching reading, we adapt the text to the vision of beginners. We start with a large font, a limited number of lines and lots of pictures. Then we gradually add lines of text, reducing the size of the font and the number of graphics. However, all existing methods of teaching music ignore this practice and, instead, try to adapt the vision of beginners to an inflexible musical text. Those who do not do this usually avoid teaching musical literacy to beginners at all. Even the very enlarged 5, and especially the 10 lines of the Grand Staff, are in fact 10-20 tracks of information, which the unprepared sight is unable to grasp at once. Setting such an impossible task for a young student may cause a sense of inadequacy or confusion and can deeply affect a child's self-esteem and feeling of self-worth. It can also permanently deprive children of their self-confidence. Read more.
1. If the teacher speaks a lot and plays a lot while the beginner basically passively listens.
2. If a beginner is taught to play first, and only then to read the music notation.
3. If the piano geography is taught separately from the music notation.
4. If you are forced to invest in expensive equipment and to sign a contract, obliging you not to leave any time you want.
5. If your lessons are too teacher intensive.
You don’t have to pay to learn how to look at music lessons! This “tradition” is beneficial for the music industry, but not for you! Music notation appeared 1000 years ago. It was visual. This was the groundbreaking tradition of music education. Everyone was able to read a musical text at that time. Thanks to this ability, we managed to advance music to create the most beautiful masterpieces. However, the text expanded from a single-line 1000 years ago into multi-linear notation and became user unfriendly to beginners’ eyes. Instead of creating gradual changes of notation from elementary music to the full grand staff, the music industry offered many methods that show ways to interpret the rigid, full notation to the untrained eye-sight of beginners. Music teachers that call themselves “traditional” follow the “tradition” of middle people that are hired to explain music literacy to beginners.
The Hiner method is based on scientific discoveries and should belong to all people as part of our global achievements. However, despite the fact that the method is not objected to by any university in the world and was approved by the ministries of Russia, Spain, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, it hasn't become part of the educational system in this country. The highly effective results that the method delivers require the upgrade of learning standards everywhere. This affects the interests of supporters of long and expensive training and also requires courage and the desire to bring changes to the bureaucrats, as well as people in power. Parents are the biggest driving force behind this method. Hellene Hiner supports and develops the method with the help of her programmer department. The dissemination of information about this breakthrough and the involvement of an increasing number of subscribers can change the state of things.
1. Read the book "You CAN be a musician."
2. Share the pages of this book where possible in social networks.
3. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.
4. Like our facebook page and share the information.
5. Become a member of our community here.
6. Tell your music / piano teacher about this breakthrough. Don't get discouraged, if you hear negative feedback. It is in your interest to receive the most effective music education. Your teacher already has one!
7. Ask the school administration to include the “Soft Mozart” system in the curriculum. Insist on doing so! The interest of your child should come first.
8. Buy the access to our monthly, annual or 36-month subscription. Start learning with us and share your progress with your community. Explain to everyone about the breakthrough and make changes in the place you live.