You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. — Clay P. Bedford

The Kelly Kirby Program

Laying the Foundation for Piano since 1935

A special approach to music for children 4 to 8 years old that provides a complete foundation for any music study a child may wish to pursue.

Kelly Kirby’s 80 year history speaks for itself! With its roots in Toronto at the Royal Conservatory of Music, this introductory piano program has formed the foundation of music studies for thousands of children throughout Canada and North America since 1935. Taught by a large network of trained teachers, your child will love this interactive, fun and unique approach to learning the piano. The program builds strong music foundations that enable graduates to continue on with the piano or branch off into another instrument with ease.

The Kelly Kirby Method

The Kelly Kirby Program is a special approach to music, taught through the piano, that provides a complete foundation for any type of music study or other instrument that a child may wish to later pursue. This method is compatible with the young child’s mentality and the material is suited to the child’s needs, laying a complete foundation for future study. (For more detailed information on the method itself, see “The Kelly Kirby Difference” below.

Mrs. Kirby originally intended that the program be taught to small groups of children, in a class format. However, lifestyle changes over the past 70 years have resulted in most teachers using the program in a one-on-one setting, in the private music studio. With today’s current busy lifestyles and frequent travel by families throughout the year, it is difficult to maintain a cohesive and successful program of study in the group setting. Thus most teachers find the private music lesson to be the most successful.

The Kelly Kirby Difference

The program was built psychologically on the kindergarten method of teaching… that is, proceeding from the ‘known’ to the ‘unknown’, and from the ‘thing’ to its ‘sign’. The Kelly Kirby material is presented in a series of four piano books unique in their presentation of ear training, sight reading, technique and theory. The completed course provides a thorough development in ear training and note reading (covering the complete range of the musical staff), time and note values, duple, triple and quadruple rhythm, basic musical signs, scale and chord formation in three major keys (introduction of sharps and flats), and a story about the lives of four major composers. The child’s interest is stimulated as the “story of a musical family” unfolds through the four book presentation. Children excitedly look forward to finding out about the next new ‘family member’, the sound that they make and the sign that tells them to play that sound! Through a variety of activities, including colouring, cutting and gluing, children develop their fine motor skills as they progress in a natural and constructive way through the program. The lesson is active, engaging and builds on their knowledge of the known (for example, their family) to the unknown (the musical family).

Today’s parents realize the benefits of early music training. Music students learn more than how to play their instruments. Kelly Kirby satisfies the desire of the young child who wants to ‘play’ the piano because it is a ‘performance’ training in which ear training, sight reading and piano playing are taught from the very first lesson.

Graduation Certificates are available to children who complete the program with a qualified Kelly Kirby Teacher. As students move out of the program and on into the RCM Examination program, their achievements in examinations (from Preparatory A level to ARCT level) can be rewarded with scholarships generously distributed annually through Kelly Kirby Publications, provided that they continue their studies with a trained Kelly Kirby teacher and Network Platinum Member.

As valuable and important as any research is, it cannot explain or quantify the joy and fulfillment music brings to our lives and the lives of children!

Program Materials


There are four books unique in their presentation of ear training, sight reading, technique and theory. The Kelly Kirby program offers the beginning student a proper balance between the eye and the ear which is so vital to progress and success. A Kelly Kirby graduate can move to another teacher, or even another instrument, confident that a proper foundation has been provided.


The Kelly Kirby Supplementary Workbook provides a multitude of original compositions, traditional tunes, additional pictures, enhanced composer stories, and simple and fun theory exercises to support all of the teaching concepts introduced in the entire set of four lesson books. Printed in full colour, this book gives students a much stronger grounding in the fundamentals of the Kelly Kirby music program.


Students are provided flashcards that complement the four Lesson Books. The cards provide a way of reviewing each new concept as it is learned and are great for parents to use as reinforcement at home or while on vacation. The answers on the reverse side of the cards make it easy for parents with no musical training to review them with their children, and if the cards are given to the students only as the concepts are introduced, the same eager anticipation that the teacher sees as they return to the studio eagerly awaiting the new pages in their Lesson Book will also be seen as they await their ‘new cards’. The cards come in a convenient, resealable, clear plastic bag and attractively match the books and Supplementary Workbook.


Kelly Kirby

Royal Conservatory of Music Certified Teacher

Member of CFMTA