Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I'm trying an experiment. I have a couple of students who are good practicers and who both have an exceptionally good ear but are challenged with their music reading. They play music more from what their muscle memory feels like and what their ear expects to hear than what they see on the page. Both know all of their lines and spaces very well, so knowledge of notes isn't a problem. However, when one of them sees a passage in their music that contains a sequence (the pattern repeats starting on a different note, often only a step away), they simply see the shape of the figure and play it again without shifting to the new position. They also tend not to notice when a pattern repeats but has one small difference, such as ending in a skip instead of a step.
It occurred to me one day that there might be a very simple, old-fashioned way to address the problem: copywork.
I'm not asking them to copy entire pieces, or even entire lines of music. I'm just asking them to copy the notes of the offending section onto manuscript paper. I took a few minutes of a lesson to teach them how to mark notes quickly (without drawing circles and filling them in) and to space them out neatly. Both students were actually eager to write music on their own manuscript paper!
I think this will slow them down and force them to focus on the visual notation before they start to practice and end up "reading" the piece incorrectly. I'll let you know how it works! Have any of you ever dealt with this problem?
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
|Get Out Of Scales Free!|
15871, 18871, 27871, 27881, 27882, 27883, 28371, 28873, 28876, 28877, 28878, 38871, 38873, 38876, 5371, 5376, 5377, 55871, 55876, 5870, 5871, 5874, 5876, 5877, 5878, 5882, 5911, 8271, 8371, 8372, 8376, 8377, 8471, 8476, 8571, 8865, 8870, 8871, 8872, 8873, 8874, 8875, 8876, 8877, 8878, 8879
If you use Piano Maestro in your studio, your students will be happy to earn these cards!
Monday, September 8, 2014
|Photo by Wel Han Frank Lin|
Today, I let the agenda go.
We started by reading Mole Music, as recommended by Andrea at Teach Piano Today. I loaned him the book to take home. Next week, I'll use her printables to help him apply the story to his own study of music.
Then, we explored the piano. We opened up the top of my console piano, and I let him stand on the piano bench and peer in. We watched the hammers dance. We learned the names of hammers, strings, dampers, and keys. We explored what the pedals could do.
We talked about high bird sounds and low bullfrog sounds and made up a name for the middle keys. They are the Panda keys. Doesn't make any sense, but does it really have to?
We traced around his hands and learned that "King Thumb is No. 1." Then we played the worm game. The fingers are worms, and when I call out the worm numbers, they come out of their hole and rest on the keyboard cover. But, birds like to eat worms, so they have to jump back into their hole quickly before my hands (the birds) can grab them. Many giggles. He had a little trouble with fingers 3 and 4. No matter. We focused on fingers 1, 2, and 5. When his fine motor control is a little better, 3 and 4 will come easily enough.
In a few short minutes, he learned how to clap quarters and quarter rests, saying "one" for the quarters and "sh" for the rests. In no time, he could do 4 measures all by himself. Then, we made up our own song using our four-measure rhythm which I had written out on a sheet of paper. He wanted to play clusters of keys on the quarters. No matter. They were on time. His hand position was not correct. There will be time to address that later.
Forty-five minutes went by before we knew it, and I had never cracked one of his books, Yet, not a minute of that lesson was wasted, and not a minute was dry. He went home with permission to create his own music. If my measure of success was to send him home playing a piece in his book, I failed.
I don't think that is my measure of success any more.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
As a more experienced musician, I scan for all of the following before playing, and I don't even realize I'm doing it: the key signature and meter, tempo indications, repeat signs, accidentals, and repeated musical material. I form a preliminary idea of the mood of the piece based on the title, the tempo or expression indication at the beginning, and sometimes the articulation. But, students have to be taught this habit, and we teachers need to be patient with the fact that what we can do in a couple of seconds takes a student several minutes.
If I just talk through a quick score examination with a bunch of leading questions at the lesson, I've still done the work for them. It doesn't really teach them to take charge of scanning the score for themselves. It's also a problem that I tend to speed through this process in the space of about 30 seconds because I'm trying to fit so much into the lesson. Better to let them own the process and take the time to really look over the piece.
So, this year, for the entire first month, my students are going to fill out a score study sheet before each new piece. We will do the first one together in a lesson, but the others will be done at home. You can download a simple form for free below. I have a more detailed sheet available for sale as part of my Student Binder Inserts package at my Etsy store. Hope this helps you to teach your students to make it a habit to use eyes and brain first!
You can preview the worksheet below. CLICK ON THE LINK to download the sheet: Eyes and Brain Before Fingers!
Friday, August 22, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
If you didn't win, don't despair! Findin' Buried Treasure is still available in my Etsy shop along with some other piano teacher resources. Watch for more items to be added in the coming weeks!
Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway!
Monday, August 11, 2014
If you're using my new incentive program, Findin' Buried Treasure, you might enjoy checking out some of the following products and printables. Also, don't forget that International Talk Like A Pirate Day is September 19, 2014! That's a Friday, so plan to talk like a pirate all week - 9/15-9/19!
Cute muslin pirate treat bags - for loot!
First up is this great musical terms game from Making Music Fun: Pirate Quest
A game for learning musical symbols: Pirate Treasure Hunt
Here's a musical treasure hunt game by FPS Resources!
Here's a printable "Treasurer Hoarder" certificate. This is perfect for use with Findin' Buried Treasure! I wish I had found this back when I did this program! Treasurer Hoarder Certificate
Print these pirate-themed images out on sticker paper and cut them apart. They’re supposed to be rewards for potty training, but nobody has to know that!! Stickers
Make your own spyglass and use it to "take a closer look" at a troublesome passage! DIY Spyglass
Free sheet music from Making Music Fun: A Pirate I Am
Jennifer Eklund's New Horizon's Songbook has several pieces that would tie in nicely with the theme: Sailing, New Horizons, Guiding Light, Journey's End.
Pirate music at Prima: Pirate Related Music
Pirate music at Pepper: Pirate Related Music
Pirate music at MusicNotes: Pirate Related Music
Rewards and Trinkets
Pirate flags on orange slice boats floating on blue jello - just adorable!
Pirate-themed fabric can be used in lots of ways. I used some as a background on my bulletin board
Pirate-themed fabric on Etsy
Feel free to add any other pirate related ideas you find in the comments section!