Thursday, August 28, 2014

Eyes and Brain Before Fingers!

I'll bet your students are a lot like mine. When mine start a new piece, they have their hands on the keys before they've even read the title! They have no clue what the mood or tempo should be, what key the piece is in, or even how many pages there are! I need to slow them down and get them to think before they make sounds. I tell them that we should use our eyes and brain before our fingers!

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!

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