Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more devotedly, more passionately, more beautifully than ever before.”

— Anonymous

Every Wednesday brings Words of Wisdom here at the Color in my Piano blog in the form of a musical quote or joke, intended to bring inspiration or humor to the middle of your week. Have suggestions? Send an email off to admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.

Rhythm, seasonal / holiday, Teaching Piano

Christmas Rhythm Learning Moments

As I’m sure is currently the case with many of you, my students are working on Christmas pieces along with their usual assignments.  As usual, a few of them have encountered rhythmic “simplifications” in their arrangements (Away in a Manger and Go Tell it on the Mountain come to mind).  After pointing it out the difference between what they played and what is on the page, together we made the executive decision to play the rhythm as it is normally heard.  We also took a moment to discover what is the actual rhythmic notation of the tune and then marked it in the score above the staff.  For a more complete discussion of this issue, check out this Forum Q&A post regarding rhythmic simplification in arrangements.

A few of my students in particular are really thriving on these Christmas pieces!  Once again, I am reminded of the value of learning familiar tunes.  I find that it gives students an extra boost in learning their pieces, since they can depend more on their ear for pitches/rhythms rather than their eyes.  This means they will learn the pieces quickly and more accurately.  I also find that playing familiar tunes is a huge motivator for students.  They love to be able to play tunes they know!

Hurrah for Christmas music!  :)

For a listing of free Christmas music arrangements on the internet, check out this post

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks | CC 2.0

Composition, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables, Rhythm

Make Me A Rhythm! game

I was recently browsing some forums online and found a description of this game by a music educator.  It sounds like a great game to use with large groups of students — perhaps for group lessons or summer camps.  I asked the music educator if I could post about the game on my blog, and she kindly agreed.  In her own words: “You certainly have my permission to share the game. I made it up, but someone else probably has, too. We all get ideas from one another and put them together in different ways.”  I love her attitude and generosity!  We teachers have so much we can share and learn from each other.

This composing/rhythm game is appropriate for groups of about 8 or more students.  All you need are 4 pieces of paper with the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 written on them.  These sheets serve to mark the beats of the measure, spaced out on the floor.  One student is chosen as the Composer, who must select students and make them into quarter notes/half notes/whatever.  Once the measure is complete, everyone claps the rhythm and the teacher records the rhythm onto a whiteboard to save it.  A new Composer is chosen to compose the next measure.  In the end, everyone claps the entire rhythmic composition to see what it sounds like.

I haven’t tried out this game yet, but it sounds fun!  And it’s not always easy to find games that work for large groups of students.  I just might try out this game at my studio Christmas party coming up.  :)

Complete game instructions can be printed by downloading the pdf on the Printables > Games page.  I thought the game needed a more specific title, so I came up with “Make Me A Rhythm!”

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Rhythm

“Musical Hopscotch” game

About year ago, Sheryl Welles posted on her blog about a “Twister Hopscotch” game that she modified into a wonderful music game.  Basically, all you have to do is use Avery circle stickers of some kind to make the spinner into a music spinner with rhythmic note values.

Continue reading ““Musical Hopscotch” game”

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am—-My faith, my knowledge, my being……..When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups….I want to speak to their souls.”

— John Coltrane

Every Wednesday brings Words of Wisdom here at the Color in my Piano blog in the form of a musical quote or joke, intended to bring inspiration or humor to the middle of your week. Have suggestions? Send an email off to admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.

Performances, seasonal / holiday

Christmas Events

I finally started my Christmas shopping this past weekend, and this morning I sightread some Christmas duets with a piano teacher friend of mine. :) Now I’m really starting to feel in the Christmas spirit!

This December, I’m planning a studio Christmas Party for my students. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I am excited about it. My goal is to plan some music games, make some desserts with cheese and crackers, and hold an informal recital portion too. Each student will play one or two Christmas pieces for each other. I’m hoping to include some piano duets too, and I will probably play a Christmas arrangement myself at the end. Another idea I had was to have each student research the history of their carol and verbally introduce their piece.

I’m so excited for the Christmas season!

Photo Credit: allison.hare | CC 2.0

Technology

Google+ Update

Have any of you been hanging out on Google+ (pronounced “Google plus”) much lately?  (If you aren’t familiar with what Google+ is, check out this post on social networking.)  Google+ hasn’t risen in popularity as quickly as I had hoped.  The features, layout, and user-friendliness of Google+ is so much better than Facebook (IMO).  And yet, everyone seems to still be hanging out on Facebook.

Fortunately, Google+ just announced this week that anyone can create a Google+ page for their business/organization.  Maybe this will help make Google+ a thriving place to be!  I’ve created a page for Color In My Piano which I’d love to have you all join (click here).  Wendy Stevens has also created a page for her ComposeCreate blog, which you can view by clicking here.  If you haven’t added me to your circles yet, I’d love to connect with you.  My profile page is here.

Google+ pages offer a variety of features, including “Hangouts” that allow individuals to group chat (like Skype).  Someday, I’d love to organize LIVE round-table discussions about various piano teaching topics!  Wouldn’t that be fun?!

So, head on over to Google+.  We need more action over there!

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables, seasonal / holiday, Teaching Piano

Just Added: Musical Leaves Matchup game

This is a short music game I created as a way to reinforce the names of the piano keys with young beginners.  It only takes a few minutes to play, but my students seemed to enjoy it.  It gives them a break from the usual drill I do, where I have them find 3 different C’s on the piano, etc.  :)

Here’s how it works:

You’ll need to buy fabric or foam leaves and mark each with a letter from the musical alphabet using a marker or felt tip pen.  The student is instructed to match each leaf to it’s spot on the tree, until the whole tree is filled.  The game only takes a few minutes, so it’s a great game to do on the piano bench at the beginning or end of a piano lesson.

Any leftover fabric leaves can be used to decorate your Thanksgiving day table in a few weeks.  :)

To Download: go to the Printables > Games page and scroll down to “Musical Leaves Matchup game.”

improving as a teacher, Professional Development, Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Forum Q&A: Lesson Planning for Private Lessons

It’s been a while since we had a Forum Q&A!  Sometimes I run out of ideas for discussion topics, so if you ever have a question you’d like to see addressed here to get other teachers’ input, please let me know.  :)

Last time, we discussed the role of the parent in private lessons.  We received some well-thought responses, so thanks for that!  Click here to read them, and remember, it’s never too late to add your thoughts.

Here’s today’s discussion topic: Lesson planning!  Here’s a few questions to get you thinking:

Do you create lesson plans for the private piano lessons you teach?  Why or why not?  If you do create lesson plans, what is your process?  How much time do you spend lesson planning each week?  Is your method feasible for even if you full studio of say, 20+ students? 

Although I’ve been teaching privately for over 6 years now, I still don’t feel I have a good system for lesson planning.  Fortunately, I have a pretty good memory for knowing where in their books my students are at any given time.  However, I have a feeling that eventually if I get over 20 students to keep track of, this would be become much more difficult.  I need to keep better records so I can be more effective in preparing to introduce new concepts to my students before the method book does!  I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on this topic.  :)

Photo Credit: Bright Meadow | CC 2.0

Early Childhood Music, improving as a teacher, Professional Development, Teaching Piano

9 Tips for Teaching Piano To Young Ages

As piano teachers, we wear many hats.  School teachers often teach only one age group, or a few age groups.  Piano teachers are usually expected to be able to teach from age 5 to 95!  But as we all know, teaching a 5-year-old is much different from teaching a 15-year-old, or a 55-year-old.  :)

In recently thinking about this challenge of being able to effectively teach various age levels and maturities, I decided to make a list of some of the things I’ve learned over the past few years about teaching young ages — I’m thinking, ages 6 and under.  I learned some of these things from an Early Childhood Music course I took during grad school and various piano pedagogy courses — but I learned many of these things purely from experience.  Here goes:

  1. Don’t ask questions that you don’t really want answers to.  Examples: “Did you like that?” or “Do you want to try it on your own now?”  Sometimes if given the option to opt out of something, children will say “no” simply because you’ve given them a choice.  :)  It’s better to make statements.
  2. Give them time to think.  When you ask a question, wait for them to process and compose a response.  Sometimes we ask questions and then blow right on without getting an answer.  Young children need this think time.  If you don’t really want to wait for an answer, then don’t ask the question in the first place.  Continue reading “9 Tips for Teaching Piano To Young Ages”