Music History

New Composer Lapbooks: Chopin & Haydn

Two brand new composer lapbooks have just been added to the ColorInMyPiano shop!

Meet Chopin!

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Studying Chopin was the perfect opportunity to discuss various types of character pieces and listen to a variety of Chopin’s wonderful oeuvre for piano.  We also talked a bit about Chopin’s background as a Polish composer and his life in Paris, contributing as a musician during salon performances.

And here’s Haydn:

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When studying Haydn, my homeschool students learned about the popular music forms of the Classical Era (sonata, symphony, string quartet, concerto) and discussed the various places Haydn was employed as Kapellmeister (the Esterhazy palace, in particular).  My students loved hearing about Haydn’s poor and lowly childhood and how his hard work and determination enabled him to become a great composer!  I’m definitely going to use Haydn for the Classical composer for my summer camp this year.

You can view a full list of all the composer lapbooks now available here.

In case you are curious about what is next, I am excited to be currently working on a woman composer.  :)  After that, I plan to choose another Baroque composer.

Rhythm, Technology

Making Music Worksheets Using Rhythm Fonts

A frequent question I receive from blog readers is about what method/software do I use to make music worksheets.  Since discovering music fonts (and publishing my blog post on music fonts last Spring), I have been using music fonts more and more for my printables and using Finale less and less.  Finale is great and totally necessary for printing compositions and arrangements, but it’s not quite as convenient for making music worksheets.

To help answer some of those questions about how to get started using music fonts for creating music worksheets, I decided to create a quick video showing the process for creating a rhythm worksheet using my two favorite music fonts: MusiSync and Rhythms.  These two fonts are so simple to use, you might not even need a character map (as described in the full post about music fonts).  Before getting started, you will need to download and then install both of these fonts onto your computer.  You will also need the program Microsoft Publisher (part of the Microsoft Office suite), or a similar program.

It’s my first try doing a video tutorial.  Let me know what you think.  :)

Update: Here is a follow-up video that talks about using two other fonts, that will allow you to create melodic examples in your worksheets.  And here is one more video tutorial, showing another option for making worksheets: using png image files of various music symbols.

Giveaways, Reviews, Technology

Review & Giveaway: Princess Piano app

iTunesConnectPrincess Piano is an iPhone/iPad app by the developer Dented Pixel.  I recently stumbled upon this app in the iTunes store, and decided to give it a whirl!

When you first open the app, it allows you to login under your own name.  The app’s settings allow you to change players, and to choose the game speed (to make it harder or easier).  The default speed is “100%,” and the range allowed is 20% to 200%.

The game begins with an introductory storyline.  The main character, Princess Piano lives in a Cloud Kingdom.  An evil witch, Beatrice Dafowl, appears, and spreads her magic sleep dust over Cloud Kingdom.  Fortunately, Princess Piano lept from the edge of the Cloud Kingdom just in time to escape the sleep dust.  She fell all the way down to earth, protected by her magic ballet shoes that allow her to dance through the air when accompanied by music.  The ending call to action states: Help Princess Piano dance her way back to the Cloud Kingdom by playing the songs as well as you can!

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Games, Music Theory

Piano Keyboard Printable

Today, I’m sharing a simple but useful freebie: I call it the Piano Keyboard Printable.

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I love using my wooden/foam silent keyboards during group classes (both Piano Readiness or Homeschool Music Classes) and for theory worksheets/activities at my Piano Parties — but sometimes I just want paper, so I designed this printable.  I printed and laminated a bunch of these keyboard printables — and I love that I can also print these to send home with students.  I like to encourage my Piano Readiness students to play the games from class at home with their parents.

A quick list of a few uses for this piano keyboard diagram printable:

  • With my Piano Readiness class, I have students “play” the piano on their paper piano.  We can learn simple pieces this way in a group setting.
  • We also play simple games.  For example, I hold up a flashcard of Middle C on the staff, and they must put their gem on the corresponding piano key on their keyboard.
  • There are lots other games you can play using this printable keyboard, like the Spell-A-Keyboard game.
  • When teaching music theory concepts in group settings, I like to pair the keyboard with a printed/laminated staff.  I have students build scales/chords both on their staff and their keyboard at the same time using glass gems, which really helps build the connection between keyboard and staff.

You can download this free printable by visiting the Printables > Other Resources page and scrolled down to “Piano Keyboard Printable.”

P.S.: The 20% sale in the Color In My Piano shop has been entended for one more day!  (And the sale won’t be back until next year!)  Use the discount code “YAY4YEARS” by midnight EST on Friday, March 15, 2013.

Forum Q&A's

Forum Q&A: What type of piano did you first learn on?

468px-Steinway_&_Sons_upright_piano,_model_K-52_(mahogany_finish),_manufactured_at_Steinway's_factory_in_New_York_CityAt our last Forum Q&A, I asked about what piano books you studied from as a child.  It was so fun reading all the responses!  Read the comments here on the blog and here on the facebook page.

I must be feeling nostalgic again…  :)  For our new Forum Q&A, I want to know:

What kind of piano was the family piano you remember learning on as a child?  What brand?  Upright or grand?  Was the type of piano you had a factor in your success as a student?  Did your parents upgrade that piano at some point?  Is you childhood piano still around?  

Leave your comments below!

Conferences

2013 MTNA Conference

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I just wanted to wish safe travels to those who are heading to the 2013 MTNA conference in Anaheim, CA!  I wish I were going this year — but I’ll definitely be going next year when it is in Chicago!  :)

There are a few bloggers who are planning to live-blog or later share their notes from the conference sessions.  Keep on eye on these blogs:

(Remember, this summer there is another great conference coming up: the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy [NCKP].  Take a moment to check it out and consider attending — it’s a wonderful conference!)

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Be miserable.  Or motivate yourself.  Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”

— Wayne Dyer

(Special thanks to Mykal O. for sending me this quote!)

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 me a message here.

Games, Group Classes

March 2013 Piano Party

Last Saturday was another monthly Piano Party day for my students!

As we waited for everyone to arrive, the students competed two worksheets:  a lines vs. spaces worksheet from Fun & Learn Music, and an intervals worksheet from my Printables page.

I always have students go around the room to introduce themselves, just in case they’ve forgotten each other’s names and so they can learn the names of any new students.  I like to have them share fun facts about themselves along with their name, so it doesn’t get too serious.  :)  This time, I had them share their favorite flavor of ice cream.

Our first game was called, “Floor Staff Race.”  It is based on this game I read about at pianimation.com, but instead of using “Step/Skip” and “Up/Down” cards, I decided to make dice.  Here’s how the game works:

Each student chooses a beanie animal.  The goal is to race from the bottom of the staff to the top of the staff.  On their turn, they roll the dice and follow the directions to go either up/down by a 2nd/3rd.  Whoever reaches to top of the staff first is the winner!

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