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March 2017 Presentations: Method Mining

Yesterday in Lima, Ohio; today was in Findlay, Ohio… I presented for piano teachers on “Method Mining: Uncovering Nuggets of Wisdom in Old Piano Methods.”

See those piles of books? I don’t travel light for this workshop. :)

I love doing this sort of thing. And this kind of informal presentation is especially special — where we together get to stick our noses in a variety of piano methods books, uncover nuggets of wisdom from each, recognize pedagogical trends across the decades, and share our insights and experiences with different methods.

Click here to view my other workshop topics.

Next appearance: I will be presenting at the upcoming MTNA national conference in Baltimore on Sunday, March 19, 2017. My topic is: “App-laudable Uses of Apps in Music Lessons.”

Will you be in Baltimore? I’d love to meet you!

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GIML Training, Here I Come!

I was just notified that my application for an MTNA Teacher Enrichment Grant was accepted! This means I get to attend a two-week Piano Certification Course sponsored by the Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML) in Boston in August.

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If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you might know that I am a huge fan of Edwin Gordon’s work. Having the opportunity to experience this training means a great deal to me.

I’m sure I’ll be blogging and sharing about the experience.

I can’t wait. Thanks, MTNA!

Update: Read more about the experience here

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Monday Broadcast: Christmas Chain Piano Studio Project

005 Piano Studio Christmas ProjectGreetings! During today’s live broadcast via Periscope, I shared a little bit about a studio holiday project that I have been doing for the past two years: building a paper chain to decorate the studio, adding a new chain for every holiday piece that students learn. Preparing for this tradition again this year has made me excited about giving out Christmas music to students this week!

Here is a picture of the chain from last year:

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Watch today’s quick video here, describing the Christmas Chain project:

You can download the free PDF sheet of paper describing the Christmas Chain project here:

  Musical Christmas Chain Project (155.5 KiB, 2,745 hits)

Thanks for watching! Do you have your own holiday traditions for your studio? Please share! I would love to hear about them.

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All past broadcasts are here: ColorInMyPiano.com/live/. To watch future broadcasts live, download the free Periscope app (for iOS or Android), search for @joymorinpiano, and hop online on Mondays at noon Eastern time. Hope to see you next time!

Do you have suggestions about what we could discuss in future Periscopes? Please submit your ideas by clicking here. I appreciate your input!

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Survey: Interest In A Summer Online Course for Piano Teachers

Greetings!

Summer is going to be here before we know it!  I have been spending time lately planning my summer lessons/camps.

And guess what:  I have also been contemplating the possibility of offering an online summer course for  piano teachers.  You all know how passionate I am about pedagogy and piano teaching.  And I love to share! :)

What do you think?  Would you be willing to give me some feedback about the idea?

If you are willing to help out, please complete the survey.  There are just eight questions, so it won’t require much of your time.  I appreciate it!

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MTNA 2014 (4) — Bruce Berr: Teaching the Emotional Aspects of the Form

Bruce Berr is the author of many well-loved articles featured in the Clavier Companion magazine as well as the American Music Teachers magazine (the magazine for MTNA members). His session described his method of teaching students how to identify form through hearing and studying the emotional elements in musical works. It was fascinating to see how form can be so clearly heard by paying attention to what Mr. Berr referred to as the piece’s “energyscape.”

Mr. Berr showed a diagram of layered slurs representing the micro and macro elements of form we can study: the sub-phrases, phrases, sections, and finally, the entire piece. It is important to get a large overview of the piece first. Attention to detail is crucial, but ought not be at the expense of seeing the big picture.

The energyscape is the found by paying attention to the energy levels (aka “temperature”) throughout a piece.  Sonata Form, for example, tends to have its own unique temperature pattern. Continue reading “MTNA 2014 (4) — Bruce Berr: Teaching the Emotional Aspects of the Form”

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MTNA 2014 (3) — Randall Faber: Ages and Stages: Adventures At All Levels

Sunday morning, I attended a wonderful exhibiter showcase by Randall Faber, co-author with Nancy Faber of the Piano Adventures method. Mr. Faber’s sessions are always wonderfully pedagogical and inspirational, and this one was no different!

Randall Faber: Ages and Stages: Adventures At All Levels

Mr. Faber began by discussing the “adventure” part of the Piano Adventure method’s title. “Adventure” comes from “adventura” which means “optimism; destined to be great.” Another related word, “advent,” means “anticipation or looking forward to something coming to fruition.”

Where are our students on the adventure? We can take the time to celebrate: “Wow, we finished the purple books and now you get to be in the red books!” Late beginner students can begin with the “Accelerated” version of the Piano Adventures books.

For young beginners, there is the “My First Piano Adventures” books. The focus of these books is play-based or “adventure” learning. Mr. Faber showed a triangle diagram with the corners marked: “fun, foray, and feedback,” which he called the “play” dynamic.

For some students, practicing is probably the least fun part of study — especially scales. We often think of technique as merely scales and finger movement. But technique in the Piano Adventures is about artistry and building larger physical gestures that support finger movement. Continue reading “MTNA 2014 (3) — Randall Faber: Ages and Stages: Adventures At All Levels”

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MTNA 2014 (2) — Hans Boepple: On Practicing

The next Pedagogy Saturday session was an excellent session by Hans Boepple discussing issues and strategies related to practicing. Below are my notes.

The core of our pursuit in music is based on that solo activity called practicing. At the lesson, the teacher should help the student set attainable goals. When students do their homework, they know exactly what the assignment is and what they have to do in order to finish their work. For piano study — do our students know what exactly they are doing when they practice? An assignment sheet can be a great tool in this regard.

At the lesson, ask: So, tell me about your practice. The student should be able to respond and tell you how far they got with last week’s goals/assignments. The teacher listens and assesses the previous week’s work and then makes the plan for the next week.

It would be silly, of course, for students to come back without following the set assignment goals. It would be like going to the doctor for a follow-up without having followed the directions from the doctor to cure your ailment.

As students become more advanced, they will learn more and more how to solve problems by themselves. Continue reading “MTNA 2014 (2) — Hans Boepple: On Practicing”

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MTNA 2014 (1) — Ingrid Clarfield: From Hot Cross Buns to Les Adieux

MTNA 2014 has been awesome so far! My friend and I took the MegaBus to Chicago on Friday and we attending the option Pedagogy Saturday. I attend mostly sessions from the Technique and Artistry Track. The first session that day was given by the ever-dynamic Ingrid Clarfield!

Ingrid Clarfield: From Hot Cross Buns to Les Adieux

Ingrid began by playing Hot Cross Buns on the black keys in the most musical way. She joked that she was sure that we all woke up early at 8am hoping to hear Hot Cross Buns. :)

From the first lesson, we want our students playing musically and beautifully:

– Listening to end of slurs.
– Building through repeated notes.
– etc.

Ingrid then demonstrated a variety of repertoire that fit under the following categories:

(1) Slurs and Arm Circles
Ingrid made her signature teaching move: adding entertaining lyrics to the piece/exercise. :) Hanon is wonderful for teaching arm circles. The lyrics: “I can make a big fat circle” for at a slow tempo, and later then later: “I can make a little circle.” It is important to teach the arms to be involved from the beginning.

(2) Motivic Repetitions — the 1-2-3 we so often see in music.
To learn voicing, Ingrid recommended practicing the two voices with two hands at first in order to get the right sound in your ear, and then play it within the same hand.

(3) Thinking in terms of Orchestration (String Quartet or Orchestra).
Be sure to have students listen to good recordings so they know what good musicians and their instruments sound like. Then you can have students orchestrate their pieces by writing the instruments they hear in their piano score. It doesn’t matter much what they pick as much as that they have thought about it.

(4) Timing for Surprising (or “sick”) Harmonies.
Find and mark surprising harmonies. Play the passage to students with the surprising harmony removed and replace by the expected harmony. This will allow students to better hear and enjoy the harmony and perhaps add some rubato to it.

The examples of teaching pieces that Ingrid demonstrated in connection to each category were extremly enlightening. For example, there is a great example of a surprising harmony in Fur Elise that many students play through with little acknowledgment.

Having students think in terms of these categories is extremely helpful in getting students to play musically from the very beginning of their studies.

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Freebie: Piano Finger Bling worksheets

Today, I have a couple of fun freebies for you.  :)

First, here is a printable worksheet for beginner piano students.  Their task is to label each hand as RH or LH and then label the finger with the ring as #1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.  My beginners love completing this quick worksheet!

Piano Finger Bling worksheet.png

As I was making this worksheet, it occurred to me that it would be fun to get a plastic diamond ring to use when quizzing students on their finger numbers.  Fun little props can add a lot of fun to drills.  :)

Then, I decided to make a digital version of this worksheet to use on my iPad with the GoodNotes app.  Students can draw on each page in order to label the hand and finger.  It’s a quick little activity that can be completed during the lesson.

Piano Finger Bling preview iPad

To download the printable worksheet, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to “Piano Finger Bling worksheet.”

To download the digital PDF worksheet, visit the Printables > For iPad page and look for “Piano Finger Bling.”

Enjoy!

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Don’t Miss the 2014 MusicEdConnect.com Online Conference

Make Your Students Shine

Hello, readers!

I just wanted to help spread the word about a new online conference for music educators scheduled for February 5-8, 2014. MusicEdConnect.com has recently announced the lineup of speakers for the sessions and it looks great! Conference registrants can watch the sessions live online or they can check out the videos later, on-demand.

You can check out the full list of sessions here.  I excited to announce that I will be giving a session on February 6 called “Building Musicianship Through Games & Activities.”  During this session, I will talk about the value of teaching through games and how teachers can go about choosing or creating games that will teach the concepts they wish to reinforce in their students.  I will also be demonstrating some of the games that are available here on my blog.I just wanted to help spread the word about a new online conference for music educators scheduled for February 5-8, 2014.  MusicEdConnect.com has recently announced the lineup of speakers for the sessions and it looks great!  Conference registrants can watch the sessions live online or they can check out the videos later, on-demand.

Below is the official press release from the folks at MusicEdConnect.com.  Read it over and then check out their website and facebook page for more info.

Good news: MusicEdConnect.com is giving away one free conference registration to one lucky blog reader from Color In My Piano!  To enter, please leave a comment below this post describing one of your students’ favorite games (it can be a group game or an individual game).  The deadline to enter is Midnight EST on October 16, 2013.  The winner will be randomly selected the next day.  I can’t wait to read your comments!   Continue reading “Don’t Miss the 2014 MusicEdConnect.com Online Conference”