General

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”

General

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”

General

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”

General

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.

General

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.”

  Piano Finger Bling worksheet (204.0 KiB, 12,983 hits)

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

  Piano Finger Bling (794.3 KiB, 3,913 hits)

Enjoy!

General, Giveaways

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”

General, Music Camps, Music History

2013 Music History Camp

As I mentioned in a post last week, I held a Music History Camp last week with five of my private students.  Each day, we studied an era of music history (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern) and also focused on a composer from that period.

To study the eras, I decided to write a printable booklet for each era.  Below is a sneak peek at how they turned out.  I think they could be very useful both for music camps as well as for private students.   These booklets are going to make their way to the Shop very soon, accompanied by a set of corresponding worksheets and a timeline showing other events occurring in history during these eras. Photo - collage

Continue reading “2013 Music History Camp”

General

More Music Apps for iPad/iPhone

Over the past week, I’ve been gradually reviewing more music apps!  It’s nice to be able to recommend these to students and their parents.  I am surprised at how many of my students own either an iPad or an iPhone.

Below, I’ve copy and pasted my latest additions to the Music Apps page.  You can view the complete list here.

I apologize to those who do not own an iPad or iPhone — I know a lot of my posts recently have been about that!  Next week is my Music History camp, so I’ll be blogging about non-tech things soon.  🙂

THE LATEST MUSIC APPS I HAVE REVIEWED: 

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 4.52.53 PMTenuto ($3.99)

Tenuto is made by the developers behind the fantastic musictheory.net website and is also one of the best music apps you can buy for your iPhone/iPad.  The app contains a variety of modules for practicing identification of notes, key signatures, intervals, chords, piano keys — both by sight as well as by ear.  The graphics are attractive and the app is easy-to-use.  The modules can be adjusted to adjust the difficulty of the activity.  Tenuto is an excellent tool for beginner students through advanced students.  Continue reading “More Music Apps for iPad/iPhone”

General

Free Printable: 12-Bar Blues in C

3major0My blogging has been rather sporadic so far this month — this is a busy time of year for piano teachers, isn’t it!  I’m so glad my Spring Recital is over, but this month is still somehow very booked.  🙂

On Saturday, I had another Piano Party with my students.  It was a small group of students this time because it was the tail-end of Spring Break when many students were out-of-town.  However, I took advantage of the fact that I was working with just four students and planned to do something a little bit different this time!  Our theme-of-the-day was chords.  Students play duets with each other, one student playing a melody and the other accompanying with chords.  Two students played on my Kawai, and the other two played on my keyboard which I set up in the guest bedroom.

One of the things we did was a duet improvisation with the 12-bar blues.  Tim Topham has made a video that breaks down the 12-bar blues into manageable steps for teachers to use with
their students:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTaH24aqz6I

To help my students learn how to improvise the 12-bar blues, I created this printable:

DSC_20130409_072558

On page 1, the notes of the C blues scale are shown both on the keyboard and on the staff.  I put the student sitting on the treble side of the keyboard in charge of playing a melody using these notes.  If you are not doing a duet, this is simply the RH part.  I helped the student work out a good fingering to use.

Then, I showed page 2 of the printable to the other student.  I chose the “Blocked 5ths & 6ths” pattern and made sure the student understood how to play the pattern for each chord change.

Finally, I showed students the 12-bar blues progression on Page 1 and set them loose to work it out!  The most important part, of course, was helping them learn to listen to each other to stay on beat.  I went back-and-forth between the duet pairs and coached them throughout the process.

I plan to follow-up with these students during their next lesson, to further experiment with the 12-bar blues.  It was a fun part of our Piano Party this month!

You can download the “12-Bar Blues in C” printable (it’s free!) on the Downloads > Sheet Music page.

General

Celebrating 4 Years!

Debussy lapbookToday marks the four-year anniversary of Color In My Piano!  HOORAY!  It’s been such an exciting year.  THANK YOU all for your support and for making this blog such a fun place to share resources and ideas with each other.  I can hardly believe Color In My Piano has been online for four years.

The four randomly-chosen winners of last week’s lapbook giveaway are below:

  1. Renee Witte
  2. Jenny Boster
  3. Leia
  4. Erica Picciano

Congrats, winners!  Check your inbox for an email from me.

If you didn’t win the giveaway, now is a great time to purchase what you need from the Color In My Piano shop.  As promised, I am holding a first-ever sale: 20% off everything in the store.  If you plan to hold any summer camps this year, now is a great time to get your music history lapbooks, or the composition camp “So, You Want To Be A Composer?”  To receive 20% off, use the coupon code YAY4YEARS good through Thursday, March 14, 2013.

In case you are interested, below is a run-down of the history of the Color In My Piano blog over the past four years.   Continue reading “Celebrating 4 Years!”

General

Student Humor

Just a quick story to share today…

I was teaching my homeschool music class this morning, and we started learning about Franz Liszt today.  After talking about his life, I played this YouTube video of Evgeny Kissin playing a Liszt etude to listen to as they colored a picture of Liszt.  As usual, I had to explain that the performer they saw in the video was not Liszt because they did not have video cameras back then.

Then the oldest boy (8) asked, “What are those fancy letters at the beginning of the video?”  I quickly answered, “I think those are Chinese letters, because this recital probably took place in China.”  My student thought about that for a moment, and then said, “That makes sense, because most things are made in China.”  🙂

Afterwards, I realized that the letters are probably actually Japanese since under the YouTube video it states that the recital took place in Toyko.  Regardless, I thought this was a cute story to share.