In recent conversations with a couple of piano teachers, I was asked there is a review available here on my blog about Music Play, a book I like to draw from for movement and ear/audiation activities with my young daughter and my piano students. Look no further, friends — here’s my full review!Continue reading “Review: “Music Play” Early Childhood Music Curriculum by Edwin E. Gordon et al.”
Over the weekend, I held my fifth annual masterclass exchange for my students.
What’s a masterclass exchange? Well, it’s when I ask a piano teacher friend/colleague to come in and work with a group of my students. In return, I offer to work with a group of his/her students. I hold this event every year as one of my students’ monthly “Piano Party” group classes. We use it as a way to rehearse for our upcoming studio recital.Continue reading “2019 Masterclass Exchange”
Last month, I visited my friend Christina Whitlock’s studio in Muncie, Indiana to give her students a masterclass. This month, she traveled MY way to give a masterclass for my students.
My students each performed their recital piece for Christina and received one or two pieces of advice for improving.
It’s so good for them to experience playing for another teacher. And it’s good for me as a teacher to hear another teacher’s perspective! Continue reading “2018 Masterclass Exchange – Part 2”
For the past four years, I’ve arranged a “masterclass exchange” with a fellow piano teacher to give my students an opportunity to receive feedback from someone besides me. I like to correlate the dates to fall within a few weeks prior to my studio recital, so that the event serves as a rehearsal for the students.
Last weekend, I visited my friend Christina Whitlock from Muncie, Indiana, to give her masterclasses to her students. We had such fun!
Each student performed a piece, and then afterwards I provided one or two ideas for the student to consider incorporating into his or her performance.
Since taking the Piano Certification Course through the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (GIML) last August, I have been slowly but surely working towards integrating Music Learning Theory (MLT) principles into my teaching approach.
Much of this integration is subtle at this point and yet, it is having a definite impact on my students.
I’ve also had the opportunity to experiment more directly with an MLT-based teaching approach in a couple of new group music classes I’ve been offering over the past few months.
The first opportunity arose when one of my piano parents asked if I might consider doing some kind of group music class with her two piano students as well as three of her other children who take lessons in guitar, flute, and violin. She was interested in her kids receiving additional help with rhythm, theory, and more, to support their private lessons. I told her more about the GIML training I received and how I felt it would be ideal for her kids and that I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to experiment more with this approach. So, now I’m teaching a weekly 30-minute group music class (not geared towards piano playing) with 5 siblings between the ages of 7 and 12. Afterwards, I give the two piano students their private lessons.
The second opportunity arose when a local violin teacher reached out to me asking about lessons for her 4-year-old son. Ultimately, we settled on having a weekly 30-minute group class with her son as well as her two other young children. The five of us are exploring music together using the Music Play early childhood music curriculum as the basis.
So far with both classes, I’ve been loosely following the lesson plan outline that Marilyn Lowe suggests in her Keyboard Games (KG) books (see image below). I’m pulling songs and rhythm chants from her KG books, Music Play, and the ECMC Songs and Chants Without Words, Book One.
On Saturday, my students and I held a masterclass event, as is our annual tradition in preparation for our upcoming studio recital.
This year, I invited Loretta Cetkovic, my friend from grad school who now operates a music school in Lansing, Michigan. She was so wonderful in helping my group of students polish and perfect their pieces!
In exchange, I drove to Lansing the following day and gave a masterclass for a group of Loretta’s students. So fun.
Now here is a blast from the past! This photo is from 2014, which was the first year Loretta and I did a masterclass exchange. Here is the related blog post.
Have you ever considered doing a masterclass exchange?
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Earlier this week, I blogged about my April 2015 studio class “Piano Party.” We concluded our Piano Party with a new game, which I created based on a teacher’s idea posted in the Piano Teacher FunMakers group on facebook.
The game is simple: buy a package of plastic easter eggs and draw music symbols and terms on each half with a paint pen (permanent marker will rub off over time). Students are supposed to mix up and then match together the halves.
I did not have any plastic easter eggs in the house, so I asked my husband to buy some on clearance when he went to the grocery store. He came home with these really interesting ones from Meijer that break into three sections…!
At first, I wasn’t sure if they were going to work well for my game, but then I realized that having three separate parts for each egg could work out to my advantage. On each part of the egg, I wrote a music symbol, the meaning, and the Italian music term.
Having three parts to match into an egg makes the game more challenging. My students enjoyed working together for this game at my Piano Party.
I’m going to leave this game out in my waiting room for awhile. When students arrive, they will enjoy matching a few eggs before their lessons.
My studio recital is coming up, so my students and I have been busy with recital prep. This means we spend a lot of time during the lesson practicing the elements of good stage presence (practicing the bow, etc) and practicing run-throughs by memory. At almost lesson I’ve been teaching this week and last, I’ve been taking video with my iPhone so that we can watch, listen, and discuss afterwards. Having the video running helps the student get a little bit nervous and mentally rehearse what it is like to be at the actual performance.
At the March “Piano Party” (my monthly studio classes) I held on Saturday, we ran a recital rehearsal of sorts.
The day after Halloween, I held a Piano Party (monthly group class) with my students. I took advantage of the holiday to have a Fall/Halloween theme and invited students to wear their Halloween costumes if desired.
We began, as always, by watching a video on YouTube. This time, I picked Jarrod Radnich’s transcription of the Harry Potter movie music, which fit well with our theme. We spent a few minutes afterwards discussing transcription/arranging and remarking on how much practicing Mr. Radnich must have done! 😉
By the way, my husband surprised me with a projector as a birthday gift back in June. The projector has been a fun teaching tool for camps and group classes. (And it is essentially serving as our TV because we don’t own a TV.) Before I had the projector, I showed videos at group classes on my laptop or by holding up my iPad Mini.
Rhythm Dictation Activity
At every Piano Party, I make it a priority to do at least one rhythm activity. I found a really cool idea for rhythm dictation activity at the “O For Tuna” blog. Being the do-it-yourself-er that I am, I designed my own rhythm slides and “heartbeat charts.”
Here is how the activity works: Each student is given a heartbeat chart and some game tokens. The teacher claps/chants a prepared rhythm and asks the students to repeat it back together a couple of times. Once they have internalized the rhythm, the teacher asks them to notate the rhythm on their heartbeat charts using game tokens. (A single token placed in a heart represents a quarter note. Two tokens within a heart represents beamed eighth notes. A blank heart represents a quarter rest.) The teacher walks around the room and provides feedback for students as they work. After a certain amount of time, the teacher describes or displays the correct answer and allows students to self-correct their work as necessary.
For game tokens, I like to use glass gems available in the floral section at the craft stores. Anything goes, though — maybe some holiday-themed erasers would be fun!
I can see this activity becoming a new staple in my group classes. I love the way this activity helps students make the ear-eye connection between how a rhythm sounds and how it looks.
In case you’d like to try this activity, I’ve added free PDFs for the rhythm slides and the heartbeat charts to the Printables page. Visit the Printables > Games page and scroll down to the H’s to find the “Heartbeat Charts for Rhythm Dictation.” Here’s the PDF download:
Heartbeat Charts for Rhythm Dictation (297.1 KiB, 12,861 hits)
Last Saturday, I held the last Piano Party (monthly group class) for the school year. Our theme was to talk about the piano as an instrument: how it makes sound, types of piano, why the piano must be tuned, etc.
Here is a simple worksheet I used at the beginning of class to kick things off:
I allowed students to work alone or in groups to complete this worksheet. I told them they could get up and go to the piano to answer the questions if needed.
I think this worksheet would be a fun activity for a private student’s first lesson as well!
Download the free PDF by visiting the Printables > Worksheets page and scrolling down to “Piano Scavenger Hunt.”
My students are currently preparing pieces for a local Ribbon Festival as well as my studio’s annual recital. (I always hold my Spring recital in March or April — I think May gets too busy!)
In order to help prepare them for these events, I decided to ask my friend, Loretta, to give a master class for my students during our “Piano Party” group class this month. Loretta and I became friends during grad school while earning our pedagogy degrees. She currently runs a multi-teacher studio in Lansing, Michigan.
Loretta loved the idea and asked if I would give a master class for her students in return. It turned out to be a great exchange and a very positive experience for all of our students!
Here is a group photo of me with some of Loretta’s students after our master class:
At my monthly group classes (we call them “Piano Parties”), I like to begin the class by showing an inspiring or humorous video on YouTube. In the past, I’ve shown:
- The Piano Guys
- Anderson & Roe
- Jarrod Radnich
- Famous pianists, like Horowitz or Martha Argerich
- Piano prodigies such as George Li
Last Saturday, I showed my students a video by Zach Heyde. Zach Heyde is a college student with a passion for composing/arranging. In this video, Zach and his friend, Frank Tedesco, play Zach’s duet, “Sleigh Ride Duet Fantasy.” Continue reading “Using YouTube During Group Classes”