Announcements, Performances

My 2013 Spring Recital

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Easter weekend!

Saturday was my students’ Spring Recital!  Like last year, I held it at my local library.  My students all did such a nice job — they make me so proud!

DSC_20130330_154803In photo above you’ll see each student with a rose, which is a tradition I’ve kept up for the last few years.  It’s nice to give something at the end of the recital, and giving a rose is a nice, affordable gesture to congratulate them for their performance and hard work.

Do you have a recital tradition?  :)

Announcements, Performances

Spring Recital Details

As I mentioned yesterday, our Spring Recital was Saturday!  Here’s how it went down:

  • It was held at the local library.  They have an atrium with a Steinway baby grand piano.  In the past, I’ve always held recitals at churches (and once at a school).  I look for churches with grand pianos that can be moved to the center of the sanctuary.  Being new in town, I haven’t yet discovered which churches have this kind of set-up (plus they have to be affordable).  Two of my students suggested using the library, so we did.  It costs $50 to rent and it’s a nice location with high ceilings and lots of natural light.  I was happy with it!
  • I always play something at my students’ recitals.  This year, I asked my friend, a violinist for whom I’m accompanying for her semester juries at my local university, to play her jury piece with me.  She was thrilled to be asked — but she needed to be first on the program so she could leave early for another event she had in the afternoon.  I wish I could let you hear the piece — but I forgot to start the video camera before we played the piece!  (I’m still kicking myself.)  Anyway, here’s Itzhak Perlman playing it.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKI9uoNfC18
  • After the violin piece, my students played.  I had 10 out of my 16 students play at the recital (the others are adult students, new 4-year-old students, or had a schedule conflict).  I knew it would be a short and sweet recital, but I still feel recitals are beneficial enough that it was worth doing anyway!
  • After playing, my students stood in the front for a group photo, and I gave them each a rose for their performance.  It’s a tradition I’ve been doing for a few years now, although my students in my new town, of course, have not experienced it yet.
  • Afterwards, we had a little reception with cupcakes, a Kit Kat piano (a la Pinterest), and cheese n’ crackers.

I don’t think I can share video of the recital since the pieces performed are under copyright, but I hope to share a photo slideshow soon!

Do you all have Spring Recitals coming up?  I like holding mine early in the Spring because May and June are such a busy months.

Ear Training, Early Childhood Music, Performances, Printables

Listening Sheet for Young Students

As I mentioned last week, during my recent Piano Party/recital rehearsal I gave a listening sheet to my young beginners to complete as they listened to their fellow students perform.  Here’s what it looked like:

I put each sheet in a plastic sheet protector and gave them a dry erase marker with a piece of felt so they could re-use the sheet for each piece they heard.  It worked pretty well — my students were very attentive and really liked telling me about what they circled between pieces!

This worksheet would also work well for private lessons or group classes with beginner students to use while listening to recordings — like Carnival of the Animals, or whatever.

I do wish the sheet protector cleaned off a little better.  The ones I used have kind of a matte surface…maybe I need to get some of the thicker, shiny ones?  Or try laminating?

Anyway, my students really enjoyed this listening sheet!  I found the clip art on some various public domain clip art sites.  You could easily design your own the same way.  Or if you’d like to download mine, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the L’s for “Listening Sheet for Young Students.”

P.S.:  As requested, I added a page to the Rhythm Value Cards pdf: three beamed eighth note cards for use in compound time signatures.  (Thanks for catching that, Bee!)

improving as a teacher, Performances, Practice, Reading Notation, Teaching Piano

Teaching Tip: Achieving Fluency

Have you ever have a student play a piece with frequent hesitations throughout, even though you know they can play much better than that?  This phenomenon can occur with all ages/levels of students.  Why does this happen?  What is going on when this happens?  This article will examine possible causes of and solutions for a lack of fluency.

A lack of fluency could be caused by a number of things:

  1. A lack of the proper technique required for the executing the piece;
  2. A lack of familiarity of the notes of the piece;
  3. A tempo that is too fast for the student’s ability at that moment; or,
  4. A lack of mentally “chunking” the information on the page properly.  The analogy I use to refer to Number 4 is that the students feels like they are wearing horse blinders, or are mentally experiencing tunnel vision.

Continue reading “Teaching Tip: Achieving Fluency”

Games, Performances, seasonal / holiday

Christmas Recital/Party Success! – Games

Well, my students’ Christmas party/recital was a success!   What a great way to finish off the year.

The recital took place in my home.  Whenever my college music history textbooks mentioned Schubertiads, I used to dream about the idea of having informal music performance parties in my home.  Since my studio is still small, I thought having our Christmas recital in my home would be so fun!  About 25 people attended, which is probably close the max that I can fit.  Next year I’ll have to find another location, or hold the party with just the students.  But it was nice and cozy this year!

We kicked off the party with the recital portion, and then we played three music games:

  1. Christmas Carol Rhythm Matchups — This game from Jennifer Fink’s Pianimation blog was a great hit with students!  Students worked together in a huddle on the floor to match the rhythms to the Christmas song lyrics.  They were able to successfully complete all three levels of difficulty!  Even the youngest beginners were able to match a few.  I ended up with three students who played “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” during the recital because I have so many little beginners right now.  They were definitely able to help match that pair!  :)
  2. Make Me A Rhythm! game — This is a game I found on a forum and shared about a few weeks ago.  This game wasn’t a total success, I’ll admit.  My students were very, very shy about asking other students to be note values as they composed a rhythm.  After all, this is the first time they’ve met each other.  Next time I use this game, I’ll use it with a smaller group (maybe in a setting where students are present without their parents), or with a group of people who know each other better.  It wasn’t a total flop though.  It’s a great game for visual learners.  The “composer” had to think about how many beats they had left in their measure.  Once each rhythm was composed, we clapped it together to see how the composers’ rhythm sounded.  It was fun, it just went slowly since students took a long time to choose.
  3. Music Bingo — I LOVE Susan Paradis’ version of Music Bingo.  You won’t find a nicer version of Music Bingo anywhere!   I’ve used Susan’s version of Music Bingo in previous years for other events (see some photos here).  Both the students and parents really enjoyed playing this game!
I’m putting together a slideshow of some photo highlights from the recital, which I hope to share with you later this week!  Stay tuned.

 

Announcements, Performances, seasonal / holiday

Studio Christmas Party Update – Food!

My apologies for being MIA from the blog the last few weeks!  At the beginning of the semester, I put up posters around the music building of the university in my town for freelancing as a collaborative pianist.  A few music majors contacted me rather last minute to ask if I’d accompany them for their end-of-the-semester juries as well as a concerto competition.  Learning their music and scheduling rehearsals has kept me very busy the last few weeks!  But I’m grateful for the extra money, especially after finishing all my Christmas shopping.  :)  Anyway, I’m back now!  Juries are today, and this week will be much less hectic than the previous few weeks.

Now I’m focusing on the last stages of planning for my Studio Christmas Party on Saturday.  A couple of parents have volunteered to bring goodies, so I just need to make a few things.  I found some great food ideas on Pinterest.  (I love Pinterest! Are any of you on Pinterest?  Feel free to follow me, and I’ll be sure to follow you back!)  Continue reading “Studio Christmas Party Update – Food!”

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

Interviews, Performances

Teacher Feature | Shauna Leavitt

October is here, and so is another Teacher Feature!  Meet Shauna from the Leavitt Piano Studio in Viginia!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background:

Background:  I started teaching when I was 16 with the assistance of my mother who runs a successful piano studio in Utah.  I taught upstairs while she taught downstairs and whenever I needed help, she was always there to mentor me along.  I was fortunate to grow up near Brigham Young University where I studied with wonderful Professors there (Dr. Douglas Humpherys and Dr. Robert Smith).  When I started attending Dr. Humpherys’ weekly college master-classes, I knew that I wanted to be a piano major when I went to college.  Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Shauna Leavitt”

Games, Interviews, Performances

Teacher Feature | Diane Heath

The new month brings us a new teacher feature!  Say hello to Diane, everyone!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background.

I teach part-time, with a studio of 20 – 25 students, and am also a church musician in Washington, DC.  For over twenty years I’ve taught piano and organ, as well as K – 12 class-room music, and worked extensively with children and adults in church choirs.   Additionally, there was a stretch as a creative home-schooling mom, but now I’m the parent of a college student.   My education was at  Hartt School of Music,  Indiana University, and The Levine School where I earned a certificate in Piano Pedagogy.  I’ve been privileged to study with wonderful piano teachers, including Jeffrey Chappell and Alexander Farkas. Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Diane Heath”

improving as a teacher, Performances, Professional Development

Tips for a Successful First Studio Recital

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a reader asking advice regarding planning a studio recital for the first time.  For the sake of others who might be in the same situation, I decided to create a whole post about this topic — read on.

Q: How do I decide what kind of music to have students play? 

I would suggest buying separate sheet music rather than the usual pieces in their method books.  There’s something special about having a separate sheet music for the recital.  I even like to write on the sheet music something like: “Johnny’s 1st Recital – May 1, 2011.”  It is an extra expense for students which I personally feel is worth it.  Continue reading “Tips for a Successful First Studio Recital”