Announcements, Composition, Group Classes, Music History, Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added! Lesson Plans: Analyzing & Composing Music in the Romantic Style

Picture 2Just added to the Printables > Lesson Plans page:

Lesson Plans & Worksheets: Analyzing & Composing Music in the Romantic Style 

A few months ago, I used these lesson plans during a piano camp where I taught Theory & Composition classes.  This camp is unusual in that it gives the students a chance to work on ensemble music with their fellow campers.  In addition, all the ensemble music are original compositions — composed just for our campers.

In the lesson plans I made, I tried to incorporate both the emphasis on composition and the topic of the Music History classes (taught by another instructor; this year, focusing on the Romantic Period).  So, this year’s lesson plans are all about learning how to compose music in the Romantic style.  By the end of the week, the class had created a Class Composition for piano which was performed for all to hear at the camp recital!  The pieces were humorous, yet surprisingly sophisticated.  Perhaps later on, I’ll post an example of a composition they created, if that would be helpful to anyone.

The lesson plans are designed for classes of 4 – 6 students ranging in ages about 9 to 15, but I’m sure they could be adapted to suit other ages and groups of students.  Enjoy!  Let me know how they work for you.

  Analyzing & Composing in the Romantic Style - Lesson Plans & Worksheets (1.0 MiB, 34,242 hits)

Announcements, Composition, Teaching Piano

Creativity in the Piano Lesson | Part 1 of the series

I’ve been reading a lot about improvisation (non-jazz, particularly) and creativity in the piano lesson lately, as I’ve been working on a paper for my Into to Music Research class for college.  It’s interesting to me how today there seems to be a trend for exact, literal performances of composers’ works.  It was not always this way; in the Romantic Era, pianists would freely change composer’s works when they performed them in concert.  They would often be completely unrecognizable from the original!  But that was what the audience members came to hear: that pianist’s version of Beethoven, Bach, or whatever. Continue reading “Creativity in the Piano Lesson | Part 1 of the series”

Composition, Music Theory, Resources

Best free manuscript paper

Picture 6Just thought I’d share a little tip today about where to find THE best free manuscript paper (in my humble opinion): Antonjazz.com  

There are hundreds of sites out there that offer free manuscript paper (aka staff paper).  But this is my absolute favorite.  

Now, you must know, I do a little composing every now and then.  And I have discovered that I am a very picky manuscript paper person.  It has to be just right. 

I always print the “Blank manuscript paper with 10 staves, no clefs” paper.  It’s very economical and flexible.  It’s professional and clean-looking.  

Does this paper work for young students?  Not so much.  I’d recommend finding something bigger.  With wider spaces.  (Suggestions, anyone?) 

But I love this manuscript paper for myself and my older students to use.  It’s perfect for that. 

—————

Do you have a favorite manuscript paper, as I do?  Please let us know by commenting below.

Composition, Ear Training, improving as a teacher, Resources, Teaching Piano

Value of Teaching to Play By Ear

A couple weeks ago, I posted a list of melodies that work well assign piano students to take home and learn to play by ear.  Over at ComposeCreate.com, Wendy Stevens talks about the value of teaching students to play by ear during a lecture she gave, Composition for Kids: Time-Saving Ways to Teach Composition in your Studio. (If you haven’t already, you really should check out the entire series of videos she has posted — they contain some very practical ways to encourage and teach composition in the piano lesson.)

Wendy also created a great handout that you can give to your students, to assign them tunes to play by ear, harmonize it, transpose it, and do something creative with it.  This handout is available on this post (the link to the actual handout is located just underneath the video).  Be sure to check it out!

Composition

CATcerto – a modern composition

Perhaps you’ve seen Nora the cat play the piano on YouTube before.  Well, the modern composer Mindaugas Piecaitis managed to compose a concerto out of Nora’s movie!  Check out the video below. 

 

This composition is a great example of combining modern technology with music – and it’s delightfully humorous to boot!  The sky truly is the limit.

For more, check out the BBC article on the subject, or the catcerto.com website.

Announcements, Composition, improving as a teacher, Resources, Technology

A Closer Look at MuseScore: FREE music notation software

Picture 5
Screenshot of my demo song in MuseScore. Click to enlarge.

Move over, Finale and Sibelius!  There’s somebody new in town.  MuseScore is a music notation software available FREE online for anyone to download.  After doing a brief test drive last spring (mentioned here), I decided to take a closer look now that it’s available for Mac users.

I’ve been a faithful Finale user since 2005, mainly because Finale is the software of choice at the colleges I’ve attended.  I use Finale to make worksheets for my students and to notate my original compositions and arrangements.  Buying Finale 2009 last September cost me an arm and a leg, so I was quite curious to see how MuseScore would compare.  Is it worth spending all that money on Finale when you can get MuseScore for free?   Continue reading “A Closer Look at MuseScore: FREE music notation software”

Composition, Resources

MuseScore: free music notation software

Have you heard about the new free music notation software called MuseScore?  I have heard nothing but favorable reviews about it thus far.  Personally, I do not currently have a great need for it, since I use Finale software at college.  But this may very well be a great resource for teachers who do not wish to invest in expensive music notation software (let me tell you, Finale costs an arm and a leg!) or, for students who have an interest in composition.  I was glad to hear about MuseScore.  Ever since Finale started charging ~$10 to download Finale Notepad (a simple, previously-free version of Finale), I have been on-the-lookout for something else to recommend to my students.

Mac users are unfortunately out of luck, because MuseScore is currently only available for PC’s. [Correction: MuseScore IS indeed now available for Macs.  Sorry for the misinformation!] I breifly tried out this software on my husband’s PC, and it seems to be fairly user-friendly.  If you are looking for an inexpensive alternative to Finale or Sibelius, MuseScore is worth a look!

[Now that MuseScore is available for Macs, I plan to download it and blog more about it soon. Check back soon!]