Reading Notation, Teaching Piano

Duet Recommendations for Sight-Reading

Yesterday’s blog post described the benefits of using duets in the lesson for improving sight-reading.  Today, I have a few recommendations for books that work well for this purpose.

“Improve Your Sight-Reading! Duets” by Paul Harris

19832058These books are gold, I tell you!  I found these books when they were featured on the “New Items” rack at my local music store a few months ago.  I purchased the Grades 0-1 book (Beginner to Early Elementary) and the Grades 2-3 book (Elementary to Late Elementary). I hope additional levels will be released soon!  This series is published by Faber Music (not to be confused with Nancy & Randy Faber’s materials).

Take a look at some sample pages below.  One page is marked as the teacher’s page and the other page is marked as the pupil’s page.  The sight-reading examples are short and sweet.   Continue reading “Duet Recommendations for Sight-Reading”

Reading Notation, Teaching Piano

Using Duets to Improve Sight-Reading

Most of the time, my students get plenty of practice sight-reading just from trying out their new pieces each week during their lessons.  If necessary, I will have students purchase a dedicated sight-reading book.  However, my favorite way to improve sight-reading with students is through frequent duet sight-reading together.  

At each lesson with students who need improvement with sight-reading, we save the last 1-3 minutes of the lesson for playing a duet or two together.  It is a wonderful way to end a lesson!  

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Why do duets work so well for improving sight-reading?  There are many reasons:  Continue reading “Using Duets to Improve Sight-Reading”

Announcements, Group Classes, improving as a teacher, Motivation, Performances, repertoire / methods

Listening and Communicating in 4-Handed Piano Music

A colleague of mine and I are planning to learn some four-handed piano music this summer, and perhaps do a whole recital together of just four-handed music in the fall semester.  So I’ve been digging around on YouTube, looking for repertoire ideas.  And I have couple of cool videos to share with you today:


What a great video to show students!  Everything is so perfectly synchronized, and their playing is so beautifully expressive.  They are AMAZING musicians.

Here’s another fine duo team.  Perhaps the coolest thing about this video, however, is the piano they are playing on: a Pleyel Double Grand Piano!  I’ve never seen anything like it!


There are some important benefits of playing four-handed repertoire.  Both players must be actively listening and communicating with each other — not only so that they are together beat-wise and so that the melody and accompaniment ideas are balanced, but also so that they are playing musically together: shaping phrases together, executing rubato together, and calling and responding to each other’s melodic motives.  Developing these skills while working on four-handed repertoire can give a whole new perspective to solo piano repertoire!  Besides — working on four-handed music can be a lot of fun!  =)

Watching these videos looks like so much fun, I think I’m going to dig through the duet music on my shelf and find some duet pieces to assign to some of my students to work on over the summer too!

Group Classes, Performances

International Day of Collaborative Music: January 22, 2011

Doesn’t seem like there’s a holiday for every day?  You know, we all hear about days like Chocolate Day (July 7).  And don’t tell me you missed National Creamsicle Day (August 14).  It’s true.  You really can find a holiday for every day.  (Check out this website, for starters).  It’s getting kind of ridiculous. 

But here’s a really good one that piano teachers can take advantage of:  International Day of Collaborative Music, January 22, 2011.  I know it’s a ways off, but reading about it in American Piano Teacher (August/September issue, page 24, where MTNA annouces the Year of Collaborative Music — a yearlong celebration of collaborate music making, to take place from March 2010 to March 2011.) caused me to start brainstorming…

The Year of Collaborative Music and the International Day of Collaborative Music could be the perfect excuse to pair up students and assign some duet music and have some good old-fashioned fun.  Assigning them their parts before they go off on Christmas Break could be the perfect way to allow them to have a break from their regular pieces and provide an incentive to do some practicing over the break.  Then when January 22, 2011 rolls around, it’s time for the celebration!  The students could try out/perform their duets in an informal setting and enjoy fellowship, food, and most importantly, good music.  This could make for quite a fun group lesson for the month of January. 

Alas, January 2011 is still afar off.  The planning of all the details can wait until Summer 2010.  But hey, it’s something fun to plan towards.   But in the meantime — Happy Bad Poetry Day to you!  And should you have forgotten, tomorrow is Snuffleupagus’s Birthday (from Sesame Street).  Don’t forget to celebrate