repertoire / methods, Reviews

Review: Daniel McFarlane’s Repertoire for Students

Australian composer Daniel McFarlane has composed a number of student-level repertoire books which are available on his website.  Daniel was kind enough to send me digital copies of his books so I could review them here.

In appearance, all of Daniel’s books have easy-to-read scores with no illustrations.  The titles of each piece are in fun fonts depending on the subject of each piece.

All of Daniel’s books can be purchased in hard copies or as digital copies (be careful that you’ve selected the right one when you check-out! The digital ones clearly say “Digital Edition” in the title, and allow for one print-out of the book).  The prices for the music of Daniel’s website are in Australian dollars.  Daniel assured me that when you check-out, the conversion to your currency would be made properly.  The current rate of AUD compared to USD is about 1:1.

Soundscapes Book 1

The pieces in Sounscapes Book 1 have a pop-ish and almost rock music sound to them, while retaining elements of classical music and good educational writing for students.  The pieces feature repetitive patterns and chord progressions, catchy tunes, lyrical RH melodies, syncopated rhythms, and repeated LH notes.

I would use this book with an early intermediate student (probably no younger than age 9) who has good technique and an excellent sense of rhythm.  It could also be a great option for teenagers or adult students at that level of playing.  The pieces are very appealing in sound and would be a great option for boy students.

As you read this review, open another window and listen to the pieces hereContinue reading “Review: Daniel McFarlane’s Repertoire for Students”

Games, Group Classes

Piano Party Success!

On Saturday, I held a Piano Party for my students.  It was basically a group lesson and rehearsal for our Spring Recital which is coming up in a few weeks.  Most of my students have never met each other, so this was a good opportunity for them to learn a little about each other and to share their pieces.  I’d like to hold group lessons more regularly now that I have enough students to do so…..so this was a good start!

Here’s what we did:

  • We started by introducing ourselves to each other.  Then I expressed how excited I was for them all to be here.  (My philosophy is that if you want your students to be excited about being there, than you’d better show some enthusiasm yourself too!)  :)
  • Together, we completed the Performing at the Piano worksheet which discusses performance etiquette and more.  Continue reading “Piano Party Success!”
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.

 

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

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”

Conferences, Performances, Technology

NCKP 2011 | (9) Your Student Recitals, Live on the Internet!

Your Student Recitals, Live on the Internet!  by Mario Ajero, Shana Kirk, George Litterst, and Stella Sick.  Th @ 2:15pm.

During this session, the presenters told us all about the benefits, feasibility, and equipment needed to broadcast your student recitals live on the internet.

Streaming your student recitals online can allow you to reach distant friends and relatives, publicize your studio, and help find an audience for your niche.

Streaming means you are broadcasting a live video feed online for people to view.  Streaming = one way (but you can reach unlimited amounts of people), while video conferencing = two way conversation (can reach a limited amount of people).  Continue reading “NCKP 2011 | (9) Your Student Recitals, Live on the Internet!”

Announcements, Performances

Recital Roses and an Update on Life

Today I wanted to share a photo from my university’s Community Music School recital a few weeks ago!  This is one of my wonderful students who I unfortunately must leave behind now that we are moving.  :(  I will miss all my students!

My fellow teachers and I bought roses to give out to all the students who performed that evening.  It was so fun to watch the students faces as they each received their rose and gave it a big sniff.  They felt like real performers!

In other news, my husband and I finally have living arrangements in Ohio!  We will be renting a cute little three-bedroom house.  It will be so exciting to set up my piano studio……but first we have to deal with the great fun of packing and moving.  We will be staying with family for a few weeks until the landlords finish a few last-minute projects inside the house.  By the middle of June, we hope to be totally moved into the new place.

Meanwhile, I have a feeling that my blog posts may become few and far between over the next few weeks.  Bear with me!  I’ll be back eventually with plenty to share, I’m sure.  :)

Stay tuned — I’ll be announcing the winner of the Fearless Fortissimo giveaway momentarily…

 

Performances, Printables

Just Added: Recital Program Template #3

It’s recital season!

Have you held your spring recital yet?  If you haven’t, here’s a new recital program template you are free to use if you like!

I currently have two recital templates on my Printables page and they are very popular downloads.  This one is in color, although it still looks pretty good in black and white if you plan to print it that way.

To download: Visit the Printables > Other Resources page and scroll down to “Piano Recital Program Template #3.”  I saved it as a “docx” this time, and I hope you all are still able to open it even if you don’t have the latest version of Microsoft Word.  Please let me know if you run into problems.

If your spring recital has already occurred, how did it go?  I’d love to hear all about it!

Performances, Practice, Teaching Piano

Practice Performing

Perhaps you are wondering why there is a picture of a bunch of stuffed animals for this post.  Haha, I’ll get to that in a moment!

My private students are preparing to play for the university’s Community Music School recital tomorrow!  There will be about 12 students performing, 4 of which are my students.  For last few weeks, we’ve been taking time during lessons to “practice performing.”  After all, what better way to prepare for a performance than to practice performing?  =)

For my students, this means we imagine being at the recital during the lesson.  The student “walks onstage” while the audience (me) is applauding wildly.  The student gives a deep bow and sits down.  Once the bench is checked, they take a deep breath and play.  Wild applause ensues once again at the end of the piece, and the student beams, bows, and trots “off stage.”

I also encourage my students to put on recitals at home for their parents or friends, or even to create an audience of stuffed animals.  The point is for the student to be mentally putting him-/her-self through the performance, imagining what it’s going to be like and imagining him-/her-self succeeding.  Students really enjoy using their imagination and pretending they are onstage, and I think it is really beneficial for them to have gone through the process mentally before the real thing!  (Especially when there is no dress rehearsal, as in this case.)

What kind of activities do you do with your students to help them “practice performing?”

Photo Credit: Jess1820 | CC 2.0

Forum Q&A's, improving as a teacher, Memorization, Performances

Forum Q&A | Memorization for Performances: Required or Optional?

Last week we discussed how to teach legato pedaling to students, and we got a few great responses – click here to check them out!  As always, feel free to add your thoughts to the discussion!

This week, we are considering the topic of memorization.  I’ve seen great discussions about this topic on many websites and forums, and thought we’d explore it here too (hopefully with a different twist)!  Here goes:

First, do you consider memorization to be an integral part of piano playing?  Meaning, would you say that a concert pianist should or must perform by memory?  And do you therefore also require your students to perform by memory, or are you more flexible with your students depending on their goals?  What kind of memorization policy have you found works best for your studio?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo Credit: hsingy | CC 2.0