The Nov/Dec 2014 issue marks the beginning of a series called “The Future of Piano Teaching.” In this issue, you’ll find twelve short musings written by various pedagogues about their thoughts on the future of piano teaching. These short musings will be followed by a series of longer, more in-depth articles in future issues.
I was proud to submit one of those short musings (you’ll find it on page 29) alongside my colleagues, including fellow bloggers Leila Viss, Mario Ajero, Jennifer Foxx, and Wendy Stevens. My longer, follow-up article will be published in a future issue.
Not subscribed to Clavier Companion? It is an outstanding, forward-thinking magazine for piano teachers. Tell your family you would like to receive a subscription as a Christmas gift. Request access to an issue free here.
Before I talk about the Google Hangouts, I want to update you about the last giveaway:
A couple of weeks ago, we had a giveaway for Jennifer Eklund’s Piano Pronto method and had a HUGE response of 138 entries! I loved reading all your responses about the Piano Pronto method, and I know Jennifer did, too. Here are the two randomly chosen winners: Lu and Anola. Congrats, winners! You will be hearing from Jennifer soon.
If you didn’t win, you can still get a great deal on the Piano Pronto books because Jennifer has extended her 20% off sale through the end of the month. Now is the time to stock up for the next school year! Visit PianoPronto.com and enter the “school20” promo code.
Last Friday, I held Google Hangout Episode #5 (I decided to start calling them episodes so I can keep them straight!), which was about choosing student repertoire. Jennifer Eklund was a guest in the discussion as was Dr. Jason Sifford. This discussion was so fun. The topic is so appropriate, too, as we prepare for the next school year.
Jason, by the way, is one of the teachers behind the University of Iowa Piano Pedagogy Project: a project to record over 9000 piece of piano literature for students following the Iowa Music Teachers Association’s repertoire list for their events. This project is so great because it provides teachers and students with a variety of excellent reference videos. You can view and subscribe to the Piano Pedagogy Project’s YouTube channel here and visit their Facebook page here.
Below, I’ve embedded the video recording of Episode #5.
I have scheduled Google Hangout Episode #6 for this Friday at 11am Eastern time. Check out the event page here on Google+ and add it to your calendar. Please join us live or watch the recording afterwards!
Here is a link to all of the Google Hangouts so far.
Over the weekend, I made a brief appearance at MTNA’s GP3 2014 conference via Skype. (Thanks to Courtney Crappel and Andrea McAlister for asking me to share my thoughts about using apps in the piano lesson!) GP3 is a conference geared towards group piano professors and piano pedagogy professors.
The main message I shared was this: Apps are just another helpful teaching tool for our toolkit. In order to be able to use the tools properly and effectively, we have to first figure out exactly what that tool can accomplish for us and what role we want it to play in our lessons with our students. Some apps make my life easier as a teacher, some apps are useful during the lessons, and other apps are strictly for students’ at-home use.
On Friday, I’m hosting another Google Hangout at 10am Eastern. This time, the topic is choosing repertoire for students. As usual, you can feel free to watch it LIVE or afterwards on YouTube. I’ve embedded the player below.
I’m looking for another teacher interested in participating in the video chat — if you are interested, please contact me directly!
There is another (now past) Google Hangout (not sponsored by me) that you may be interested in watching: Irina Gorin (if you haven’t seen her YouTube channel‘s teaching videos, you HAVE to check it out) gave a presentation as part of conference held by Michigan State University and the Capital Area Music Teachers Association in Lansing, Michigan. Here is the link.
Whew! I feel like I have so much to share, but not enough time to share it! 😉
Last week, I held a summer camp for my piano students called “Practice Tips & Tricks.” It was a fun week. For my birthday last month, my husband gave me a projector. (Yes, I’m a techno-geek!) It was wonderful to be able to have a large visual to use during camp! I hope to share more details about all this later.
On Friday, I held another Google Hangout this time talking about piano methods. You can watch the video here. We did encounter some technical difficulties unfortunately — I apologize about that! Thanks for bearing with us during this experiment. 🙂
I have another Google Hangout scheduled for this Friday at 11am Eastern time. Please visit the event page here to get all the details and feel free to submit questions for us to discuss in advance.
This app was created by Sonya (a friend of mine) and her sister Elizabeth Schumann. Piano Carnival is an interactive eBook that contains delightful illustrations, reads the poetry aloud to the view, and plays videos of the Schumann sisters playing Saint-Saens’ music “Carnival of the Animals.”
Here is a quick video that demonstrates what this delightful app can do:
This trailer video gives some background into the app’s creation. Sonya and Elizabeth have also created a companion page on their website that contains lesson plans and more resources related to Carnival of the Animals. Be sure to take a look at all of the resources offered there!
It is exciting to see more apps released that take advantage of the full capabilities of the iPad!
In the past, I always plugged a pair of old computer speakers into my iPhone, iPad Mini, or computer when I wanted to play music during lessons, group classes, or while cleaning the house. 🙂 They worked okay, but I found that if I turned the sound up too loud, the sound became distorted.
I am so pleased with this handy little speaker because I can turn the sound as loud as I need too without hearing distortion. I’m very pleased with the quality of the speaker!
And, of course, it is handy that it is wireless. It connects via a bluetooth connection. Pairing the speakers to a device only takes a minute. Plus, it remembers what device you paired it with last and will automatically connect to that same device if both are turned on. I’ve owned bluetooth devices in the past and they did not connect this easily. Technology has certainly improved.
It comes with a USB cable so that you can recharge the battery by plugging it into your computer. The battery can last for up to 10 hours of playing time.
Just thought I’d share about this fun little gadget! Did you receive any Christmas gifts that have been useful for piano teaching? If so, please share about it in the comments!
Here is a peek at the project that has been occupying my spare time for the last two months:
In November, I got the idea to record myself playing some classical pieces that I were my favorite to learn as I was growing up. I thought it would make a nice Christmas gift for my family, friends, and piano students. The project turned out to take MUCH more time than I had originally anticipated, but I am very pleased with the outcome! Continue reading “My CD Project: Favorite Piano Classics for Students”→
Google Drive – only basic functionality, but is cloud-based. There are Google apps you can apply to Google Drive, too (Simplebooklet looks cool. Also, Concept Board — which lets you collaborate visually in the cloud.)
2. Music Notation Software
Alternatives to Finale or Sibelius:
Musescore (top pick) – everybody should download this free software. It is excellent.
Treble Cat & Bass Cat ($2.99 each for the iPhone versions and $3.99 each for the HD iPad versions)
These two apps are excellent for students to practice identifying notes on the staff. It is a great pair of apps to recommend to parents/students to use at home. I love how simple the concept of the game is — even young piano students will be able to independently use this app.
In each level, the player is given sixty seconds to find all of a given note(s) as a variety of different notes scroll across the screen. If the player misses more than 3 notes, they must re-try that level.
SightReadPlus is an app for iPad for piano students. The app not only contains thousands of sight-reading exercises, but it also “listens” to the student play on their piano and evaluates their performance based on accuracy of pitch and rhythm. I love this technology! SightReadPlus is a great tool to improve students’ sight-reading abilities, especially in preparation for examinations or adjudications that require sight-reading.
The 4800 sight-reading examples in this app are appropriate for beginning and elementary students. The range of notes in each exercise is limited to major five-finger patterns, and all exercises are either for RH or LH (never together).
The exercises are divided into 10 levels. Level 1 begins with half note and whole note rhythms in 4/4 time, with intervals limited to 2nds. The more advanced levels contain intervals up to a 5th, rhythm values such as dotted quarter notes and eighth rests, and a variety of time signatures (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/8). The exercises can be played in any key. Continue reading “App Review & Giveaway: SightReadPlus”→
One of the cool teaching tools the iPad provides the piano teacher is the possibility of completing worksheets digitally during the lesson — or using the iPad like a music whiteboard with a custom background. A few of my favorite piano teaching blogs have shared some great resources for using the iPad in this way:
Anne Crosby — Check out her colorful whiteboard backgrounds by searching “iPad” on her blog, and be sure to see her Music Discoveries digital method book, too (pictured at right).
To use these wonderful resources on your iPad, you will need some kind of whiteboard or annotator app that allows you to upload custom “papers” or “backgrounds” upon which you can draw and erase. There are many different options available. Over the weekend, I spent some time researching and testing apps until I found my favorite. Here are the features I was looking for: Continue reading “Annotation Apps for iPad / GoodNotes Pro Review”→
A frequent question I receive from blog readers is about what method/software do I use to make music worksheets. Since discovering music fonts (and publishing my blog post on music fonts last Spring), I have been using music fonts more and more for my printables and using Finale less and less. Finale is great and totally necessary for printing compositions and arrangements, but it’s not quite as convenient for making music worksheets.
To help answer some of those questions about how to get started using music fonts for creating music worksheets, I decided to create a quick video showing the process for creating a rhythm worksheet using my two favorite music fonts: MusiSync and Rhythms. These two fonts are so simple to use, you might not even need a character map (as described in the full post about music fonts). Before getting started, you will need to download and then install both of these fonts onto your computer. You will also need the program Microsoft Publisher (part of the Microsoft Office suite), or a similar program.
It’s my first try doing a video tutorial. Let me know what you think. 🙂
Update: Here is a follow-up video that talks about using two other fonts, that will allow you to create melodic examples in your worksheets. And here is one more video tutorial, showing another option for making worksheets: using png image files of various music symbols.