Over the summer all of my students completed 5 one-hour lessons to keep up their technical skills, theory, and sight reading which get them ahead of the game for the new school year. They were all SO ready for September piano lessons and back-to-school! Right now they are busy with school activities and homework but they all make time to practice for their lessons. After all, music is an equal part of their educations- if Math isn’t optional, neither is music! Just look back to the ancient Greeks and their educational systems- we still base our education on these subjects today: grammar, rhetoric, and logic, geometry, arithmetic, MUSIC, and astronomy.
This year, our piano hands are becoming filled with stars (see photo)- each star represents one year in piano. My students are dedicated and have been studying with me for years! I couldn’t be more proud. This year we are working on memorization skills- our “practice” beads have been traded in for “memorization” beads. Every time my one of my students memorizes a page of music, they receive a bead for their chain…and the chains are growing already- WOW
October is time for Halloween party music, so each year we take a lesson to go “shopping” for a piece. This means that I play through a number of Halloween songs and the student gets to choose which piece they want to play at the party. I think its a tie between this and Game Week for my students all-time favorite lessons of the year!
I know it feels too early for Christmas, but not in the piano studio! Some of my more advanced students have already been preparing their Christmas pieces for a couple of months- it going to be a great concert this year; bell choir, percussion ensemble, Jazz Christmas songs, as well as our favorite traditional Christmas pieces. Stay Tuned!
Sarah was this year’s first ” 2014 Skull Master” First she places the skulls on the correct piano key, then has to put them back on the tree–only naming them as enharmonics!
Delaney had to pick a key, based only on the number of sharps and flats. Then she made the key signature in both clefs with some creepy halloween characters. Finally, she had to pick a card with a scale degree, and name that scale degree of the key she was in.
The Halloween Key Signature and Scale Degree Game.
Grace completes her game and becomes a “2014 Skull Master”!
The October Pumpkin Patch Game.
Claire had to first pick a creepy card and place a pumpkin on the correct piano key. When she was done with the first half of the game, I called out the names of each note. She transferred that note from the pumpkin patch on the keyboard to its correct place on the music staff.
Part one of the “Skull Master” game!
Molly is a “2014 Skull Master” !
Grace is a “2014 Skull Master” !
We’re not done yet…there are more creepy halloween games to go!
This week my students all made a new “Piano Key” Chain. They keep their key chain in their new tote bags and use them in lessons. The key chain itself has the student’s name and another cool piano design on the back chosen by the student. I picked the Circle of Keys for my key chain. The punch cards are fun because they are the same size and shape as the grocery store membership cards on Mom’s key chain.
Also on the key chain are:
A memorization BONUS bead punch chard
Our Fall Book Bash Punch card
A full set of mini Travel Flashcards
14 Practice Strategy “chips”
This week my students are beginning to learn important practice strategies one by one. These strategies not only help them practice a regular lesson book piece, but can get them through the tough technical passages in their music that could stump any pianist.
Two of my students will be traveling this Labor Day weekend and will already be using their travel flashcards in the car. Two students will be taking on the challenge of memorizing a piece for next week for an extra 3 bonus beads on their practice chain. And one student has already completed a “Fall Book Bash” activity. Fall book bash activities take place when a student has completed a lesson book song and is ready to do something fun and crazy with that piece. They do this by randomly choosing a card from a a deck of cards each with a crazy musical instruction on how to play that song. What ever the card says the student has to do!
Fall Book Bash Punch Card
It’s been a great first week of lessons- everyone is hard at work and 3 students even received the highest lesson rating this week of 5+1 (thats 5 regular beads plus 1 bonus bead on their practice chains). Boy, we are going to have really long practice chains this year!!
I have the best students ever and these key chains are really shaping up already to be a wonderful learning aid for them all.
Its game week! And that means all my students will have tons of fun at their lessons this week while they do nothing but play musical games that reinforce musical note reading, keyboard geography, time signature counting, triad inversion, key signature identification, and a whole host of other fun musical activities. This is a wonderful opportunity to work on a deeper understanding of the concepts that my students need to progress and REALLY fun way to learn!
It’s that time of year again! It’s time for the 2013 One Minute Club! Several of my students are already practicing their flashcards and becoming faster and faster at them in order to pass all 6 levels. Each level must be played on the piano in under 1 minute to move forward to the next level. But it’s not just one level at a time….no way! That would be too easy…
Level 1- C’s
Level 2- C’s and F’s
Level 3- C’s, F’s, D’s
Level 4- C’s, F’s, D’s, G’s
Level 5- C’s, F’s, D’s, G’s, B’s
Level 6- C’s, F’s, D’s, G’s, B’s, E’s, A’s
To become a member of the One Minute Club, each student has to play Level 6 on the piano 3 times in succession in under 60 seconds. Once they do, they receive the following:
One Minute Club Membership Card
$3.00 Gift Card to Menchies
A special treat at the Double Scoop Recital
A special treat at the Award’s Recital
Our reigning champion is Vangi with 42 seconds …….will someone beat the record this year?
Annabelle waits for her turn to perform at the Maryland State Competition-2012
Students face so many split-second decisions when practicing their music. Should I play loud or soft? Staccato or legato? Heavy or delicately? Do I lift here or swing to end the phrase? Here is a two-note slur….oops, I forgot to count there!
Even more so for those preparing for adjudicated performance or competition. They have other things to worry about such as stage presence, overall rise and fall of the melodic line, hand positioning, overall musicality…….gosh, the list just goes on.
To help my students who are preparing for these types of events, we use cards in Rep Class for guidance. This reminds them of the many things they need to keep in mind when performing for a judge or for an audience.
Here are some tools we use in the studio to prepare for performance and competition.
This week students are matchiing scarey halloween lyrics to rhythmic patterns. This ear-training exercise accomplishes two musical skills; understanding quarter, dotted quarter, and eighth note patterns, and using the ear to match words and syllables to each rhythmic pattern. Let’s see how everyone does!
I don’t know who wrote the lyrics, but Jennifer Fink at Pianimation.com created the rhythm cards. Here is the link:
Some of my students have really been enjoying this creepy Halloween game of skeletons where I show them a music flashcard and they pick a skull from the tree to place it on the corresponding piano key. The flashcards use only sharps, flats, double sharps, and double flats. When all the skulls are on the piano keys, the student must finally name each key using ONLY enharmonic names for each in order to become the Skull Master!
A lot of parents ask me about the ipad apps I use. I intended to make a list of the good ones (there are so many out there!) but then, Wendy from Compose Create wrote about this very topic in her blog, so I will post the link to her blog and you can see a FANTASTIC list of apps, a description, and their price!