Frankly, sophisticated apps like Practice+ can intimidate me. I prefer those that only have a few features that also seem extremely intuitive. Although this enhanced metronome app was quite easy to explore, the multiple features had me wondering if this would be worth my consideration for most of my students.
However…after I experimented with the recording option, it dawned on me that this could be the PERFECT app for an adult student of mine who continues to struggle with finding and sticking with a steady beat.
As I played through a piece using the “Clave” metronome set to 8th note subdivisions–there are SO many options from which to choose–I recorded my practice with the metronome and saved it with an appropriate title and then listened to the recording, all within the same app. I was close to being right on with a tendency to be slightly in front of the pulse–typical of yours truly.
Since my student struggles to know if she is on the beat, this p (Read more…)
A few months ago, I joined a few piano teachers’ groups on Facebook. They have been a great source of teaching inspiration and have reminded me how many differences there are within our ranks as music teachers, even with teachers of great experience. A recent discussion has again sparked my interest in that basic teaching tool: the score and how we mark it to help our students succeed.
A score from a transfer student was posted: every fingering was marked as well as numerous note names. The score was cluttered with many section numbers, reminders and colors. The teacher sharing the score said that she prefers a cleaner score, with a student translating the necessary information from that mostly clean score, then asked the opinion of the group.
Here are some of the varying practices of the group:
Last month in Part 1, I explained how learning just 4 chord shapes that shared common tones, and using a capo could get your students up and running and able to play lots of songs in multiple keys. I promised to expand the concept to include a few more chords. So let’s get started!
In Part 1, I used the basic open position chords for G, C, D, and Em – the 1, 4, 5, and 6m chords. Let’s expand that now to include all the degrees of the major scale. The root note of each chord below, in the “basic chords” diagram, represents each degree of the major scale. The result is a “chord scale.” Just like you can assign a number to the degree in the scale, you can assign a number to the degrees in the chord scale. If you play through the chords in order from 1 through 8, you’ll hear the major scale – the root notes ARE the scale! (Read more…)
Striking a very special chord for many world class performers the Verbier festival just completed its 21st edition. A regular guest artist there, pianist Evgeny Kissin believes it’s crucial to combine rest with work because it helps the performer to regain lost focus. After remarking that it was too bad that “… there were only 25 (sic) hours in a day and only 365 days in a year …,” Kissin made the point that he preferred the solitude of working on solo repertoire to that of working in a group. It allowed him to apply the energy and focus he achieved during his rest more effectively. Now that he’s turned his energy towards Jewish musicians like Bloch and Krein, Kissin hopes that this hard work boosts their popularity and garners them the respect they deserve.
Over the past few years I have worked to improve my singing abilities because…well..let’s just face it, I couldn’t hit pitches worth a hoot! And even if I did “happen” to sing the right note, it still wasn’t a pretty sound coming out of my mouth. I couldn’t figure out how to consistently hit pitches so I would end up straining my voice to reach them. This became increasingly frustrating because I wanted to sing songs, but was horribly afraid of someone hearing me and telling me to stop. So I set out to take voice lessons, and did so for about 3 months-even in that short span of time my understanding of “how” to sing grew exponentially! I’m still not amazing by any means, but I am “better,” and for that, I’m extremely grateful. You see, my voice teacher imparted 2 incredibly helpful things on how to improve my voice that even though I only took lessons from her for a short time I’ve been able to use the (Read more…)
Student workbook and assignment book to coordinate with game board.
It is so exciting to start a new school year. I usually take August off to give myself time to get ready for a new direction in the fall. In my never-ending attempt to keep kids engaged in the study of piano and music, I create a different theme and activity set each year. This year my theme is World Music, and I’d like to share with you how I have put this to work.
Game pieces to move around the board; little superheros.
Let’s go to New York City.
After letting her finish her coffee we can hear Yuja Wang, not at the usual Steinway showroom in Manhattan where most pianists pick pianos for their performances, but on the floor at the Steinway and Sons factory in Astoria, Queens. National Public Radio (NPR) chose the most natural setting for any pianist interested in top notch concert grands when recording Yuja Wang playing Prokofiev’s technically demanding Toccata in D Minor, Op. 11.
With all its hypnotic repetition of a single note and elaborate chromaticism Prokofiev’s biographer David Gutman argued that Prokofiev himself had trouble playing it because his technique, while good, was not quite enough to completely master the piece. However this fact is not universally accepted and his performance as reproduced in 1997 for the Nimbus Records series The Composer Plays is certainly virtuosic and technically skilled. What do you think? (Read more…)
It is that time of the year again – back to school craziness!
This is a great time to order new music for your music studio, as most publishers have back-to-school promotions. Aside from my favorite methods and teaching staples, I also like to check out what is new and expand my studio library.
In one of my previous posts, I talked about how I will be offering four learning tracks in my piano studio this year: Fun Track, Recital Track, Festival Track and Competition Track. In this post, I would like to share some of the music I will be using for my Festival Track students.
In all my years of teaching, I have always believed in the value of music festivals. While not every student is suited to the stress and extreme demands of music competitions, I think music festivals offer a nice alternative for most students. (Read more…)
PRACTICIA is an up-and-coming practice app designed to engage teachers, parents, and students in a new, revolutionary way. This app will not only be able to be used as a resource for private teachers, but also band instructors, choir directors, orchestra teachers, etc. Since I am not a music teacher, I don’t have any students to try the app out with…so I decided to do this review/overview a little differently.
First, take a look at PRACTICIA’S promo video on their site and then come back for a Q&A session with the app’s CEO and Co-Founder, Sam Rao, to find out more about what PRACTICIA is!
Q&A with Sam Rao
MMB: Does the app monitor how long a student practices or is that just based on what the student enters?
Rao: Yes! It actually records all practice and presents a live feed of all practice sessions to the teacher. The teacher can instantly give a “Thumbs Up” acknowledging that they noticed the student had practiced. Or they can even mak (Read more…)
Around the dinner table we had a conversation about music teachers. Here’s a sampling of what people regarded as their best teachers.
One person remarked that he was never prepared for lessons with his first violin teacher, and was often afraid to go his lesson. And yet once he was there, his teacher was always friendly, always engaging, and he left feeling happy to have been there, and determined to do better (which he often did not, because next time he was again unprepared!). This musician is now quite well known in his style, tours constantly, and runs several music camps focused on encouraging students to express themselves through music.
Another person at the table plays violin but noted that two of her favorite teachers had been piano teachers. One was a lot like the teacher we just discussed: any time the student came to a lesson, the teacher took her from where she was, gave her lots to try during and after the lesson, and left her feeling energized, and never guilt (Read more…)