Saturday, April 18, 2015

Creative Activities for Beginning Level Piano Lessons

After over 5 years of blogging, the posts are beginning to pile up and some ideas tend to get "lost in the crowd".  So today I organized my previous posts that pertain to beginning piano teaching ideas.  They are listed in the approximate order that I introduce the concepts in lessons.

High/Low Sounds
  Mason Jar Melodies
  Teaching Ear Training Through Song

  Piano Pokey
Piano Technique/Position Concepts
  Song: "At the Piano sit straight and tall.. "
  1st Piano Adventures Wrist Forearm Fingertips, Cat-Backs, Hangin' on a Fence Post
  Rainbow Wrist Ribbons
Finger Numbers
  Where is One?
  Cookie Dough
Steady Beat
  Steady Beat Elephants, Woodpeckers, etc.
  Trepak Baseball

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Practice Incentives & Group Piano Parties

Ideally every student would be perfectly motivated to practice consistently for the sheer joy of making music and the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from mastering challenging tasks.  But real life is not this picture perfect.  I use a variety of short term and long term practice incentives throughout their years of music study to recognize and track progress and reward accomplishments.  Some students respond well to checklists, others love positive peer recognition and competition, while some will soar to great heights for a coveted prize basket item or treat.  Following are some of the incentive programs I have enjoyed using with my students to help guide their success in a fun way.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Handel's Messiah Docudrama on Easter Sunday

Handel's Messiah

Special Encore Presentation Easter Sunday at 6 & 11pm ET/4 & 9pm MT

 I love the music from Handel's Messiah and found this docudrama on BYUTV  telling the story behind Handel's masterpiece both insightful and inspiring when I watched it a few months ago with my family.  I love how it incorporates a diversity of modern day performers as well as telling the less known story of the personal challenges he overcame to bring this inspiring work that testifies of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Gold Festival Choice Listening Samples

Bagatelle - Anton Diabelli Op. 125. No. 10


Ecossaise in G by Beethoven

Spinning Song by Albert Ellmenreich

Sicilienne by Johann Sebastian Bach
(version on video differs from adapted version of Sicilienne in Premier Piano

Sonatina in C Movement 2 by Muzio Clementi

Sonatina in C Movement 3 by Muzio Clementi

The Fifers by Jean-Francois Dandrieu

 Alfred Premier Piano Performance 5
Blues Toccata
Climbing the Pyrenees
Downtown Jazz

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Thoughtful Preparation in Piano Practice

 This month in my studio "Quest for Virtues" our focus is on thoughtfully preparing before playing pieces or technical exercises.
Its not easy for many students to resist the temptation to just jump into a new piece without first preparing mentally.  So each week during lab or lesson time I am challenging them to some preparation tasks that can hopefully pave the way for them to become more fluent at technical skills, sightreading, efficient practice and portraying their pieces more artistically and accurately.

  •    Before playing scales, identify the sharps or flats in the key, draw the scale and key signature on the staff and identify the correct fingering for each hand.
  •  Analyze a piece by identifying chords (I, IV, V, etc.), phrase endings (wrist float-offs), form, dynamics (color) and the climax of the piece. (See Hand Over the Pencil)
  • Imagine your piece is telling a story.  Divide it into sections and add labels that reflect characteristics of each section of the music. (See Practice Strategies)
  •   Follow the steps for mental preparation before sightreading a piece (See Developing Super Sightreaders)
    o   Identify key and music symbols 
    o    Look for patterns in rhythm and melody 
    o    Audiate (hear it in your head) the melody of the music before playing 
    o    Ghost play challenging spots.
Although thoughtful preparation requires discipline, it saves so much time in the long run as practice becomes more productive and efficient.

Related Post:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Persistence: Kicking off the Piano Quest for Virtues

 I enjoy the reflective process of setting new years resolutions as the new year begins.  My studio theme for the new year is "A Quest for Virtues"

 Each student has a music quest board to chart their progress as they complete tasks related to the monthly virtue.

The four goals for the month that emphasize focused practice on challenging spots in music or a focus on technique include:

  • Advance up a level in the 1 minute club challenge by naming and playing all notes on the grand staff in 1 minute or less.
  •   Practice festival keyboard skills each day you practice.  Pass off in 1 key with accurate tempo, rhythm, fingering technique and notes.   
  •  Achieve 2 goals set by your teacher in Tonic Tutor.
  • Complete practice assignments for 20 days this month.
Related Posts:
 Quest for Virtues