Monday, October 16, 2017

There once was an Ant Named Andante...

ANdANTe = Walking Speed
There once was an ANT named ANdANTe.  He was a very cautious ANT, he never liked to run because he was afraid he might fall and get hurt.  So ANdANTe WALKED everywhere.  One day when he was out with his friends it started to rain and the other ants ran for cover, but not ANdANTe.

ANdANTe marched down to the ground to get out of the rain. (Tap walking speed on your lap as you sing to the tune of “The Ants Go Marching”)  So if you spy ANdANTe remember to walk and not run!
Check out these tempo posters on Colourful Keys including one to remember Andante!

Friday, October 13, 2017

How to Maximize Learning in Music Lessons

The time at music lessons just seems to fly by each week because time flies when you are having fun!   Following are some ideas and links to resources I shared at the UVMTA Workshop: Spicing up Music Lessons-Using Creative Activities to Maximize Learning  At the end of the post is a youtube video recording of the entire workshop.

Making the Most of Music Lesson Minutes: Lessons I learned from a stick figure spotlight

Several years ago I marveled as I watched my son's exceptional kindergarten teacher spotlight a child in the class while simultaneously power packing the moment with teaching concepts. The wheels started churning in my own mind as I tried to think of how I could apply this same strategy to piano instruction.

Instead of just spouting off random facts about the child such as "Today we are spotlighting Sammy.  He likes___, _____, _____ and _______ and is the 3rd of 4 children...etc," she sandwiched into a simple spotlight some auditory, kinesthetic, visual activities which had all of the children's attention completely focussed on her and engaged in the learning activity.
As she drew a circle (head) on the whiteboard, each child traced an orange circle in the air with their finger and sang round orange circle. As she added each shape they traced, identified sides, sang and at the same time were trying to figure out the mystery child by looking for clues around them. The lessons continued as they used similar activities to sound out and spell his name in the air.
Following are some of the key ingredients that I think really made this moment effective.

Multi-Tasking to the Max- The minutes at weekly music lessons are limited. By packing in multiple concepts in a way that doesn't overwhelm students they will walk away learning and be retaining even more. Efficient use of time involves multi sensory activities ideally done simultaneously.
Use Appropriate Teaching Order (Hear, Feel, See, Name)-

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Teaching Scales with a Story

Would you rather hear "Once upon a time... " or "This is .... This is.... This is....?"
For me, concepts cleverly couched in a story line become much more memorable than a dry lecture.  To introduce the sounds of the scales I created this story activity.
"Once upon a time a happy couple named Mr. and Mrs. Scale were excited to welcome some new scales into their family.  In time their 4 Scale daughters were destined for popularity and were heard throughout Musiclandia.  As their children grew, their true personalities began to show and it wasn't always pleasant sounding around the Scale home.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

3 Stick Prop Tricks to Make Music Teaching Stick

The element of surprise or salience can be a key component determining whether or not students remember concepts that we demonstrate.  Rather than just telling or explaining, it is much more effective to demonstrate or engage students in memorable meaningful activities relating to the concept we are trying to convey.
Years ago when I introduced “Airplane Pilot” a simple piece with open fifths to my preschooler I noticed her playing with very little wrist rotation even though she was hitting the right notes.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Attitude is Everything: A Tale of Three Sisters

I was so inspired by "A Tale of 3 Sisters" that I heard in this inspiring message from Dieter F. Uchtdorf last weekend during the Worldwide Women's Conference.   I loved the overall theme of this message but it also sparked a fun idea in my mind for how to introduce scales through a memorable story.  Here's a sneak peak.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Piano Scale Thumb Tuck Challenge

Last week I introduced the "Can Can" to one of my piano students with a focus on playing even one-octave scales without a wrist bump.  I started with a daring challenge that really intrigued him.