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Monday, March 18, 2019

One Minute Piano Lesson Challenges

For the month of March, I'm kickstarting each piano lesson with a one minute challenge for my students each week when they arrive at lessons and ending with some creative improvisations as they tour the world!

Scale Block Stacking - How many blocks can you stack in a tower in 1 minute?
Level 1: Music Alphabet Order - Stack notes ABCDEFGABCDEFG
Level 2-3: Skipping Music Alphabet - I encourage them to think of the memorable "FACE GBD(Jibbity) or GBD (Jibbity) FACE?" suggested by Nicola Cantan on the Colourful Keys blog.  That's a lot faster than trying to sing the music alphabet and try to omit every other letter!
Level 4-5: Key Signature - Order of Sharps: Fat Cats Go Down And Eat Bananas

Level 6: Key Signature - Order of Flats: BEAD Grandma Cooks Fish

Stepping up the Scales
Level 1: Play a C pentascale and then arrange the whole/half step cards in order.
Tonic    Whole   Whole     Half     Whole
Tonic    We         Were      Happy  When
Level 2-3: Arrange the whole/half step cards in order and then play a major scale. T WWH W WWH
Tonic    Whole   Whole     Half     Whole  Whole Whole Half
Tonic    We         Were      Happy  When   We      Were   Home!
Level 4-5:  Arrange the whole/half step cards in the minor scale pattern and then play a natural minor scale.
Tonic  When  Harry Went   West    He   Wore   White
Tonic  Whole Half   Whole Whole Half Whole Whole

Quizlet Matchup - Can you a match up the cards in a minute or less?
Piano Keys
Piano Terms and Signs Level 2
Piano Terms and Signs Level 3
Piano Terms and Signs Level 4

Piano Terms and Signs Level 5
Piano Terms and Signs Level 6

Notes in the Fast Lane (aka Susan Paradis One Minute Club) - How many notes can you say and play in 1 minute?

World Tour: The student guided "World Tour" duet improvisations using Forrest Kinney's Create First and Pattern Play book help students unlock their creativity across the keys.   Students get to choose from some vacation destinations and create a melody in the musical style of that country using a "scale recipe" while I accompany them with patterns and vacations in the bass. Would you like to visit Ireland? Scotland? Japan? Arabia? New Orleans? Spain? Persia? South America? Paris?
Check out Forrest Kinney's youtube channel playlists for Create First and Pattern Play to see some other samples of improvisation solos and duets in action. The Sunrise Solo  or Sunrise Duet are a great starting point for beginners because of their slow tempo  rhythmic freedom and focus on only black keys.  Moonrise increases in difficulty a bit with alternating hands. Weather combines a variety of sound effects employing staccatos, glissandos and alternating hands, all of which allow for freedom of movement and varying touches across the whole keyboard.
Create First Duet - For the Joy  and Create First Solo - For the Joy pick up the pace a bit but still just focus on the black keys. The vacation destination pieces vary in complexity and one of my favorites is Africa (in Pattern Play book 1)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Motivation in the Music Studio by Del Parkinson

Motivation in Music Lessons
It was a privilege to be able to attend a UVMTA music workshop recently presented by Dr. Del Parkinson, professor of Piano Pedagogy at Boise State. His combination of humor, genuineness and helpful tips was refreshing. It is easy to see why his student's mention these elements in his rate the professor remarks! Following are my notes from his presentation

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Music Is Fun Elementary Lesson Plan

I volunteered to teach a music lesson in my son's elementary school classroom for Fun Friday.  With so many games to choose from in my piano game resource list, it was hard to decide which to use but I finally picked Susan Paradis's Music is Fun Bingo game as the basis of the activity and planned the following interactive activities to go along with each of the calling cards after doing a quick introduction of the music alphabet and white keys on the piano.  The activities highlighted in yellow are free activities for children to try out at home if they like.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Strategies for Fostering Musicality by Paula Clark

Teaching Musicality, Piano Practice Tips

Does preparing students for festival cause you stress? At this recent workshop, Paula Clark gave some great tips about helping student prepare for festival performances as well as reviewing some effective practice drills and strategies to remedy common challenge spots in a variety of music samples.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Feeling Musical Pitch through Movement

Music and movement make great pairs!  To prepare students for the complexities of the staff I like to first incorporate some movement to music activities.  This not only matches the natural learning developmental process, but it also provides a meaningful energy outlet for young students who get fidgety being stuck on the bench for an entire lesson.

Friday, February 1, 2019

12+ Months of Free Music Group Lesson Plans

Choosing a monthly focus topic for piano lesson not only simplifies lesson planning, but it also helps me ensure that students are getting a well-rounded exposure to musical concepts that can easily be overlooked like composition and ear training.

Festival Music Samples & Listening Assignment :Jazz Rags and Blues

For each piece write the name of the piece and then click it to hear it and answer the following questions:
1. Write 2 or more words to describe the mood of this piece.
2. What is the tempo (speed) of this piece (Adagio, Andante, Allegro, Presto, etc.)?
3. What articulation do you hear in this piece (staccato, legato, accents, pedaling etc.)?
4. Choose your personal rating for this piece from the following:
 1- I have no interest in learning to play this.
2 - This piece is okay
3 - Nice, but not my favorite
4 - I would like to play this piece.
5. I would love to learn to play this.

Jazz Rags and Blues by Martha Mier
Just Struttin' Along
Don't Wanna' Leave You Blues
Ragtime Do-Si-Do
Ol' Rockin'Chair Blues
Surfboard Boogie
Seventh Street Blues
Sneaky Business
Downright Happy Rag
A Neat Beat

For more jazzy fun, check out these episodes compiled by Leila Viss
Get Inspired: Episode 17 The 12 Bar Blues
Get Inspired: Episode 13 Boogie Woogie