Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Free Music "Glorious" sung by David Archuleta

 A couple of years ago I discovered a great resource for inspiring music for a great price... FREE!  One of my favorite songs on the LDS Youth Music Site   is "Glorious" by Russ Dixon.  I am not a frequent movie goer, but I do love history, realistic drama and feel good movies, so I was excited to go to "Meet the Mormons" for date night with my husband a few weeks ago.  I enjoyed the diversity of real life stories, but my favorite was the final highlight of the "missionary mom" who experienced loneliness, heartache, peace and love through some interesting and unexpected twists and turns in her life.  (I should have brought some tissues.)  To cap off the feature film, I especially loved hearing the David Aruchuleta version of "Glorious" which is available for free download at Meet the

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spicing Up Piano Lessons

I recently shared some of my favorite creative teaching tools and ideas at a class I taught at my local music store. I compiled the following list of links to fun ideas and resources from this blog and other talented bloggers that I have especially enjoyed using with my students.  You can also access the link to this post at the top of my page for easy reference.
 Fun Lesson Starters
Teaching Theory Through Games
    • Major: We Were Happy When We Were Home
    • Natural minor: When Harry Went West He Wore White
    • Harmonic minor: We Have Watermelon With Harry WhenHe's Home)
Technique and Rhythm the Fun Way
Practice Incentives/Group Piano Parties

Stretching Your Teaching Tools
  •  Chord Progressions with Familiar Folk Songs or Pre-Time Fun Favorites 
  • Use Teacher Duets with 2 siblings/students at different levels
  • Adapt Game Rules for Multiple Purposes.   For example 1 deck of Interval Cards could be used for Don't Eat "Pete", Interval Towers, Over the Edge, War (Slow Paced Naming Intervals), Slapjack, Speed Sorting (Fast Paced Interval Matching), Interval Bingo (Slow Paced Interval Ear Training), Swat the Interval (Fast Paced Ear Training) BANG!, or Minute to Win it Sightreading Challenge (Notereading and Intervals)
Supplementary Book Recommendations:

Pattern Play by Akiko and Forrest Kinney (Link to Free Sampler online) (Listening Room)
Discover Blues Improvisation by Faber/Edwin McLean 

Alfred's Famous & Fun Series (Classic Themes, Familiar, Pop, Fun Favorites) by Carol Matz
Faber Gold Star Performance Books with CDs
Faber Pre-Time to Big-Time (Children's Songs, Favorites, Classics, Popular, Ragtime and Marches)

In Recital with Jazz Rags & Blues or Classical Themes by Helen Marlais
Piano Safari Technical Exercises and Rote Pieces by Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr

Other Popular Posts
Piano Teaching Binders -(Notes in the Fast Lane, Sightreading Challenge Sets, Rhythm Drills, Picture Scales etc.)
Piano Online Lab
Piano Teaching 101

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Quest for Virtues - Theme for the New Piano Year

Earlier this week when I attended a classroom event in my child's school, I was impressed with their classroom focus on 5 character traits.  The week's theme was on Perserverance so they copied the poem Try Try Again to start out the day. I appreciate her teacher's efforts to utilize classic character concepts while teaching the basics of writing, reading, science and history.  Although I was an "A" student, now that I'm approaching my 40s I realize that although I can no longer regurgitate my geometry theorems, fluently conjugate my Spanish verbs, or label all of the county's and county seats of state where I no longer live.  But the process of learning these bits of information instructed me in the more lasting virtues of being conscientious and persistent even when some school subjects weren't interesting to me.

So when I brainstormed my entry for the Most Creative Piano Quest at Teach Piano Today
I chose the theme “A Quest for Virtues.” Next year I want to issue specific challenges each month tied to virtues.  Following are the themes I came up with but plan to fine tune over the next few months.
Creative – Compose and Share an Original Composition at a Recital or Group Performance.
Honest – Accurately report your practice minutes/efforts consistently.
Optimistic – Be positive about your own accomplishments or attitude at lessons.
Precise – Pay attention to the details (dynamics, artistry, fingering, etc.).

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monster Bus Fan

 Lately, my little 2 year old has been begging to listen to "Monster Bus Driver" (My First Piano Adventures Book A) and I love hearing his delighted voice exclaim
"It's Comin'"
"Beep Beep"
"Mom It's Honking"
"G'bye Monster Bus!"
A few days ago after seeing me practice duets with his older siblings, he wanted to have a turn too, so I pulled out the CD and book and played through several songs/activities with his hands "riding" on top of mine.  I love that he just keeps begging for more, because of the playful engaging nature of the music and illustrations even though he's a little young to actually execute the echoing of the rhythm correctly.
Wrist Forearm FINGERTIPS!

Knuckles, Elbows, SHOULDERS, too!
 What is interesting is that one of my daughter's absolutely hated this song because she was scared of the creepy sounding monster's voice.   So instead she became a lover of the Pumpkin Trick or Treat Game.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Piano Summer Olympic Events

Piano Olympics  is one of my favorite incentive programs to use with my students over the summer.  I love how it allows students to "shine" in different areas that they excel in while boosting their skills with a little bit of friendly competition.  Each Student has a tracking chart to record their individual progress in the events.  I also post the current "rankings" each week of the top student in each category by adding a (removable) star sticker by the name of the lead student in each event. Another bonus to this incentive program is that students of varying levels can all compete by suiting the level of difficulty of the tasks to their abilities.

Practice Marathon- (Record Results Every Week)
Persistent & steady wins this race.  Color a circle and/or write the date on your practice chart  [from] each day you practice 30 minutes.  The first student to reach 42 days of practice wins the Gold!
Choose at least 2 other events to compete in each week.

Note Name Dash-

For this event, study your flashcards of notes on the staff.  To participate I will time you to see how quickly you can name and play 24 “notes in the fast lane”.  Aim to play and say all the notes on a sheet in less than 1 minute to advance to the next level.
Rhythm Hurdles
To jump the rhythm hurdles you set your metronome at quarter note=72 and play lines from the rhythm drill on one piano key while you count out loud.  I’ll track how many lines you can play while counting aloud in a row without any mistakes.  Once you play a whole page perfectly, you advance to the next division. [Level 1=quarter, half & whole notes], [Level 2 adds dotted half notes,  half & quarter rests]. [Level 3 adds eighth notes and ties], [Level 4 adds dotted quarter notes] [Level 5 adds triplets]

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Edible Pianos

Another favorite activity at our summer music camp was creating edible pianos. This is an especially memorable activity for kinesthetic learners.
1. The music alphabet has 7 Letters - Choose 7 white cookie wafers and draw the first 7 letter of the alphabet on wafers with frosting bags. Sing the Music Alphabet (a minor scale) while pointing to the keys.  Then sing it backwards.

2. The keyboard is arranged in groups of 2 and 3 black key "houses" that can help you learn the white keys.  The "Doghouse" has a smaller "roof" with D in the middle. The GArage is obviously bigger because it takes more space to house 2 cars (G&A) then to house a dog :)

While my daughter helped students finish assembling their pianos, students took turns at the piano finding the D's (Hey Diddle Diddle the D's in the Middle) and playing the "Alphabet Boogie" duet on the piano with me.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mason Jar Melodies

 One of the biggest hits at our piano camp was the Mason Jar Melodies, a fun idea I found on pinterest.  Before camp I "tuned" the jars to match the pitches of the first six notes of a major scale by adding the perfect amount of water.

1.  Discovering Pitch - I set the jars randomly on the counter, removed the lids and had students "test" two jars  with a plastic spoon to determine which was higher or lower.  They gradually sorted all of the jars until they formed a pentascale +1.  The girls thought it was neat that I had colored them in rainbow order.

2.  Next we played a game of Name that Tune" as students took turns playing the beginning measures of familiar pieces I had written using color coded notes.  Since my campers had varying levels of experience, it was nice that even beginners had the chance to make music and apply their understanding of rhythm values we had reviewed earlier.

For some odd reason, one of the jars was dysfunctional on the day of camp, but it worked fine the day before and the day after???  But, things still worked out as some of the more experienced students just sang the tone of the "bad jar" so they could still decipher the melodies.