Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Using Tune Train App in Piano Lessons

I stumbled upon a fun free app this week that is engaging both my 6 and 10 year old in some fun composing adventures.  It is simple enough for even my 4 year old to enjoy.  Tune Train allows even young children to "play" with music composing in an engaging and intuitive way.   Using some preset familiar chord progression templates cleverly couched in different lands such as "Little Lamb Lane" and "Winter Time"  even young children can create pleasing melodies and then select a backing track that suits them.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Rhythm Telephone Race

I love playing a game that involves engages all of my students at once. This fun musical adaptation of the game "telephone" got my students literally feeling the rhythm in  a fun way at our last group lesson.  I lined up 3 trick or treat rhythm cards in front of each team.  I chose one of the rhythms to tap simultaneously on the backs of the last players in line on both teams and they raced to tap the rhythm message up the line so their team player at the front of the line could be the first to correctly identify and snatch the correct rhythm card.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Is learning to play certain instruments more beneficial to your brain than others?

 This was the question my 9 year old daughter posed to me this morning as she was gathering information to compose a persuasive essay on her chosen subject:   "Playing piano is good for your brain."  So after taking notes on this TED-ED video, we explored a little further.

Google led us to this especially intriguing article by Jordan Taylor on Music.Mic. It's a little exhaustive for a 4th graders mind to digest, but it effectively motivated her to want to run off and improv at the piano. After watching the Oscar Petersen video clip she declared, "I need to go practice piano.  I need to get smart."

"Science Shows How Piano Players' Brains Are Actually Different From Everybody Elses'"

As both a violinist and pianist I've always considered violin the more difficult instrument.  I'm sure that in part this is because I have less training and passion for violin, but violin also requires more precise finger placement and auditory skills to play "in tune."  And yet the description of differences between guitar and piano playing shed some interesting light on how piano playing uniquely strengthens the brain in contrast to some other instruments.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Music Showcase

This energetic song has definitely been a favorite for many students in my studio!  I love the challenge of the Faber Gold Star Piano Adventures Books.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Meet the Minor Scale Family

I've found that sometimes the minor scale patterns can be a bit overwhelming for students to remember.  I created this visual to help students see and hear the distinctions between the three types of minor scales. 
I always think of a natural minor scale as a bit sad or melancholy and was surprised to hear one of students announce that he loves playing songs in minor keys.
 The #'d 7th tone adds a creepy sounding appeal and of course makes the V7-i progressions sound so much more resolved, which is probably why the majority of minor pieces use the harmonic scale form.
I think of the melodic minor as kind of a "wanna be" major.  As the scale ascends, it starts with that distinctive minor flatted 3rd, but then the #6th and #7th tones almost trick you into thinking its a major scale.... until it returns to the natural minor form as it descends.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ted-ED - Intriguing Videos on Music Topics

Thanks to google and a recent homeschool science experiment on solutions, I rediscovered the fascinating world of Ted-ED videos once again as my girls were intrigued by a funny analogy comparing oil molecules to women with large ball gowns who just don't fit in well with the water square dancers, so they clump together in their own corner.   The benefits of music on the brain hopefully will provide them a little more incentive to practice and the "Brain on Improv" video inspires me to be sure to include more creative assignments studio.

The Ted-ED questions led us to explore a variety of subjects including some of these other music related ideas.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Halloween Themed Free Piano Resources

It's a treat to pull the seasonal games and music and rediscover a few I've forgotten.  I organized this list of free Halloween themed music and activities posted by creative bloggers that I've enjoyed using in my studio the past several years.
Susan Paradis Pre-Reading Pieces & Primer Staff Songs
Free printable songs have a small range of notes perfect for beginners or for sightreading practice.

FPS (Jennifer Foxx) Primer Halloween Pieces 
These simple early elementary pieces in a minor are great for reviewing notereading on the staff near Middle C.

Making Music Fun Toccata Theme 
My students love this simplified version of this familiar Bach piece that is often associated with Halloween even though more difficult rhythms require some rote teaching for some.

Layton Music Trick or Treat Rhythm Pumpkin Patterns
My daughter begs to play this rhythm activity all year long even though it is simply rhythm clapping practice paired with some treats.  One year I posted a pumpkin rhythm card to the front door that students had to knock before entering for their lesson.

Piano Escapades Halloween Improv Game
This clever games wraps several concepts together into a quick game that is great to use as a lesson starter.  Students practice melodic improv on the c minor scale while reviewing rhythm patterns and some notereading as well.

Susan Paradis Bats & Cats Rhythm Game, Halloween Note Game
I love the Bats and Cats rhythm game that is easily adapted for beginner to intermediate levels while the Note Game reinforces notesnames on the staff for beginners.

Pianimation Halloween Activities
Jen Fink's fun group games, composition starters and quick games cover a variety of topics including rhythm, intervals, improv, major/minor and steps/skips.

Don't Eat the Poison Pumpkin Staff Notes
You can't go wrong with "Don't Eat Pete."  Kids love it at classroom Halloween parties, so I came up with this variation for piano lessons.

Witch's Brew Sing a New Song
I love the more challenging rhythm patterns in this game for students who need more of a challenge.

Halloween Listening Lab
I posted this a few years ago for my students to learn a little about musical form and the organ as they watch a YouTube video with Bach's Toccata and Fugue.

Classics for Kids - Halloween podcast
The classics for kids short podcasts are a great way to expose students to a variety of music as they learn about various composers.