Friday, July 13, 2018

Inspiring Creativity in Piano Lessons with 20 Variation Cards


When motivation for playing piano was waning for one of my students after a busy day, I pulled out these variation cards and it was definitely a game changer! Not only did he have a new excitement about learning his new piece, but I was able to assess his knowledge and teach some theory and technique skills in a lively engaging way that drew him in asking for more.  He wanted to complete the entire set of cards!
Instead of playing the "What Changed" game, that I blogged about on this previous post, I instead used the variation cards as a springboard of ideas for the Variation Practice Challenge.

My variation cards simply include a basic idea for varying the song with an image to represent the change.
Scrambled Eggs- Mix up the Melody
Ornament Ending- Add a trill turn or other embellishment to the end of the piece
Snail Cheetah-Change the tempo

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Music Mapping in Piano Lessons: A Tool to Aid Memorization and Sightreading

Last weekend I attended a workshop sponsored by my local music club. I was really intrigued by the concept of music mapping and how it can help students learn pieces more quickly and securely.

Friday, May 4, 2018

May Music Mash-up Piano Group Lesson

This month's theme in my studio includes a mashup of concepts including ear training, note reading, and rhythm, and at our group lesson, students had fun literally mashing up music concepts :)
 Major/Minor Pinata

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Music Theory Carnival Piano Games

For my most recent piano group lesson, we played carnival themed games with a music theory focus.  I brainstormed so many different ideas that it was hard to pick just a few to squeeze within an hour! 

Lucky Lolly Signs - Identifying Music Symbols
Lucky Lolly Music Carnival Game
Take turns naming music signs attached to the lollipop of your choice.  If you name it correctly and the sucker has a colored dot on the bottom you get to keep it.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A Piano Metaphor: Growing from Failure to Failure

"Mistakes are a fact of life. Learning to skillfully play the piano is essentially impossible without making thousands of mistakes or maybe even a million." 
"Success isn't the absence of failure, but going from failure to failure without the absence of enthusiasm" -Winston Churchhill
"Consider failure as a tutor, not as a tragedy."
"Success is GROWING from failure to failure without the absence of enthusiasm" - Lynn G. Robbins

I loved these profound ideas from a recent inspiring message given by Lynn G. Robbins and his example of an inspiring college professor's approach to exams reflects my approach to piano theory exams.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Composition 101: 5 Avenues to Begin Composing


Which is better creativity or conformity?
For a person who likes the comfort zone of predictable instructions, checklists and rubrics to measure progress, conformity is definitely the easier path, so embarking on a new adventure of preparing students for a Composition Festival this year was an intimidating challenge for me. I tapped into a lot of resources and discovered that there are a lot of different paths that lead to the same destination.
As I led my students through the process of creating their own pieces I was amazed at the many layers of learning this project created as they applied rhythm dictation, fingering choices, time signatures, dynamics, form and note naming. The best part was that my students were so motivated to apply these rules of "conformity" because they were passionate about their compositions. Following is a roundup of links that can unleash the creativity and get the juices flowing in a variety of ways.
Make a Motive or Theme/Mood with Sound Effects
Inner Musician.com
Wynn Anne Rossi Creating Creature Sounds
Compose Create Cartoon Motif Contest
Scale Ingredients Composing with Flour and Salt
(Major, minor, Pentatonic, Blues or Whole Tone)

Piano Group Lesson Plans and Ensemble Inspiration

Being a musician can often feel like a solitary skill unless teacher's make an active effort to plan ensemble opportunities for their students.  I love living in a small community that supports the arts!
I was blown away by this amazing performance at my daughter's recent high school choir concert when her friend Haley sang "The Prayer" with George Dyer accompanied by the orchestra, choir and another friend on the piano. I'm sure being a part of this ensemble will be an unforgettable memory for her, and it has made me contemplate how I can involve more ensemble playing in my studio. Group lessons are the perfect stage for ensemble experience and can provide synergy for students who may be lagging at times.

Here's a roundup of Group Lesson blogpost Plans I've had fun using in my studio in the past.
Technique and Artistry
Composing and Valentines Day 
Piano Cranium
Effective Practice 
Christmas Themed  and More Christmas Group Activities
Theme and Variations Form and Composing 
Summer Combo - Technique, Notenaming, Theory, and Ear Training


Other Fun Group Games:
3-2-1 Chord Blastoff
Music Theory Headbandz
Collect-a-Chord
Rhythm Telephone Race
Rhythm Tag