Thursday, August 24, 2017

Proper Hand Position with Nile the Crocodile


As a child I became a master at the learn-regurgitate-forget method of acing tests and earning perfect grades in public school.  But unfortunately, much of the knowledge I was exposed to did not truly sink in to stick with me much after the test was done. As I teach piano to children, I want the learning process to be memorable enough that the brief interaction we have each week will stick with them easily enough for them to recall it at home.
Story telling is one of the powerful tools in my teaching bag that I often pull out because it creates vivid, memorable images in a listener's mind and often evokes emotions that make more connections within the mind. A good story can make all of the difference when retention and repetition is the goal. When teaching piano hand technique to young beginners I  have used this story to make the lesson more memorable so the concepts stick.  If their hand collapses or wrist droops it is much more fun and less threatening to dramatically say "Oh no an earthquake squished Nile," or "Nile's getting all wet" then to directly address the issue.  Of course some students will be more enamored with making a house for a cute little polar bear or teddy bear, so I let them choose from my mini erasers the perfect character to build their home for.

Once upon a time there lived a crocodile named Nile.  He was searching for the perfect home.  But Nile had one problem.  He was scared of heights!  So he didn't want to climb any mountains to find the perfect home. And he didn't want to go in a canyon, because he would eventually have to climb out.

He walked along the level ground

Music Studio Bulletin Board


I'm a big fan of a bargain, so when I saw this bulletin board at the thrift store I was excited to snatch it up to display on my piano studio wall to add even more memorable teaching moments at every lesson.  Following are a few of the things I plan to feature on it.

  • Theory Teaching Posters  - I have one student who now checks the board first thing each week because he got a good laugh after seeing my "You're under a rest" poster depicting a stick figure standing under a quarter rest.  Enjoy Piano has another fun free downloadable version with a half rest here. On the ColourfulKeys blog I love Nicola's tempo teaching posters  "A leg grow's quick" poster. Susan Paradis's Noteboys, Key Signature Chart and Inversions Posters are sure to take their turn on my board too.
  • Composer Posters-  The right side features a composer poster that D'net Layton at Layton Music has available as free printables on her website. I love how they list the music period associated with each composer.
  • Inspirational Quotes- The Quest for Monthly Virtues Quotes/Art go along with a practice incentive I did in the past and are available here.
  • Practice Incentive Tracking Chart- We just finished  "Mountains to Climb" over the Summer and I'm excited to be starting a Pirate Themed Incentive this fall.  I found my inspiration from the JoyTunes Piano Teacher Facebook Page where Lorie Burningham shared her Pirate Treasure Map Incentive as a free download in the files.
  • Student Achievement Recognition - Each week I post the name of student who practiced the most on piano maestro and the student who earned the most home challenge stars (another free file from the Joy Tunes Piano Teacher Facebook Page. I also like to recognize students when they reach certain milestones like completing a method book, becoming a rhythm master (all levels of Rhythm Swing complete), or finishing a scale level chart.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Playground CDE Improv

A few weeks ago one of my new beginning students was having difficulty mastering the concept of directional notereading so I pulled out my whiteboard and magnets and had her construct "magnet patterns" for different playground activities.
Jumping Rope - "Jump" on the same key over and over
Teeter Totter - Move High and Low alternately
Climb up the Slide - 3 stair steps up
Slide Back Down - 3 stair steps down

Then we tried an improv duet (in Hal Leonard Lesson Book 1) with her selecting any pattern to play on any group of CDE on the keyboard.  Eventually she was able to combine several patterns to make a fun pleasing melody on the spot.