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.
Theory Carnival
Technique and Artistry
Composing and Valentines Day 
Piano Cranium
Effective Practice 
Christmas Themed  and More Christmas Group Activities
Theme and Variations Form and Composing 
May Mash Up -Sightreading, Rhythm, Note Reading and Ear Training
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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

My Favorite Foundation for Rhythm and Chords #LETSPLAYMUSIC

I take a very playful approach to my piano teaching, because not only does play encourage creativity and have powerful cognitive effects  (The cognitive benefits of play: Effects on the learning brain), it is also a lot more fun! So "playing" with my son as he practices his "Let's Play Music" songs is something I look forward to.  This is a video I took in his class this week for #LPMSpiritWeek2018.


I became a Let's Play Music Connections teacher several years ago and posted a few of the things that I found captivating about the program like Kit Kats, bubble hands, paint balls and puppet shows in a previous post, but enrolling my own child has opened up the window to even more learning.
Learning rhythm with bugs (see Blue Bugs Rhythm Reading) allows young children to read more complex rhythm patterns at a young age with a developmentally appropriate sequence with sound before sight.

I love how Let's Play Music encourages singing and a solid chord foundation. Here's a quick clip of my son practicing his chords.


 Let's Play Music has inspired me to improve in several specific ways as a private piano studio teacher.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Musical Roots + Free Music Download

One of the most inspiring moments of my week was hearing the song "Army of Angels" sung by Evie Clair (America's Got Talent Finalist) at the Roots Tech session Music: A Bridge Across Generations.  I was astonished when I found out that the composer (her cousin) McKenna Mae has provided a free mp3 download of it as well as several some mp3 recordings and sheet music of her other songs.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Piano Technique and Artistry: Group Lesson Activities

For the month of March in my studio, since the focus is on playing more artistically with proper technique as students work toward their Technique Wizard Challenges, I've rounded up and created some group activities to introduce and reinforce these concepts in a memorable way.