Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Slalom Note Spelling Bee

This week for our group lesson I tried a new game that was a big hit for my students. Inspired by Sheryl's fabulous idea of Slalom Terminology, I had the students race "slalom" style across my unfinished basement to retrieve note flashcards to spell words using the music alphabet (BEAD, BADGE, EGG, etc.). I divided the students into 2 teams, called out the word and watched team members take turns to race across the obstacles to retrieve the correct notes to spell the word. The first team to collect all the letters to spell the word won that round. It was fun to hear them cheering each other on and scanning the notes frantically to find the correct one.

I printed off a set of Note Flashcards for each team. I was planning to play the game outside w/ a setup like we had at my sons' birthday, so I attached them all to a whiteboard with magnets in case of wind.

But the high pollen count was just too much for my poor allergies :( ... so we settled for the almost finished basement as our playing field.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Teaching Pedaling Creatively

A few weeks ago one of my students was having a really tough time getting the feel of syncopated pedaling. She was so frustrated I had her "shelf" the pedaling for a week. To reintroduce the concept we did an off the bench "experiment" that she'll probably never forget.
1- We both sat on the floor flat with our legs stretched out in front
2- Then I had her count a measure of 8th notes aloud (1&2&3&4&).
3- Next we added the "arm stretches" on beat one (Stretch &2&3&4&) and we stretched our arms towards our toes on beat one for a few measures. (The song she was trying to learn had pedal and chord changes on the first beat of each measure)
4-To finish it off, we added the "toe flexes." Chant "Stretch - Up-Down &3&4&" while flexing and pointing our toes after the arm stretches on the following beats
1-Arm Reach
& - Toe Flex
2 - Toe Point
&3&4& - Keep Toes Pointed
I was hopeful that by allowing her to see and feel her foot movements isolated away from the keyboard she would be able to grasp the timing of pedaling.
Initially it feels more natural for many students to want to push the pedal down at the same time as they press their hands down for the chords, but this exercise mimics the desired motions needed for proper pedaling of depressing or changing the pedal slightly after you play the chord.
When she came back after a week of practice I was amazed by the results. The pedaling problem was fixed, and she was so excited that she had memorized the song and asked if she could perform it at our upcoming group lesson. I love it when my crazy late night strokes of ideas yield results!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sonatina and Little Sonatas CD Giveaway

I love order - although you wouldn't be able to see that if you checked out the current condition of my piano cabinet :) As a young pianist my teacher encouraged me to participate in the local sonatina festival for several years. The Clementi & Kuhlau Sonatinas became some of my favorite pieces - perhaps because of their predictable form, harmonies and singable melodies. Unfortunately I don't find the time to play them as much as I would like to.
Natalie at Music Matters Blog is offering a chance to win a cd including a sampling of Sonatinas and Little Sonatas compiled by Allen Reiser. I would love to have this music playing in the background while I'm doing the dishes and laundry and getting my house in order - wouldn't you? Just click on the link above to leave a comment on her blog and enter this cool giveaway!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Feeling Rhythm

I attended my local music club's mtg. today and I was inspired by this experience one of the teacher's shared.
She had a transfer student come to his first lesson and proclaim " I can't count." She could have said "We'll have to work on that" but instead she asked him "Who says you can't count rhythm? - You have it in you, feel your heart." Then she had him place his hand on his heart and count as his heart was beating. He left the lesson with new found confidence in his ability to feel rhythm & count.
I know this isn't earth shattering news, I just appreciated the role of a positive teacher in encouraging her student to discover his potential in a simple yet effective way.