Sunday, November 10, 2013

Music of Thanksgiving and Gratitude

 It seems like the stores skip straight from Halloween to Christmas and don't place a lot of emphasis on Thanksgiving, yet I love the yearly reminder of giving thanks and want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude within my children, as it is so easy for us to forget our many blessings.  Following are a few songs that I have used in my piano studio and home approaching the Thanksgiving Season.
For Health and Strength  - a short one line round perfect for siblings to practice in duet or round form
I remember singing this song often at church as a young child.  It was probably my first exposure to singing in a round.  One evening as I was gathered in the bathroom with several of my siblings to brush our teeth, someone broke into song.  We had a memorable and jovial impromptu choir practice in front of the bathroom mirror as we practiced conducting with exaggerated motions to cue each new part and sing this song with multiple rounds.  Now when I hear this song it makes me think of the blessing it was to grow up in a home full of siblings (there were 6 of us) surrounded by love.  I am thankful for parents who took me to church regularly and filled my life with music that helps me remember the Lord.  Following are a few of my favorites.
My Heavenly Father Loves Me I love the soothing melody line in this song!
Thanks to Our Father - Haydn + Robert Louis Stevenson
Family Prayer     Sometimes we use this as an attention getter to gather our own 6 squirmy children for prayer.
 Children All Over the World  As a child I was intrigued by the challenge of learning to say thank you in many different languages when I was taught to sing this song.
Hymn of Grateful Praise and  various arrangements by Sally Deford
This year I accompanied my daughter this year as she sang her first solo in church - "Come Thou Fount".  One of my piano students who was in the congregation called me afterward and asked what the name of the song was because she loved it so much.  The level of difficulty was beyond her reach, but since she was so enthused about learning it, after she mastered the melody line, I had her identify the chords in the harmony and showed her some tricks for improvising it to her level.
All Things Bright and Beautiful - simple arrangement by Susan Paradis
This week I was asked to give a short talk (sermon) on the topic of gratitude.  It was the perfect topic for me because its something that I need to work on.  It is easy for me to be honest, to be obedient, but being grateful and optimistic is a continual challenge.  I want to be more like Job who after having most of his temporal blessings stripped from him was still able to say

·       " Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."
I I love the reminder in this short video of a simple daily exercise that can help me live in thanksgiving daily... not just as I approach Thanksgiving.

As I watch "My New Life," the story of Stephanie Nielsen, a young mother who survived a plane crash, it chokes me up almost everytime.  Maybe its because I'm still in the phase of life with precious little children at home to care for who have many needs and yet who are the joy and delight of my life.  The background music is beautiful and it reminds me of the amazing husband I am privileged to share this life together with.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pianoanne Tutorials Lab Assignments

Watch Piano Anne YouTube Tutorial Videos to help you answer the 10 questions below.

Level 4
Piano Anne YouTube Video: Ledger Lines

Define ledger lines.

Level 5

Piano Anne You Tube Video: Major and Perfect Intervals

1. Which intervals #s are major?

2. Which intervals #s are perfect?

Circle of Fifths

3. Name the order of flats and name the order of sharps.

Relative Minors

4. What is the easiest way to find the relative minor of a major key?
5. What is the relative minor to D Major?
6. What is the relative minor to A Major?
7. What is another memory aid to remember the order of sharps that you could use instead of Fluffy Cat Goes Down And Eats Breakfast?

Minor Scales

8. What are the 3 types of minor scales?
9. Which degree (or note) of the scale is raised in a harmonic minor scale?

Degree Names of the Scale (Tonic, Supertonic...)

10. Name the technical degree names of the scale in order including roman numerals

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Why Teach by Rote?

I recently read a thought provoking mini essay by Dr. Julie Knerr and Katherine Fisher at  Previously I had viewed teaching by rote as something I should beware of so that students don't use their ears as a crutch to avoid learning how to actually read music.  But their logic regarding learning to speak a foreign language resonated with me.  Perhaps that's because after 2 years of college courses in Spanish, I can (sort of) read the language,  but my actual conversational abilities in Spanish are seriously lacking.  As a piano teacher I want my students to be musically fluent, not just good music readers. 
I've started intentionally incorporating more rote teaching in my piano lessons lately and have been very encouraged by the enthusiasm and progress it is fostering in my students technical, aural and memory skills.  Although I've been teaching basic technical skills like pentascales and arpeggios by rote for many years.  I've steered away from teaching songs by rote for fear that my students would play by ear rather than learning to read the music fluently.

The Pedagogical Resources Link on Piano Safari include several other interesting essays.  I like the suggestion in "Assigning Pieces" to mark some review pieces for students to include as part of their weekly practice.  The "Teaching Strategies" essay includes some great concrete ideas applicable to a variety of teaching situations.  I also love the insurance and osmosis analogies.  This is a website definitely worth checking into!