Friday, September 12, 2014

A Quest for Virtues - Theme for the New Piano Year

Earlier this week when I attended a classroom event in my child's school, I was impressed with their classroom focus on 5 character traits.  The week's theme was on Perserverance so they copied the poem Try Try Again to start out the day. I appreciate her teacher's efforts to utilize classic character concepts while teaching the basics of writing, reading, science and history.  Although I was an "A" student, now that I'm approaching my 40s I realize that although I can no longer regurgitate my geometry theorems, fluently conjugate my Spanish verbs, or label all of the county's and county seats of state where I no longer live.  But the process of learning these bits of information instructed me in the more lasting virtues of being conscientious and persistent even when some school subjects weren't interesting to me.

So when I brainstormed my entry for the Most Creative Piano Quest at Teach Piano Today
I chose the theme “A Quest for Virtues.” Next year I want to issue specific challenges each month tied to virtues.  Following are the themes I came up with but plan to fine tune over the next few months.
Creative – Compose and Share an Original Composition at a Recital or Group Performance.
Honest – Accurately report your practice minutes/efforts consistently.
Optimistic – Be positive about your own accomplishments or attitude at lessons.
Precise – Pay attention to the details (dynamics, artistry, fingering, etc.).

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monster Bus Fan

 Lately, my little 2 year old has been begging to listen to "Monster Bus Driver" (My First Piano Adventures Book A) and I love hearing his delighted voice exclaim
"It's Comin'"
"Beep Beep"
"Mom It's Honking"
"G'bye Monster Bus!"
A few days ago after seeing me practice duets with his older siblings, he wanted to have a turn too, so I pulled out the CD and book and played through several songs/activities with his hands "riding" on top of mine.  I love that he just keeps begging for more, because of the playful engaging nature of the music and illustrations even though he's a little young to actually execute the echoing of the rhythm correctly.
Wrist Forearm FINGERTIPS!

Knuckles, Elbows, SHOULDERS, too!
 What is interesting is that one of my daughter's absolutely hated this song because she was scared of the creepy sounding monster's voice.   So instead she became a lover of the Pumpkin Trick or Treat Game.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Piano Summer Olympic Events

Piano Olympics  is one of my favorite incentive programs to use with my students over the summer.  I love how it allows students to "shine" in different areas that they excel in while boosting their skills with a little bit of friendly competition.  Each Student has a tracking chart to record their individual progress in the events.  I also post the current "rankings" each week of the top student in each category by adding a (removable) star sticker by the name of the lead student in each event. Another bonus to this incentive program is that students of varying levels can all compete by suiting the level of difficulty of the tasks to their abilities.

Practice Marathon- (Record Results Every Week)
Persistent & steady wins this race.  Color a circle and/or write the date on your practice chart  [from] each day you practice 30 minutes.  The first student to reach 42 days of practice wins the Gold!
Choose at least 2 other events to compete in each week.

Note Name Dash-

For this event, study your flashcards of notes on the staff.  To participate I will time you to see how quickly you can name and play 24 “notes in the fast lane”.  Aim to play and say all the notes on a sheet in less than 1 minute to advance to the next level.

Rhythm Hurdles
To jump the rhythm hurdles you set your metronome at quarter note=72 and play lines from the rhythm drill on one piano key while you count out loud.  I’ll track how many lines you can play while counting aloud in a row without any mistakes.  Once you play a whole page perfectly, you advance to the next division. [Level 1=quarter, half & whole notes], [Level 2 adds dotted half notes,  half & quarter rests]. [Level 3 adds eighth notes and ties], [Level 4 adds dotted quarter notes] [Level 5 adds triplets]

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Edible Pianos

Another favorite activity at our summer music camp was creating edible pianos. This is an especially memorable activity for kinesthetic learners.
1. The music alphabet has 7 Letters - Choose 7 white cookie wafers and draw the first 7 letter of the alphabet on wafers with frosting bags. Sing the Music Alphabet (a minor scale) while pointing to the keys.  Then sing it backwards.

2. The keyboard is arranged in groups of 2 and 3 black key "houses" that can help you learn the white keys.  The "Doghouse" has a smaller "roof" with D in the middle. The GArage is obviously bigger because it takes more space to house 2 cars (G&A) then to house a dog :)

While my daughter helped students finish assembling their pianos, students took turns at the piano finding the D's (Hey Diddle Diddle the D's in the Middle) and playing the "Alphabet Boogie" duet on the piano with me.