Thursday, April 23, 2020

Creating Customized Piano Lesson Assignments

Adapting to Online Lesson Assignments

One thing I love about teaching private piano lessons vs. group teaching is the way I can customize the experience based on each students individual needs and progress.  For this reason I've hesitated to shift to a set rigid curriculum with preset assignments, even though that might make lesson planning easier. But the temporary social distancing measures have required me to switch from my handwritten, fluid lesson assignments to something a bit more structured.  The notes and ideas I've jotted down through the years in my copy of piano books for planning are now being compiled into Google Docs for each method/technique book including supplementary links to activities.

Switching from Handwritten Piano Assignments to Online Google Docs

Pros:

  • Students still move at their own pace within each book. If they need more time on a certain piece, I just keep it on their digital lesson for the next week but can move faster in other books as needed and supplementary materials under the Challenge/Creative/Fun tab that is specific to the student's interests.
  • Assignment notes are more legible (typed) and complete, because I can copy and paste instructions for each piece from my lesson assignment template instead of writing jots quickly jotting thing down by hand while trying to focus on the teaching process. 
  • Instructions are more thorough.  Although a lot of my instruction is verbal and demonstrated at lessons, its nice for the parents and students to have a more complete description of what to practice at home to refer back to.  
  • Subcategories in my assignments still allow for flexible music choices and pacing for each student instead of just sticking to the method books.
  • Online assignments with embedded links allow for easier navigation to supplementary lab assignments.
Cons:
  • It's more difficult to add visual sketches into lesson assignments like scale diagrams, chord shape doodles, etc.
  • Students have to use a device to access assignments instead of having it in their piano bag.

Here's what a sample weekly assignment looks like:

Scales/Chords/Arpeggios/Cadences: Review C,G,D,A,E

Technique/Theory:  Red T 13 Floating Balloon

  •  Let your wrist glide the sound from left to right hand as you imagine a balloon floating in a gentle breeze.
  • *Can you play legato with a wrist float off at the end of each phrase?

Lesson: Red LB 8 Firefly

  • Review what you know by completing p. 4-5 during Lab.
  • Listen to the audio of Firefly as you follow along in your music. Tap the rhythm with the correct hand.
  • Circle the symbols indicated on the top of the page.  Can you also find 2 broken chords?
  • *After playing it as written, can you transpose it to the G 5 Finger Scale?
  • Optional: Game VMT Don’t Leaf Me or Flower Power


Challenge/Creative/Fun: Primary Song Rote Piece - Books in the Book of Mormon

  • Watch the Marco Polo Reminder Video as needed
  • Play C and G root chords in the left hand (bass clef) as you sing the melody (C C, G G, C C, CGC). Hint: For the last G chord you can “slide down” fingers 5 & 3 to the B and D and keep your thumb on G, so you don’t have to jump as far to the root chord.
  • *Can you play both the melody and harmony together as you sing?

 Focus Goal/New Concepts: Legato Phrases 

Lab 

  • Red LB 4-5 Complete Get Ready for Take-off Review
  • Complete your TonicTutor.com Lesson. The Rhythm Aim High and Overachiever contest starts this week!




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