Thursday, July 28, 2011

3rd Most Used I-Pad App- U-Tube

    Have you ever had a student who needed to be inspired by a really exciting performance of a piece they were learning. Even more exciting than you, yourself, playing for them? I have had many of those moments and for that reason having my I-Pad ready to use U-Tube is fantastic. It just takes moments to type a search for the piece or even a certain performer. Even better, I search before the lesson and the video is ready to go when they arrive in my studio, right on the piano music stand.
 Perhaps I need my student to see a minuet being danced for them to feel the music they are playing. Or, as I needed recently, a video showing the art of the time period. I found a video entitled "The Loves of Emma Bardac" which is a docudrama of the life of Emma who had a relationship with Gabriel Faure and who later married Claude Debussy. Both of these composers wrote music for her daughters. The music was played by Katia and Marielle Labeque, concert pianists who are sisters, from France.

 They were dressed as impressionist paintings and the beauty of their playing was something I needed my student to see. She and I have learned two of the pieces from the Dolly Suite, by Gabriel Faure. I did not show the whole video to my student, but the few minutes of enrichment helped us both feel excited to learn one more piece from the suite.
     In case you would like to know more about this story, here is a brief summary.

Emma Bardac (1862–1934), née Moyse, was the mutual love interest of both Gabriel Fauré andClaude Debussy. Of Jewish descent, Emma married, aged 17, Parisian banker Sigismond Bardac, by whom she had two children, Raoul, and Hélène (later Madame Gaston de Tinan (1892–1985)). Emma was an accomplished singer and brilliant conversationalist. Fauré wrote his Dolly Suite in the 1890s for Hélène and La bonne chanson for Emma herself.
After her affair with Fauré, Emma was introduced to Debussy in late 1903 by her son Raoul, one of his students.[1] Emma and Sigismond were divorced on 4 May 1905, and she eventually married Debussy in 1908. Bardac had a child by Debussy, a daughter, Claude-Emma, nicknamed 'Chou-Chou' (born 30 October 1905), and dedicatee of his Children's Corner Suite composed in 1909. Claude-Emma died of diphtheria in 1919, the year after her father's death. Emma Bardac died in 1934 and, like Claude-Emma, was laid to rest in Debussy's grave in the Cimetière de Passy in Paris.
In a documentary film called The Loves of Emma Bardac directed by Thomas Mowrey, the accomplished duo-pianists Katia and Marielle Labeque perform a selection of pieces by composers Bizet, Fauré and Debussy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2nd Most Used I-Pad App

   My second favorite I-Pad app is called Note Squish. It is a note reading tool and it is unique because of it uses groundhogs to interact with.
Letter names appear over animals who come out of the their holes. They must touch the right letter to match the note on the staff above. The groundhogs come and go and at times the correct letter is not on the screen so the student cannot guess by touching them all. The background music is fun and if it is annoying it can be muted.
I like the versatility in that I can choose which notes to drill and how many notes to drill,
This is the set-up page. Notice the speed can also be adjusted.
My students love it and it is small finger friendly.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Providing Inservice

   I  recall being given opportunities to be in-service. Adults in my church gave me chances to accompany at about age 12. They encouraged me enough that I developed a desire to be better and that kept me practicing. They also taught me about worship music, the place it has in church services, and about how to choose music music to set different moods. I have been providing inservice training to a few students who I think will want to participate as accompanists and even organists in their churches as they get older. I start with teaching simplified hymns. As soon as they have learned three of them, I have them play prelude with me. I provide an accompaniment on the organ which helps them feel safer and I modulate between the different keys in the hymns. We practice together at the church the night before and this gives me opportunity to instruct and give them some insight into the organ as an instrument.This Sunday, Miss M. was able to play for 10 minutes with me. I know she felt pleased with her playing and the adults gave her kudos for serving others in church.

Speaking of organ playing Laura Lowe has some great things to say about the need for organists. Do you see a need to provide this kind of inservice?

Friday, July 22, 2011

My First Piano Adventures

       I have been blogging about using My First Piano Adventures. I started teaching from this series last summer.

My first student to use this series was 5 and I needed something before Primer Level Piano Adventures. I am very pleased with the results. J.,who started last August, is halfway through Book B.
    I feel like he has a much deeper grasp of note reading because we have approached it slowly, with incremental steps. One tool I value is the CLAP practice reminder. This week J. and I used it for each song we played. To firmly implant this tool into a child's mind it must be repeated every week. The A in the word CLAP stands for attention. It reminds the student to pay attention to what comes after the first notes. Looking ahead is such an important skill in sight reading.
   J. used these skills to perfection this week on the piece called "The Tambourine Party". I was so pleased and to add to the fun I pulled out the precise rhythm instruments mentioned in the song.
   I used the triangle as he played which made this piece feel really finished and synthesized into his heart. That is what I am looking for. Music well played and felt deeply within.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Top Five I-Pad Apps For Piano Students

   So many of you piano teacher bloggers use an I-Pad these days. I purchased mine last September and have used it everyday since then. I bought it for my piano lessons and have thoroughly enjoyed it's functionality. My favorite note reading application is called Note Goal Pro.
   I have looked at many different apps but this one has a lot of options I love. It does cost a little bit but it is updated often and improves each time.
  First feature, you can have your students log in and it tracks their highest scores.
 I believe they have capacity for a least 20 students or more now. My students like finding their own name.
   This feature lists their highest scores and give me a look at what we have done before. This is a list of keys they have drilled..

Second feature; the screen has more than one note at a time. This strengthens intervalic note reading. You can adjust how many lines of music they do.
Third feature; you have choices of helps to give even your youngest student a chance to read notes.
    You can turn on colored notes to match the background of the note to play. Some students don't notice this help and others catch on right away and then I turn it off.
A blue dot can tutor them for awhile. Did you notice that you can change the keyboard size. This helps kids who don't use a touch screen much. It keeps them from leaning on other keys.
Fourth feature; You decide what notes to drill. You can do a small range of notes or the whole staff.

You can do only notes of a certain key. This allows older students to review scales and includes sharps and flats.
In review, I-Pad is a thumbs up in my studio and Note Goal Pro is usually on the screen during some part of the lesson,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Piano Lessons Are a Life Skill, Not an Extracurricular Activity

Recently at a concert where I sang with my brother and other family members, several students of his Vocology Institute asked me if our parents were musicians. I had to say that neither my mother or my father played an instrument but that singing was a life skill we learned like cooking or repairing a flat tire. Every family gathering consisted of singing and those that played an instrument became essential to the overall success of togetherness. 
I saw my niece go to the piano and start to play familiar songs during  a lag time at our recent family reunion. The children gathered around her and quieted down. They were pulled together in the magic web of music.
When you give a child piano lessons you are offering them a life long skill. It is not just an activity to stimulate their intellect or keep them out of trouble.
But, it is essential that you, as parent, show the value of that skill  My mother showed me, by sitting in the living room and listening , that she enjoyed my playing. Not to say that I was an easy child. I would have quit playing many times during my first ten years of lessons.. But she was convinced that I would thank her for her tenacity. And I have thanked her and I owe any success I have had as a pianist and piano teacher to her vision.