Monday, September 24, 2012

Serendipity or Pattern Play

   You will love this story, hang on to your seat! Last year I enjoyed reading a blog post from Anne Crosby Gaudet on Pianoanne about Pattern Play, a series of books written with the intent to bring freedom and joy into playing through improvisation. She had a wonderful project with her students and I was intrigued. I purchased one book and read it throughly, used it a little, but still struggled with how to use it across my studio. Then this summer Natalie at Music Matters wrote about a summer intensive in Seattle by the Pattern Play authors which she attended. She made the statement that she finally got the concept and there was more there than just improvisational exercises. I purchased three more books in the series and from one week to the next would take them out and try using them.
   Now the story moves to my husband, the piano tuner. He meets the most interesting and diverse people. Sometimes if the discussion, during and after tuning, is especially invigorating my husband will invite them for dinner. So, last night I had some guests coming to dinner who I had never met. As we made our introductions, Forrest handed me a book he had written, as a gift. It was entitled, "Pattern Play, Create Your Own Music". WAIT!

   "Are you the Forrest Kinney who wrote these books I have on my piano?" He was and we were both surprised at this serendipitous meeting. He was shocked to see so many of his books and I was shocked to see the very person I needed to talk to.
   Dinner was so fun and after, we made music. My husband even joined us in a trio. I had a master class right in my own home for the price of pasta and salad. Can't beat that!

    Here is a fun tip which I used this morning in lessons. Tell your student that you are going on an exotic trip and for added fun you are going to adjust your piano.

     Put a thin piano book, Pattern Play No. 1 is just the right thickness, inside the piano, on the strings, close to the dampers. Add a pencil off to the right and another one on the other side of the brace. The effect will be a percussion twang on some keys which will make the improvisation "Persia" so much more middle eastern.
    Your young student doesn't have to know anything about the D Harmonic Minor Scale, just give her 4 keys to explore.

   You, as the teacher, can play an accompaniment using D minor fifths, going up to the E flat for variation and just exploring what your intuition sends our way.
   This was just the thing to start me thinking about exploring theory through improv. I am so grateful for open, gracious people, who take a chance to meet others.
   Thank you Gail and thank-you Forrest.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Play Every Day And Learn

       I have enjoyed pedaling my bike this summer and I learned so many things that apply to playing the piano. It helped me make up my new practice incentive. If my students log their practice minutes they may have a bicycle to pedal. For every hour of practice they can colorize their bike. 

   Things I learned while pedaling:

  •    My muscles are stronger every day
  •    I have come to know the divots and potholes on the street
  •    I have more balance and trust myself more
  •    I am trying new roads because I am more confidant
  •    I feel increased joy going down the hills because I am not afraid of the upside

How does it apply to laying the piano?

  • Your fingers get stronger every day you practice
  • You come to know your weaknesses from working every day
  • Your fingers become more confident as you repeat your pieces
  • Playing everyday encourages you try new things
  • Your joy in playing increases with success
                           Two thirds of my students have earned their thousand minutes so we are on to 
                                                          Playing Every Day And Learn

   Find the image of the bicycle here.