Win a Free 3-Month Subscription to the New Piano Cub App!

Dr. David Brown, an innovative music educator, has gathered a team and developed an app to help students learn to read and play the piano. He has just recently launched PianoCub (and has a Kickstarter campaign running right now), and he has offered to giveaway a free 3-month subscription to one Music Matters Blog reader! Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing. The winner will be drawn using a random number generator on Friday, July 29, at noon (CST).

Here’s a preview of the first lesson:

Dr. Brown says,

PianoCub is a brand new piano education tool that’s perfect for students as well as a supplement for piano teachers. PDF lessons are accompanied by HD videos and state-of-the-art graphics with notes that highlight in correspondence to video performance. You can check out a video and samples at http://www.pianocub.com/.

Guiding Students to Become Independent Learners and Musicians

The more I learn about Classical education, the more I am inspired to help my students become effective learners in every area of their studies. After reading this insightful post by Katherine Fisher, one of the authors of my absolute favorite piano method (Piano Safari, in case you didn’t know :-)), I am contemplating ways of incorporating more rote teaching even with my older students as a way of helping them make better connections with what they are playing and the underlying structure of the music. The deeper their understanding of music and how it is structured, the better equipped they will be to learn on their own.

Katherine says this,

I do believe the beginning of the process [of becoming independent learners and musicians] for students is to develop the discipline to concentrate and store information in a logical way. In the realm of piano pedagogy, I believe this translates to teachers encouraging students to learn and memorize a large amount of music. This should not be done in a “blind” sort of way in which there is no understanding of how the music is constructed. On the contrary, students should understand from the beginning that music is composed of patterns and a logical form. For musicians, this is an essential element of the art of learning.

Summer Piano Camp Roundup

This will be the first summer in a long time that I haven’t held a piano camp in my studio. It’s always so much fun to brainstorm and create a week of fun-filled music games and activities centered on a specific theme (although I think Carnival of the Animals will always be my favorite!). However, this year my students and I all decided that a break was the preferred option. 🙂

So, in lieu of my own to share, I thought I would round up some of the summer piano camp inspirations from around the web:

Joy Morin’s Summer Composition Camp looks fabulous! What a bunch of talented young musicians.

I haven’t seen a new piano camp at Sheryl Welle’s Notable Music Studio Blog, but she has tons of games to explore in addition to her well-loved Road Trip USA summer piano camp!

This isn’t specifically a piano camp, either, but I could see Wendy Steven’s Rhythm Explorations series being used as the main curriculum for a fun rhythm camp!

Here’s a helpful resource from Trevor and Andrea at Teach Piano Today on How to Use a Summer Piano Camp to Grow Your Studio.

Jennifer Foxx always does great projects in her studio, and has put together Let’s Go to the Movies, a piano camp/workshop where they learned about music in the movies and completed silent movie projects. Watch her studio blog for pictures!

Those are a few of my findings thus far. If you have or know of a summer piano camp that could inspire or be purchased by other music teachers, please share!

The Seventh Annual Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition Winners

If you’re looking for some viewing and listening pleasure this summer, you might enjoy checking out these videos of the finalists and winners from the Seventh Annual Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition.

The first prize winner, audience award winner, and press award winner was 38-year old Thomas Yu, a periodontist from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It’s not hard to see why! Here’s his final round performance of the third movement of the Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Major, op .103 (“Egyptian”):

New Custom Files Added to Jungle Expedition Studio Practice Incentive Theme

Thanks to some wonderful suggestions from a Music Matters Blog customer who has previously used a Music Matters Blog studio practice incentive theme, I’ve created and added a few files to the Jungle Expedition theme to make it more easily customizable for use in your studio.

The customizable files include:

  • A new Jungle Huts page with blank areas to customize your hut titles.
  • Separate pages with enlarged blank huts so that huts may be placed in separate locations around the studio (for extra fun and adventure!)
  • A new wall poster without huts so that the huts may be placed around the studio (this also allows more room for studios with a larger number of students that can’t all fit on one wall poster).

If you previously purchased the Jungle Expedition practice incentive theme, you can download this additional .zip package using this link: https://app.ecwid.com/download/5643098/9b249b7f4f3f5bb8800085548ad899f1/JE_Custom.zip. If you haven’t yet purchased the theme, the new customizable files will automatically be included in the downloadable package. Please feel free to email me with any questions!

Using Pennies to Teach 16th Note Rhythms

Years ago I first tried the idea of using pennies as a tactile way to teach the subdivision of 16th note rhythms. It’s been a while since I used it in my teaching, but now that all of my students are reaching a higher level of playing, it was time to break out the penny jar again!

At our final group class of the year I let each student select a rhythm instrument and pick 16 pennies from my penny jar. We started by stacking them in four groups of four and beating a steady quarter note beat. Then I had them separate them into eight stacks of two and beating the eighth note rhythms. Finally, we placed all of the pennies individually and played them as sixteenth notes with a slight emphasis on the first one of each beat to help maintain a sense of pulse.

We used these fabulous sixteenth note rhythm flashcards from D’Net Layton and I showed them what the rhythm patterns looked like, then we arranged the pennies to match the pattern, then practiced playing it on our instruments. The students really enjoyed this approach, and it seemed to help them understand both the mathematical subdivision of the beats and also how to play them fluidly within a beat structure.

Review and Giveaway of Fireworks in the Night

As if writing a book isn’t hard enough, author Sherry Miller has gone above and beyond by producing a full-blown audio track and lesson plan to accompany Fireworks in the Night, her first book in a series called Randy the Raccoon & His Musical Friends.

The book is full color and beautifully illustrated – sure to capture the attention of a young animal-loving audience! As a long-time music educator in both private and classroom settings, this book is an innovative addition to the other materials she has created to inspire a love of music in budding musicians.

The story is a creative weaving of Randy Raccoon’s nighttime escapades with a glimpse into the life of one of history’s greatest composers: George Frideric Handel. I was surprised that more of Handel’s story wasn’t included, but there is a list of “Fun Facts About George Frideric Handel” at the back of the book and the accompanying lesson plans (available as a free download upon providing your name and email address) cover some additional interesting information. Also, it’s helpful to note that the book assumes that the reader is listening to the correlating audio file (included in the free download) and references the music that they are hearing. If you have a device handy for little ones to play and follow along, I can envision them experiencing hours of enjoyment listening to the lively audio drama. This is a fun introduction to the world of Classical music, and hopefully will whet young appetites to explore and learn more!

Sherry has kindly offered to give away one free copy of Fireworks in the Night to a Music Matters Blog reader! Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing to win. A winner will be drawn using a random number generator at noon (CST) on Friday, June 10, 2016.

Summer Coupon – Save $5!

To celebrate the arrival of June/summer, we’re offering a special coupon for $5 off of anything in the Music Matters Blog store! Whether you are looking for some fun games to incorporate throughout the summer, a complete piano camp curriculum, or are exploring possibilities for a motivating practice incentive theme you can launch next year, find the perfect fit for you and your students to infuse your teaching with something new and exciting! The coupon is good through this Saturday, June 5, so have fun shopping! Just use this code when checking out to receive $5 off: SUMMER