A Customized Christmas Recital Program!

As I’ve given workshops for our local associations on how to use the computer to develop customized materials for the studio, one common desire many teachers have is to be able to make their own well-designed recital programs. In light of this, I am making available the following cover design, and corresponding files, for purchase and use in your studio:
Cover SampleBack Sample

If you have the Print Shop software (either the Deluxe or the Pro Publisher Version), you will be able to open and edit the cover file yourself. I highly recommend this software! It is user-friendly and can be used for designing any kind of material you can imagine! However, for those who do not have the Print Shop software, I am offering the option for you to purchase the same files, but I will customize the cover file with information specific to your studio: your name, recital date and a personal note on the back.

The download includes the following files (and includes the right to print, or have printed by a commercial printer, as many copies of the program as you need at no additional cost):

1. Recital Program Sample (pdf) – the inside of the program so that you can see how the layout is designed
2. Recital Program Cover 1 (pdf) – the full cover (front and back)
3. Recital Program Sample (doc) – the inside of the program in Microsoft Word format so that you can edit it and add all your own program information
4-6. Fonts (in case you don’t have them on your computer and want to use the same ones I used for the cover design. For instructions on how to install new fonts on your computer, read this post.)
7. Cover (Print Shop file) – for those who have the Print Shop software and can open and edit the cover design themselves.
Please note: the files come in a zip format. If you don’t have an unzip program, download a free trial version of WinZip here.

Christmas Recital Program Files | $10
Add to Cart

Custom Design for Recital Program Cover and Back | $10

Once you complete your order, if you are ordering custom design services, please click here to send me an e-mail with the following information:

1. Your full name (to be listed as “students of…” on the cover)
2. Your recital date
3. A personal note for the back (100-150 words is best)
4. Verse or quote for the bottom of the back cover (optional)

Once I receive the above information, I will e-mail you a customized PDF file and you will be able to print, or have printed by a commercial printer, as many copies as you need at no additional charge. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions!

A Music Spelling Bee!

Looking for a fun game to play with a group of students that will also help them work on note identification? Try having a spelling bee! Here’s how it works:

1. Divide the students into two or more groups.
2. Give each group a set of flashcards with notes on the staff (make sure the answer isn’t on the back! Click on these links for a perfectly suited set you can print and use: Page One, Page Two, Page Three. These are a wonderful creation designed by Flo of Pianimals.)
3. Directions to students: when a word is called from the list, they must arrange the flashcards in the correct order to spell the word and stand facing you so that you can “read” the word from left to right. Once they are arranged in the correct order, they must ding a bell or give some other signal to indicate that they are done.
4. Call out one of the words. (Below is a list of words that can be spelled using only the letters in the musical alphabet.)
5. Each team that arranges the notes correctly gets one point. The team to spell the word first gets one additional point. The team with the most points at the end wins!
6. Have fun!

Musical Alphabet Words
(click here to download a printable version of this list.)













































Free Music Games!

Check out this collection of downloadable musical games that D’Net has made available for free on her studio website! I especially love these 44 composer cards and plan to print them off and start using them right away. Teachers who use the Nancy and Randall Faber Piano Adventures course will especially love this Primer Level Bingo game that reviews all the concepts covered in the Primer level and this complete set of 92 flashcards. And there’s more! So click on over and check them out for yourself!
A huge thanks to D’Net for all the time she put into developing these great games and for generously sharing them with the rest of us!

Expand Your World

Natalie’s note: This fascinating article by Mike Ellis will stretch your brain and push you outside the box, er, beat of traditional musical understanding. The more I teach, the more I realize the importance of teaching music as sound to be felt, interpreted and conveyed, not just as notes on a page to be intellectually translated and transmitted through the fingers via an instrument. Of course, this is much easier to discuss in theory than to implement in practice! I would love to have some input from other teachers in response to this. How do you help your students feel the music and connect with the sound, not just mechanically read the notes and rhythms off of the page? Any practical tips?

Expand Your World
© Mike Ellis Music Instruction 2006

Sometimes I like to think back on my studies in ethnomusicology, if for no other reason than to refresh myself, musically. We studied the music of different ethnic origins. One often thinks music is music and that it’s the same around the world. Some think that do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do is a universal truth and that other cultures just rearrange the notes to fit their particular cultural style. Many think that all cultures teach music like we do in America and that the complex rules of Western music are the law and must be studied at the university level to be truly understood and appreciated.

Certain scales from India have twenty-two notes as opposed to our seven. And although music notation is not a new concept in Indian music, Carnatic music was transmitted orally for centuries without being written down. This is what I like to call “true” music training, wherein the student has to hear the music to learn it. In this way, there was no mistaking the accents, emotional inflections in volume, tone, etc., that conveyed the true emotional meaning of the music.

The Western use of staff line notation is far from the only conveyance of music in the world. Past attempts to use Western staff notation to describe Indian music have mostly failed. Indian music makes use of hundreds of ragas, many more than the church modes in western music. It becomes difficult to write Carnatic music using the staff notation without the use of too many accidentals. Furthermore, the staff notation requires that the song be played in a certain key. The notions of key and absolute pitch are deeply rooted in western music, whereas the carnatic notation does not specify the key and prefers to use scale degrees (relative pitch) to denote notes.

We usually tend to think of music in terms of 3 / 4 and 4 / 4 time, the top number (left when typed) being the number of beats per measure and the number on the bottom (right when typed) indicating which type of note (quarter note, eighth note, half note) getting one beat. Dave Brubeck made famous a piece in 5 / 4 time called “Take Five,” appropriately. Pink Floyd’s hit “Money” was mainly in 7 / 4 time. The guitar solos were in 4 / 4 time. Of course there are other exceptions, such as 12 / 8 and others, but primarily in western music, the rythmic patterns are in three or four beat constructs. Even the 12 / 8 rhythm can be expressed as four groups of three beats, with an eighth note getting one beat.

But take a look at an excerpt from www.wikipedia.org on rhythms of Carnatic music.

There are thirty five primary rhythm cycles: seven rhythm cycle types with five flavors (jaathi) in each type. Part 2 describes this in more detail. Amongst the thirty five, only some are commenly used in practice. Here they are, with their names in parentheses in italics:

4 – as in 1234 (eka)

2+3 – as in 12123 (khanda chaapu), sometimes played as 4+6 (1122112233).

2+4 – as in 121234 (roopaka).

3+2+2 – as in 1231212 (thriputa).

3+2+2 – as in 1231212 (misra chaapu), sometimes played as 6+4+4 (11223311221122).

4+2+2 – as in 12341212 (aadhi); this is the most common rhythm cycle.

7+2+1 – as in 1234567121 (jhampa).

5+5+2+2 – as in 12345123451212 (ata).

(Listening note: the non 8-count rhythm cycles may feel a bit abstract at first, but pretty soon one gets the hang of any rhythm cycle.)

That last sentence in the parentheses means that after you hear it enough times, you get to where you can feel the rhythmic structure enough to replicate and enjoy it. The key word here is feel.

So, our Western music is not the only music, our musical rules are not the only rules, our method of teaching these rules is not the only method, and studying music in a university does not necessarily make one a musician. Music is a heartfelt “confession” of emotions and takes many forms around the world. If you are fluent with our Western reading of dots on a page, be sure you listen to what is being produced from those dots. Try to go to the source and listen to the author’s version. It will make a far better musician out of you.