2014 Christmas Piano Recital and Dinner

Last night was an evening of tradition and new beginnings. It was our 17th annual studio Christmas recital, but it was also our 1st annual Christmas dinner! Thanks to the vision of my creative husband, we decided to combine our studio recital with a special Christmas gift to our studio families – an evening of dinner, fellowship, and inspiration. Here are a few snapshots from the occasion:

Our theme was based on Matthew 1:23, ““Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

We used the Fireside room in our church building – a warm, cozy escape from the blistering winds and snow flurries that started falling in the afternoon!

Once all the families arrived, they were directed to their tables and offered hot drinks. My four kids were each assigned to serve a table, and did a fabulous job keeping drinks filled, serving each course, and making everyone feel welcome! You can see my husband attired in his kitchen apron also checking in on guests – he and my mom manned the kitchen and dished up plates of food to be served to the guests.

The courses were interspersed with musical selections – a variety of solos, duets, and ensembles – and a time of sharing testimonies of how we have experienced “God with us” throughout this year. I was so encouraged and blessed by all that was shared!

All of the students collaborated on a “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” ensemble (from A Christmas Gathering by Lynn Freeman Olson). Fun!

A group shot of all the students, plus a few guest artists (a.k.a former students) who contributed to the musical program.

I wasn’t sure how everything would work out, but thanks to the help and participation of each person, it proved to be a wonderful success! We look forward to many more years of Christmas recitals and dinners!

A Collection of Free Composer eBooks by Thomas Tapper

In doing some research for next semester, I came across this section on gutenberg.org that contains a set of 13 composer books by Thomas Tapper that are available as free downloads. You can download them for Kindle, iPad/iPhone/iPod, or as an HTML file. The files contain easy-to-read text along with photographs and portraits relevant to the story – a great resource for music teachers, students, and parents!

Review & Giveaway of Sonoptic

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The metronome gets an encore” is a very fitting tagline for the app, Sonoptic. I never cease to be amazed by the innovative and ingenious apps produced by developers-and Sonoptic is definitely among that lot of ingenuity.

After trying this app myself, here is how I would describe it:
It’s as if Sonoptic’s developers started with the idea of digitalizing Hanon exercises/a metronome app and then went to a whole new level by not only creating digital Hanon-like exercises, but ones that would cater toward whatever needs you might have! So these exercises include anything from basic scales to Blues & Jazz figures, and then from whatever one of these you select (or one of the other 5 options that I didn’t mention), you can choose subcategories to help you target a specific area in your practice. Sonoptic offers nearly 400 exercises which helps make the $6.99 price tag a little more understandable.

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It also includes customizable features like changing the tempo or key, selecting a specific note value to have the exercise favor, choosing one of the many instruments it has available, selecting a specific cycle for the exercise (repeat, randomly vary the keys) etc…

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However, the feature I like best by far is the real-time visual critique. With this feature, you can see what you played correctly/incorrectly, what you played too late/right on, and what your dynamics/articulation looked like. And then, if you desire to hear how you did, you can listen to yourself by pushing the playback button at the bottom. I can see this being very helpful for the practicing student to see where they need to improve in their scales, chords, arpeggios, and other skill building exercises.

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Overall, I think this app is quite the sophisticated metronome! 🙂 It has beautiful notation that is easy to read, and the developers did a good job with the layout and filling the app with lots of content. Something I do hope to see them update at some point is the ability to do exercises with the left/right hand together in the piano setting.

Sonoptic is available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch and if you’d like to enter for a chance to win your own download, express your interest in the comments and you might just be the winner next week!

 To view the Sonoptic website and get more info click here

To purchase Sonoptic click here

To view a Sonoptic demo click here

To see more pictures of what Sonoptic looks like click here (As you’ll be able to tell, the app operates in portrait mode and the iPhone layout is slightly different than the iPad and vice versa.)

Review & Giveaway of Transpos-O-Matic

It’s happened to me and I’m sure it’s happened to you. You were in a position where your teacher asked you to transpose one of your pieces, or you’re playing with a group and for the sake of the vocalist you have to lower a song by two half steps, or someone randomly asks you what a certain note is if they transpose their song to b flat minor…or something along those lines. I can find my new starting note and primary triads with no problem, but figuring out where all the rest of the notes in the song now need to be played is definitely NOT something that comes naturally. Typically my reaction is, “Well……I guess I’ll just figure the whole thing out by ear,” or “Maybe I can find something on Google that can help me?”

In actuality, though, I need a visual reference that can be placed right on the piano, something that aligns the original key with the new key so I can see where the new notes are.

If you also struggle with easily transposing and are in need of a tool to help you remedy this weakness and become more of a master, you should check into purchasing David McCord’s handy/portable transposition slide-rule. 🙂 The Transpos-O-Matic slide-rule comes in two different sizes and is made from 14 pt SBS paper board material, so don’t worry about having to replace it every two weeks from wear and tear because it’s pretty durable. 🙂 (If you check out the video, you’ll be able to see what else this device has to offer on the opposite side! 🙂 )

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If you have more questions about the Transpos-O-Matics check out the website.

Lastly…the giveaway! Because of the generosity of Mr. McCord, if you enter the giveaway-via the comment section-THREE of our MMB participants will win one of his handy dandy Transpos-O-Matic tools. Whether for personal use, your studio, or a friend, I can see this little resource becoming a great asset.