MTNA Live Streams Masterclasses

As you probably noticed, I’m not live-blogging the MTNA conference this year. After getting married in December, I decided that it would be good to take this year off of my various travels and extra events to re-focus and make my husband and children my first priority. I am loving being a wife and mother and enjoying learning a lot from this new role God has given me.

I haven’t heard if anyone else is live-blogging the conference (feel free to share any links if you know of someone who’s blogging!), but I was excited to see that MTNA is live-streaming a couple of masterclasses this year. The first one has passed, but you can still catch a live stream of the Spencer Myer Masterclass tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 9:00. This is a great opportunity to get in on a little bit of the conference virtually even if you can’t be there in person!

Perspectives on Distance Teaching

Even though I took the plunge into teaching piano lessons long distance (via Skype) 3 years ago, I still find it insightful to read others’ thoughts and perspectives on the topic. This article by Dan Severino Two Different Animals – Online Teaching vs. Studio Teaching is extensive and full of helpful thoughts for both those considering teaching long distance and those who are already doing so in some capacity.

Friday Film Find

Thanks to one of my studio families for sharing this fun and inspiring video clip with me!

Free Giveaway of Piano Safari!

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I’m a huge fan of Piano Safari! So, I’m thrilled to announce that Julie and Katie have generously agreed to giveaway a free set of the Level 1 Pack (a $35.50 value!)! That includes the Repertoire Book, Sight Reading and Rhythm Cards, and Listening CD. All you have to do is leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing to win a Level 1 Pack of Piano Safari for yourself! The winner will be selected on Friday, February 28, at noon (CST) using a random number generator. I know you’ll love it!

Piano Safari: The Journey Begins…

I remember sitting at a restaurant in Austin, TX with a group of fellow MTNA conference attendees in 2006. Julie Knerr and Katie Fisher were among the group, and I sat with rapt attention as they flipped through pages of hand-drawn illustrations and notes while explaining the concept behind the new piano method they were creating. Little did I know that my own journey over the next six years would so perfectly prepare me for the official launch of Piano Safari!

I nearly leaped for joy when I read these two sentences in the Teacher’s Guide for Piano Safari: “In my use of various piano method series, I have come to believe that the main goal of most piano method series is not necessarily to teach children to play the piano. Instead, the goal of many method books is to teach children to read music notation at the piano.”

Ever since my epiphany at the conclusion of the Pattern Play Intensive and my subsequent experience at the Creative Life conference, I’ve been striving to teach in a way that reflects my desire to move away from a strictly literature-based approach to teaching, and adopt more of an experiential playing-based model of learning. In a sense, for the first 15 years of my teaching, I taught as though learning was the path to playing. But after experiencing a paradigm shift, I would now posit that the reverse is true: playing is the path to learning.

Piano Safari is the only method I know of that is based on this experiential and playing-based philosophy. Instead of reading music notation being the core, students are taught to develop beautiful technique, a sense of musicality, freedom to explore, discover, and create, an internal rhythmic pulse, and proficient sight-reading through a rich musical selection of rote pieces, improvisation experiences, guided compositions, and excellently sequenced reading skills.

The books are beautifully designed, with creative piece titles, memorable lyrics, and engaging music that is fun to play. I love that my students are learning eighth note rhythms right off the bat and getting to play music that sounds really cool. Learning by rote gives them freedom to focus on technique and explore lots of creative variations. They also learn to memorize quickly, and by the time they get to the end of the book, they have dozens of songs they can play by memory.

Piano Safari has revolutionized the way I teach and given me a framework to work within to provide a comprehensive and musically rich learning experience for beginning piano students. I am so grateful to Julie and Katie for creating this amazing method and providing myriad articles, videos, and other resources to help teachers successfully guide students onto a lifelong path as musicians. My students and I are loving the journey!

The February Love Special – $5 OFF!

In honor of Valentine’s Day this month (and getting married to the love of my life a little over a month ago :-) ), I thought I would run a special offer here on Music Matters Blog! For the next two weeks, you can get $5 off any purchase made in the Music Matters Blog store. This includes any practice incentive theme, piano camp curriculum, the 5 For Fun! music game idea book, and any other books. Just enter the following code when you checkout to receive your $5 off: M014M45X

Meet the New Music Matters Blog Review Editor

After looking for months at a stack of review items that I was eager to investigate, but never quite made it to the top of the priority list, I decided to enlist the assistance of my wonderful sister, piano student, friend, and fellow teacher, Naomi Wickham. Naomi has graciously agreed to take over as the Review Editor here at Music Matters Blog and is looking forward to discovering and sharing all sorts of music education films, books, sheet music, apps, and more here on the blog.

As a longtime musician and experienced childcare provider, Naomi will contribute a valuable perspective on products designed for music educators, students, and others. If you have a product you’d like us to review here on Music Matters Blog, please send an e-mail to Naomi and she’ll add you to our schedule of upcoming reviews!