Review and Giveaway of Informusic App

The timing could not be more perfect for the launch of the fabulous new Informusic app! It’s everything I would have come up with myself to provide a handy and useful reference tool for my students as we spend the year learning about composers and music history with our Vanishing Voices practice incentive theme.

You can easily scroll through a list of composers and select the one you’re interested in researching. The click will take you to a biographical sketch with links to a couple of his most notable compositions that you can either view in score format or listen to as professionally recorded audio files. While enjoying the virtual concert, read more about the work – when it was composed, what inspired it, and what musical elements are included.

A quick slide of the finger at the top of the screen will transport you to an extensive timeline of the composer’s life with clickable icons associated with each year that will reveal yet another timeline that places the event in context with other happenings in the world. You can even manually select which kinds of events to include in the timeline from a dropdown list, including: Architecture, Art, Literature, Medicine, Music, Politics, Science, Technology, and War.

This is a fabulous reference guide that every teacher and student can and should have at their fingertips! I am excited to make this available to my students on the studio iPad this year so that they can research various composers and listen to their compositions without having full access to the internet.

Even though the Informusic app is well worth the introductory rate of $.99, the app developers have graciously agreed to offer 3 free copies to 3 Music Matters Blog readers! Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing. The winners will be drawn using a random number generator on Friday, September 9, at noon (CST).

Giveaway of Jungle Expedition Studio Decor!

Fall is in the air, and with it the beginning of a new year of piano lessons, and (most importantly!) a new studio practice incentive theme! With that in mind, I’ve cleared off my studio wall in preparation for all new colorful decor. Now you have a chance to win a complete set of studio decor materials for Jungle Expedition: where mighty musicians survive!

Jungle Expedition!

Everything that you need along with the student assignment books is packaged up and ready to send to one special winner. The studio decor package includes the wall poster, the theme title and tagline, the theme verse, a set of student markers to place on the poster, and a set of laminated tickets that the students will be collecting throughout the year.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below. The winner will be drawn using a random number generator next Friday, August 26, at noon (CST) and the package will be in the mail the next day!

 

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.

Review and Giveaway of Piano Safari Level 3

Even though I believe that a good teacher can effectively utilize any method or curriculum to help a student achieve success, there is something invigorating about having well-designed resources that capture a teacher’s philosophy and vision for their teaching. That’s how I’ve felt about Piano Safari ever since it’s debut a couple of years ago. It has been the perfect complement to my desire to help students develop creative freedom, technical ability, and musical artistry at the piano while also building a solid foundation of reading and rhythm skills.

I don’t know who has been awaiting the release of Level 3 with more anticipation – me or my students – but it’s finally here! The pack includes a Technique Book, a Repertoire Book, and a set of Sight Reading Cards. I’ve had a blast looking through the materials and preparing to teach it. It’s also exciting to see some of the same Classical Education principles that I’m discovering are essential for true learning applied in this method. Namely, repetition, both of content and of processes, is necessary in order for students to attain mastery. I love how this is emphasized in the Technique Book through the use of cool images that the students are instructed to color one small section at a time for every accurate playing of a scale.

For this reason, I see the Technique Book being used not so much sequentially, but more in a spiral learning approach where a student continues to revisit the previously learned scales and exercises to develop increased speed, fluency, and familiarity. The Technique Book also references the animal techniques to instruct the students how to play each scale. The visuals are attractive and helpful while maintaining a clean, uncluttered page layout. I also appreciate the various practice strategies emphasized throughout the book. Another great feature is the way that each introduction of a new scale/key includes the same process as previously learned, while also incorporating a new accompaniment style, demonstrating to the student how the chords and chord progressions can be used in a musical way. All of this is then woven together into the Technique Extravaganza at the end of the book that gives the student an opportunity to showcase all that they have learned in a fun, energetic duet!

The Level 3 Repertoire Book is a fabulous compilation of original compositions, duets, and Classical pieces in their original form. The pieces are in major and minor keys (C,G,F, and a,e,d), and there are helpful bits of information and questions for the student to consider, along with brief biographical sketches about the various composers. This thoughtfully designed book will leave students well-prepared to continue their exploration of every musical style!

Last, but not least, perhaps the most versatile element of the Piano Safari method – the Sight Reading Cards. Whether or not you use the method in its entirety, these cards are a must-have for any piano teacher! We use them in a variety of ways in our studio, and they have done wonders to help my students improve their rhythm and sight reading skills in a sequential and manageable way. Each card includes a 4-measure musical excerpt for the student to play hands together that incorporates dynamics, articulations, and the rhythms they have learned. There is also a single line of rhythm only that can be tapped, played on single notes, or used for a musical improvisation.

Now, for the best part! If you’d like a chance to check out Piano Safari Level 3 for yourself, Julie and Katie have graciously offered to give away a free Level 3 pack to one Music Matters Blog reader (a $45.50 value!). Just leave a comment below to be entered. One winner will be chosen using a random number generator at noon (CST) on Friday, June 3, 2016. This could be just the thing to re-energize your teaching this summer or in preparation for next fall!

And the Winner of Little Gems for Piano Is…

#21 – Lisa Smith
#32 – Alondra McEldowney
Congratulations, Lisa and Alondra! You both should have received an email from me with instructions on how to claim your copy of “Little Gems for Piano” by Paula Dreyer.

But, thanks to Paula’s generosity, everyone has a chance to get their own copy of one or both of her books. For the next 30 days she is running a promotional on her website and at Amazon (Volume 1 and Volume 2) so you can receive 25% off of her books! Thanks, Paula!