Teaching Composition to Students

Or this post could be titled, “Reason #47 Why I Love Piano Safari!” 🙂

When Alyssa first began piano lessons last fall we tried some simple improvisation activities, but she was reluctant to play anything without knowing that it was the “right” notes. As we’ve worked through my all-time favorite piano method – Piano Safari – she’s gradually gained confidence and creative freedom. After a couple weeks of hashing out some ideas and discussing possibilities at her lesson, she came back with this fabulous original composition, Thunderstorm Over the Prairie.

The way this is presented in the method was perfect for her! She got to draw a picture to represent each part of the thunderstorm, then come up with musical ideas to reflect each element. She told me after she played this at her lesson that having the pictures was so helpful for enabling her to memorize her composition and keep track of where she was. As you can hear, she also enjoyed incorporating a familiar folk tune into her piece. I just love watching my students flourish as musicians who are comfortable all over the keyboard, whether playing written music, pieces by rote, or original compositions!

Review and Giveaway of Jumpin Jazz Kids

If the vivid colors of the website aren’t enough to draw you in, then surely the energetic music by renowned Jazz musicians will do the trick! This fun, high quality CD could easily be considered the modern day Jazz equivalent of Saint-Saens’ imaginative Carnival of the Animals.

Grammy Nominee for Best Children’s Album of the Year, Jumpin Jazz Kids: A Swinging Jungle Tale is a fun collection of narration and music as seven-year old Claire and her animal friends search for her Grandpa’s “lost” story. Kids of all ages will enjoy listening to the story unfold, and I could even see using it as a basis for a fun music camp curriculum!

Now, for the best part, the producers of Jumpin Jazz Kids: A Swinging Jungle Tale, have offered to giveaway five copies of the CD to Music Matters Blog readers! Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing. The winners will be chosen at noon (CST) Thursday, July 11, using a random number generator.

Carnegie Hall Live 2012-2013 Season Begins Tonight

Interested in catching a Carnegie Hall concert but can’t quite make the trip to New York City for the occasion? No problem! After last year’s success, Carnegie Hall Live returns this year so that you can listen to twelve world class concerts from the comfort of your own home. Enjoy the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Orff’s Carmina Burana tonight and then mark your calendars for the rest of the season!

Check Out the 24-Hour Kids Classical Internet Radio Channel

Classical New England has launched a 24-hour Kids Classical Channel with classical music programs specially designed for kids. I was listening to it for a while the other day and caught a broadcast of “The Instruminute” – a short clip of music and information about a musical instrument. This was followed by a rousing performance of The William Tell Overture. What a great resource for parents and kids – and all of us who enjoy listening to and learning about classical music! 🙂

Spotify – The Best New Online Teaching Resource Since YouTube!

What do you get when you merge the instant accessibility of YouTube with the interface of iTunes with the music library of the whole internet? Spotify!

I had heard rumblings about Spotify for a while, but recently decided to check it out. I kid you not when I say this has now become my personal and teaching go-to resource for music listening. You can instantly search through millions of tracks; listen to specific albums, artists, or pieces; create custom playlists; and even check out what your friends are listening to! And you get all this for free – and without having to download the music to your own hard drive. Plus, the mobile app lets you listen to streaming radio on the go, and a Premium account gives you full access to the complete library.

If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out this incredible new resource! And for a fun, new recommendation, try checking out the Nostalgias Argentinas album by pianist Mirian Conti, featuring “works that are undeniably rich but rarely heard outside Argentina. Interweaving the influences of folk traditions, classical music, popular songs and, of course, the tango, these deeply evocative, often bittersweet pieces…”