I have several students working on more complex rhythms this year, including a variety of cross rhythms. This requires such an incredible amount of hand independence, and is often very difficult for students to grasp, so I was doing some research to find more resources on the topic. I came across a fabulous blog post with a downloadable PDF called “Cross Rhythms Without Tears” by Christine Brown. The 3-page overview gives some very helpful (and mathematical) explanations, plus a number of excerpts from repertoire where cross-rhythms are encountered, along with suggestions for practicing them. What a great tool that I can pass on to my students!
One week only! In honor of Beethoven’s 242nd birthday anniversary on December 16, your family can enjoy learning about music together in Marcia Washburn’s all-inclusive e-course, Beethoven Who? Family Fun with Music. No expensive CDs to buy! No prior musical knowledge required!
A $29.99 value but order today for half-price–just $14.99. Special price ends Dec. 16, so don’t put it off. A great gift or something fresh to start your new year in January.
That’s not all! She’s throwing in a free bonus e-book for all who order this week: Teach Your Family to Play the Soprano Recorder. Marcia teaches you how to play the recorder, even if you can’t read a note!
To order, or for more information, go to http://www.marciawashburn.com/BeethovenWho.html.
Remember: this half-price offer ends Dec. 16. Order Beethoven Who? Family Fun with Music now so you won’t miss out on half-price plus the free recorder book.
Marcia is graciously giving away one copy of Beethoven Who? to a Music Matters Blog reader. Just leave a comment below to be entered to win the drawing. The winner will be chosen using a random number generator at noon (CST) this Thursday, December 13.
Buying a piano is not as dissimilar as we think to buying a car. Before we want to hand over a large amount of money to a car dealer, we would want to fully inspect the goods, test it out and make sure it is as described. This is the mindset we should have with any large purchase. A piano is a very personal thing. It is a significant investment and you, and your piano shall likely be together a long time. As such, you must be absolutely sure of your decision before you commit.
To help you have a clear idea what it is you need, Coach House Pianos has put together a few things to consider when you are ready to make this investment:
- Cost – do you want a good quality second hand piano? This can cost anywhere up to £18,000 ($29,000), whilst a brand new Steinway could cost in excess of £130,000 ($209,000).
- Type of Piano – A Grand Piano or an Upright Piano? You will need to consider carefully its use. For home use, teaching, at a venue and many others.
- Quality – This applies when inspecting prospective instruments. We would suggest checking for rust on the iron frame, cracks in the wood (particularly the soundboard) and the condition of the strings.
These are to name just a few of the important features to consider. Your piano is one of the bigger investments you will make and like a car, you will intend for it to last and be with you for a long time. There is benefit to buying your piano from people with experience in these beautiful creations. Speak to someone who understands how important this instrument is going to be and who appreciates that it is going to be your personal creative outlet.
Coach House Pianos is our newest advertiser here on Music Matters Blog and we are grateful for their support of the online music education community! If you are interested in finding out more about how you can promote your company, event, or product, just send me an e-mail and I’ll let you know about our advertising packages.
I am notorious for accumulating a bazillion open tabs in my browser of interesting articles, products I want to check out, things I’m researching, or ideas I want to revisit. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but as of this moment I have 72 active tabs. So I decided it’s time to clean house and share some of these treasures – even if it is in an eclectic haphazard sort of way.
Reaching the Preparation Threshold by Chad Twedt – a very interesting article on getting pieces to a high level of readiness to reduce performance anxiety. I am trying to do a better job of applying these ideas to both my own playing and to my students’ preparation for recitals. My natural tendency is to move as quickly as possible to new pieces – I think I have a very short attention span, and I tend to project that on my students as well. Instead, I need to work on perseverance and endurance – sticking with pieces for much longer to make sure that they can be played and performed at a high level.
What Makes a Musician? by John Sloboda – A look at why so few music students ever reach a high level of musical performance, and what contributes to those who do.
Music Flash Class – a customizable music flashcard app that looks like a great resource for music teachers and students!
Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer – a fascinating-looking app that allows the user to tap rhythms and then evaluates their accuracy.
Piano Teaching Tips from Tom Gerou – a free download of the piece, “Willows” by Tom Gerou, along with a point-by-point list of teaching tips from him that should be applied to this piece.
The 4 Deadliest Practice Mistakes Ever – I’ve never before thought a practice mistake could kill me, but these great practice insights from Grace certainly reveal how such mistakes can kill a pianist’s musical aspirations.
Play Piano by Chords (improvising) – a video tutorial of using a single rhythm pattern to create continuity in a piano improvisation.
Chord Progression Generator – a fun site where you can enter a mood and key, and a chord progression is generator that can be used to improvise accordingly.
Children’s Character Posters – a fun collection of colorful character-building posters that would be a great addition to a lively studio environment!
America’s Dream Chamber Artists – a site worth visiting just to see the cool group photo on the home page!
Portland Cello Project – the name of this group intrigued me because my brother is a cellist and I love listening to cello music. The most amazing thing to me about this group? They have a repertoire of over 800 pieces!
How the Brain Responds to Music by Emily Singer – for starters, there’s a colorful graphic illustrating the different areas of the brain, then the article briefly explores some of the research related to the use of music in helping patients overcome illnesses and diseases.
New Hymns for Worship – a collection of musical scores and recordings of hymns written or rewritten mostly by Davide Marney within the last 10 years.
Classical Music and the Loss of Meaningfulness in the Post-Christian West by Francis Schaeffer – a free audio download that I am very curious to listen to since Dr. Schaeffer and his wife Edith are some of my all-time favorite authors.
30 Mobile Apps Reinventing Music Education – more possibilities to add to the ever-growing list of mobile apps that you can use in your studio.
Brain ‘Closes Eyes’ to Hear Music – another interesting article related to research involving the brain and music, this one exploring the relationship of the eyes and ears to each other and their subsequent ability to focus or not based on the activity of the other sense.
A Note of Hope – a film project by City Gate Films that I came across recently that explores the intersection of music and social justice in Africa.
Piano Safari – I almost hate to give this one away in just a brief little link, but if you’ve gotten this far in the list I think you deserve to know about this amazing new piano method that is hot off the press. I’m using it with a student right now and will be writing a review soon – can hardly wait to share this gem with everyone!
The 7 Laws of the Teacher – a video by Howard Hendricks, a highly inspirational and practical educator and author (I recently read and loved his book, Color Outside the Lines). Obviously dated, but entertaining nonetheless!
Well, do you think that will keep you busy for a while?
It’s been over two years now since I taught my first Skype lesson, and I absolutely LOVE having technology that allows for such incredible flexibility and opportunity for teachers and students alike. I have some full-time long-distance students, and multiple times every semester I use Skype or Facetime to teach students on vacation or who have some emergency situation that prevents them from making it to the studio for a lesson.
The technology today makes it very simple to offer long-distance lessons, but I know that it’s still pretty unnerving to jump into a situation like this when all you’ve ever known is in person lessons. I recently came across a couple of posts that are very insightful in presenting some of the benefits and drawbacks of long-distance teaching:
One Student, One Teacher, 1500 Miles by Steve Betts – I could echo word for word the three points that Steve Betts shares that he has learned from his long-distance teaching experience!
The Pros and Cons of Music Lessons Via Skype or Google+ by Chad Twedt – A very extensive list of pros and cons, along with the addition of why Chad eventually stopped doing long-distance lessons with several students.
I really appreciate the time and thought put into both of these posts and think they are very helpful for teachers considering offering long-distance lessons. It definitely pays to know what you’re getting into ahead of time! That said, I encourage anyone whose interested to give it a try and just see what you think for yourself. Just see it as a learning experience, an opportunity to contribute new ideas for improvement to the music education community, and something that you can do on a trial basis so that you and the student can constantly evaluate what’s working and what’s not.
If you have experience with long-distance teaching and/or a post you’ve written on the topic, please feel free to share!
Thanks to Music Matters Blog reader Victoria Shaw for alerting me to this collection of free on-line courses from Coursera on the topics of music, film, and audio engineering! In addition to music and education, I am also fascinated by the world of film and drama and writing. There are so many parallels in the arts, and insights gained from one discipline can often be relevant in other disciplines as well. Earlier this year I listened to a series of podcasts by Act One on Storytelling in the 21st Century. It was incredibly thought-provoking on many counts, and I love pondering how we in the arts community can have a greater impact on our society.
The more we can learn and develop creative approaches in our studios, the better equipped our students will be to make a lasting difference in our culture. In addition to acquiring musical skills, it’s also critically important for them to understand the underlying philosophies that drive the arts, and establish a right and true philosophy that will govern their own musical pursuits. This was largely the goal behind the Pursuit of Music camp that I held for some of my high school students this summer, and it’s something that I am always looking for opportunities to incorporate more into weekly lessons and group classes with students as well. It’s always great to find out about quality resources that can be used to supplement and enhance a well-rounded music education!
I recently came across another blog (with a super cool header graphic!) that has lots of info about apps: 88 Piano Keys. Even though I have an iPod Touch that I use all the time in my teaching, I’ve been pondering the possibility of getting an iPad at some point, too. Is there anyone out there who has both an iPod Touch/iPhone and iPad that they use for teaching? Are there any advantages to having an iPad specifically? Any things you really love about the iPad that can’t be done on an iPod Touch/iPhone?
Are you trying to keep up with the mobile technology age, but drowning in the virtual sea of all-things-apps? I’m raising my hand! Well, now you can cast your fears aside because there is a fabulous website that promises to be a sanity-preserver for teachers like us: Musicians With Apps.
All the apps are organized by category, including: Rhythm Apps, Note Reading Apps, Composition Apps, Gadget Apps, and Explore Music Apps. Each review is extensive, with an assigned score, what the reviewers liked best, what they wish it had, and a summary of how the app functions. I just subscribed to the blog feed, and you can also sign up for an e-newsletter that will send you the latest reviews. I am so excited to find this “one-stop shop” for figuring out what music education apps are out there and which ones are worth purchasing and using or recommending to students!
HT: Kay Lowry Piano
SheetMusicPlus.com just launched a new (beta version) Digital Print Publishing that is open to composers and arrangers who want to make their work available to a large customer base. Just sign up for a free account, upload your sheet music, and start earning royalties. The composer/arranger will earn 45% of every sale, and all music will be available worldwide. According to the FAQs, Sheet Music Plus uses a proprietary process that helps protect the the rights of the creator. This looks like a great way for composers and arrangers to start reaching a wider audience with their work!
One of my students is working on playing worship songs from lead sheets this year and periodically runs across chords that she hasn’t learned. Yesterday the A Maj 9 chord stumped her. I don’t exactly play Major 9 chords everyday, either, so I decided to look it up on-line just to be sure that I was telling her the correct notes! And boy did I find a treasure…
PianoChordDictionary.com is so cool! I love that you can see just about any chord in any inversion, then play it on the digital keyboard pictured at the top of the website to hear what it sounds like. Another super helpful feature is the listing of common names for each chord so that you can avoid confusing yourself (or a student!) when various chord charts refer to the chords by different names. For example, in another chord encyclopedia that I have, the only chord close to A Maj 9 that was listed was an A Maj 7 (add 9), so I wasn’t sure if that was a different chord or the same one we were trying to confirm.
The only thing I can think of that would make this site even more amazing would be if you could play the notes onto the keyboard and then it would search its database and bring up whichever chord you were playing. Anyone know of a site that does this? Regardless, I know that this site will probably be getting weekly visits from me now.