Review of The Piano Bench Mag

Karen Gibson, publisher of The Piano Bench Mag, has established an “on the go” music magazine for teachers! Whether waiting for an appointment or just sitting at home, you’ll find a plethora of different ideas in her monthly publication.

The magazine has a specific topic for each month. December focused on Practice, January was Games, February takes a look at Students, and the most recent focuses on Technique. I really like how Gibson includes a variety of articles, as well as resources and helpful tidbit pages. I am much more inclined to look through an entire magazine if I can acquire information apart from just reading articles. Each monthly issue seems to be pretty substantial, too, so you’re pretty well guaranteed a good amount of information and ideas!

If you’d like to purchase an issue or subscribe to The Piano Bench Mag – providing resources and inspiration for piano teachers, it’s available for mobile devices through Apple Newsstand and Google Play (for Android). You can also find The Piano Bench Mag on Facebook.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-piano-bench-mag/id712098279?ls=1&mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bdhjefeedd.gfcbdhjefeedd

https://www.facebook.com/PianoBenchMag

To try it out, I downloaded it to my iPhone Newsstand (which I have never used before) and I could navigate it pretty well, but from what I could tell, the formatting for the iPad version looked nicer.

If you want a free 3 month subscription, be one of the first three to comment “subscribe me” and the free subscription will be yours!

UltraMusician

In a world of advancing technological capabilities, I love discovering new inventions that create more efficient ways to do things or provide another outlet to learn.

Even though I have not personally tried UltraMusician, I like the approach that David Mann has developed for people to learn music on the site. UltraMusician teaches full music comprehension by using 4 of the most essential skills (instrument, theory, sound, and notation) to become a well-rounded musician.

The program is designed with a game-like interface that moves from one skill to another so that everything remains cohesive. And it’s not just designed for youngsters but anyone wanting to learn music.

Below is a video giving further detail about this total music comprehension site and how it works, as well as introducing their desire to launch development of the “UltraMusician Mobile App”.

If you’d like to support UltraMusician’s App Project, head on over to their Kickstarter page before their campaign ends March 2.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1538038397/the-ultimate-mobile-app-for-learning-music?ref=search

You can also check out UltraMusician for yourself by going to their website:

http://www.ultramusician.com

 

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!

Review of Prodigy Short Film


Within this short 7-minute film a pretty accurate picture is painted depicting the great hopes and expectations many parents have for their children. It also shows how many parents might have a dream for a child, but don’t recognize the fact that it takes time and investment from both themselves and the child (if they’re interested) to accomplish dreams, and how an understanding teacher can have an incredible impact when they shed light on that fact. The small film group that produced this did an admirable job of getting their point across with a tastefully done story and interesting aspects in such a short amount of time.

Even though there are a few stilted moments and the image quality is a ways from being professional, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall flow of the film and the acting quality of the small cast. The little girl receiving a violin lesson is pretty adorable, too!

I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a wonderful teaching resource, but it is an enlightening reminder to be willing to be patient and not expect too much too soon in any endeavor whether we are a teacher, a student, or a parent.

Review of Twelve Magical Musical Masters by Yaacov Mishori


When my eye first caught a glimpse of the “Twelve Magical Musical Masters” book I thought it was a really neat idea! As someone who works a great deal with younger children and is also greatly influenced by music, I am always intrigued by toys and/or tools designed to teach children about the world of music.

From my perspective, I thought this book that includes a “button sound” panel does a great job giving fun and informative overviews of famous composers while allowing the reader to listen to a well-known tune from each composer.

Each composer takes up 2 pages of the book with one side containing biographical information and a profile picture, while the other side has a full size picture depicting something that was mentioned about the composer. I thoroughly enjoyed the storybook-like pictures the author incorporated into his fact-based book because it kept it much more exciting and engaging. (Even though the book contains some printed errors such as incorrect capitalization, incorrect descriptions of button placement, and flipped musical symbols, I didn’t feel like they took away from the overall appeal of the product.)

I have to say, in addition to this book being a great resource for younger children’s “music appreciation,” it’s interactive aspect with the button panel would intrigue me to pick it up off a coffee table and read it. Plus, it does have some interesting facts and pictures (and don’t forget those tunes!) that an even larger demographic would enjoy individually or in a group!

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!