Monday Mailbag – Using CDs

My question is regarding the CDs that are sometimes included in music books. Do you keep them and use them with the student at their lesson, or do you send it home with instructions and have them bring it to the lesson? I was listening yesterday to 3 new CDs and reviewing the books and wondered what the best way is to handle this. I have a student who is so gifted she could listen to the CD and “basically” have her practice done. I used to have my teachers play the music for me so I would know how it should go. I’d go home and play it as I heard it-which wasn’t the way I should have learned!

Oh, how well I know these kinds of students! I think most teachers have a mixture of students who are good sight-readers and those who play well by ear. One of the things I love about teaching is the challenge of identifying each student’s strengths and weaknesses and then capitalizing on their strengths while helping them overcome their weaknesses. For those who learn and play well by ear, I love to get them books that have CDs so that they can listen to the pieces, choose favorites, and work on songs that are appealing to them. Actually, even for the strong sight-readers, I love for them to listen to quality CD recordings when they are learning their pieces.

I also sometimes give the “Any Song” assignment, where they can prepare any song and then surprise me with it the next week. For those who need a little more direction, we choose a familiar tune at the lesson and then I walk them through the process of picking out the tune, adding chords, developing original arrangements, etc. However, in addition to these things, I am an absolute stickler for learning to read music. This takes the form of flashcards, note identification drills, assigning lots of easier level music and anything else that I think might help.

So, yes, I am a huge fan of utilizing the CDs that come with some books. Since it has become much more cost-effective to purchase the books that include CDs, I usually have the student keep the CD so they can listen to it on their own during the week. Some of the method books even come with accompaniment CDs that I’ve just started getting into a bit more. I don’t know why I haven’t made a point to use these more with students, but they are wonderful for helping them develop rhythmic accuracy and a consistent pulse.

That was a bit of a rambling answer today, but hopefully that answers the question! Feel free to jump in with your own thoughts on using CDs with students!

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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