Have you ever performed at a recital, whether in school or for some private lessons you were taking? I have spent countless hours at recitals, both as a student, and as a piano teacher. Some kids are really nervous when it comes to performing. Others shine in the spotlight. I remember feeling my fingers tremble a few times as I picked out which notes to play while my friends, family, and teacher silently watched. I made mistakes. I played beautiful pieces from memory. And I’ve been the silent onlooker, watching kids perform at every level. Continue reading “Host A Spring Piano Recital”
Do you have memories from childhood of hearing a song that made you feel happy, sad, or excited? At what point did you begin to associate music with different feelings? Many of us probably found some of this awareness around middle school or high school, when we began to experience more of the ups and downs of life. Most of us found songs to accompany us through those times. Music can be nostalgic and emotional. It can be a strong influence and a significant part of our stories. Continue reading “Spring Activity Pack”
In my early years of learning piano and music theory, never once was I taught about a female composer. We’ve all heard about the greats – all male composers – but this month, for Music Challenge Monthly, I wanted to get students thinking about why there simply aren’t many notable female composers in history. Since March is Women’s History Month, I thought it was a great opportunity to explore this gender inequity and bring into focus the handful of women who did manage to make their mark in music, though the odds were certainly against them.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite traditions was exchanging Valentines with friends. Sometimes my teacher allowed us to exchange in class, and sometimes I just handed some out to friends on my own. But choosing which kind I would pass out was a big deal. I really wanted them to reflect something about me. This is partly why, this month, I’ve created a set of music-themed Valentines in case your student loves this tradition as much as I did. Your student can color them in with markers or crayons, personalizing them to their heart’s content. If your student is not yet gifted in the cutting department, be sure they are using safety scissors or getting help in cutting them apart. You’ll see 12 different designs, but you may print as many additional pages as needed to cover all your student’s pals. Continue reading “Valentine Printables – February’s Music Challenge Monthly”
I remember when my son was learning to read. It was a pretty painful process of going over the two- and three-letter words on his reading list very, very slowly. If you’ve ever witnessed a child learning to read, then you know what I’m saying here. For a countless number of times, you listen to them sound out each letter in c-a-t, and suddenly, one day, they read, “cat.”
The same is true for reading music. It feels like your student may never reach the point of music-reading fluency, until one day it starts to click. This month, I’ve created the first in a new series of activities we’re calling Music Challenge Monthly. The January challenge addresses this very thing: the skills involved in music literacy. ￼ Continue reading “Identifying Intervals – January’s Music Challenge Monthly”
A few weeks ago, a parent reached out to me to let me know that she was struggling to find piano and music resources that represented her Black son. She wondered if I might have any resources where he could see himself represented.
It’s beneficial for children to see racial mirrors. They need role models, inspiration and validation. It’s also important that children who are white or from homogenous populations see others who don’t look like them represented. Not only does it reduce stereotypes and biases but it also give a more accurate window into the real world.
The music education world — myself included — has a long way to go when it comes to racial representation. I am committed to doing better (and always open to feedback). Within my paid courses — both in the content and the images — I work to include diverse representation.
I also have lots of free materials that are available to music students everywhere. Here is a current round-up of free resources from my own music education materials that represent non-white musicians. Continue reading “Representation in Music”
Have you ever sat down with your child or a piano student for a lesson or practice and he’s had “ants in his pants”?
Sometimes students may have a diagnosed disorder such as ADHD or ASD, and other times — kids just have busy brains and busy bodies and need some guidance focusing.
Here are three ways to help a busy kiddo get focused for piano practice. Continue reading “Help Your Piano Student Focus”
Covid 19 has been a major bummer. There’s no way around it. Our family loves attending outdoor concerts and performances during the summer months. As we head into the July, we are missing it very much.
I have, however, loved seeing how musicians are coming together to share performances using digital platforms. Lockdown concerts from the talented Kanneh-Mason family have been a wonderful treat. A friend of mine who used to work for the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra put together an evening of music on Zoom, with musicians and vocalists from all over the country participating in sharing music. Yo-Yo Ma’s collaborations that he shares on his Facebook page always bring my family joy.
In the past, I’ve written about how piano practice shouldn’t be structured by requiring a specific length of practice time. A student who is required to practice for 30 minutes a day, for example, won’t necessarily make steady progress in his piano abilities.
So how, then, should a piano practice be structured? How can you ensure that piano practice will mark forward progress? Continue reading “What Should Piano Practice Include?”