Why Music History Matters.

Does your child ever ask you, “Why do I need to know this?”

Sometimes it can be a difficult question to answer. I remember asking my trigonometry teacher that question in high school. Every now and then, a piano student will ask me such a question when we’re going over a challenging concept. I might be explaining the theory behind diminished 7ths and a student will politely ask, “Ms. Carly? Why do I need to know this?” Continue reading “Why Music History Matters.”

Teaching Rhythm to Piano Students

Whether I’m having my first in-person piano lesson with a new student or a student is logging in to view their first piano lesson in my online program, that student will be learning the same concept: rhythm.

Teaching rhythm is SUCH an important part of being a piano teacher. There’s an underlying theoretical — really, mathematical — understanding that needs to happen. But, I also have to help my students “feel” rhythm. Continue reading “Teaching Rhythm to Piano Students”

Learn About Bach: Activities for Kids

On the 28th of July, it will have been 269 years since the death of one of music’s greatest composers: Johann Sebastian Bach.

When it comes to teaching my own students and my children about composers (and the way in which I set up my online music appreciation course), I prefer to do it in a certain order. I start by sharing information about a composer’s life, either through a book or video. Then we take the chance to listen and discuss some of the composer’s music (thank you, YouTube!). Finally, we’ll engage in some hands-on activities inspired by the composer.

Here’s some ways you can teach your children about the life and musical contributions of Bach. I’ve presented it in the order that our family explores composers, but adjust it in whatever way will engage your own children!
Continue reading “Learn About Bach: Activities for Kids”

Children’s Books for African-American Music Appreciation Month

One of my favorite ways to explore music with my kids is by combining music samples and children’s books. My children love learning more about their favorite musical artists through a colorful book about them. Sometimes reading a book has piqued their curiosity, and gets us checking out new artists on Spotify. Continue reading “Children’s Books for African-American Music Appreciation Month”

Musical Symbols

Learning to play an instrument is not unlike learning to speak a new language. It’s important to listen, follow the rhythm, understand new vocabulary and structure. Repetition and practice are not just helpful but necessary. Continue reading “Musical Symbols”

African American Music Appreciation Month: Nina Simone

Since 1979, the month of June is recognized as African-American Music Appreciation Month. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the music of black musicians, singers and songwriters. Continue reading “African American Music Appreciation Month: Nina Simone”

Building Strength and Finger Independence

If you’ve ever watched an accomplished pianist play, you may have been amazed at the way her fingers moved quickly across the keys — even when playing a complicated piece of music. It looks so easy, doesn’t it?

If you are working with a younger beginner, however, chances are you’ve realized that there’s a lot of work that goes into building that kind of strength and dexterity in a person’s fingers! Your student may become easily frustrated when trying to play each note one-at-a-time, with a different finger. It might seem impossible for a 5-year-old to keep his fingers round and firm while striking a piano key. Continue reading “Building Strength and Finger Independence”

Preparing for A Piano Recital

Your student is preparing for a piano recital. You’re probably thinking, “Well, she’ll have to practice a lot!”

That’s sort of true. However, getting ready for a piano recital involves a bit more of a strategy than just additional practice. Continue reading “Preparing for A Piano Recital”

Pacing Piano Lessons: Is My Student Ready for the Next Lesson?

One thing that is unique to online piano lessons is that while I teach all the concepts, music and theory in the program, I do rely on parents to help in pacing the program for the student. I have parent guides and checklists to help with this, but I want parents to feel completely comfortable when it comes to answering the question, “Is my child ready for the next piano lesson?” Continue reading “Pacing Piano Lessons: Is My Student Ready for the Next Lesson?”

Women in Music

Because March is Women’s History Month, let’s take a moment to learn about and celebrate five great women in music history.

Nora Holt (1885-1974)

Nora Holt was born in Kansas City. She was the first African American in the United States to receive a master’s degree in music.  Singing at night clubs and parties in Paris, Monte Carlo and London, she was known as a free-spirited socialite of the Harlem Renaissance. She co-founded the National Association of Negro Musicians and worked as a music critic for the black newspaper, Chicago Defender. Continue reading “Women in Music”