Repetition in Musical Learning

Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “Repetition is the mother of all learning.”

There’s a reason for this. Repetition improves speed, increases confidence and creates neural pathways in the brain that commit that skill into memory. Once we’ve been down a pathway before, it’s easier to find the second and third and fourth time around!

Obviously, repetition is an important tool in musical learning. When my piano students are working on a piece of music, I might ask them to play a section “one more time” to help them become more fluent in a skill.

But sometimes, I can tell a student is getting frustrated or even bored if I ask him to repeat a passage of his piano piece again and again. Continue reading “Repetition in Musical Learning”

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”

July Members of the Month

 

Meet Andrew and Amy Cook family from Fort Campbell, KY. They have four wonderful children: Hannah, who is 12 years old, Katelyn, who is 11 years old, Sara, who is 9 years olds and Audrey, who is 7 years old. Like many of our Busy Families they are a military and homeschooling family.

Continue reading “July Members of the Month”

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”

June Members of the Month

Meet Greg and Robyn Byus from northern Virginia! They have four lovely children Zach 25 who is an audio/video tech, Jon 20 who is a graphic design student at Liberty University and quad drummer for Jersey Surf drum corp, Ben 17  who is a high school junior, all-state clarinet player, and Emily 9 who is a home school student.

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What’s your musical background?

I [Robyn] took  5 years of piano lessons in elementary school, then played flute and oboe in band through junior high and high school.  I continued to play flute in church and community bands and still do.  My husband Greg took guitar lessons for a year or two in late elementary. Continue reading “June Members of the Month”

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”