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”

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”

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”

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”

Careers in Music

I believe piano lessons are important because learning a musical instrument has all sorts of fantastic cognitive and emotional benefits. I also believe piano lessons are important simply for the sake of learning to play a musical instrument — for adding richness, beauty and balance into a child’s life. Continue reading “Careers in Music”

Taking Kids to the Symphony

Taking kids to the symphony is a really awesome opportunity to help them understand how relevant learning an instrument is while also gain appreciation for musicians, musical instruments and different musical styles.

I often share in my livecasts and on my blog posts how important it is to nurture love and appreciation for music in your child. What better way to do this than through a live musical performance by excellent musicians? Continue reading “Taking Kids to the Symphony”

Piano Practice Motivator: Music Appreciation

Parents of piano students are always asking me for my best “piano practice motivator” ideas.

My number one go-to?

Music appreciation.

In this livecast, I’m going to give you TONS of actionable ways that you can help your student to develop an understanding of why learning to play the piano is a privilege. Continue reading “Piano Practice Motivator: Music Appreciation”

Brain Breaks for Piano Practice

When my daughter was in kindergarten, I often volunteered in her classroom. Upon my first visit, I was struck by a brilliant concept I had never heard of or experienced: brain breaks. Continue reading “Brain Breaks for Piano Practice”