In the Music Room, Positive Thoughts - Just Because

I can’t sing for you…

I don’t have your voice. I don’t have the special abilities that belong solely to YOU.

We tell kids what to do, what not to do, lead their lines and give them assignments and chores. How often, though, do we trust them to shine in their own talent?

 

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I heard a choir director years ago give the advice “do no sing for your students”. He went on to explain that if we are singing, then we’re not listening.

If we, parents and teachers, are always talking at, speaking for, singing for our children, are we giving them a chance to express themselves? Are we listening to them?

What if we show them how, give them the appropriate tools, then move out of their way?

Children are unlimited in their creativity and talent, and I have to believe that if we give them the opportunity and trust, they will far exceed our ideas and expectations.

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In the Music Room, My Favorite Things

‘Tis the Season!

Musicians always need an early start to prep and practice for seasonal music, and Christmas is no exception for the piano student.  I have found that playing traditional Christmas music causes huge learning leaps, and motivates like none other.  However, the trick is to pick versions that are playable without too much frustration so that the students do not become bogged down and forget about their regular music.  I recommend sticking with motivation to increase practice time.  Let’s call it “Christmas cheer without the fear!”  It’s also a great time to ask your student to show off what they’re playing, and perhaps ask for a Christmas Carol Sing-Along in which the whole family can participate!

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Click to download PianoGuys: A Family Christmas

Below are book recommendations for beginning piano students to year three.  The beauty of Christmas carols is that they are timeless and great for review at any stage!

Beginner to 1st year:

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Playtime Piano Christmas Level 1

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Popular Christmas Songs Primer Level

First to Second Year:

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ShowTime Piano Christmas Level 2A

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ChordTime Piano Christmas Level 2B

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Popular Christmas Songs Level 1

Second to Third Year:

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Popular Christmas Songs Level 2

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FunTime Piano Christmas Level 3A – 3B

(And of course, there’s that ultimate Christmas Surprise of a new piano to reward all that practice!)img_7237-1 #bestChristmasgiftever

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In the Music Room, Positive Thoughts - Just Because

“The Bare Necessities”

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I’ve embraced the message in this song as my students learned it in Music this week. We teach our children to have an attitude of gratitude, yet we are constantly acquiring more stuff. As I watched my kiddos happily dance and sing, I was reminded to embrace the pure love of life and simply enjoy the LIFE right in front of me!

The Bare Necessities (From "The Jungle Book"/Soundtrack Version)

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In the Music Room

The PIANO Classroom

Think back to your childhood. Did you take piano lessons? If so, did you stick with it? Did you enjoy them? Another thought, what was your first piano teacher like?

I remember sitting on the couch in silence, waiting, as my sisters went through their lessons, afraid to make a peep. I remember that my piano teacher wore long skirts, was fairly old, and had a hummingbird feeder. Do I remember what she taught me? Perhaps I learned the concepts, but I really don’t remember anything specific. Or was your piano teacher like my mother’s?  Blind and not seeing as she (mother) snuck candy while taking a lesson? Or did she rap you on the knuckles when your fingers were not properly on their fingertips? Or was your teacher like my dad’s?  He played by ear so he slid by,  but never really learned to read music and it’s entirety (a lifetime frustration of his, as music was such in central part of his being).

Here’s another question. Were you a part of a band or chorus? Do you have any memories of making friends there? Of connecting with people? Of connecting with the director, or perhaps even shared musical experiences?

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I looked at piano as a solo learning opportunity until I got to college. There, my piano professor had each student in his studio participate in master classes in which we learned together.  Let me assure you, my practice increased because I did not want to be embarrassed in front of my peers. We were able to share practice ideas and tips.  Listening to each other motivated me to be better, and I believe it did the same for the other students. I remember learning together, and sharing a musical bond.

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What my take away is from the band model as well as the piano master class is this: we learn together, we create experiences together, we appreciate music together and our learning experience is higher when we do it together.

If you look at any other instrument, most are learned in the band or orchestra as a collaborative effort. This is not the case for piano, and I believe that it is simply the size of the instrument that has been the road block. With technology advancements, and the ability to use digital pianos that function as real ones, this road block has simply been removed.  We are able to create a very effective piano classroom where music can be shared and we learn together.  With the master class model extended, rather than just listening to each other, we teach each other, we assess each other, we critique each other, and we encourage each other.  Piano lessons become another way in which music connects people!

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In the Music Room

Kyla’s First Recording

This girl had to be my first post “In the Music Room”. She sings with her heart and soul, and THAT is what music, life, is all about!

Enjoy!

YouTube Kyla 

The first time I played piano for Kyla, my feelings were actually a bit bruised at her howling. As time went on, I realized she was matching pitch and occasionally even throwing in some harmony. She sang with my piano students as they played. One student even started practicing scales just so Kyla would sing with her (whatever it takes!). I can’t even tell you how much we’ve laughed over her singing, and how much fun we’ve had finding her favorite songs!

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What I’ve realized is that Kyla, my pretty chocolate lab, sings as a great example to her humans ~ the more heart and soul she hears us play from the piano, the more she gives. She’s the perfect example of “Then Sings My Soul!”, as she just can’t stop herself!

Side note: Lily, our sweet yellow lab mix, hasn’t quite moved from barking into the singing realm. She sure is cute, though!

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In the Music Room

Making the Music Connection

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“That’s what it’s all about!”

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