Bounce: Adding to my Piano Pedagogy

I am over a quarter of the way through this book and it is already influencing my own development as a musician and flooding me with ideas for my piano pedagogy. Thanks to my friend Rob for the recommendation!

One of the music professors at my college (who I admire greatly) referenced this book in conversation before and his reference stuck with me. He said: genius is simply 10,000 hours of quality practice. Even for Mozart this is true. (So as a musician, I aim to blow minds when I’m about 35-40 years old. I guess I can live with that :))

So far I’ve been impressed with the way Syed unveils his claims for the average reader. I highly recommend this book! And it applies to the pursuit of all disciplines!

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Today I Teach! [Voice/Piano for Kids]

Alright… it’s been about a month since I’ve been accepted to teach at both music schools and I’m just now getting to teach my first student this afternoon. Oh well, I can’t complain – as soon as September hits I’ll be swimming in work!

Interestingly, they’ve talked me into teaching a course called “Private Voice for Kids.” This is intended to be a general introduction into the study of music but they do want me to incorporate the study of voice. I’ve taken a couple semesters of professional voice lessons and I’ve been in higher level choirs – but honestly, I don’t feel comfortable asserting myself as a voice teacher. I don’t profess to teach what I’m not willing to do! And I am typically not comfortable singing solo.

That said, I know enough to start cultivating good habits and technique in beginners. I just purchased “Singing Lessons for Little Singers.” I’ll let you know what I think about it as soon as it arrives.

As for teaching my young beginners piano, ah, I’m thoroughly excited! It’s the best feeling to develop that knowledge base & to receive awe and respect from a child because what I’m teaching is important to them.

Here’s my tentative lesson plan for Day 1:

  • Learn about my student – what’s her favorite game to play? what’s her favorite food? what’s her favorite color? etc. (meanwhile, thinking about what sort of learner she might be & what her personality type is)
  • Talk about music – when do we hear music? (think about parades! disney movies! dancing!), will you sing me your favorite song? or will you sing a song with me?
  • Maybe I’ll play some small parts of songs and ask if they’re more sad or happy or what they sound like.
  • Talk about high notes and low notes. Show that on piano and make those noises with our voices. We’ll use our arms a lot as well to indicate high and low pitches.
  • Warm up! Sirens; Blow Bubbles; Make some sounds with our voices, make them pretty, make them ugly, make them loud, make them soft. Ask what kinds of sounds we’d like to hear when people sing.
  • Learn a song on the black keys (either “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater”) with good posture, singing it and playing it with our fingers. Once she has it, stand her up make her do something silly and sit her back in front of the piano. Do this a few times until its totally memorized.
  • Pitch matching (I’ll play some notes – outline triads – let her stand up and stretch and clap)
  • Finding “C” on the keyboard, play all the “C’s
  • Start learning solfege
  • Talk about big words: melody & rhythm (“what does every song have?”)

That’s way too much for one half-hour lesson but I figured I’d over-prepare and have a trajectory in mind. In my next post I’ll share all the great resources I found online in regards to music teaching, lesson plans, etc.

What I’m listening to as I write: Glenn Gould plays Bach Partita No. 2, BWV 826
(Nothing makes me feel as regal and empowered as J.S. Bach’s works)

Finding Your Art

Oh wow. I am not a crier, but this short film (20 min. approx.) actually got me. I’d like to thank my musical friend Antonio for the recommendation.

WATCH: The Butterfly Circus

Takeaways:

  1.  Find your art in beauty – do not sell or create something that exploits or degrades! We – all of us – are creative beings who can impress with the feats of our mind/soul/bodies. Even while you’re expressing your torment [such as this or this] do it with excellence and expect applause. And never ever ever ever ever EVER say that you cannot be an artist or a musician. You have a creative capacity and a voice to inspire others.
  2. QUOTE: “The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.” ENOUGH SAID.

Celesta: An Underrepresented Keyboard Instrument

Just now I was putting together visual aids for my music classes and came across a pictorial list of keyboard instruments with an instrument that I wasn’t familiar with: the celesta. (Pronounce the “cel-” like you would for “cello”). So I went on a brief research endeavor and came across this NPR piece, which I thoroughly enjoyed and couldn’t be a better introduction to the instrument:

NPR: The Celesta: The Sound of the Sugar Plum Fairy

Enjoy!

Example of a Tight Band & Great Hammond Soloing

This is a great example to show early learners of what to strive for. Watch her sense of inner rhythm, her passion, her power. Listen to how tight the band is! And how they’re clearly listening to each other, taking turns soloing. Look at how much fun they’re having!

As soon as I saw that B3 sitting there, after the lights revealed the band, I felt apprehensive and excited. For me, there’s nothing better than a chick who can rock a solo – I’m truly inspired by this recording. And I love her brazen tambourine.

Everything about this performance felt polished but raw (or pure somehow?).