Friday, 11 January 2019

And We're Back Into Lessons!

   I have a new favourite self-education site. I found it quite by accident, looking for a podcast to listen to while I exercised. As I started to listen to Tim Topham, whom I'd never heard of before, I was intrigued with his "No Books" approach to starting off his students. Instead, the first few weeks of lessons, he focuses on ear training, improv, and rote pieces.

   Later, I went looking online for ear training games, and guess which website was the first to pop up?!

   In truth, training the students' ears was already one of my goals for the second semester of this school year. I'd already tackled solfege with a will, and was quite eager to do more. One of my ambitions for the Christmas holiday  had been to create my own set of ear training games. I didn't create (or even brainstorm) a whole series, like I'd been hoping to, but I did create one. The idea was to make the students choose whether they liked a tone or didn't like it.

   It's a good thing I tested it before creating anymore. I wasn't impressed with my own game-making abilities! Maybe with a little more tweaking, it will still work.

   But, I did create this simpler game, which worked really, really well.

   Yep, it's the masking tape again! The idea was a success with the young students who tried it -- a jump left if they heard a step, a jump right if they heard a skip, and a jump forward if they heard a repeat, until they could touch the piano.

   This week, some clapbacks have also been introduced. One fun twist with one student was clapping out the rhythm of "Happy Birthday," first while singing it, then with just the words, and then without anything.

   Of course, one of the older students asked, "Why are we doing this?"

   Besides the fact that being able to clap back a rhythm is a requirement on RCM's exams, a main reason for clapping back rhythm is to learn to recognize various rhythms by ear. This in turn has a lot of different functions, from picking out a song by ear to the student being able to hear when their own rhythm is off (without me having to tell them).

   Next time, I will try to remember to take pictures during the lessons. That's one thing I have a hard time with. I always end up getting so absorbed in teaching that I forget to take photos of all the great things we're doing! Maybe, since ear training is the name of the new game, I'll even remember to take a few videos to show you how this works. :)

Word of the Week


Friday, 4 January 2019

The Christian Musician: New Year, New Song

If you want references to singing in the Bible, go read the Psalms. It won't take you long to find some!

   "Sing unto Him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise" (Psalm 33:3). (My family's probably going to laugh when they see I included this verse in my blog post. Through my entire musical education, including currently, the summary of the main thing I have been told could well be, "Not so loud!")

   "And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD" (Psalm 40:3).

   A new year.
   A new song.
   Fitting, right? But then the question becomes, what should this new song be about?

   Sometimes that's an easy question, and you don't have to be a songwriter to know that. If you've been a Christian for any length of time, you know there are days when the praise, the adoration, the right Christian feelings, just bubble up inside and you have no problem singing!

   Other days, the only song you can sing is, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."

   Come on, you've been there!

   When I look back over 2018, I see a lot of things to praise the Lord for. I don't have to look very hard. It was a good year for me. But had you asked me last New Year's if 2017 had been a good year, I would have given you a very long pause. And then probably answered with something like, "Well . . . it could have been a lot worse. Yeah, it really wasn't that bad. I have nothing to complain about."

   Yet there were still things to praise the Lord for then. Even though I didn't feel like it. All I had to do was try writing them down, and I didn't have to go very far before I could see God's faithfulness, even in -- and especially in -- the circumstances I didn't like. 

   So you don't know what your new song should be about? Find His goodness to you personally in the old year. And anticipate that His mercies will be new for every morning of 2019 (Lam.3:23). And may our praise to Him -- with our voices, with our instruments, and most importantly, with our lives  -- be a tool that He uses, so that "many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD" (Ps. 40:3b)!

P.S. If you tried to comment on my blog for the last post, I apologize. Blogger is currently only allowing users signed into their Google accounts to comment. I'll keep trying to change this to open it up to everyone.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Listen! Post 4

Ready for the next "Listen!" challenge? It's been a while, so if you don't remember how this works, review the rules and suggestions here.

This week, another minuet -- this time, by Dominco Scarlatti!
   This one will be interesting to use, because you can actually see the sheet music as the performer is playing. :)


Happy New Year!

Friday, 21 December 2018

Christmas Recital: A Merry Success

   Finally, it was the big day -- the day that we've all been working hard towards. December 15, 2018, marked the second Christmas recital of Songbird Studios. And believe me, one teacher over here was very excited!

   OK, so there were a few concerns running in the back of my head. But, as usual, I had a lot of confidence in my students -- confidence that was not misplaced. Because when each student gives me their best, whatever their best is, then I can rest easy. And we did have a very good recital. Each student performed well, kept their cool when mistakes were made, and hopefully enjoyed themselves in the process. :)

About half the students playing wanted to play from memory. I have been trying to encourage memorizing music, but wasn't going to make anyone who didn't want to play from memory. Needless to say, I was really excited over those who chose to! (I was holding their books off to the side, in case of memory lapses. I needn't have worried.) 

Some students' books don't stay open without help. ;)

It was especially exciting to hear my pre-teen students. As a teacher, I usually listen with the purpose of finding what needs correcting or improvement. So as I sat back and listened to them, without needing to teach them, I found myself refreshed -- and impressed. They played so well! 

This was my first recital (as a teacher) that included composers like Chopin, Haydn, and Foster on the program. 
   Afterwards, we had a time of visiting together. All the students had brought their family members along, which I really appreciate. It means a lot to children when their parents and older siblings show up for their events. And the children went outside to play. 

   It was a good recital. 

   Looking forward to see everyone back, starting January 7! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Word of the Week

Without stopping

🎶Merry Christmas, everyone! 🎄

(Watch for a post on our successful recital -- hopefully by the end of this week!)

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Recital Prep: Things You, the Parent, Should Know

Image result for snowflake music images
Hello, everyone! Last week I wrote a post to the students about preparing for a recital. Today, parents, it's your turn!  I know you're all busy, but please do read through this so we can all look forward to a pleasant recital experience. :)
  •         If you haven't already done it, please go over this post with your child so they know what to expect. Believe me, they will be far less nervous about the recital if they know what's going on!
  •      Make sure you and your family arrive on time (a few minutes before 2:00 P.M.), and please bring along a plate of snack food or dessert. (If anyone wants to volunteer to bring folding chairs, please let me know.) 
  •      Coats can go in the closet in our entryway. The recital will be in the studio, so please head downstairs upon arrival.
  •      Help your child feel relaxed before the recital. Many children get very nervous before a recital, which doesn't help them play their best! All your children are prepared for this. And, much as we'd like it if everything went perfectly, mistakes do happen and they're not a big deal. Remind them of these things. They will be fine! 
  •      Please clap for each student when they finish playing. All of them have put their best effort into this!
  •      Afterwards, please stay to have some goodies and visit with the other students and parents. I'm encouraging your children to compliment each other, so if you could also encourage this mentality, that would be great. 
Have a great week, everyone! Looking forward for Saturday.