Posts

Sight Reading... my arch nemesis

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I was never good at sight reading.    In my studies, sight reading was, of course, purely a technical exercise. I had my  Four Star sight reading book  (that's an affiliate link, by the way), out of which I faithfully did my daily exercises and never got anywhere as far as real progress went.     Sight reading was something you had to know to pass the exams.    I became a teacher, and discovered that my lack of sight reading skills was slightly more problematic than a poor exam mark! Suddenly I had to be sight reading my students' pieces. This wasn't a problem the first year that I taught, not even the second. After that... different story.     You can see why sight reading is a priority for me this summer.    Thankfully, my last piano teacher was able to help me. (Remind me to tell you a story about his incredible sight reading one of these days.) He told me, "The first time, you don't worry about the right notes. You get the rhythm right, because the rhythm is th

No, I wasn't a childhood prodigy

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Ever wondered if you really should send your child back for another year of piano? If it's worth it for them?    My mom didn't wonder. But that had nothing to do with me. Absolutely nothing. I wasn't a Handel or a Mozart. I wasn't motivated to practice late nights in an attic, write my first (independent) compositions before finishing MYC, or go on a performing tour of Europe. No, I was very... normal.     Want to read about my early music education? Maybe you'll find that, as a child, I resembled... your child. It might give you a laugh. I hope it encourages you, as a parent, to keep on pursuing the talent you know lies in your child.  Click here to read about the young and not-so-outstanding me.  And to find out why my mom chose not to give up.

"You Must Do Your Scales...."

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 Does anybody remember Aristocats?    Seriously. Some of my students could find that those kittens play better than they do! 😉    Right. The kittens are fictional Disney characters. As such, Disney could make them supremely and flawlessly talented in the music department. Reality check!     Anyways. On to real scales and arpeggios. Because  that was one of the things I said I'd be practicing this summer.  Yes, it's basic. But that's kind of the point. Everybody, teacher, student, or performer, has to be fluent at scales and arpeggios if they want to be fluent at any music. (Hint, students: You also have to use the right finger numbers if you want to be fluent at any music. Not the haphazard fingering that comes easily and will cost you dearly later in your music journey. I know, Toulouse and Berlioz weren't using any fingering. You, however, do not play with kitten paws, and thus do need to learn correct fingering.)         But you might be surprised at how many differ

Do you really know who Isaac Watts was?

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 So, today, you have another 'flashback link' from me. This was one of my earliest posts on this blog. In it I take a look at a Christian songwriter every Christian musician should know something about: Isaac Watts. If you are familiar with any hymns at all, you've probably heard at least one of his hymns. But how much do you really know about the man? Click here to learn a bit about this prolific hymn writer.

Happy Canada Day!

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 I know. This is a music blog. I should be sharing a music video of 'O Canada.'    This is going to come across as odd to those who know me, and especially to those who have been at our house on Canada Day where I insisted that we absolutely had to go and sing our national anthem, but I've never once bothered looking up a video of 'O Canada.' And I keep thinking I should make one... but I never remember until it's June 29th and too late to slap something respectable together.     So, instead, enjoy reading the full four verses below. I love the last verse especially. (Copied from  Beyond the Rhetoric. ) O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command. With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, We stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada! Where pines and maples grow. Great p

Hanon

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In  my last post,  I promised to expound on the different items I challenged myself to practice this summer. Hanon's up first on the list, so today you will learn about Hanon.    Have you ever noticed that your fingers aren't equal? Let me explain. Your fingers do not each have equal strength and dexterity. This may not be obvious while cooking or mowing the lawn, but it becomes very obvious during a child's first lesson, when I say, "OK, now lift finger 4!" and the student struggles to get their ring finger off the table. The more music is played, the more obvious it becomes. The thumb thumps, way too loudly. The ring finger barely moves. The index and middle fingers are strong and tend to go where they're wanted, when they're wanted. But the pinky isn't, and tends to be an out-of-control rogue.     What do you do when part of you is weak?    You exercise it, of course.     Hanon exercises are meant especially to make sure all the fingers