Saturday, 16 November 2019

Word of the Week

Continue as before
(OR: Continue in the same way as before. Whichever one's easier to remember!)

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Rules for Composer Month

Hello, everyone!

   Last spring we had a lot of fun with Composer Month. But this time around, I decided it would be better to do Composer Month in November, and composing in spring. (More on that ... well, in spring. ;)

   So, a quick run over the rules of the game:

  • All students are on a specific composer team.
  • Students gather facts about the composer whose team they're on. There's no limit on how many facts they can collect each week. (While the Internet is the go-to source for a lot of school research like this, don't discount the value of checking out your local library for books or non-fiction videos.)
  • Facts are brought to me at the student's lesson and put up on the composer's poster.
  • The team who gathers the most facts wins the prize -- chocolate! :) Also this year I am doing an "honorable mention" for the person who collects the most points, regardless of whether or not they're on the winning team. That person also gets chocolate. 
I think that's it ... you know where to contact me with any questions. 

Friday, 11 October 2019

Chording ... and Solfege

Chording. It's hard to teach.

   Why? For one thing, it's not something usually included in the method books. For another, it's one area where I feel I didn't receive enough input in my years as a student.

   I did have one teacher who placed an importance on my learning to play hymns from the hymnal and doing my own chording/left hand improvising. And I'm very glad she did, because that wasn't something I really touched with any of my last three teachers in the higher levels! Probably because we were always too busy preparing for exams.

   However, I've realized that chording is a skill needed by all musicians, not just would-be church pianists. I remember expressing to one of my former teachers how I'd enjoyed listening to him play at his brother's wedding, and he told me that he'd been playing from a lead sheet. Lead sheets are, as I understand, also used frequently by jazz musicians and other bands. (I've never played any jazz personally -- I'm into classical. :) So ... out comes Chords are Fun Week!
The younger students started off by learning about the three primary chords -- I, IV, and V7. However, some of my intermediate students needed a review too! 

A few late-elementary students created their own lead sheets and added basic chords. Others inserted the primary chords into songs they were already playing. So far, so good ...

...but here's where it gets more challenging: the intermediate students! ;) I put them to figure out the chords from an actual hymnal. My goal is to teach them a couple different left-hand styles, now that they've got the chords worked out. It's still a work in progress, but so far I think it's going well! 

   This last week, we worked on solfege. It's using singing for ear training. ('Singing, Sarah? I thought you were a piano teacher.' Hey, it works!)  I'm pleased with the keen ear many of my students are showing!