Music With Friends

Since my studio grew quite a bit this year, I wanted to have an informal recital opportunity that served two purposes.  First,  I wanted my students to have a chance to get to know each other in a fun setting and second, I wanted to give students a chance to get the hang of performing before our bigger recital at the end of the school year.

In March, we had our Music With Friends recital here at the studio.  We started out with a fun ice breaker.  In the weeks leading up to the recital, students brainstormed songs to use in a name that tune game.  When they arrived at the recital, we split into 2 teams – Tuesday and Thursday students vs. Wednesday students.  Each student used a kazoo to play a song for the other team to guess.  We had fun mastering our kazoo skills and it was a really close game that required a tie-breaker!

After our Name That Tune game, the students took turns performing for each other.  We performed in birthday-order starting with whoever had the next birthday and continuing through the year.  Everyone did a great job and it was nice to have a small, friendly audience.

We ended by playing a song all together.  Everyone had learned a part of This Old Man from Lynn Freeman Olson’s A Folk Gathering.  It has 3 piano parts and 2 percussion parts so we had 3-5 students playing each part.  Enjoy this video of our performance!

 

Click here to view this video.

App Review: Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer

My students have been working with Captain Crescendo to develop their Rocking Rhythm super powers this semester.  I had been brainstorming a way for students to practice rhythm drills during Piano Lessons/Lab.  Originally I envisioned printing out rhythm sheets and having students work independently with a metronome and tap out rhythms.  However, this lacked the accountability that most students need.  Luckily, I came across Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer.

This app is exactly what I was looking for.  A 2-measure rhythm drill appears at the top of the screen.  You can select your tempo on the metronome and there is a drum to tap the rhythm on.  Once you start, you get 1 measure to prepare.  If you’re in practice mode, you hear the rhythm and you play along.  It repeats continuously until you choose to stop.  In test mode, after the preparatory beats, you play the drill 3 times.  You get a percentage score and it tells you your deviation from the beat.

I really like the visual aspect of using this app.  As you complete a drill, a dot appears under each note that is tapped.  Even if you play a rhythm correctly, it shows your deviation from the beat.  Red dots mean you were early, blue is late and green is right on.  Since we don’t normally see what our music sounds like, this is a really useful tool to see trends rhythm and our sense of pulse.

This app is suitable for students of any level.  In fact, I started several beginners recently and they were all able to use this app by their second lesson.  My more advanced students have all found more challenging levels that use rhythms and meters relevant to their music.

 

Meet Captain Crescendo

Captain Crescendo and his dog, Click, have been helping my piano students work on their musical super powers this year.  Students have been earning points and filling their Super Power Meter.  So far we’ve been focusing on our Terrific Theory and Stellar Sight Reading super powers.  This semester we’re going to master our Superb Scales and Rocking Rhythm!

Sign Up Now for Kindermusik

Kindermusik is a fun music and movement program for children ages newborn and up.  New classes start the week of January 14, 2013.  Sign up by clicking the purple button to the right or by emailing megan@meganspianolessons.com.

Our Time – Wednesday at 10:00AM
 For 1.5 to 3 year olds
.  Our Time reflects the emotional foundations of school readiness and the latest research on music and early childhood development. Our Time is a unique opportunity for parent and child to interact and learn together in an unhurried and joyful manner.  15 week semester, $200

Family Time – Thursdays at 5:30
 For children (and parents) of all ages
.  Family Time brings adults and children of all ages together, providing a dynamic and integrated musical learning experience for everyone.  Continuous enrollment, $45/month

Sign & Sing – Wednesdays at 11AM
 For ages 6 months to 3 years
.  Sign & Sing classes (developed by Signing Smart™) give parents the tools and knowledge to communicate with their babies using American Sign Language through songs and play. 7 week session,  $100.

Symphony September

I think its very important that kids are exposed to classical music and composers, whether or not they want to be a classical musician.  I always make it a priority to familiarize my Piano Lesson/Lab students with classical works and composers’ stories.  This year, we’re listening to a different theme of music each month, starting with Symphony September.

We started off the month exploring the San Francisco Symphony Kids Website where we could hear and see all of the instruments of the orchestra.  Next we listened to a podcast on Classics for Kids that told about each of the Beethoven Symphonies and we listened to the woodwinds imitating a ticking metronome in the second movement of Beethoven’s 8th Symphony.

This week we have been watching a YouTube video of Haydn’s Farewell Symphony.  Its especially fun to teach students about music that has a story.   Haydn composed the Farewell Symphony to make a statement about the overworked state of the musicians at Esterhaza.  During the final movement, musicians snuff the candle on their music stand and leave the stage one-by-one until there are only 2 musician remaining.  On Tuesday, my youngest students watched the the video and each time a musician got up and left they got to ring a chime.  They were extra attentive, waiting for the next chance to ring the chime!

We have one more week of symphonies before Bach-tober! 🙂

Kindermusik is coming!

Kindermusik is a fun music and movement program for young children, newborn and up.  Megan’s Piano Lessons is excited to offer several Kindermusik classes beginning in September 2012.

Click the link to the right to enroll in a Kindermusik class.

 

Village
For ages 0 to 18 months
Village is for lap babies, crawlers, and walkers. It incorporates the most current research on early childhood development and provides families a special place for learning and connecting with other parents and babies through music and movement.

Village is offered on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 11:00AM.

 

Our Time
For 1.5 to 3 year olds
Our Time reflects the emotional foundations of school readiness and the latest research on music and early childhood development. Our Time is a unique opportunity for parent and child to interact and learn together in an unhurried and   joyful manner.

Our Time is offered on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:00AM and Sunday afternoon at 3:00PM

 

Family Time
For children (and parents) of all ages
Family Time brings adults and children of all ages together, providing a dynamic and integrated musical learning experience for everyone.

Family Time is offered on Sunday afternoons at 4:00PM.

Success!

2011-2012 was a successful year for Megan’s Piano Lessons!  School-aged students who were enrolled in Piano Lessons/Lab kept track of their progress with assignments and practicing using their iPractice assignment book:

All year they were earning points to record songs.  Once they had 10 songs recorded they got to make their own CD.  I’m very proud that all 8 students earned a CD.  They named and designed their CDs and we had them printed just like a professional CD.  We finished the school year with a special CD release party.  Here are the final products.

Need Inspiration?

You may remember meeting Karen, one of my former adult students, in this post from last September.  She was one of my first RMM students at Senseney Music in Wichita.

I recently received an exciting update from Karen.  Perhaps her story is the inspiration you need to tackle your new years resolution or check the next item off your bucket list!

Karen says:

“I spent the Christmas holiday in Miami, Florida with my family and was able to fellowship with the church where my dad is pastor.Would you believe that during our mid-week prayer service on Wednesday, December 21st my dad asked me if I could open the service with a few selections on the piano. I thought I was going to faint!!!! But remembering what you taught me, to be calm and relaxed, I was able to play two Christmas Carols (Silent Night and Away in a Manger), and one hymn (Sweet Hour of Prayer), from my piano lesson books. The real payoff was that the congregation was able to sing along as I played. I had never felt so much anxiety in my life, but yet at the same time, I was never so proud of what I had accomplished in such a short time. Needless to say,  my dad was very proud too!”

App Review: Music Theory Pro

I’ve noticed that my elementary and middle school students will take any chance they can get to hold and play with an iPod, so I’ve been taking advantage of this opportunity to get them to practice theory drills.  🙂

My hour-long Piano Lessons/Lab for kids allows for plenty of time to try out theory games and apps.  Lately we’ve been enjoying Music Theory Pro.

My beginning students have mostly been using it to identify note names and intermediate students have been practicing intervals and chords.  A couple of my students are almost ready to try the key signature and ear training drills.

There is a running clock and you receive a score at the end (number correct/total questions).  Students are motivated to play again to beat their score.

I like that you can choose your own setting for each drill.  For example, on note names, you can choose which clef or clefs you would like to name notes on.  I do wish that you had more control over the settings, though, because the drills aren’t really progressive.  For key signatures, it is assumed that the student can be drilled on all key signatures, but most of my students only know a handful of sharp and flat signatures so far.  It would be nice to be able to select how difficult the questions are going to be.

It is fun to have this app as a supplement to my usual written and computer theory drills!  I’m looking out for more apps to use at the piano.  I’ll let you know what I find!