Recital Preparation

Here’s the problem:  every student is different.

When preparing students for recitals, the challenge is to set them up so that they reach their “peak” at the performance.  If they don’t have enough time to prepare properly, then the final week before the recital is likely to be stressful and unenjoyable (as well as the . . . → Read More: Recital Preparation

The Art of Teaching

I just got back from Iowa Music Teachers Association conference in Ames, IA.  I got see a lot of neat things, chat with some really cool people, and eat too much.  I also had a 2.5 hour drive, which means I had lots of time to think.  This post is the result of the drive . . . → Read More: The Art of Teaching

WHY?

Sorry about the hiatus, but the semester has ended, so let the writing resume!

I remember some years ago being told by my mother that when children ask “why,” it’s not a real question.  When they ask “Why do I have to eat my vegetables?”, it’s not because they desire information regarding the health benefits . . . → Read More: WHY?

Quick Metronome Idea

I do this thing every now and then where I practice with a metronome but put the metronome across the room – 10 feet away or so.  It feels very different than having it right on the piano, and I think it’s because of how it changes the way you listen.

When the metronome is . . . → Read More: Quick Metronome Idea

Here, Have a Chainsaw!

It occurs to me that I’m occasionally guilty of telling students they need to use a metronome without having taught them how to use one.  It’s the musical equivalent of handing someone a chainsaw and expecting them to cut down a tree.

Pretend for a moment that you’ve never used a chainsaw.  Now imagine that . . . → Read More: Here, Have a Chainsaw!

Toilet Paper Dynamics

Back in my idealistic student days, there was something of a movement going on in pedagogy where teachers were defining “piano” as “quiet” instead of “soft.”  The idea made good academic sense – forte meant loud, and the opposite of loud is quiet, so we started using “loud” and “quiet” instead of “loud” and “soft.”

. . . → Read More: Toilet Paper Dynamics

The Augmented Alberti Exercise

Here’s an exercise I use to help speed up Alberti bass figures:

First, sit so that the C above middle C is directly in front of you.

Second, turn your body to the right so that you’re facing the top C on the keyboard.

Third, practice this, using 5131 5131 for your fingering:

Doing . . . → Read More: The Augmented Alberti Exercise

The Real Benefits of Piano Study

Okay, I have to get this off my chest.  For years now, we’ve all been reading about how piano lessons benefit children.  There are plenty of lists that describe the benefits of music study, and MENC even has a database to help music teachers convince their administrators to give them the resources they need to . . . → Read More: The Real Benefits of Piano Study

Piano Playing – in 3D!

Two things inspired this post:

The first is Concert Hands, a completely ridiculous piece of technology that you strap on to your wrists and hands to help you learn to play.  (Seriously, watch the video, it’s hilarious!)

The second is a description of a teaching technique in Julie Knerr’s excellent article on elementary technique in . . . → Read More: Piano Playing – in 3D!

How to Memorize

I tried something new with my students this year, and I think it helped make our winter recital a huge success.  I gave them a simple recipe for how to keep their memory secure in the week before their recital.

It goes like this:

1) With the score out of sight, play the first section . . . → Read More: How to Memorize