Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Finally Fall!

Now that fall lessons are in full-swing, I want to share a few things that are new in my studio, or not-so-new that might be of interest. Are you doing something similar in your teaching studio?

  • MIDI: Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or as we call it here, "the band." Most of my students have at least one book or piece that comes with MIDI accompaniment. We have our Yamaha YPG-225 set up next to the piano, and connected to an old laptop used just for MIDI applications. For technical exercises that have MIDI accompaniments available, we can adjust the tempo and key, remove or add voices to the band... and my students LOVE it. It is great motivation. I just have to say, "If you will practice this, then next week you can play it WITH THE BAND...." and they DO.
  • Time to start our annual Scales Challenge! I created a half-sheet scales chart with all the keys listed, and a small box big enough for a chart sticker above each key. I help my students determine what their individual challenge should be for scales, and we write out the goals on the back of the chart. For beginners, this is usually something along the lines of  "Play the pentascale up and down three times, then the broken chord up and down once, then a cross-over arpeggio (I call them harp songs for the littlest students)." For older students, we use the scale requirements for Guild or The Achievement Program (TAP, formerly the National Music Certificate Program through RCM), or I just come up with a challenging way to prepare the scales. We work on the charts throughout the year and if students choose to, they can post their charts on the wall of the studio. Here is the chart (two to a page, so you'll need a paper cutter):

  • Liszt Liszt Liszt! Our composer of the year is Liszt, in honor of the 200th anniversary of his birth. We announced this at the spring 2011 recital, and each participant received a small Liszt figurine as a recital award. Many of my students are studying pieces by Liszt or arrangements and simplifications. They will perform these pieces at our fall recital in November. We will have Liszt projects to complete at the upcoming performance workshops (aka "piano parties"). I'll post about this again later.

I have other studio programs to share, but this is all I have time for right now. Please leave me a comment or question below. Hope you are having a great first week of Autumn!