music books

By Robin Steinweg

Books can be effective learning tools in our studios. February brings a couple of library observances: the 6th is “Take your child to the Library” day, and the 14th is “Library Lovers” day.

Here are 5 ways to include books in February (or anytime) lessons:

1. For a beginner learning piano keys or notes on the staff, every time sleep or bedtime is suggested in a book, the student places erasers or other tokens on the B-E-D keys, plays those notes on their instrument, places tokens on the correct lines/spaces of the staff, or draws them on a staff (Goodnight Already -Jory John & Benji Davies or Snoozefest -Samantha Berger). This would also work with a drawn guitar fingerboard.

The same thing can be done with other books and notes: D-A-D (The Daddy Book -Todd Parr; Oh, Daddy! –Bob Shea)

C-A-B-B-A-G-E (Cabbage Moon –Tim Chadwick; The Giant Cabbage –Cherie Stihler)

B-E-E-F (Cows in the Kitchen –June Crebbin; When Pigasso Met Mootisse –Nina Laden

E-G-G (Green Eggs & Ham –Dr. Seuss; An Egg is Quiet –Dianna Hutts Aston)

2. What books can be used to drill rests? Stop Snoring Grandpa –Kally Mayer (a rest whenever Grandpa snores); Last Stop on Market Street -Matt de la Pena (a rest whenever the bus stops)

Again, choose spots in the book ahead of time, and whenever you come to them, students find a particular rest in a piece of sheet music for their tokens, or draw rests.

3. Students learning the interval of a 5th could drill the circle of 5ths notes or keys along with Around the Clock -Roz Chast or Croc Around the Clock –Andrea Pollock

4. If your student is far enough along, perhaps they’d like to create sound effects on their instrument to go with a book: Whoops! -Suzi Moore & Russell Ayto, What the Ladybird Heard -Julia Donaldson, or Listen to My Trumpet! –Mo Willems. Really ambitious? Let them make up one or more themes for the characters in Peter and the Wolf. Afterward, let them hear Prokofiev’s version. What might they do with I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly -Nikki Smith? This activity can be done with a group!

5. Also for a group, you might create (or help your students create) a “Stomp-type” score for a book. Try The Phlunk’s Worldwide Symphony –Lou Rhodes.

Since Library Lovers Day is also Valentine’s Day, your tokens might be conversation hearts or red-pink-white M&Ms.

If your library doesn’t carry these books, try the inter-library loan, purchase them for your own library, or download them on your Kindle.

There are far more than 5 ways to include books in lessons, but these should get your thinker going. MTH readers would love to hear if you incorporate books in lessons!

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Posted in Music Theory, Teaching Tips

Sandy Lundberg

The Stories We Tell

January 26th, 2016 by

music mentality

According to Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, in chapter seven of her book Rising Strong, we are hard-wired to tell stories to explain the world around us. By “stories,” she means our perceptions of ourselves and others. This inclination is so strong that our body actually releases cortisol and oxytocin when we come up with a satisfactory story to explain a situation. Unfortunately, most of our stories are constructed without all of the facts, especially since we cannot read other people’s minds or know all their history. Our stories also reflect all of our own past experiences and the stories we have created around them.

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

music school

The Challenges Of Teaching Pre-literate Preschool Music Students

“Most music method books are confusing, cluttered, and just plain suck!”

If you take a look at the way traditional music publishers present information, it makes little sense. There’s too much visual noise on the page, along with confusing notes intended for different audiences. Nevertheless, this is how so many music teachers begin the first lesson with their students.

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Posted in Professional Development, Teaching Tips

deslexia3

Have you noticed some of your pupils struggling more than usual to learn to read music? Do they score low in sight-reading tests? Do they take a really long time to learn a piece and then seem to be playing more by ear than by reading the music?

Maybe, just maybe they are dyslexic.

Sadly, many dyslexics go through life undetected. They’ve learnt to somehow find ways of avoiding situations which involve numbers and/or words and have endured endless frustration at the hand of parents, teachers, peers and themselves. Going back a little in time, before such learning difficulties were widely acknowledged, dyslexics were often Read more…

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Posted in Professional Development, Teaching Tips

top-pop-tips-730x730

As students return for lessons after the holidays, why not kick off 2016 with pop music? Surprising your students with some Coldplay along with Chopin–or any favorite tune from the past or the present–could strike just the right balance to keep things interesting during the long winter months ahead.

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect on the past year and make some revisions for the months ahead.  Has your curriculum remained relatively the same and even become stagnant?  Could you better match the interests of potential and eager customers in your local area by revamping your curriculum and adding some hit tunes from Adele, The Piano Guys or Star Wars?

David Cutler, author of The Savvy Music Teacher, discovered from his extensive research that music teachers who generated substantial (successful) incomes were more likely to integrate three elements into their instruction compared to other teachers who did not. They include: improvisation, technology and multiple musical genres.

Need to spice up 2016? Considering a fresh approach? Ready to integrate more improvisation, technology and musical genres, ie, pop music in to your teaching? Then you will want to sign up for and attend the 88 Creative Keys Winter Webinar Webshop. Watch the video below for more details. Read more…

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

Reversing the learning process

There is a common presumption among music students that learning a piece of music is processed in this order:

1.  The mind tries to understand what’s going on through analysis, reading, listening to the teacher.
2.  The hands are told by the brain what to do so they can practice and learn their job.
3.  The ears serve as audience and judge to see how it comes out.

More and more, I have come to realize that this presumption only serves to frustrate students and slow them down.  For example, some students have trouble being asked to play a note if they do not understand why or how it fits into what they’re working on.  Others might go over a phrase of music several times successfully, and then look up and say that they don’t know how to play it.  A student may play several notes of a musical phrase and have their fingers poised correctly for the next note, but feel they can’t play it because they don’t “know” what comes next. Read more…

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Posted in Music & Technology, Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

Leila Viss

How will you play it forward?

December 14th, 2015 by

 

Two weeks ago, my student Addison entered my studio and declared, “I wrote a song for Paris!”

A little puzzled by what he meant, I probed further and learned that he improvised a piece on the piano based on his feelings about the terrorist attacks in Paris and posted it on his YouTube channel. It was Addison’s way of processing the tragedy, paying tribute to the victims, communicating his sorrow and as I thought about it more, this was Addison’s way to give what he could: he wanted to play it forward.

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Music News, Performing, Press, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

Yiyi Ku

Inspired Holiday Music

December 9th, 2015 by

It is this time of the year again! I always look forward to checking out new arrangements of my favorite holiday music. This year, three collections will become staples in my studio.

Christmas Extravaganza by Robert D. Vandall

imageThis is a collection of three books, from Early to Late Intermediate levels. It was great fun when I was sight reading through the pieces for my students, as each one sounds so impressive. Each arrangement of familiar Christmas favorites combines both fresh and familiar harmonies with unique melodic treatments and interesting rhythms.

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Posted in Product Reviews, Teaching Tips

Reuben Vincent

Teaching Grouping

December 6th, 2015 by

21 The Coins of the Money Changers

I always found the rhythmic grouping of notes and rests very difficult to explain to students. How do you try and explain this concept to your theory and composition pupils?

Here’s an idea I stumbled on recently which seems to be helping: “money, money, money!”

• Before attempting to beam notes up into the correct groups, I first lay out a mixed selection of coins equivalent to four pounds sterling (I’m from England but the principle is the same whatever the coinage of your country. You can use real money or plastic play money).

• I then ask the pupil to organise the coins into four stacks equal to one pound, no more no less. The principle that this exercise demonstrates to them is that Read more…

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music Theory, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

photo-montage1

What would you do if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

– Lennon & McCartney

You can’t do it alone.  If you look around you, all the things in your life, from furniture, to electronics to clothes to even books and works of art – none of it was done by a lone genius.

I used to be seduced by this story of the lone creative genius toiling away in an isolated studio somewhere and emerging two years later with…the greatest thing ever!  But, the work of all the famous authors, painters, inventors, teachers, musicians – they all needed a team to make it’s way to us. Van Gogh would not be known without his brother’s financial support and the art dealers and the scholars and the museums who have all promoted his work.   

For years, I tried to do it alone and it was painful, hard, lonely. But, there is a better way and that way is called a mastermind group which I am certain has the potential to change your life.  

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Posted in Professional Development, Teaching Tips