Archives for 2015

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creating arrangements1

As a child, I heard people play or sing songs with five or more verses—every verse the same dirge-like tempo, same key, same inflections… The intent of the songs deserved better. I wanted to arrange songs to reflect the message and engage the listener. Now I help my students create arrangements as well.

Start Simply

A very young student might play/sing only one note differently. It’s a start! Perhaps a vocal student has a two-verse song. She goes through the melody twice and ends. Ask her if she can think of a way to change the ending to have more impact. If she can’t think of anything, give an example and have her try it.

Play a repeated passage two ways: once identically and once with a change. Ask which version held his interest, or would keep an audience engaged.

Students singing together might start singing harmony by splitting to a third only on the final note. Starting simply might mean simply making them aware.


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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. [···]

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We’re getting closer to the new Music Teacher’s Helper design. This is a big first step with upgrades and new features to follow. The release date will be announced with plenty of notice, but here are some important things to know about the improved look:


  • The new design includes the existing functionality. While the look is different, all the menus items and actions you perform will be done exactly the same as before.
  • The new design will be responsive, which means the software will function and look great on any computer, tablet or mobile device. We still recommend you use the dedicated iPhone and Android mobile phone apps to access exclusive mobile features such as push notifications, GPS mileage tracking, and audio/video recording.

After we release this new design, we’ll begin adding in some of the bigger improvements and new features that have been requested for a long time, and several surprises which we know you’re going to love. Thanks for being a part of our Music Teacher’s Helper family! If you have any questions about the coming design, please do not hesitate to reach out to 

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