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Some Questions to Ponder

Have music lessons changed since you were a child?

Do you sense a shift in your teaching because of  iTunes, iPads, YouTube, Spotify…?

Have you modified your daily lessons to accommodate the interests of your students and their desire to play in today’s styles?

Do you intend to buck the cultural trend and stay true only to your “classically-trained” roots?

Do you carry a wait list because you offer lessons in the jazz/pop styles?

Regardless of your answers to the questions above, please take a moment to answer a few more in a brief survey.  Before you click on the link and take the survey, keep the following definitions in mind.

 

Clarifications of Styles

What does “Classically Trained” mean?

“Classical” instruction uses traditional method books that focus on reading from the grand staff, technique, and careful interpretation of the written page. Emphasis is on mastering and memorizing repertoire of the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th century style periods. Theory is included but the overall approach includes little or no improvising.

What is  Jazz/Pop Training? (as defined by Bradley Sowash)

Dixieland, Big Band, Small Group in a club? All of these constitute jazz genres but jazz is not a style or sound. Jazz is an approach to making music that involves reading and improvising over specific rhythmic feels within a given  harmonic context. Born in America, the roots of jazz lie in:

composer, concert jazz pianist, author and educator

  • African Rhythms
  • European Harmonies
  • Ethnic Influences

For pianists, “pop” could be defined similarly since most pianists read. One big difference is that with jazz you are expected to personalize the music. That’s why people like to hear the same standards played by different artists: because every jazzer brings their own perspective to the interpretation.

Student bands playing music, however, usually try to sound exactly like the recording.  [···]

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Here are some fun ideas to use as ice breakers or to brush up on rhythm skills in group lessons and workshops. I’ve even used them to kick off my teacher workshops, and they inspired very enthusiastic participation from all!

The Rhythm Ring

1)  Prior to class, set out a group of rhythm instruments in the middle of a circle of chairs or rug area where the students will be sitting. As they enter, explain that you will be passing the instruments out to those who are waiting patiently when class begins. (This will help with chaos control!)

2)  Ask the students to think of a rhythmic pattern in 4/4 time, and to be prepared to play it repeatedly, once they have been asked to join in the rhythm ring.  [···]

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(Improvisation Journals, Budding Ideas, Blossoms and Bouquets)

Last month I talked about students making improvisation journals to jot down their musical ideas. Paralleling the creative process to stages in development of flowers and bouquets, ideas were offered in these areas (see Blossoming Improvisation – Part One dated 9/25/09) :

  • Preparing the Soil for Creativity
  • Planting Seeds (motifs).

Today I want to talk about the remaining three stages in my flowery discussion of creativity:

  • Budding Ideas (phrases)
  • Blossoms (sections)
  • The Bouquet (the composition)

Budding Ideas (Phrases)

In this section, short motifs from the “Planting Seeds” section (see Part One of this series) will be expanded in to phrases. The motifs may be used as “take-off” points, or combined to create an interesting theme.

Since a phrase is a musical sentence, it needs to have a beginning, and build through the middle to a period or question mark at the end. The picture of a rainbow shape is a helpful analogy of a phrase shape. Though all phrases do not follow the same melodic and dynamic shape, the rainbow shape will ensure nicely rounded, successful phrases for introductory purposes. Once this is achieved, turn up at the ends of the phrases to create question phrases.  [···]

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