classical

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Arguably, the most important skill a musician can acquire is the ability to “play by ear!” Am I dismissing the art of reading notation? Absolutely not. In many aspects of my life as a musician, reading music is essential to me. What I really mean is that, whether a musician is reading music or not, his or her ability to carefully listen to the sound they are producing whilst playing is essential to creating a musical result. I like to call it the “LAD” technique (no offense LADies)! Listen, Analyse and Develop. You have to Listen carefully to the sound you are producing, Analyse the musical elements and then adjust to Develop it yet further. A person might be the best “sight reader” in the world but unless they focus on progressing their “playing by ear”/listening skills, the impact and message of the music will be lost on their audience. “Playing by ear” surely is at the very core of what we do!

So how do we as musicians and teachers develop these essential skills both in ourselves and in our students?

Ear Training Methods

One effective way is to record ourselves and hear our music back. Suddenly we are listening as a third party to the sound and can hear what’s good, bad and ugly! Carefully listening whilst simplifying the music by practicing it slower (and hands separate if possible) can help us focus on detail not previously heard. Other musicians use the

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AN ONGOING CONCERN for many independent music teachers is the change of commitment level of students during the summer months. While some teachers enjoy the usually lightened studio schedule during the summer months, most of us depend on our teaching as our livelihood and have bills that do not go away during this time. I would love to hear your ideas, especially those of you that have been successful at insuring yourselves regular employment year long!

ESTABLISHING A SUMMER REQUIREMENT (a minimum number of lessons, with the option of replacing some private lessons with one of the various summer workshops), has been most helpful for me in keeping things going in my studio.  Though I  cannot really make anyone take classes, the ones that do are assured their slot, or first choice of times in my schedule when the school year comes back around.  My students and parents seem to really enjoy the flexibility with having a couple of options for summer lessons and a variety of supplemental classes.   [···]

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A teacher’s job neither starts nor ends in the studio.  Preparation, brainstorming, caring, ideas, inspiration, creativity… these are only a few words to describe the immense responsibility we have outside of the studio.  Have you ever found yourself writing a letter outside teaching hours to encourage a student who is struggling with their first Minuet or help a parent who needs advice on inspiring their child to practice, or researched the best local pianos for sale?

Take your job seriously in all respects. 🙂  I have discovered that when we, as teachers, enjoy what we do, our students have a sense of ownership, joy, and satisfaction in the accomplishments they have made at their instruments.  You all are wonderful teachers! Keep pouring into your students and enjoy every moment and opportunity you have to make a difference in their lives through music.

I will…

 

  • pray for my day’s list of students before entering the studio.
  • look students in the eyes, let them know how glad I am to see them, and smile!… be cheerful
  • give clear practice instructions, demand only the best and be patient when practice weeks don’t reach those expectations
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