coin

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  [···]

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Chocolate CoinsI must have driven my music teacher crazy!

When I look at my first music book from when I was seven, scrawled across each page are my teacher’s increasingly frustrated exclamations of, “fingering, fingering, FINGERING!”

We’ve all been there though as music teachers! Why do our pupils always ignore our reminders we write on their music for them? No amount of pencil annotations seem to help!

However, in a moment of frustration, I accidentally stumbled on a very useful solution which I now use all the time in lessons with good success!

Tip 1: “Follow the Yellow Brick” Post-it® !
• Cut up pieces of brightly coloured Post-it® notes to the appropriate sizes
• Carefully attach the sticky Post-it® note at the exact position over or under the problem area on the sheet music
• Write a helpful reminder with a marker pen (e.g. “LOUD,” “QUIETER,” “PAUSE,” “FINGER 2,” etc.)
• Sit back and watch the instant improvement. Magic!
• When the issue is finally resolved, simply lift the Post-it® note without marking the music

Students find it hard to ignore such bright and bold messages and therefore bad habits are quickly fixed.

Tip 2: Mission Impossible!
Do you sometimes give pupils a time restricted challenge? For example, how quickly can they get their hands into the correct position before sight-reading a new piece of music? Instead of using a conventional timer, try playing [···]

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