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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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With the retail hype surrounding the festive season starting earlier and earlier every year I am reluctant to write a post about Christmas in October, however this is the time of year that I start to prepare my students for the upcoming holiday season. I have just written to the parents of my students with some suggestions for sheet music orders.  [···]

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Copyright.  Why should we bother??  As a private teacher, I have often said to myself, “It’s such a pain to have students purchase music, when I could just copy one piece out of this book.”  Another excuse that I have used is, “Well, this student will only be singing one song out of this book.  Why should I have them go to the expense of purchasing the entire collection?”

This past summer, I was the recipient of the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) Independent Teacher Fellowship.  This gave me the opportunity to attend the National Conference this past July in Salt Lake City.  One of the things that really struck me was that original music was used by all of the pianists during the conference.  I also had the joy of attending a “Publisher Showcase” during every lunch period.

These Publisher Showcases were opportunities for me to really appreciate all the work that publishers put into preparing new editions of music for those of us who teach.  Hal Leonard has some amazing new editions of Leonard Bernstein songs (Bernstein Theatre Songs in High, Low & Duets/Ensembles books and Bernstein Art Songs and Arias in High & Medium/Low keys) as well as a new complete edition of 65 Songs of Samuel Barber (in High and Medium/Low keys).  The work and attention to detail evident in these new editions of composers we know and love was evident.  Previously unpublished songs are included in each of these new editions.  I was also introduced to the new Schirmer editions of the standard Italian Art Songs and Arias.  The 28 Italian Songs and Arias now includes (in 5 keys, and for only $10/book without the recording) IPA & historical background of each song, in addition to a few songs that are unfamiliar from the traditional “yellow book” Schirmer edition. [···]

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