Practicing Music

Our 30 Day Practice Challenge: In the Students' Words

Our 30 Day Practice Challenge: In the Students' Words

Last time, I shared some of my observations and musings while my students and I participated in the 30 Day Practice Challenge. Now that most of them have completed the challenge, it’s time for my students to share their thoughts on practising every day for 30 days.

Our 30 Days of Practice Challenge

Our 30 Days of Practice Challenge

As I mentioned in my post about this year’s Maestro’s 2018/19 Studio Challenges, my students and I are are doing a new practice challenge this year. Last month, we started a 30 Days of Practice Challenge. The practice challenge was inspired by concert violinist Hilary Hahn and her 100 Days of Practice Challenge on Instagram

Training Students to Become Active Listeners

Teaching my students how to become active listeners is tedious but a necessary step in teaching them how to practice more efficiently.

A Rainbow of Handouts and Studio Incentives

A few tweaks and new bells and whistles make this year's student incentive program and practice aids a rainbow of colours and very much, game inspired.

Every Other Bar Drill Demonstration for Piano and Melodica

The Every Other Bar Drill has proved to be a successful drill with my students this month. Some need to clean things up, especially their notes, rhythm and fingering. Others need to make their music flow more smoothly. This drill addresses these issues. The student plays the odd numbered bars in a troublespot, while I play the even numbered bars on the melodica. Then we switch.Afterwards, when I get them to play the entire passage, the difference from their first runthrough at the lesson and the latest is like night and day.

A melodica is a "wind piano". A very fun instrument to play. Photo by R-M Arca.

It really doesn't matter what that second instrument is - voice, French horn, percussion. What I have been finding is that this drill really forces my students to count and "feel" the pulse. For me, this is proving to be a great way to practice "Instrument #5" - the melodica. This wind piano is a fun little instrument. It looks like I'll need to work on breath technique a bit more, though.

Special thanks to my student "S" for giving me permission to share this clip from last week's lesson.

Practicing Piano Technique by the Root

This is more for the advanced students, music teachers and anyone who wants to learn jazz chords and scales. Instead of practicing your technical exercises by key, practice them by their shared root. For example, play through:

  • C major Scale
  • C major Modes
  • C minor Scales (natural, harmonic, melodic, jazz minor)
  • C minor Modes
  • C Penatonic Scale
  • C Blues Scale
  • C Whole Tone Scale
  • C Octatonic Scale
  • C major tonic chord/triad
  • C minor tonic chord/triad
  • C7 (dominant 7th of F major)
  • Cm7 (ii7 of B-flat major)
  • Cm7(♭5) (viiø7 of D-flat major)
  • Cdim7, A.K.A. B#dim (viio7 of D-flat/c# minor)
  • and so on.

This was one of the first things I learned when I took jazz piano lessons with jazz pianist, clinician, adjudicator and examiner Derek Stoll.