music lessons

Finding Harmony With the Right Music Teacher

Signing up for music lessons involves a long-term commitment. Great care should be taken to find a music teacher that is a good fit for the student.

On Teaching Piano with Multiple Cameras

This week's lessons feature a fun bonus for my students - the addition of the POV camera. My last student of the evening and I had a ball working with the POV camera. By using trakAxPC, I am able to create a split-screen lesson clip. All it took was a little Virtual Choir genius ("Clap 3 times") to sync the two video clips:

Virtual Choir 3 Conductor Video (Soprano) - Water Night from Eric Whitacre on Vimeo.

Here's what a split screen lesson clip looks like:

Music lesson clip recorded with a Logitech HD webcam anda GoPro Hero2 Camera. Edited with the free program trakAxPC. Photo by R-M Arca.

This way, my students get the exact same perspectives they get when they are sitting at the bench (the straight-ahead view of the score and an HD shot of the peripheral view of their hands. trakAxPC is so easy to use. I haven't even gone through the tutorials!

Music and technology is a wonderful thing.

Music Group Class Round 1 Reflections

Well, students and teachers of Musespeak Studio and To the Wind Studio have survived the first round of music group classes with this new format.  I learned three main lessons:

  1. I have gotten too complacent as far as teacher-student communications go. My students, their parents and I have an established rapport. I'm starting virtually from scratch with my brother's students. Sure, we've chatted at recitals, but a five-minute chat and teaching in 90-minute stretches are two totally different things.
  2. It is important to over-plan and have several back-up activities up your sleeve. My pacing for one of the group classes was perfect. One was all right but could use a few more activities, while the other - well we raced through my lesson plan and I wound up flying by the seat of my pants for a very long time. I have Divine inspiration to thank for the "Let's Make Up a Story with Sound" exercise that I did with yesterday's students when improvising. 
  3. When teaching at another studio, have a studio contact list on hand in case you need to contact a parent in the case of an emergency or behavioural issue. 

Overall, it was a positive experience. I've learned which students I need to be firm with and which ones I can recruit to take more of a mentoring role with the junior students.

I enjoyed teaching four lovely girls basic conducting gestures and beat patterns.  They giggled a lot and had a great rapport with each other.  

The "Get into The Groove" class challenged me the most. I will need to plan more rhythm exercises, especially ones where they split off into smaller groups. As for the stubborn ones - let's just say that I'm just as good, if not better at digging in my heels. "The Art of Practicing" also wound up being a great group of music students who were very engaged. In discussing how to practice music, we discussed stretching as well as their learning styles and practicing challenges (e.g. "When I Don't Feel Like Practicing"). The conversation also lead to areas I had not thought of incorporating into my presentation - and they should be. Thanks to them, talking about how to practice when injured and speed learning will be incorporated into my presentation. I look forward to the next round of music group classes.

The Truth About Piano Lessons

"The Truth About Piano Lessons" takes a  good, hard look at what music lessons entails - for the student and his/her family. The benefits of music education, learning piano and modern parenting, the process of practicing and learning piano and what parents can do to help are addressed.

Yes There IS a Point to Practicing Scales

A rather humorous and informative post by a young musician about when he had a dramatic revelation about the usefulness of scales (and arpeggios) when faced with learning a piece for a gig with very little time. Thanks to my colleague LaDona Ahenda (and her son Mark) for sharing this on her blog.

Useful Music Websites

A great big thank you to my teaching colleagues on LinkedIn for sharing their favorite music websites:

Children's Music Workshop: Music Education Online
Play Piano Today - a look at Pattern Play Piano
Music Learning Community
Susan Paradis' Piano Teaching Resources


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