music theory

Setting up the Studio Computer Lab

Students can improve their note reading, ear training and more on the computer,  Photo by R-M Arca.

Technology and music is a huge area for growth as far as music teaching goes. I recently transformed my old office laptop into a music computer lab.
I downloaded various cool (and free) apps from Ubuntu's software center, including:
  • Audacity
  • Linthesia
  • Score Reading Trainer
  • GNU Denemo
  • GNU Solfege
  • Hydrogen Drum Machine
  • Linux Multimedia Studio
  • Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard
  • Musescore
Generally, I zoomed in on apps that help students with note reading practice, ear training and rhythm work. The music notation software and audio recording software is to give them something fun to create.
One student was tickled pink that he earned three Maestro Bucks for creating a funky drum loop (and tutored his sister on how to use the program).

Great Link about Articulation & Music Terms

I stumbled upon this link in my search for a refresher on tremolos:

http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory21.htm

I particularly like the chart about all the different accents. That will come in handy when I start reviewing accents with my students.

Now I better get back to practicing. I'm "parachuting" in as a choir accompanist for a short-term project so I need to speed-learn the pieces for tomorrow's rehearsal. And yes, I just got the music today. Isn't that how it always goes?

The jazz lessons are paying off. My style of chunking the information has changed with my year in jazz.

(c) 2009 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Ear Training and Sight Reading Help

My weakest areas as a piano student were the aural and sight reading tests. One year when I was in high school, I “forgot” my Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests book for two months’ worth of lessons. Elizabeth Mahaffy, my teacher at the time, got so fed up that one day, she sent me home to get the book.

Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 1 Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 1 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). By Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For Piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Elementary (Level 1). Book. 48 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S1)

Smp_stars50 (1) ...more info

My students don’t get away with that since I’ve kept all my Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. I bring them out for the forgetful students or sometimes, I have them pick out a song by ear and add the chords.

There are a multitude of online resources for students who need extra work in this area. Here are a few of them:

If you would like to purchase the Four Star book series, check out my affiliate links below:

4941102 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Introductory Book (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Elementary (Introductory). Book. 32 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S0).
4940473 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 1 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Elementary (Level 1). Book. 48 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S1).
4940484 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 2 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Late Elementary (Level 2). Book. 32 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S2).
4940496 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 3 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Early Intermediate (Level 3). Book. 32 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S3).
4940509 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 4 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Early Intermediate (Level 4). Book. 56 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S4).
4940515 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 5 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Intermediate (Level 5). Book. 64 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S5).
4940525 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 6 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Intermediate (Level 6). Book. 64 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S6).
4940530 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 7 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Late Intermediate (Level 7). Book. 64 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S7).
4940544 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 8 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Early Advanced (Level 8). Book. 64 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S8).
4942051 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 9 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Advanced (Level 9). Book. 64 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S9).
4942062 look inside Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 10 (Daily Exercises for Piano Students). Composed by Boris Berlin. Edited by Scott McBride Smith. For piano. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests. Advanced (Level 10). Book. 64 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company (FH.4S10).

Happy practicing!

© 2006, Musespeak™, Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

 

 

Music Theory Musings: A Practical Example

Sometimes, students ask, “Why do I need to take music theory?” The simple answer is, “It makes you a better musician.” With theoretical knowledge of the music, one is able to better learn and understand their repertoire, resulting in stronger performances.

I’ll use a practical example: Two of my students are working on a Bourée this year, which is a lively French dance popular in the Baroque period. One is learning the Bourée in A minor by Johann Ludwig Krebs while the other is working on a Bourée in F Major from Georg Philipp Telemann’s Solo in F Major, TWV 32:4.

At the beginning of the school year, we discussed the form of the music. Both are in binary form (rounded binary to be more specific). That makes learning simpler, knowing that the A section returns with some or no modifications. Both begin on an upbeat, which encourages the performer to give a nice strong accent to beat one in the following bar. They should be in duple meterbut strangely, they’re both in quadruple meter. Lively dance in quadruple meter? Past experience suggests that they play with a feeling of one beat per bar.

The first section begins in the tonic key but ends in a decisive perfect (V-I) cadence in a contrasting, closely related key (either the Dominant or the relative major)

The B section in both dances are based on a short motive from the A section. After some sequences, the music returns to the A section (or in the case of the second dance, a portion of A). Both songs end in a decisive perfect cadence in the tonic key.

My students learned their Bourées, one section at a time. They are currently busy bees, trying to memorize their songs for the upcoming APTA Festival. The memorization process has been easier because they recognize the form and the cadences (the usual trouble spots). However, both are struggling with the sequential patterns.

Theoretically, sequences should be easy to memorize but sometimes, it takes a while to internalize the pattern, as my students are finding. You learn the original pattern and then transpose it up a step or down a step, as marked in the score. I am now trying to get them to memorize the chords, e.g. C goes to F, D goes to G, E goes to A, etc. I just realized that should have told one student that this pattern is a series V-I chords, with the pattern moving up a step (C – D – E or F, G, A, depending on which chord you focus on). Maybe that will help.

© 2006, Musespeak™,Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.