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.

Patrick Henry Hughes - Transforming "Disabilty" into Endless Possibilities

Thanks to my hair stylist for this inspiring clip about Patrick Henry Hughes. This phenomenal young man is blind and has some condition that severely limits his movement. He travels in a wheel chair and is unable to stretch out his arms. He plays a wonderful version of Debussy's Clair de Lune and plays trumpet in a university marching band. Yes - a marching band!

Here's the clip:

As the newscaster says, "Patrick Hughes plays so that we might hear the music of opportunity and the sound of potential."

What an inspiration to us all.

(c) 2010 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Improv by Eric Lewis Sparks Memories & Inspiration

I still remember the first time at university when classmate Lael Johnston performed a piece for prepared piano by John Cage at one Studio Master Class. All the piano students were shocked that bits of rubber, nuts and bolts, felt and more were wedged into the strings of a 9-foot Steinway concert grand. Lael assured us that no parts of the piano were permanently damaged. The fascinating thing was that the Steinway sounded exactly like an Indonesian gamelan.

This clip below of jazz pianist Eric Lewis brought all those memories back. Eric doesn't use rubber, nuts or bolts, but his hand technique on the piano strings is pretty impressive and creative. Around the 6'30" mark, he has a very funky groove.

It gives me ideas of things to do with any students who are easily bored or need something exciting to re-energize their playing. However, like Lael, I'll have to assure my students' parents that no piano parts should be permanently damaged in the process of unleashing their child's creativity.

Here's the clip:

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