pop music

On Scaring Classically Trained Music Teachers with Contemporary Idioms

Earlier this month, I presented improvisation and various elements of Conservatory Canada's Contemporary Idioms syllabus to The Piano Pedagogy Group. This was a group of bright yet frightened classically trained piano teachers. After years of being told "Play what's on the page," the sight of a chord chart or a lead sheet drew looks of puzzlement and various states of uncertainty. Conservatory Canada has recently updated their Contemporary Syllabus in such a way that makes it easier to crossover to the "fun zone". I myself haven't gone through all of the changes yet (You can find out all about the syllabus changes here). What I did touch upon was my experience delving into contemporary idioms on a deeper level. Much deeper than playing through popular arrangements by Dan Coates, Bill Boyd and Phillip Keveren.

I began by sharing my experiences taking jazz piano lessons with jazz pianist, adjudicator, clinician and examiner Derek Stoll. Then, I walked them through various elements of preparing for my Level 7 Contemporary Idioms piano exam.

The bulk of my presentation was on sharing the resources I commonly use when teaching contemporary music, in addition to my approaches to teaching technique, improvisation and learning music that isn't in standard notation. This is rather huge, I will go into each area in more detail in subsequent posts. Hopefully, this will open up a dialogue between music teachers and students who would like to delve into the "fun zone".


Fun Music Recommendations for Summer

Hooray! It's the last week of lessons. My students and I are looking forward to some time off. This week, they've all heard me stress the importance of doing some music practice during the summer so they don't waste the time, effort and money that they, their parents and I as their teacher have invested throughout the year.

The following are some of the "fun music" suggestions I have given them to make their "Summer Learning Projects" as enjoyable as possible:

I also compiled a listing of websites in a recent article Where to Find Free Piano Music Online (new link to come). An honourable mention goes out to Piano Squall's website with loads of video game and anime theme songs. I wanted to put his site on the list but there are constraints on article length.

Students can also check out the RCM Popular Selection List and Conservatory Canada's Contemporary Idioms Syllabus online for suggestions of graded popular pieces.

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

Fun Music Ideas

Around this time, it's a big push to keep students focussed and motivated to practice. Several of my students are exploring other genres to keep their interest or to simply give them a break from their main pieces. Here are just a few, which may serve as ideas for other musicians:

Check out the links, sheetmusicplus.com or your local music store. Happy exploring!

(c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.