practice aids

Using Practicing Personalities in Music Lessons

This summer, I bought Practice Personalities: What's Your Type? by Thornton Cline in the hopes of gaining new information to help my music students 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.

Using Multiple Cameras in a Music Lesson Demonstration

After reading "On Teaching Piano with Multiple Cameras", one of my readers had mused how wonderful it would be to see a demonstration of using multiple cameras in a music lesson. My student Dylan and I were happy to oblige.

Here we are working on a short chord progression from U2's "Stuck in a Moment". I used the three claps at the beginning to synchronize the videos (à la Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir).

We used the following cameras for this demonstration:

  1. POV Camera on Dylan's head (Top Left): GoPro Hero 2
  2. Profile Camera on the Studio Desk (Top Right): Microsoft HD LifeCam 3000
  3. Pedal Camera (Bottom Right): Canon PowerShot 5S IS (I can't bring myself to retire it completely because it's still a good camera)
  4. Overhead Camera (Bottom Left): Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910

I took a photographer friend's advice and turned off the auto-focus on the two webcams. Another thing I do is try to minimize the number of background programs running on the computer when recording video.

 

The profile view is essential for checking posture and hand position. The overhead view gives you the musician's peripheral of the keyboard geography. The pedal view is essential with students who are having issues with timing their pedal changes. As for the POV camera - isn't is just fun to see how another musician sees when they play? It's also good for checking where they are focusing.

I will probably swap the positions for the pedal and profile camera.

Now, when a student working on something new, I can show them various perspectives that they can review at their leisure at home. Or perhaps they'd like to show off a newly polished piece to their relatives across the country.

Students, "Record & Review" has never been so easy to do at home. Use any of your portable devices, such as a smart phone, iPod, tablet, netbook, laptop, camera. You can place them at various positions as we have here.

Find out more about how to incorporate webcams into your studio here.

* Special thanks to my student Dylan and his family for granting permission to record Dylan for this demo. *

Practice Tip: Playing along with a CD

I recently ordered Bleach the Best CD through amazon.com. A courier dropped it off during this morning's piano lessons. As soon as I ushered my day students out the door, I set the CD to Houki Boshi - the song I'm doing for the APTA Festival and played along with it on the piano. This is a surefire way to force a musician to keep going no matter what as the CD doesn't stop for you to correct notes. It was an energizing experience, mainly because the song is supposed to be played at approximately 162 quarter notes per minute.

 

(c) 2007 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.