One of my students terminated lessons before the end of the year. We ended our time together by recording a CD.
Drawing inspiration from Alessandra DiCienzo from the Ontario Registered Music Teachers' Association, I have launched a sight-reading challenge in my music studio.
I almost walked right past these in the store. These Post-it Note Tabs are a neat way to put important lesson reminders where my music students will look at them!
Inspired by Dr. Jennifer Snow, Frances Mae Balodis, Karen King and Mr. Dressup, I've put together a Tickle Trunk of Textures to teach touch. (A 6-word Alliteration Combo - AWESOME).
Part of me is worried that I haven't buckled down to do some major planning for the upcoming teaching year, but as I declutter, I am making some progress in the planning department.
To give my students and I a break from music rudiments, I assign them music reports. They are a great way to give students a deeper understanding of the music they are working on and to let them explore areas of special interest. I used to just ask them to research the composers of the pieces they are working on. Now, I've been getting a bit more creative.
Below are some of the topics my students have been researching:
- the story behind a song that they like (this was particularly fun with Christmas songs)
- information about the style or form of the music they are studying
- composer reports
- album reviews
- concert reviews
- performer reports
- music instrument profiles
My latest twist has been to tie music to another activity. For instance, two of my students study Aikido. Last week, I asked them to research five points about the samurai Musashi and his concept of rhythm-timing. Another is plays competitive soccer. She's going to research some information about some of the World Cup songs.
I've got a few more ideas up my sleeve. I am thinking of asking them to research music careers, music genres and local musicians.
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".