teaching ideas

The Tickle Trunk of Textures

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).

On Student Music Reports

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

Some have created some lovely poster boards, like this one: image

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.

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".