teaching music

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.

Using Waveforms in Music Lessons

This week, I tried a new idea out on a student who has trouble playing steadily (and hates the metronome). I showed him our waveforms.

Piano Pedagogy Links

I haven't started lesson planning for the 2007/08 year yet. I planned to catch up on my bookkeeping and registrations this week before moving onto to lesson plans; but I am taking longer than I thought I would on updating my address book. Of course, it doesn't help that this is the worst month for me and allergies. I refuse to do any bookkeeping when my head is in a perpetual foggy, sniffly, snivelly and sneezy state. However, I'm almost done my address book project and I think I finally found an allergy/sinus combination that is breaking through that fog; so I'll have no more excuses. I will have to do my bookkeeping.

For my colleagues who are doing their lesson planning now (or plan to do so soon), here are a few online resources I've stumbled upon. Hopefully, we can gleam some gems from these:

  1. Piano Pedagogy Forum
  2. Can-Pno-Ped
  3. Music Pedagogy

I may have posted a couple of these in a previous entry, but it would have been a while back.My apologies for the list being piano heavy. Feel free to write submit websites, book titles, periodicals that you use to help with lesson planning - all instruments welcome.

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.~

Getting Inspiration from Other Composers

One of the highlights of Monday's Calgary ARMTA Annual General Meeting was the lecture-recital by Canadian composer David McIntyre. I enjoyed hearing about what inspired him to write some of his works. For instance, he said that his work Better Days for solo piano was initially "Bitter Days" - written on a bad day. Another was nicknamed "Chuga" because of the rhythm. I need to get my hands on his Pro-Motion and E-Motion suites because I know my students and I will enjoy them immensely. I can picture a few of my young male students enjoying "Drive" (with its er, driving rhythms).

Several of his works are written for family and friends, such as his Anniversary Suite.

Something clicked in my brain after hearing that. Here I've been, stumped for the past two months on how to write a collection of reflections about my old babysitter who passed away earlier this year (she was like a grandmother to me). I was stumped on things like what colour her kitchen was and just what old toys and games I pulled out from the boxes in her attic. I couldn't get past those details so I kept pushing back the project.

When one can't find the words, why not use music?

I composed the first draft of the first of a set of three songs. It's about baking with Nanny, one of my favourite memories. I tried to create melodic lines to represent myself as a child talking with Nanny over what to bake. It's very sing-songy, like all children's songs. I just need to work out a few kinks.

I already have ideas for the other two songs (about adventures at the park and up in the attic) but I'll keep on improvising until the tune and rhythm bursts forth from within. That strategy seems to work.

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.


On Surviving September

Ahhhhhh! Where did September go? The students and I are back into the swing of things. The days are long. I typically begin teaching at 3:30 and go till 9 pm. I do have a few day students on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. I've even managed to stay on top of reshelving the books used each day and getting some regular practicing in. My former teacher would be pleased that I've pulled out some senior repertoire to muck around with (mixed in with some jazz, improvising and JPop of course). With more intermediate and senior students this year, I need to stay on top of things.

Now if only I could get in the swing of things with my paperwork. I'm behind on my bookkeeping (surprise, surprise) and other admin related work.

I am so excited to have such a great bunch of students this year. Actually, I should say "families" since being able to have a good relationship with the family is fundamental to making the year go well. For the most part, the students are doing well with their practice journals, although a few haven't been keeping track as well as I'd like (or practicing as much as their parents and I would like them to). Overall though, the practice journals seem to be working. The kids are using the forms to ask insightful questions, share what they enjoyed most out of their homework and alert me to what they need help with.

Even Maestro is maturing into his role as "canine teaching assistant". He rests quietly in his "room" (his kennel) most of the time and hasn't tried to steal any stickers. Prizes though, are another story. He bonked his head on the prize drawer a couple of times while trying to steal a peek.

A few students have simply blown me away with their compositions. A few were inspired by a tune they heard, while others have come up with something unlike anything I've heard before.

Students, parents and fellow teachers, feel free to share your feelings on your year so far. As for me, I better go practice...

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