Teaching Method Books

Jazz Music and Improvisation Guide Books

As I mentioned earlier, I recently presented to the Piano Pedagogy Group. The piano teachers in this group are currently working on their Grade 10 or their Piano Pedagogy certification through Royal Conservatory of Music, Conservatory Canada or London College of Music . They are all classically trained (translation: improvisation, lead sheets and chord charts are scary). This is a list of the "How To" books that I use whenever I teach and play contemporary music (e.g. pop, rock, Latin, jazz, ragtime) that I shared with them:

Conservatory Canada Contemporary Idioms Syllabus

How To Play From A Fake Book look inside How To Play From A Fake Book By Blake Neely. For Guitar, Piano/Keyboard. Piano. Instructional. Instructional book. Standard notation and instructional text. 88 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.220019)Smp_stars40 (1) ...more info
Lead Lines and Chord Changes look inside Lead Lines and Chord Changes By Ann Collins. For Piano. Piano Collection; Piano Supplemental. Early Advanced; Late Intermediate. Book. 80 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.199)...more info
Volume 1 - How To Play Jazz & Improvise look insideListen! Volume 1 - How To Play Jazz & Improvise By Jamey Aebersold. For any C, Eb, Bb, bass instrument or voice. Play-Along series with accompaniment CD. Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long series. Beginner, intermediate. Book & CD. 104 pages. Published by Jamey Aebersold Jazz (JA.V01DS)Smp_stars30 (22) ...more info
Volume 3 - The II/V7/I Progression look insideListen! Volume 3 - The II/V7/I Progression By Jamey Aebersold. For any C, Eb, Bb, bass instrument or voice. Play-Along series with accompaniment CD. Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long series. Beginner, intermediate. Book & CD. 100 pages. Published by Jamey Aebersold Jazz (JA.V03DS)Smp_stars40 (6) ...more info
Boogie Woogie for Beginners look inside Boogie Woogie for Beginners Arranged by Frank Paparelli. For Piano/Keyboard. Keyboard Instruction. 48 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.120517)Smp_stars40 (2) ...more info

There are a few more in my "To Check Out" pile. I'll add them once I've had a chance to go through them a bit.

Music Group Class Round 1 Reflections

Well, students and teachers of Musespeak Studio and To the Wind Studio have survived the first round of music group classes with this new format.  I learned three main lessons:

  1. I have gotten too complacent as far as teacher-student communications go. My students, their parents and I have an established rapport. I'm starting virtually from scratch with my brother's students. Sure, we've chatted at recitals, but a five-minute chat and teaching in 90-minute stretches are two totally different things.
  2. It is important to over-plan and have several back-up activities up your sleeve. My pacing for one of the group classes was perfect. One was all right but could use a few more activities, while the other - well we raced through my lesson plan and I wound up flying by the seat of my pants for a very long time. I have Divine inspiration to thank for the "Let's Make Up a Story with Sound" exercise that I did with yesterday's students when improvising. 
  3. When teaching at another studio, have a studio contact list on hand in case you need to contact a parent in the case of an emergency or behavioural issue. 

Overall, it was a positive experience. I've learned which students I need to be firm with and which ones I can recruit to take more of a mentoring role with the junior students.

I enjoyed teaching four lovely girls basic conducting gestures and beat patterns.  They giggled a lot and had a great rapport with each other.  

The "Get into The Groove" class challenged me the most. I will need to plan more rhythm exercises, especially ones where they split off into smaller groups. As for the stubborn ones - let's just say that I'm just as good, if not better at digging in my heels. "The Art of Practicing" also wound up being a great group of music students who were very engaged. In discussing how to practice music, we discussed stretching as well as their learning styles and practicing challenges (e.g. "When I Don't Feel Like Practicing"). The conversation also lead to areas I had not thought of incorporating into my presentation - and they should be. Thanks to them, talking about how to practice when injured and speed learning will be incorporated into my presentation. I look forward to the next round of music group classes.

An Adventure in Piano Lesson Plans

I'm in between temping assignments at the moment. Maestro and I did enjoy some time off but it's now time to start planning ahead for the 2006/07 year. If I can get everything done in the beginning of the month, then I can relax for the second half. At least, that's the plan. I am always looking for ways to improve how lessons are planned and run. I was at an educational store with a friend/fellow piano teacher the other day and got some ideas for games, lesson plans and materials.

I have also revised the practicing contract, inspired by a goal sheet posted online by another teacher and created a Practice Journal/Assignment sheet (new). I will ask all the parents to copy enough of these sheets to last the school year. The incentive program will be tied more closely to how much and how well they practiced. I did have something like it last year but things did get out of hand with students earning as much as two swanky prizes every lesson because they improvised six songs and memorized one. Progress wasn't as steady for some of them because of this. I guess I was too easy them.

Now, they will have to work a little harder for their prizes, which will be much easier on my wallet. If they complete 90 - 100% of their homework, they will get three stars. If they complete 80 - 89% of their homework, they will get two stars and if they complete 70 - 79% of their homework done, they will get one star. Stars will be given to students who practice more than the recommended guidelines and the parents must initial the homework sheets for kids to cash in on the goodies. My hope is that this will get them to practice more often and strive towards balanced practicing - not just doing what they like to do.

The two things that will elicit gasps from my returning students is that now, they will have to earn 15 stars to get a prize, instead of last year's five and that the prizes will regrettably, be smaller.

Here are some of the sites I scoured to look up teaching materials such as incentive programs and lesson plans:

Now that the templates are done, it's onto the next step - planning out 40 individualized 10 -month curricula and creating some note value, note name and rhythm supplemental material.

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

The Countdown is On!

The new teaching year begins on Tuesday and it has been a mad race to get everything ready by then. Bookkeeping has been postponed to contact my students’ families to confirm their lesson times (and yes, to see if they're still coming for lessons. You never know). The prize drawer and sticker tin are overflowing with the latest and greatest that's out there. All prizes have been inspected and approved of by my trusty assistant Maestro. I'm trying out a few new piano and theory books and had to buy them for planning purposes. While I was at the store, I perused through the clearance sections and found the funkiest rhythm puzzle. It was originally $35 and it was on sale for $5. When I saw it, I could picture myself clapping a simple rhythm to a young student and having him/her grab the appropriate foam pieces to create the pattern s/he heard. I also added a small set of cymbals, which the kids will fight over at group class.

I had coffee yesterday with a teaching colleague who specializes in Musikgarten and adult workshops. I had a brief introduction to Musikgarten at the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers' Associations' (CFMTA) national conference held in Calgary in July. Dr. Lorna Lutz Heyge, the President and co-founder of Musikgarten gave the clinic.

My colleague gave me a more in depth look at the curriculum and I must say I like it a lot. Musikgarten is an introductory music program for children aged 5 - 9 years. The curriculum is set up so the students learn music as they learned their mother tongue - by listening, babbling, using bigger sentences, storytelling and finally, reading. The group lessons are filled with singing, dancing and clapping. The kids don't even touch the keyboard until they have internalized the song.

I can't say that I am up for teaching the program but I will definitely recommend it to parents with young children. For more information, visit the Musikgarten website.

Well, my time is up here. The piano is calling me to run through some of the intermediate repertoire. I actually have to practice some of that stuff.

(c) 2005 by Musespeak(tm). All rights reserved.