Cool Stuff

Piano Tutorial of a Beginner Arrangement of Happy Birthday

This was inspired by one of my beginner students. His mom's birthday is coming up, so I thought it would be neat to have him work on this. However, I was stumped to find a really easy version of the song for beginner piano students who are still at the pre-reading level. Then I remembered: folk songs and popular songs like this are best learned by ear. Beginners already know the rhythm, they just need help with positioning:


Music Practicing Podcasts

This week, I've taught "The Art of Practicing" at a few music group classes at my studio and my brother's. We have such a wide variety of learners. I promised the aural learners that I would find some music lesson podcasts for them. Here are some: Conklin Studios - Video Blog and podcasts The Piano Podcast - with Mario Ajero BBC's Music Workshop Podcasts e-learning Music Podcasts  These are full of tips on how to practice as well as how parents can the music student in their family.

Happy listening and learning.

Metronome Android Apps

I recently moved into the 21st century as far as cellphone technology. Yes, you're right. I finally got onto the smartphone wagon.

Finally! I can talk apps with my students. My funky WATERPROOF Fujitsu F-05D. Photo by R-M Arca.

I've been experimenting with a couple of free metronome apps for Android to help when I'm practicing music away from my piano (or sometimes, when I just want to hear something different at home). The first is Mobile Metronome. It's a nice basic metronome. You can adjust the instrument used to bang out the beats. I wound up uninstalling it because I wanted to find something that could handle hybrid meter.

I'm currently playing around with Metronome Beats. I was able to set it to play 6/8 time. It works nicely. You can also customize what sounds you hear. You can also customize the following features: emphasize the first beat of the bar, adjust the normal beat, the pitch of the beat subdivisions and the length of the sound. You can even create custom sounds to use for keeping time. Both Android apps have a "Tap Tempo" feature. I'm still on the lookout for an app that can handle beat subdivision for hybrid meter well. Stay tuned!

Setting up the Studio Computer Lab

Students can improve their note reading, ear training and more on the computer,  Photo by R-M Arca.

Technology and music is a huge area for growth as far as music teaching goes. I recently transformed my old office laptop into a music computer lab.
I downloaded various cool (and free) apps from Ubuntu's software center, including:
  • Audacity
  • Linthesia
  • Score Reading Trainer
  • GNU Denemo
  • GNU Solfege
  • Hydrogen Drum Machine
  • Linux Multimedia Studio
  • Virtual Midi Piano Keyboard
  • Musescore
Generally, I zoomed in on apps that help students with note reading practice, ear training and rhythm work. The music notation software and audio recording software is to give them something fun to create.
One student was tickled pink that he earned three Maestro Bucks for creating a funky drum loop (and tutored his sister on how to use the program).

Online Music Resources Spotlight: Making Music Fun

Making Music Fun is a friendly site with music games, music worksheets, free sheet music and music resources. These are geared toward beginner to early intermediate-level students.
There is a nice selection of note-naming worksheets as well as interval worksheets. They are visually appealing to young students. There are also composer word searches. 
Making Music Fun is well laid out. Visit the Music Library and learn all about a composer. There are composer biographies, worksheets, lesson plans and sheet music.  You can also access this information in the Print It section.
There is also an arcade, which contains two music theory games ("Music Distress" and "Eek Shark!"). All worksheets are available for free.
(c) 2012 by Musespeak(TM), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Music Blog Spotlight: Dianna Denley Music Blog

I'm slowly catching up on reading my music teacher newsletters. APTA News has started highlighting music blogs that members find helpful or interesting.
Dianna Denley's Music Blog shares music resources for the piano and violin, from music book recommendations to practice/practise helps.

It looks like this year, they've got a Harry Potter theme for their incentive program, complete with sorting cards, shields and a jar of bezoar. What a neat idea!

I think Maestro would get upset if I changed Maestro's Musical Quest to a Harry Potter theme, so we'll keep tweaking what we have.
(c) 2012 by (Musespeak(TM). all rights reserved.

DVD Review - The Music Instinct: Science & Song

Daniel Levitin

Neuroscientist, musician, writer and record producer Daniel Levitin teamed up with singer Bobby McFerrin in this PBS special called The Music Instinct: Science and Song. Click on the link to read my review.

Levitin is known for his research on musics effects on the brain. He was featured in a CTV special called The Musical Brain.

He has published two books: The World in Six Songs and This is Your Brain on Music. The Music Instinct is available for sale on Amazon.

(c) 2009 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.