10 Helps For The Non-Piano-Playing Parent

Help For Non Piano Parent

Parents who have never learned to play a musical instrument often feel lost when it comes to helping their child practice at home. This is a real concern, but doesn’t have to be! Even if they can’t carry a tune in a bucket, couldn’t play their way out of a paper bag, or don’t even know what a treble clef looks like, PARENTS have the tools necessary to help their children learn how to play music. If you’re a parent reading this right now, you might be thinking “There is no way.” Let me assure you though THERE IS A WAY. Neither of my parents nor my grandparents ever played an instrument and nobody in my family ever played the piano before I did. In fact, for many years we could not even afford a piano. In spite of this (or maybe even because of it) I not only learned how to play but have taught many other people to play as well. Here are 10 things the Non-Piano-Playing Parent can do to speed up their child’s piano learning:

1. Listen To Music Out Loud! – Connect your iPod, cell phone, tablet or mp3 player to a speaker and play music that you enjoy so that EVERYBODY in your house or car hears it. Listen to music in the car, during dinner, while cleaning the house, while getting ready for school. LISTEN TO MUSIC ALL THE TIME!!! Make sure the music you are listening to is music that your child is learning to play AND music that you would like to hear them play. Be sure to include music that highlights piano if your child is studying piano.

2.  Make Practicing Like Brushing Teeth – My friend, Derwyn Brown of Childbloom Guitar always says that parents must insist on practice just like they insist on brushing teeth. You wouldn’t let your child go a day without brushing his/her teeth would you? Of course not! Brushing teeth is an EVERY DAY thing and so is PRACTICING! Insist on Practice!

3. Learn to say the word, “AGAIN” – Listen to your child when he/she is practicing and when they finish tell them to play it AGAIN! If you hear something that doesn’t sound quite right – IT’S PROBABLY NOT RIGHT! You might not be a musician, but you are a music listener and your ears know when something is not right. Tell them to keep working on it until they fix the problem or you can simply say “AGAIN”

4. Use The Teacher’s Words- Take time to read any instructions the teacher has written in your child’s book or notebook and repeat this to your child.

5. Be Nosy – This one will come naturally to some! (I couldn’t resist). Ask your child questions about what he/she is playing. If you see things circled on the book or sheet music, ask your child what it means or why that is circled. It is OK if YOU don’t know the answer! You are trying to get THEM to think about the answer.

6. Brag Out Loud- Let your child hear you bragging about how well they are playing or how diligently they are practicing.

7. Be An On Time Taxi – Take your child to the piano lesson ON TIME. ALWAYS. This lets your child know once again that piano is important. It also gives your child the much needed time with the teacher. If you are 10 minutes late for a 30 minute lesson, your child has just missed 1/3 of the entire lesson! That translates to: slower progress, possible chaos in lesson due to rushing. It creates a frustrated student and a frustrated teacher who both just want to make you proud.

8. Be Consistent – Continuous learning is the difference between students who progress quickly and students who are stagnant or are always playing below expectation. Children who continue lessons throughout the summer when school is out do better. If your child takes off lessons in the summer and does not return to lessons until September your child is losing about 6 months of learning due to the time taken off and the skills lost during the time off.

9. Make Them Pay For Lessons- No, I do not mean that you should have your children pay the teacher for lessons. That is your job, but their job is to provide you with FREE ENTERTAINMENT. Once they have completed several days of practice – AND BEFORE THEIR NEXT LESSON – have your child give you an at home concert. My kids often made “programs” entitled “The 1 Song Concert” or “The 3 Song Concert” depending on the number of songs they knew how to play. Repeat this when visiting friends and relatives. My grandparents (non-musicians) did this EVERY time I went to visit them. It became such a routine that I knew once dinner was over I had to play for them. Eventually I learned to prepare for these impromptu performances!

10. Act Crazy – Yes, I said CRAZY! Crazy is making your kids practice when other kids are playing games. Crazy is insisting on practice even if they are crying. Crazy is not letting them get away with saying they don’t have anything to practice. Crazy is EXPECTING them to do better. Crazy is driving them to a place that has a piano if you don’t have one of your own. Crazy is signing them up for every performance opportunity your teacher offers – even if they say they don’t want to do it. Crazy is signing them up for summer music camps and scheduling your vacations around those camps. Crazy is asking hotel staff if your child can play the hotel piano during your stay there. Crazy is letting your kids know that quitting is not an option and that they must “Play To Stay” (in your house). If they want to quit, they can quit once they move out. Crazy is what works.

I know it because

I. Am. Crazy. But. My. Kids. Know. How. To. Play. The. Piano. 

Piano Accents Winner…Drumroll….

Congratulations to…

Rebecca Hass Piano

Rebecca will be receiving a FREE download of Bollywood from Piano Accents by Neeki Bey and Gail Fischler.

Happy Friday, Kids & Keys readers! Thank you for reading this blog. Your comments and page visits make my day everyday! Please keep coming back for more piano teaching tips, ideas, and GIVEAWAYS!

Remember to check out Piano Teacher Giveaway from Piano Accents

at http://www.pianoaccents.com for great music from around the world!

Piano Accents Review & Giveaway!!!

The weather is changing and so should the sounds coming from your piano studio! If you’re tired of hearing the same pieces over and over again from the various method books, your students probably are as well. How about taking a trip around the world?! The above video is a song from the Latin America collection of songs arranged and composed by Neeki Bey and Gail Fischler. As a reader of the Kids and Keys blog you probably recognize Gail Fischler’s name. She is the creator of the Musical Words Game that I wrote about recently. Now Neeki and Gail have teamed up in an effort to publish “the finest music of cultures around the world”.

When you hear the term “world music” your first thought might be that it is not something you are interested in because it is so unfamiliar. Well, fear not and get ready to go on the musical journey of a lifetime with Piano Accents! Besides, due to the internet and smart devices today’s world is definitely global. We are communicating more and more with each other across oceans and continents. We know that music is a universal language, so why not try out some musical sounds from different parts of the world?

Right now on the website pianoaccents.com there are 3 collections available. Africa, Bollywood, and Latin America. Each book has popular music from the part of the world for which it is named.

Here are some features that I like about these books:

1. The songs are outstanding and well known in the given culture. This makes it easy to find YouTube videos of famous artists  performing it. I think YouTube is an invaluable tool to introduce new music to students because today’s students are so visual. Seeing someone perform the music professionally gets them excited about learning it.

2. There are YouTube videos of students playing the songs. This is also helpful when introducing the music to your students because it allows them to see that students just like them can and do play this material successfully. It gives them an “I can do it too” feeling.

3. There are brief 3-step teaching/learning tips throughout each book.

4. Each book includes info to help the student and teacher gain a little background knowledge about the music of that particular part of the world. This is in the form of bios of famous artists and pictures of traditional instruments.

5. Throughout the books, lyrics are translated to help you and the student better understand the song and thus perform the music with greater understanding and meaning.

6. A wide range of emotions is covered in the material. From the smooth groove Mas Que Nada to the “pulling at your heartstrings” Mi’ Tripon you will laugh, cry and dance your way around the globe with Piano Accents.

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There are 3 different books which can be purchased separately or in a bundle.

As you use these books you will definitely want to make use of the pianoaccents.com website. There you will find complete tracks for the songs in the Latin America book and a track from the Africa book under the Audio tab. If you click on the purchase tab for the Africa book you will also be able to listen to more tracks. If you are still not sure after listening to the music (and I doubt it!) there are samples of the sheet music available as well on the same page.

An Important Benefit To Consider For Your Studio

More and more people from all various parts of the world are living in communities together. How cool would it be for people of different ethnicities to hear your students playing music from their home? This will help you stand out even more as a teacher in your area and can possibly bring you families that you otherwise would not attract. With Piano Accents, your studio can be a living example of how music brings us together!

You can watch more videos on the Piano Accents YouTube Channel.

Purchasing Is Easy:

Visit PianoAccents.Com and get all 3 books for only $33 or you can purchase each book separately for $13 each. Individual songs are also available with practice track for $3.

Win A FREE Copy of Bollywood:

Neeki Bey has generously agreed to give one lucky reader their very own copy of Bollywood ($13 value).

To enter, watch the video below of one of the pieces in this book and comment on it here (not on the youtube page).

The deadline to enter is Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014.   This contest has ended! Visit pianoaccents.com for great music!

2 New App Finds!

staffwars

 

We are quickly approaching the time of year where students are under a LOT of pressure. From recitals, concerts, local performances, school activities, midterms and finals students have a ton of things that need their attention. A great way to lighten things up in piano lessons is to use fun apps that keep the learning going but without the pressure.

With this in mind, I did a search for music theory apps and found some very cool ones that were new to me. The first one is Staff Wars. This is a game that was originally available only on desktop. I used to use it all the time before we migrated to using the iPad. I was thrilled to learn that it is now available as an app in the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad!

Cool Things About Staff Wars:

It is an arcade style game. Kids drill music notation on either treble, alto, or bass clef without even realizing they are learning!

It has awesome sound effects

A student played it yesterday at the end of his lesson and scored very high on treble clef, so I challenged him to beat that score at his next lesson. As I wrote the challenge in his notebook he played the game again…AND BEAT MY CHALLENGE! Then it was time for his sister’s lesson. He usually leaves during her lesson, but this time he stayed and continued to play the game until he even beat the challenge I gave him to replace the previous challenge that he beat!!!

If you want a game that motivates students – especially boys - hurry over to the iTunes app store and pay just $0.99 for Staff Wars!

Another promising app I found is -

qastronotesThis app is also presented in arcade style. The learning here is all about note values and their relation to each other. Whole notes appear huge and must be destroyed. The catch is that the whole notes break up into half notes and the half notes break up into quarter notes. You can get QAstronotes here.

Tried these apps already? Let me know in a comment how your students liked them.

Other posts you might want to read:

Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music

Great Apps

Winner Of Musical Words Game!

Heidi's Piano Studio

Congratulations, Heidi on winning Musical Words!

Thank you to everyone for all the FANTASTIC suggestions for the Musical Words Game. I will definitely be using these in the blank spaces on my copy of the game just in case Kennedy or another student lands on so many blank spaces again the next time we play!

Congratulations goes to Heidi N. of Heidi’s Piano studio.

And The Winners Are…

congratulations-hi

Thank you to everyone who entered the contests for the Sight Read Minor and Hanon Plus Apps. You shared some wonderful stories about your encounters with Hanon and about how you use apps in your lessons. I hope you enjoyed thinking back and gained inspiration from each others comments. I sure did! Alas, there can only be one winner for each app so without further waiting the winners are…

Geri Miller – Sight Read Minor

She wrote:

“I haven’t used apps at all in my lessons, but I recently got an iPad and would like to start using them. This sounds like a good one.”

Beth Yantz – Hanon Plus

She wrote:

“I was never introduced to these as a young student. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because I didn’t need them, as much as the teacher must have known I wouldn’t practice these gems. Sadly I have been trying to get up to speed when I heard about them in college. .. still working on Hanon and Czerny. This app would benefit myself as well as my students!”

Now… If your name is not Geri Miller or Beth Yantz and you are still reading this, I have GREAT NEWS FOR YOU! Somehow with all the giveaways last week I think the post on the SightRead Plus Giveaway got lost and people didn’t see it. So, I am extending that giveaway but only through the end of the day TOMORROW, Wednesday October 8th. Leave a comment below for a chance to win it!

Student Review and Giveaway of Musical Words Game

Kennedy Habeeb

Welcome Kids and Keys readers to our first student/teacher co-review of a music education product! 10 yr old Kennedy  liked playing the Musical Words board game so much that she wanted to tell other teachers all about it so they could use it with their students.

Musical Words was created by Gail Fischler. If you read The Piano Addict blog, you are familiar with this amazing teacher. Her game is great for not only piano students but students of other instruments as well! The game is highly suitable for group lessons, buy Kennedy and I wanted to find out if it would work in a private lesson.

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Kennedy’s song of choice was Fur Elise. This was perfect since she has the song memorized already and she was able to put all her thoughts on interpreting the piece rather than trying to read notes (which she does well by the way).

Initially I did not fill in any of the blank spots on the game board. My thought process was, “What are the chances she will even land on one of those spots more than once?” Well, what actually happened was that Kennedy landed on a blank spot on EVERY turn. So, we cheated and had her move to one of the pre-marked spots the first 3 times this happened. Finally I had no choice but to think of some words to put in the blank spots! One of the words I came up with was “popcorn”. Kennedy had a terrific time with that one playing the whole thing in staccato! On a different turn she landed on the word “Mysterious”. This was pretty easy for her to do considering her song choice of Fur Elise. (I mean, who really knows who Elise was?) Another memorable moment in the game was when Kennedy landed on the word “comical”. She began to play Fur Elise with a range of different expressions and then added in some nonsensical chords that just didn’t go with the song at all. The result was indeed comical. She laughed and I laughed at her creative genius.

If you decide to play Musical Words with your students (and why wouldn’t you?), there is no need to be afraid of the blank spots. You can just hop over to The Musical Adjectives Project page for ideas or get some ideas from your students.

Here is what Kennedy said when I asked her about the experience:

“I like the choices, but popcorn was my favorite. Do I think other kids would enjoy playing this game? YES! Some words I would suggest are roughly and smoothly“.

Kennedy also said she thought there were too many blanks. I believe that is my fault and the next time I will definitely fill them in!

As a teacher I like the fact that this game pushes the student to COMMUNICATE musical ideas. This is an excellent tool for performance preparation as well as improvisation practice.

Ready to play? There are 2 ways to purchase Musical Words.

1)You have the option to purchase a set that is already laminated and printed with FREE Shipping in the Continental US from Fistful of Notes for $34 or Music Teachers Store. You get:

Laminated Game board with velcro fasteners (2 pcs)
Directions & Tips (2 sheets)
6 card stock game card sheets
1 master card sheet

Free Shipping within Continental US

2) You can purchase a download to print yourself from Music Teacher Store. Studio and family licenses are $14 or you can purchase a school license for $50. (If you choose this option I suggest you take your file to a copy and print center instead of printing at home due to the amount of ink necessary to print it. It uses LOTS of color.)

Gail has agreed to give one lucky winner a FREE download with a single teacher license ($14 value). To enter leave an adjective that you would use to fill in one of the blank spots on the game board in the comments. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014.

musicalwords