You may experience a moment of clarity and pride when you realize you have a talented child. But that moment will probably be followed by a mix of feelings: fear, hesitation, confusion. "He/she is different; I don't know what to do to support him/her." It helps to keep that moment of clarity in mind and remember what it is that will make your child happy.
Finding songs that interest my boys in piano is very difficult. Thankfully, by the time they reach 12 or so they sometimes have words to describe the type of music they want to play. Such was the case with one of my students recently. He has been learning to play Fur Elise (at his request a full 2 years after I first suggested it to him). As he had been getting very good at playing it I figure I should start preparing for what the next song would be. So I simply asked him what he would like to play. He told me that the only songs he liked right now are Fur Elise and The Snake Charmer. Then he thought about it and said, “I like them because they are mysterious. I like anything that is spooky and/or mysterious.”
It was like a secret code had been revealed to me. Certainly I could find spooky and mysterious.
So, this week I presented him with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. He happily played this short arrangement from www.gmajormusictheory.org
Another hit with the boys in my studio this week was the Perry The Platypus theme from Phineas and Ferb. We adults know this tune as the theme from Peter Gunn or The Blues Brothers.
Other winners are usually
The Pink Panther
We Will Rock You
Star Wars Theme
Family vacations and day trips are great opportunities to explore each other’s interests. For musical families or families with anybody who is musical this can mean adding an additional adventure to an already planned trip. That’s what we did on our most recent trip. Although not everyone in my family is musical we all enjoyed it. We didn’t have to take a huge chunk of time out of our vacation to do it either. It was just another memory making moment in time. So, families, make the most of this Spring Break and visit a music related display, concert, or anything else musical you can think of!!! You never know what it could lead to.
Here is a quick activity that can be used in the piano lesson or as a piano assignment to be done at home! To use it in the piano lesson, you will need 12 plastic eggs, a sharpie or other permanent marker, and some candy. On each egg draw a staff, add a treble clef or bass clef and draw a note. I used treble clef space notes since my students have been working on these lately. I also made one egg for each space note as a quarter note, half note, and whole note since some kids struggle to grasp the concept that ANY note can be a quarter note, half note, or whole note. You can have students hunt for the eggs around your studio or randomly pick one from an egg carton or Easter basket. If they can correctly identify the note and its value, they get to open the egg and keep the prize inside!
As an at home assignment, kids can draw the notes themselves and write the letter name on the back. A special prize can be given for completing this assignment.
This beautiful box was a gift to my studio from one of my piano families. When I got it I thought, “wow so many possibilities”. In fact so many ideas about how to use it in the studio ran through my mind that I still don’t know exactly what I’ll use it for. All I know is that I want it to be something everyone in the studio can use and look forward to. Maybe it will be a mystery box where I keep spontaneous awards for miscellaneous accomplishments during the lesson. Or maybe it will be a suggestion box. Or maybe it will be a surprise activity box that the students get to do at the beginning or end of each lesson! Hmmm. Can you help me out with more suggestions?
The other day I had my son waiting in the studio to answer the door while I ran and grabbed something that I’d forgotten for the next lesson. Shortly afterwards he came to tell me that 2 students had arrived. As I was only expecting one student I was a little confused. When I walked in, there was a parent and her daughter with gifts for the studio! The piece in the photo above is an especially wonderful visual for my studio right now since everybody is working on their CD projects. I am so thankful to Amy and Abby for thinking of me in this way! And this is just one of the gifts they bought. Tomorrow I’ll be posting another pic of a fabulous gift they bought and asking for your ideas on how to use it in the studio!
Today my 3 year old music class was in a singing mood. Two of the boys in particular wanted to sing. After the first boy sang, the second boy said I can do it! And the next thing I knew the two of them were in a singing battle and critiquing each other in between. This has NEVER happened in my class before and it gave me the idea to abandon the planned activity for the day and convert the class into an episode of The Voice. We have a large mat in our classroom where the children usually sit for circle time. We used this for the boxing ring like the one from the TV Show. Kids volunteered two at a time to step into the ring and sing. The rest of the class played the audience and showered the singers with applause after every round. Everybody was eager for their turn. I captured video of each performance and the kids looked forward to watching the videos afterwards. To top it off, one kid gave out pretend trophies to each performer!
What and awesome day!
Yesterday one of my students’ parents called me and told me to listen to the music being played in the background. It was her son playing one of her daughter’s piano assignments on his trumpet! The song was Fireflies by Owl City. Her son had “stolen” his sister’s sheet music so he could learn how to play the song. He also kept saying over and over “It’s not fair! She gives you cool songs to learn! Why doesn’t my teacher give me songs like this to learn?”
So, with a nod to “the piano-assignment-stealing-brother” I write today’s post. Here is a list of the top requested songs in my studio from the past month:
1. Someone Like You by Adele
2. Fireflies by Owl City
3. Dynamite by Taio Cruz
4. Mean by Taylor Swift
5. Fur Elise by Beethoven
Of course most piano teachers know all about Fur Elise, but if you’d like to teach your students any of the other songs you can stop by any number of websites including musicnotes.com, 8notes.com, and sheetmusicplus.com for a teacher cheat sheet otherwise known as sheet music!