How To Choose A Song To Sing

How To Choose A Song To Sing

Singing is a big part of life for many piano students. Either the student likes to play and sing OR the student accompanies singers from time to time. The student may even have a group or band where they have the responsibility for helping choose songs to perform. Because choosing the right song for vocalists is often quite tricky, I’m offering some general suggestions in this post on the most important things to consider when choosing a song.

  1. Make sure the song is age appropriate. Even if the singer sounds AMAZING, if the lyrics are a mismatch for the singer in terms of age then the performance will not have the desired affect. Nothing is more distracting than listening to a young child sing about topics they are too young to have any experience with. For example, no one wants to hear a child singing about having been cheated on by a lover!
  2.  BE HONEST about the singer’s current vocal capabilities! In order for the singer to make a great presentation, ALL the notes in the song must be singable by that particular singer! Resist the urge to select songs where only half of the song is within range and where the ending of the song is far too advanced for the singer’s stage of development. This deserves repeating: Song selection is a time to BE HONEST about the singer’s current capabilities! Keep in mind that any song can be transposed into a lower or higher key. Sometimes a simple change in key can make all the difference, however, it is important to recognize that even with a key change some songs still won’t work for every singer.
  3. Think about where the singer will be singing. Is this a performance for a talent show, a church service, school setting, funeral, musical theatre audition, etc? Who is the audience? Be mindful that a public performance is for the benefit of the audience! Do NOT choose material that will be offensive, uninteresting or unrelatable to the audience. 
  4. Take tempo into consideration. Sometimes tempo is not a deciding factor in song selection, but there are times when it certainly is! If you are singing 2 songs, it may be advisable to start with a slower tempo and end with an uptempo song. Also the same considerations from number 3 above are important here. Think about what the audience needs/wants in the situation.
  5. About those original songs– Unless the performance is specifically about original songs (as in that’s what the audience expects), you want to steer clear of originals in one song performances. If however, the performance is at a talent show and the singer wants to display their songwriting abilities, it is extremely important to inform the audience that this is an original song. Otherwise they may not be impressed by hearing a song they don’t know. That brings me to the next point – audiences usually want to hear songs they know and love so it’s to the singer’s advantage to choose a popular song that he/she can sing and perform well. In that same line of thinking, be careful about choosing obscure songs from well known artists. Remember, the audience wants to hear songs they know and love!

A good vocal coach will help you with song selection whether you’re preparing for an audition or performance. If you’re interesting in improving your singing and performance, consider studying with a vocal coach. Contact me for vocal coaching via Skype or FaceTime OR if you are in the metro Atlanta area make an appointment for an in person session.

 

Digital Piano Review Guide: Tons of Piano Blogs

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Check out the list of Top Piano Blogs curated by Digital Piano Review! Congrats to all the awesome piano bloggers out there – I everyone on the list has been an inspiration to my piano teaching, and I am honored to have Kids and Keys listed alongside them. Read the post from Digital Piano Review Guide here.

How To Use Facebook Live For Your Student Recital

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Every private music teacher knows the nightmares involved in SCHEDULING performances! When it comes to showcasing your students you’re competing with school events, family events, religious events, weather and a dozen other things. This is especially true for me during the spring with sports events and graduations. So after watching a few of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts I came up with a spin off version of that for my students called Fun Sized Concerts. Students and parents are LOVING it. So, I wanted to share the idea with you in case you’re looking for new ways to put smiles on the faces of your students and parents. I’ll show you step by step how to do it!

The venue for your Fun Sized Concert will be your Facebook page as you will be doing the concert via Facebook Live. There are tons of tutorials on how to do a facebook live – just search on youtube or google, or use facebook help.

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For our Fun Sized Concerts I scheduled each student during their regular lesson time. This takes the stress out of scheduling! They are available and their parents are too. Have students arrive at their regular time and take about 10-15 minutes to practice prior to going live. Students were also able to invite friends and family to come to the studio to see the concert in person.

Create a Facebook Event Page for your fun sized concert to announce and invite others.

I had a student create the logo for the Fun Sized Concert – you are welcome to use mine or create your own. To use mine, just drag it to your desktop.

Be sure to share your event several times on your facebook page to let people know about it. Also be sure to let people know they have to go to your facebook page to see the Fun Sized Concert at the scheduled time. They will NOT be able to see it from the event page!

To make the Fun Sized Concert even more special for students and families add some balloons or other decorations/signage to your studio for the day. Be sure that these are visible in the recording when you’re on Facebook Live.

You will need to ask someone else to hold your device to record or use a tripod.

Take a few pictures during the event as well.

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Finally either during or after the Fun Sized Concert you can present a gift bag full of Fun Sized Treats/Snacks to your student to congratulate them.

Once finished with the concert be sure to post the replay to your facebook page.

After the Fun Sized Concert be sure to respond to comments on your facebook page. You can also go back into your event page and add the pictures that you took during the concert or post them in a comment below the Facebook Live video.

If you decide to do Fun Sized Concerts with your students I’d love to see them! Tag DanaRiceMusic in your post and I will watch!

 

 

 

Fun Sized Concert Series: Mary Rene Quarles

As part of the inaugural Fun Sized Concert Series of Dana Rice Music Studio, Vocal Student Mary Rene Quarles sings the original song “Save Me Again” by Dana Rice and gives the first LIVE ACOUSTIC performance of Dana Rice’s new single “Monday Is Coming” which was written by Dana Rice, Mary Rene Quarles, and Jayne Olderman. Be sure to watch till the end for Mary Rene’s BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

We’d love to get your feedback on the songs too so please leave a comment if the songs move you!

One more thing… You can download your own copy of  “Monday Is Coming” here!

6 Ways Piano Teachers and Parents Can Encourage Piano Teens

Teens (and Tweens for that matter) these days are so into their digital devices that it can be difficult for a parent to have even a brief conversation with them about ANYTHING, let alone piano! So, why not communicate with them through their devices?

Drag these images to your desktop or save to your phone and text one of them to your teen! This will do at least 2 things – 1)make you look cool and 2)make your teen smile – or at least text you back a smiley face emojii! BONUS – it might just get your teen to practice more!

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How have you been successful with getting your teen to keep playing piano? Tell me in a comment!

FREE Printable! Chord Worksheet for Teaching Songs

I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about this worksheet that I created a few years ago, so I thought I’d repost for anyone who’d like to download it. Enjoy!

Updated Free Printable For 3 and 4 Chord Songs

Click the link below to view the original post about how to use the worksheet in your studio.

Free Printable For Teaching 3 and 4 Chord Songs

 

Replay of Radio Interview with Joyce White! — Big Dreams Concert

Talking with Joyce White about the Big Dreams Concert was a wonderful experience! Click below to listen in on the conversation at the 45 minute mark! //percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=587129&episodeId=9627145

via Replay of Radio Interview with Joyce White! — Big Dreams Concert

4 Ways To Turn This Puzzle Into A Piano Teaching Tool

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With a creative mindset, The Dollar Tree can be a piano teacher’s greatest resource! Here is my latest find and how you can use it to make your piano teaching life easier – and more fun!

With 5 minutes and a sharpie, you can transform this simple wooden puzzle into a visual tool for:

1. Teaching Whole Note, Half Note and Quarter Note recognition and their matching rests.

2. Help students understand the concept of REST in music by asking – What side of the house is quite?

3. Help students understand the concept of Symbols representing sound in music by asking – What side of the house do you think is noisy?

4. Reinforce the concepts above by sending an unopened puzzle home with your student (You can afford it – remember it only costs $1). Have your student draw the symbols on the  puzzle and take a picture of it at home to show you their creation at the next lesson.

Bonus: Use the back of the puzzle to write steps 1-4 down (with a sharpie) to help you remember for the next time you use this!

Here is what your final creation will look like – unnamed-22

I found a few other cool things at my last trip to The Dollar Tree which I’ll be sharing in my next post! In the meantime, what everyday things have you transformed into piano teaching tools? Share in a comment below to help other teachers make piano lessons fun!

 

Get Out Of The Piano Box This Summer!

Piano Teachers!! It’s time to think outside the piano box! Summer is fast approaching and as we all know LOTS of students and parents consider summer time vacation time from lessons. Instead of writing about how to avoid that here, I am going to write about what you as a piano teacher can do to keep yourself working over the summer AND get yourself refreshed for your fall piano lessons.

For the past 6 years I have had the honor of teaching at the Northeast Georgia Summer Guitar Camp. No, I do not play the guitar! I can, however, produced some nice melodies on the guitar – not because I have ever had a guitar lesson – I haven’t, but because I am a musician! Musical instruments are just like pens and pencils. If you know how to write, you can use any pencil or pen. If you haven’t ever tried to play an instrument other than piano, you should try it. You might surprise yourself and your students. It is an excellent opportunity to reinforce the need for understanding music theory and knowing how to apply it.

So how can you, as a piano teacher, keep yourself working over the summer outside of piano lessons? Partner with a teacher who teaches an instrument other than piano and offer to teach at their summer camp or even do some master classes with their students. Of course you won’t be teaching their instrument (unless you happen to be proficient at it), but you CAN teach theory concepts and musiciality. At the guitar camp I have taught Rhythm, Performance, and Music Appreciation – The Art Of Listening. The possibilities are really endless!

I have found that the fact that the students are “experts” at guitar and I am not, actually increases their interest in what I am bringing to the table. I allow them to teach me some things they know about guitar – which has the added benefit of reinforcing their knowledge and understanding of their instrument.  Furthermore, because we are not directly working on learning the technical aspects of playing their instrument they are able to deepen their understanding of how music works. They are then able to apply these concepts immediately in their guitar centered classes at the camp.

You might also be pleasantly surprised to meet students who also play the piano! Many kids play multiple instruments and of course piano is often the first instrument they ever learned. Each year we have several students from different piano studios in the guitar camp. While we maintain focus on their guitar learning, I also give them an opportunity to share the piano skills as well. Helping the students make connections between their piano knowledge and their guitar knowledge is an extra bonus for me.

I am pleased to once again be a faculty member for the premier guitar camp in the state of Georgia along with Guitarist Russell Ferrara from Pennsylvania and founder Derwyn Brown of Childbloom Guitar Northeast Georgia. Registration is now open for the sixth annual Summer Guitar Camp to be held at Lanier Islands Community Church in Buford Ga. The camp will run from June 6th through-10th. The camp is open to young guitarists at all levels ages 7 – 13. For camp registration visit our website: www.childbloomgne.com.
Click here or on the video above to view highlights from our 2015 Summer Camp!