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.

 

How To Use Facebook Live For Your Student Recital

Morgan Shaginaw-8

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.

Morgan Shaginaw-3

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!

1 Simple Phrase To Help Cure Stage Fright

not judging

PERFORMANCES. Lots and lots of performances. Right about now young (and old) piano players around the world are getting nervous about playing in front of others. What’s a piano teacher to do to help? One thing a teacher can do is to help the student view performances from the audience’s perspective. A lot of performers who have stage fright don’t realize that the audience is not judging them at all (unless you’re in a contest of some sort). The lie that stage fright tells the performer is that since all eyes are on him the performance is about him. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! Students need to know that the audience is there to RECEIVE the gift of music. The gift of music is many things to the audience. It is a great time, an escape from worries and cares, a chance to be with friends. The audience wants simply to FEEL GOOD. Judging the performer is the least of their concerns. They want the performer to succeed because it means the audience gets to have a good time. Here is another secret: the people in the audience assume that the performance will be great, otherwise they would not be there!

So, take the pressure off your students by letting them know (and most don’t know this) that the audience is not judging them! I will definitely be driving this point home with my students in the next few weeks leading up to our Big Dreams Concert.

Food For The Music Teacher’s Soul: Performing Live

As music teachers we spend hours preparing lessons, music learning games, and performances for our students. After doing an adequate amount of scouring music teaching blogs and piano teaching blogs, and attending student concerts and recitals there is little time left to devote to our own musical development. The interesting thing is that the missing ingredient in most music teachers’ studio marketing plans is consistent performance by the teacher!  I will speak specifically as a piano teacher, but what I am saying is true no matter what instrument the teacher teaches. The same thing we tell our students applies to us – in order to get better at playing your instrument, you have to PLAY YOUR INSTRUMENT!

I know from my own personal experience how difficult it can be to carve out time to flex your performance muscles when you are a music teacher. I also know that carving this time out is absolutely essential. It is also life-giving! The video about is proof of that.

Last weekend I was blessed with the opportunity and challenge to play in the faculty concert for the music camp where I taught. Getting to this point took a couple of years of trying to find time to collaborate with the other teachers because our schedules are so varied. Thankfully one of the faculty members, Russell Ferrara (fabulous guitarist who is fluid in numerous genres) never gave up and simply insisted that we make it happen. Oddly enough it took his persistence to get me and fellow teacher Derwyn Browne playing together for the first time although we work together often and live near each other. Russell lives a thousand miles away!

I can definitely say that it was well worth the wait and that we should have done this sooner. If you haven’t played in a while, please let me suggest that you get out there and go for it! Why should our students be the only ones who get to play? Why should they be the only ones who experience the rush that comes from an audience erupting with applause? Why should they be the only ones who get that undeniable sense of satisfaction from having done their best onstage?

If you haven’t done so already, watch the video. I hope it will inspire you to go out and play!

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

A Child’s Ideas On How To Prepare For A Piano Performance

A Child's IdeasThis is a guest post from a 4th grader  who wishes to remain anonymous. Parents, students, and teachers will enjoy getting involved with performance prep using this piano student’s ideas! Some of my most successful teaching strategies have come from the students themselves. I love their creativity!

Play American Idol:

Have the people in the room give critiques to help the student play better.

Play Elmo Says:

Tickle Me Elmo loves to say, “Again, Again!” You should too!

Have the student play again and again and when you think they have it ask for them to play the song with their eyes closed. Any other songs the person will play that special night go through the same process. Tell them how much time is left until the night of the concert. Motivate them to try harder if they say they can’t do it. It is all in the purpose of learning that they  can do this. Play games with them to remember the song. Show the kid how they can make their playing more interesting.

 

Play Open & Close ‘Em:

Try to go through the whole song with your eyes closed and if you hear the wrong note open your eyes.Then put your hand in the right place to continue the song and try not to mess up on the same part.

Play Tic Tac Toe:

Instructions for tic-tac-toe – You try to play the song one time and if everything is right you make an X or O. Keep playing the song until the student wins.