Sight Read Minor Giveaway!

sight read minor

If you’ve been reading Kids and Keys this week, you already know about the Hanon Plus Giveaway and the Sight Read Plus Giveaway. Well, guess what? We have another one! Today’s giveaway contest is for the Sight Read Minor App. It works in much the same way as the Sight Read Plus app, but for minor keys. So, if you want to get in on this giveaway, leave a comment below telling me how you use apps during your lesson time. For example, I’d like to know if you use apps to begin a lesson, end a lesson, or if you use them for at home assignments or as rewards.

The deadline to enter is Sunday, Oct. 5th, 2014 at midnight.

Alrighty, on your mark, get ready, get set…GO!

app contest

Hanon Plus App Review and Giveaway!

Hanon

Hanon. Pianists hear the word and immediately visualize pages and pages of exercises that have fingers running up and down the piano keys. As a young student I looked at people who already “knew how to play” and wondered how in the world they got their fingers to move so quickly and so freely. Then one day I was introduced to the Hanon Exercises. From Hanon I learned to control my fingers and to will each one to move on command. Hanon set me free from finger positions and taught me how to look (and sound) like I “knew how to play” as well!

Your students should meet Hanon.

Today’s students are lucky. They can get the benefits of Hanon exercises without having to guess whether or not they are doing them right only to get to their next lesson and discover that their fingering was all off. Today’s students have the Hanon Plus app by mTA.

The first thing that makes the Hanon Plus app so appealing for learning to play the piano is that it works with an acoustic piano or keyboard. While there are many apps that require students to interact with an on-screen keyboard they cannot compare to apps that allow the student to practice on the instrument which they are trying to learn. This single capability makes Hanon Plus worth a try for any serious student.

With the Hanon Plus app students can develop their technical ability and dramatically improve their sense of where notes are on the piano keyboard. This is a major plus for those students who can’t seem to take their eyes off the keyboard while playing (one of my biggest pet peeves).

The app comes with 20 built in exercises from Hanon Book 1 which students can practice in ANY major or minor key! Each one is listed by the fingers that will be strengthened.Hanon Plus1

The exercises are also customizable! You or the student can select 1 of 3 rhythm levels from beginner to advanced when playing the exercises and there is an option for 1 octave or 2 octaves. The tempo is adjustable as well. If you look at the bottom of the screenshot below

you will see these features.HanonPlus Screen

And…wait for it… THERE ARE NO IN-APP PURCHASES. I am especially happy about this fact because I always find it disappointing to purchase an app only to find out that the features I thought I was purchasing are not included in the price. With this app you get it all.

Some of my other favorite features of Hanon Plus are the green tracking bar that moves along as the student plays. I find this to be extremely helpful for students who have difficulty tracking while playing from a score. This app also allows the student to practice playing and reading both treble and bass notes at the same time. Of course this helps improve coordination between the hands. If you like the Fingerpower Series, you will LOVE Hanon Plus.

Besides all the benefits for students, Hanon Plus is helpful for piano teachers because it is self-evaluating. In other words the student can use it independently and get feedback directly from the app. I have used the app at the start of lessons and I have also had students who are early or waiting on a sibling to use it while they wait. (If you choose to use the app with a waiting student while you are teaching another student you will need to have a separate room they can use due to the fact that the app is using your iPad’s mic to hear the student play.) You can also have students purchase the app to work with at home in between lessons. The app only costs $7.99 which is about the cost of a book but with all the added benefits of interactivity.

This app is so helpful that YOU as the teacher mApp Store Iconight want to use it to warm up your own fingers while your students aren’t looking. Go ahead…I won’t tell!

Now that you are sold out on this fabulous app and you know that you have to have it, one super fantastic teacher will win a FREE download of the Hanon Plus App. To enter, leave a comment below about how Hanon Exercises were introduced to you as a piano student.

The deadline to enter the contest is Sunday, October 5th at midnight EST. 

Supersonicspiano.com Review and Giveaway!

Supersonics.comLooking for new piano music that is fresh, easy to learn, fun to play and sounds more complicated than it is? Coming Right Up! Please allow me to present to you Daniel McFarlane’s Supersonicspiano.com. If you are already familiar with his work you will be happy to know that he has done a complete makeover of his website and has made it even easier to access ALL of his music. If this is your first time hearing about this Australian composer, get ready to be INSPIRED and to say goodbye to some of your worries about where to get cool music for your students!

If you have been following http://www.thefameschoolblog.com for awhile you probably already know that each year I do a special piano project with my students. Well this year we did music videos! One student’s video features a piece from Daniel McFarlane fittingly entitled “Pretty Piece.” Please enjoy the video to experience a sampling of our first music video projects and the music of this awesome composer.

Claudia learned this song at the beginning of her 2nd year of lessons and YOUR students from beginner to advanced can learn interesting pieces like this as well with ease. How is that for putting the fun back into piano for both the teacher and the student?!

Here are a few highlights of the new and improved SuperSonics site:

*Option to buy pieces individually

*All digital music – get your music on-demand without waiting for a hardcopy in the mail!

 *Option to purchase backing tracks

*Carefully graded pieces in Levels A,B, and C

*Backing Tracks (perfect for use in concerts)

*Duets and Trios

*Funky Solos

You will also find posts from Daniel’s twitter feed on the site. While visiting the site I saw in his twitter feed that he has also created FREE WORKSHEETS for his song “Off The Beat” and that more may be coming!

If you are using the Piano Maestro app by JoyTunes, there is an extra reason for you to try out Daniel McFarlane’s music. His pieces will be included in the app from late August to early September!

I bet you can’t wait to finish reading this post so you can hop on over to http://www.supersonicspiano.com! But before you do, leave a comment below for a chance to win an UNLIMITED REPRINT LICENSE for one of the books on http://www.supersonicspiano.com! One reader will be randomly chosen. The deadline for entering the giveaway is midnight on Friday, July 25th.

Piano Bench Mag Winners!

The Piano Bench Magazine

Subscribe Today!

 

Thank you to everyone who entered the Piano Bench Mag Subscription Giveaway contest. The winners are:

Rebecca U.

and

Leanne

The winners will receive 3 month subscriptions to The Piano Bench Mag.

Looking for more music giveaways? Check out the following blog:

CollaborativePiano is giving away a Free CD of Schubert’s Winterreise – deadline is April 27th

Happy Wednesday and please continue reading Kids & Keys for more piano teaching and creative piano parenting ideas!

What’s The Unique Ingredient In Your Teaching?

Deja and Dana

 In a world where the words “piano teacher” often conjure up negative images in the minds of potential students and potential piano parents, your special skills and interests can help you stand out.  They inform your way of teaching and are the unique ingredient that draws students and parents to your studio!

I unexpectedly became aware of how I apply my special skills to my piano teaching a few days ago while teaching a student how to play the hit song “Say Something” by A Great Big World. This song is definitely a singer/songwriter’s song which lends itself to the piano’s rich ability to communicate deep emotion – especially when combined with heartfelt lyrics. In the process of teaching this song I discovered something unique and potentially marketable about the way I teach. I teach piano lessons from a singer/songwriter’s point of view!

I found myself using the lyrical idea to help my student understand the chord progression in “Say Something”. Where the lyric is hopeful or anticipating, the chord shape is open. Where the lyric is tentative or afraid, the chord shape is closed. When I reflect a little more, I see that I often use examples like this to help my students focus on delivering the message in the song. I believe that this is natural for me because I am a songwriter. Songwriters carefully craft their lyrics and chords to match each other so that they have a specific effect on the listenerFor me, this is the unique ingredient in my teaching. Students who study with me can expect to develop exceptional performance skills in addition to the basic piano skills that most piano teachers teach.

So, my challenge for you is to observe your teaching style during your lessons TODAY and take note of how you explain things.

  • What analogies do you use?
  • What examples do you offer your students for correcting technical issues?
  • What suggestions do you give them for memorizing phrases and music concepts?
  • Who are you as a musician?
  • What is your favorite part of making music?

The answers to these questions can help you pinpoint the unique ingredient in your teaching that makes YOU stand out in the world of piano teaching!

 

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Teaching Tweens and Teens

Supply and Demand 101: Music Teacher’s Edition

Teaching, Performing, Or Both?

Updated Free Printable For 3 and 4 Chord Songs

Blank Keyboards

After using the worksheet for teaching 3 and 4 chord songs last week with my students I realized that coloring the black keys was a challenge. So, here is an updated version of the worksheet with the black keys blank. Enjoy!

Free Printable For Teaching 3 and 4 Chord Songs

Keyboard Chords

In a recent post I shared an important law that every piano teacher needs to know and abide by, The Law Of Friends, which essentially says that tweens and teens will practice diligently if you teach them music that their friends like. For most teens, this will mean teaching pop music. There is no need to abandon traditional repertoire altogether, but in order to connect deeply with students of this age you will most likely have to bring in some pop or jazz.

How do you do this with a student who doesn’t know enough theory or read music well enough to play songs at this level? The good news is that there are LOTS of songs that use only 3 or 4 chords and today’s FREE PRINTABLE makes it easy for you to teach them how to play these chords.

The sheet has 4 blank keyboards so that you can use it with either a 3 or 4 chord song. During your lesson, let the student know that there are only 3-4 things they must know to play this song. That puts them at ease and opens them up to what you are about to say. As you show them the notes for each chord, have them color in the corresponding keys on the sheet with a color pencil. At that point they are ready to play one of their favorite songs with a very cool sound!

Because there is no music notation involved, you can take this time to help your student understand the layout of the keyboard and how music moves. You can go as deep with the theory as your student can handle – just be sure to follow the student’s lead.

Finally, if you haven’t downloaded Tim Topham’s free e-book on teaching teens, click here to get it. It’s filled with helpful information!

10 Ways To Use A Deck of Cards In Piano Lessons

Cards

If you have a deck of cards, you can put them to good use in your piano studio!

  1. Quick Finger Number Review:                                        Preselect cards numbered 2-5. Have your student pick a card and wiggle the finger that matches the number on the card.
  2. Tricky Practice: Preselect cards numbered 4-9. Have your student pick a card and play a tricky passage the number of times specified on the card.
  3. Note Value Check Up: Preselect cards numbered 2-4. Have your student pick a card and draw or name the kind of note that gets that many counts.
  4. Rest Up: Preselect cards numbered 2-4. Have your student pick a card and draw or name the kind of rest that gets that many counts.
  5. Name That Interval: Preselect all the numbered cards. The student draws a card and quickly plays the interval indicated. If the student draws a 9 or 10 they get to be the teacher and have the teacher play the interval.
  6. Connect The Musical Dots: Have student pick a card and relate it to at least 3 music / piano concepts
  7. Interval Eye Exam: Lay out flashcards that show intervals on the staff. Have students match the cards from the deck to the correct interval. This is a great activity for students who are waiting. To make it more interesting use a timer to see how fast they can complete it. They can then try to beat their fastest time.
  8. Scale Degree Review: Preselect cards numbered 2-8. Choose a particular key to work in. Have student pick a card and play the note that corresponds to the scale degree shown on the card. 
  9. Big Scale Degree Review: Preselect cards numbered 8-10. Choose a particular key to work in. Have student pick a card and play the note that corresponds to the scale degree shown on the card. Gives the opportunity to teach that 8=1, 9=2, 10=3
  10. Key Signature Review: Preselect cards numbered 2-7. Have student pick a card and tell you what key has that many sharps/flats

End The Practice Wars by Applying These 2 Laws

“It’s not what you do, but the way you do it that matters!”

Music theory. Keyboard topography. Rhythm. Ear training. Technique. All these are essentials of learning to play the piano, however, success in teaching these skills is determined by the WAY these skills are taught.

One of the biggest complaints of piano teachers and parents of piano students is that the child will not or does not want to practice. If you can relate to this, then allow me to give you a life changing piece of information:

Law of Love

Parents are busy. Sometimes they feel that they are too busy to sit and listen to their child practice piano. These same parents listen to music all the time while they are working and doing important things. So, what is the problem with listening to their child play music? It just might be that the music their child is playing is unappealing or uninteresting to the parent. Eliminate this problem by getting to know the musical tastes of the parents in your studio. A simple question in passing can get you this information. “Who’s your favorite artist / style of music / song?

Similarly, when dealing with older students (tweens and teens) there is another law you must know as a piano teacher who wants their student to practice:

Law of Friends

To sum it all up, music lessons should equip students to play music that they, their friends, and family enjoy hearing. The successful piano teacher knows this and abides by the law at all times!

Here are some additional FREE resources to help get you started on the road to ending the practice wars in your studio:

Teen Toolkit by Tim Topham: A FREE downloadable toolkit for teaching teens. A must read!

http://colorinmypiano.com/2013/04/09/free-printable-12-bar-blues-in-c/: Introduce the blues – no note reading, just cool sounds

8notes.com: Free riff lessons of popular music

http://www.teachpianotoday.com/2012/03/01/piano-recitals-are-like-totally-like-lame/ : Keep kids practicing with cool performance opportunities

Jazz for Kids : Use 5 finger scales to teach jazz to preschoolers

Presenting Songs As “Gifts”

Joy Gift

What are most piano teachers thinking about in October? Christmas! Yes, we have to think about Christmas now so that our students have a chance at sounding great when they play Christmas Carols for friends and family during the holidays. Of course it is never to early to help children understand that nothing just happens and that getting good at something takes time. That is why this week in my studio, students are receiving their “Christmas Presents” from me. These are not your ordinary Christmas Presents! They are literally the gift of music. Each child has a wrapped present with their name on it and inside is a label (available on Susan Paradis’ website) with the title of their Christmas piece. At first  the children are a little bit confused because they are used to getting toys and other items when they unwrap gifts – never just song titles! That’s when I begin to explain to them that this is their very own solo that no one else in the studio will be allowed to play!

Happy song gift

The next thing is that they get to keep the box with their song title and put it on their piano at home. I tell them that they should practice this song every day at home and then check inside their box afterwards to see if mom or dad has left anything special inside for them. Of course I give the parents a warning beforehand. Parents can choose whatever incentive they want to give their child. It can even be something as simple as an “I’m so proud of your playing” note.

One more thing makes this activity so fun – they get to see the unopened presents of other students and begin to wonder out loud what’s inside and why their box is bigger or smaller than the others! Sometimes they even want to know what they can do to get a bigger box next time!

Song Gifts