The Piano Bench Mag Review and Giveaway

The Piano Bench Magazine

Love reading piano blogs or thinking about starting your own? Well the April issue of Piano Bench Mag is just for YOU! Simply entitled “The Bloggers Issue”, it introduces the artful piano teacher to 22 fun-filled piano teaching blogs available.  While some may be familiar, reading Karen Gibson’s take on the themes of these blogs will inspire you to look at them once again and discover hidden piano teaching treasures you hadn’t noticed before.

But wait, there’s more!

This issue will allow you to become even more “webwise” with an in-depth article on building a studio website and a thorough review of one of the latest music theory app games. There are so many resources in this one little magazine to help you continue to be the coolest piano teacher in town!

The Piano Bench Mag is available digitally on iTunes and Google Play as follows:

A single issue for $2.99 (non-subscription)
1-month subscription for $1.99 (automatically renewed until canceled)
6-month subscription for $7.99
12-month subscription for $11.99

You can get The Piano Bench Mag on Apple’s Newsstand here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-piano-bench-mag/id712098279?ls=1&mt=8

You can also get it on Google Play here:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bdhjefeedd.gfcbdhjefeedd

Good news for Kids & Keys readers! Karen Gibson, the editor of The Piano Bench Mag has agreed to give away 2 complimentary 3 month subscriptions to 2 lucky readers! For a chance to win a FREE subscription, leave a comment below and / or on the Kids & Keys Facebook page. The first 10 comments on the blog and the first 10 comments on the Facebook page will be entered into a drawing for the FREE subscriptions. Comment now! The winners will be announced on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

The Talking Piano Bench That Teaches Sight-Reading

Piano Bench Student

Piano Bench Student

Sadly, the piano bench is an often overlooked treasure chest in the piano room. On the day my first piano was delivered when I was just a little girl, I can remember being as enamored with the piano bench as I was with the piano itself. The piano had 88 keys for me to tickle, but the bench held books full of songs that could be played on those 88 keys. Looking into that piano bench was like being in a gold mine full of sheet music! The piano bench was where I could find even more songs besides the ones that my teacher had given me to learn. I could actually look in there and discover new sounds that my fingers could produce. I have found though that my kids don’t think to look in the piano bench for music books. (This fact baffles me). I have also found in my years of working with piano students that a lot of them don’t seek out new music on their own.  (Again, this baffles me).

Thinking about my piano bench and all the musical treasure it holds gave me an idea! As piano teachers and musicians, we know the importance of being able to sight-read. We also know that the best way for a student to improve at sight-reading is to SIGHT READ. So, why not use the piano bench’s treasure chest quality to get kids excited about sight-reading?

To transform the piano bench into The Talking Piano Bench That Teaches Sight Reading, I used 3 sticky notes, the panic button, a prize, and a carefully selected piece of music for sight-reading practice according to the student’s skill level. Then the student was told to lift the bench and follow the instructions on the sticky notes.

Open Piano Bench

 

Piano Bench Panic Button

Click to see post about Panic Button

Piano Bench Sight Reader

Piano Bench Prize

The instant gratification associated with this activity made it very successful with the students. Now, they look forward to the chance to see what’s in the bench. They enjoy that and I enjoy seeing their sight-reading skills grow!

 

My Favorite Piano Teaching Ideas From Pinterest

Welcome to the Piano Geek Week edition of The FAME School Blog! If you haven’t heard about or signed up for Andrea and Trevor Dow’s Piano Geek Week, be sure to check it out! But, first look below for some fantastic piano teaching finds from Pinterest.

Did you know that The FAME School is on Pinterest? It only takes a few seconds on pinterest to get your creative juices flowing. Here are some of my favorite piano teaching ideas from the visual social networking site. Click the picture links to view the pins.

Music Notation Made Easy

wikipedia notation

Noodle Notes for Composing

noodle notes

Teach Piano From The Parking Lot

driveway piano

Where’s The Bear – Convert to Note Recognition Game

where's the bear

There are many more very cool teaching ideas on my pinterest site. Everything is conveniently organized and categorized so that you can quickly find something that interests you. There are boards for piano teaching,  preschool music, songwriting for kids, music class and more!

A word of caution: Pinterest can be VERY addicting!!!

Now, for more inspiration visit the Piano Geek Week Site!

Valentine Steps

valentine

Here is a quick activity to get the lesson started – especially on Valentine’s Day. Students can practice recognizing and playing stepping patterns on random notes. You could also have the student try to find the matching pattern. (There is one matching set). For extra fun see if the student notices that the hearts form a star in the middle! You can download a copy of this activity here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Fun Way To Introduce Music Notation

Have you heard of the Freddie The Frog series?  In this picture book series,music educator and author Sharon Burch uses the adventures of a frog named Freddie to introduce music notation and rhythm to early elementary kids. The series is perfectly suited for classroom use, but I use it with private piano students and have found it to be quite useful and enjoyable for students. I was pleasantly surprised to meet Sharon Burch during the 2013 Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference.   If you are looking for a fun way to introduce music notation to k-3 students, this is it! There are also supplemental games and coloring sheets at http://www.freddiethefrog.comAuthor of Freddie The Frog Series (center) with Dana Rice and Allison Upshaw

Author of Freddie The Frog Series (center) with Dana Rice and Allison Upshaw

Book Review: Making Music by Susan Bonners

Here is a great book to add to your library of fiction books about piano lessons. Susan Bonners tells an engaging story of a young girl, Annie, who moves to a new neighborhood with her mom and little brother. The trouble is that they are moving far away from her Uncle who was teaching her how to play the piano. In the new neighborhood Annie is surprised to hear piano music coming from a neighbor’s house. As the story progresses we watch Annie and her neighbor  – who happens to be a retired piano teacher –  form an unbreakable bond because of the music.

Young readers who have an interest in playing the piano will easily relate to Annie as they read about how Annie struggles to remember the music her Uncle taught her before she moved away and how she eventually does remember HOW to remember! As a piano teacher, I constantly encourage young students to read fiction books about kids who play the piano or who want to learn to play. I believe that these stories are very valuable in validating children who take lessons by giving them characters who have similar desires and interests as their own. This is especially important because of the fact that piano learning is in so many ways a lonely pursuit.

The piano teacher in me enjoys reading these books because of the “knowing about the process” that is often depicted in them. For example, there is one line that jumped off the page as I was reading Making Music – “Teaching is tiring” the neighbor tells Annie when Annie asks her to teach her to play the piano. Simple relatable comments like that can be very refreshing because they are reminders that other piano teachers sometimes experience the same emotions that I do when it comes to teaching piano.

The story is a quick read that can be helpful for parents as well. Parents who read the book will get a glimpse into the mind of a young child who desires to play the piano and gain an even better understanding of lessons as it relates to their own child.

I found this book at my local library, but after reading it decided that I wanted to have my own copy. It is available through several sellers including Amazon.com.

What books are in your piano fiction library?