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. 

My Piano Teacher Introduced Me To A Legend: Joe Sample 1939-2014

We were introduced when I was a teen. My piano teacher at the time gave me a tape of his music. Yes, it was on a tape because I met Joe Sample before the CD was born. At that time I knew little about any music other than Gospel. My teacher often gave me tapes of various artists to listen to, but I usually didn’t listen to them because, well I was a teen. Before he gave me the Joe Sample tape, he played it for me in my lesson. I was hooked. The only problem was that the CD had not been born and with tapes you had to guess where the song you liked was. This usually meant rewinding and fast forwarding for what seemed an eternity until you gave up and decided to listen from beginning to end – which could be up to 120 minutes depending on the length of your tape. Unfortunately my new friend Joe Sample and I lost touch due to the limitations of the tape.

tape

I never forgot how I felt when I heard that first Joe Sample song. It was a feeling of awe and wonder. I wondered who this person was and how his fingers could make music sound like that. Thankfully the CD came on the scene a few years later. One of my first CDs was of course a Joe Sample CD. By this time my piano teacher had passed away but I was so glad that he got the chance to introduce me to Joe Sample. Now, I never met Joe Sample in person, but music is powerful like that. It allows you to feel like you know the artist on a level that is different, deeper even, than how you could know someone in person.

Yesterday when I learned of Joe Sample’s passing, I was saddened. My “friend” was gone and I needed to grieve. I had long forgotten about that CD that I purchased so many years ago until last night when  I was looking through my CD collection in search of music for this year’s Big Dreams concert. Guess what I found? Yep, that Joe Sample CD.

Joe Sample CD

 

I smiled and said a quick thank you to my piano teacher and Joe Sample.

Now, don’t you want to know more about Joe Sample? Watch this interview with him by Zach Tate.

Cure For Practice Boredom

bored

Are your students bored at the mention of practicing? Or maybe YOU are bored with your practicing? The truth is practice for practice sake is rather boring. BUT just because practice is necessary in order to improve does not mean that students or anyone else who has to practice (which is EVERYBODY who plays music) has to accept being bored. Boredom is simply the result of not having a goal for what you’re practicing. So, the next time you send your students home to practice, send with a goal or 2 or 10! OK, maybe 10 is too much but you get my point.

If you’re looking for ways to “fun up” practice, check out these previous posts:

Don’t Spill The Beans

Mystery Practice Assignments

Silly 6 Pins Can Help You Practice!

Don’t Practice

3 Non-Piano Teaching Music Blogs To Add To Your BlogRoll Now!

I get inspiration for my piano lessons from a variety of resources on the internet. Of course I read a TON of piano teaching blogs, but I also like to peruse blogs of elementary music classroom teachers. They have a wealth of ideas that are excellent for teaching music theory concepts and for performance. Here are some of my newest favorites:
Mrs. Q's Music Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I LOVE about this blog:

Mrs. Q. shares a lot of great ideas that she uses in her school music classroom. Many of these ideas can also be used in private and group piano lessons. She also has cool color by note pages that can be printed for FREE here.

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Technology Rocks Serioussly

 

 

 

 

What I LOVE about this blog:

This blog is not about music at all, but it is FULL of inspiration for teachers and music bloggers. Check it out to get some astonishing FREE printable posters for decor and inspiration! Did I say FREE? Yep!

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Make Moments Matter

What I Love About This Blog:

Finally a male elementary music teacher with a blog! Aside from sharing his great ideas for the classroom (which can sometimes be used for piano lessons as well) David has a MASSIVE resource list sorted by various topics of interest to music teachers. Let me warn you, you will need LOTS of time to go through the whole list!

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!

Another Valentine’s Day Themed Music Activity!

Conductor's BouquetThis Valentine’s Day Themed Conductors Bouquet is going to be used in 3 ways in my studio next week:

– To teach kids which hand plays treble clef notes and which plays bass clef notes

– To teach kids how to feel different time signatures by conducting with the wands

– As a decoration to brighten up the studio so I can see kids’ faces light up as they enter for their lessons

When students arrive for lessons, I will be playing Bob Marley’s “One Love” and Annie Lennox and Al Green’s “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”. The Student will take a wand from the bouquet and using the correct hand for the symbol on the heart join me in conducting the song. We will extend the activity by conducting some of the pieces that they are working on as well. At the end of their lesson they will get to take the wand home to keep!

Here’s what you need in order to do this activity:

1. Valentine’s Wands from Dollar Tree (They come in packs of 3)

2. A sharpie marker to draw bass clef and treble clef symbols on the hearts

3. A nice vase to keep them in

4. Songs of different time signatures

That’s it!

Before we go I have a question: What other Valentine Themed songs can you suggest with different time signatures that can be used in this lesson? Please let me know in a comment below!

Same Note, Different Value: A Valentine’s Day Matching Game

Valentine Match UpToday’s post is inspired by Meryl Brown’s One Heart Activity found on her Music Therapy Blog, Developing Melodies. 

Meryl pairs Bob Marley’s song, One Love with a matching heart game to teach preschoolers to match patterns. What I think is so cute about the idea is that it plays off the Valentine’s Day theme which is all about match ups!

Her idea inspired me to create a new game that helps piano students make the connection between notes on the staff that have different values but are the same note. I find that some kids have may correctly identify a quarter note middle C in one measure but do not realize when they see a half note C in a different measure that the two notes are the same note. This quick game is a fun way to help them make that connection.

All you need is some foam heart shapes or paper hearts and a sharpie to draw the notes. Cut the hearts in half in puzzle like designs and your game is ready!

In case you missed yesterday’s post and are looking for more valentine theme piano fun click here!

Valentine’s Day Piano Fun

Valentine's Piano ActivitiesValentine’s Day gives piano teachers loads of ways to infuse fresh excitement into the piano lesson! Today I’m highlighting an idea from Susan Paradis’ blog which helps kids review notes on the grand staff. Her great idea is centered around an intriguing question,

“Are You A Line Or A Space?”

If you are looking for a quick, fun, and effective music theory activity with a Valentine’s Day theme to start or end your piano lesson you should definitely give this one a try!

Click the video below to hear what one of my students said when I asked her the question…It will make you LAUGH!

Tomorrow’s post will feature another exciting idea from a piano blogger! In the meantime, check out these past Valentine’s Day posts from Kids & Keys:

Music Heals Broken Hearts – A Rhythm Notation Activity

Valentine Steps – Practice reading stepping patterns on a staff

Quick Lesson Plans for Teaching “G” on the Grand Staff and Keyboard

giraffes

Go ahead, accuse me of seeing EVERYTHING through piano eyes. I can’t help it. I just do! Really I just look for ways to use things I love in my piano teaching. What’s the latest thing I love to be incorporated into lessons? The giraffe!

The giraffe is my absolute favorite animal because it’s long neck allows it to see everything. The other thing I like about giraffes is that they are pretty quiet. I like to think that it is because they are so busy watching all the things that their long neck makes it possible for them to see! Here are two ways to use this information for piano lessons:

Keyboard Topography: This works well with very young students age 5-6 and under. Using a toy giraffe that fits on the piano keys (I bought a finger giraffe from Oriental Trading Co.), place the giraffe on the G key. Help your student find all the G’s on the piano. Then read the story “Giraffes Can’t Dance”,  and every time you get to the phrase “Giraffes Can’t Dance” have the student play the G key. You can even add in an extra “Giraffes Can’t Dance” after each page so that the student gets a lot of practice at finding the note.

Grand Staff Notation: This works well with students of any age. Show the student a visual of a giraffe. (I bought mine at T J Maxx and it sits on my piano). Draw a high G on the Grand Staff or Treble Clef Staff. Point out that just as the giraffe is tall enough to look down on all the other animals, the high G sits up high enough on the staff to look down on all the other notes. Then whenever your student has trouble remembering that high G note, just point to your giraffe to remind them!

That’s it! 2 lesson plans from 1 simple prop.