My students are beginning to prepare for the upcoming Spring recital and their pieces need to be memorized. I am using the "real" and best way to memorize music so that they won't get that brain freeze in the middle of their pieces. The "real" way to memorize a piece so that you will never ever forget it is to be able to take a blank piece of staff paper and write the entire piece out from memory.
When I ask a student what a dot does to a note, the answer I usually get is that is adds 1 beat. This is because in most schools students are first taught about the dotted half note. In the case of the dotted half note the dot does get 1 beat but the students don't know why. Here is a video that shows the most effective way I have found for teaching what a dot does to the value of a note.
Learning music is a personal journey. Each student has their own moment when they realize that the music lessons are something important to them - it is then that they start to take ownership of their lessons. Then the parents can sit back and enjoy watching and listening to the student grow as a musician.
The students at Music Masters of Chanhassen spend 30 minutes in lesson with their teacher and then they have a 15 min Independent Lab Project. We started having the lab projects over 20 years ago. It gives the students a chance to work on a project that relates to what we were doing in the lesson.
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I have been participating in several Teacher Webinars since this past January and I have also had coffee with other private teachers to share teaching ideas.
The one thing that came up more than anything else was having the students make more progress from one lesson to the next. It was concluded that when we explain to a student at a lesson what and how we want them to work on their pieces - often times by the time they actually sit down for their first practice session they have forgotten what we said to them. Of course we write the assignment out in their assignment notebook but many students have confessed to me that they don't read what I write. As frustrating as that is to me, I do appreciate that they are being honest.
Practicing vs. Playing
I recently talked with my students about practicing and playing the piano. I wanted to find out if the students just work on the assignments that I give them each week or do they also spend just some fun time at the piano during the week.
It was about 50/50 who just practiced their lesson and never just played for the fun of it and those who practiced their lesson and also spent time just playing.