Finding the Rhythm

​The most important part of rhythm is to have the student feel the beat as a part of them, and then use that to play the song.  I always tell my students they have rhythm or else the would not be able to walk without tripping or chew without biting their tongues.  The trick is to get them to tap into this normally unconscious rhythm sense, make it conscious, and then apply it to a song.

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The "Real" Scoop on Memorizing

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.

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Music Down!

​Well Ellie and I are starting to share some performance stories as we get our students ready for recital.  Here one of my own stories.  I am in 7th or 8th grade and already have been doing accompanying for church and school choirs.  My older brother asked me to accompany him for a vocal solo in state contest.  I said "sure!"  And here is what happened.

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A Funny Thing Happened...

​As Elizabeth and I get our students ready for recitals, we got to chatting about unexpected or unusual things that can happen in a performance situation.  ​I studied piano with Bette Wortman after my children were both in school and I want to share an interesting story with you that she told me.

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Max's Song

​Here is the first part of a song from one of our students about her dog named Max!

Artist Name - MaxsSong.mp3

Giving Structure to Composing

​Watching a student create a song is so much fun. Sometimes there are silly or unexpected things that happen with the music that become part of the song, sometimes there is a complete change in direction for the idea of the piece, and sometimes it takes a while for the piece to even begin! Having some structure can help speed up the creative process while still leaving opportunity for things to change as creativity flows!

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Touch Notation

​I found a fun and amazing new iOS app over the holidays - it is called "Touch Notation."  It is an app where you draw in the notes and music notation on to the staff and it creates nicely-formatted sheet music!  This app is a better fit for more advanced students as it requires a little more music knowledge and precision to the writing in of the notes than other apps designed for this purpose.

It works very well together with the Apple Pencil if you happen to have that fun gadget!

There is a free version that allows you to have one song, and no exporting or importing features.  For around $12 you can upgrade to the full version that includes these features.

Circle of 5ths + Key Signatures = Success

​For many students, key signatures can be somewhat mysterious.  Using the Circle of 5ths can help!

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Developing Good Sight Reading Habits

​When I introduce new material at each lesson, the student is doing "sight reading" (playing music for the first time).  Until recently, this is all I would do with sight reading and students would naturally get better at it.  Now I have learned to identify the students that need extra help to develop good sight reading and some ways to help them.

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Using Your "Mistake Intuition"

​Many times in a lesson a student will turn to me as they are playing something, or sort of give me a little glance, or have a little pause in their playing with a look on their face that says "hmmmm..."  Any time I see a student doing these things more than a few times during a lesson, I will start explaining to them about how to listen to their "mistake intuition."

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Our Favorite Composers/Books

  • Frederic Chopin
    Chopin is Elizabeth's favorite composer for the piano. In fact, he composed ONLY for the piano. It is no wonder many of her more advanced students enjoy playing his music also!
  • Melody Bober
    Melody Bober is such a popular composer with our students! We think it is because she is from Minnesota. So she knows what Minnesotans like in their music!
  • John Williams
    John Williams has been composing music for movies for such a long time! Many of the students enjoy playing the music from "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter," two of his most loved musical scores.
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