Teaching Students the Joy of Music Since 2001

Getting to Know New Students

With the start of a new term comes new students.  My teaching style is based on the student and their personality.  For this to work, I have to find some quick ways to get to know my students so we can work well together.

1. Try some humor.  I can find out if the student is able to laugh at themselves and others.  This is a great indicator of how much I can use humor to point out and correct mistakes.

2. Ask what kind of music they like.  Some students have a clear vision of their musical tastes - then we can dive right into something they enjoy as soon as they are ready.  Some have not actually thought about it until I ask them - then I will have them listen to different types of music to see what they like.

3. Show interest in their other activities.  Finding out what other activities the students enjoy is a great way to connect.  If I have also done that activity I can share my experience.  If I have not done that activity I can learn something new from the student!

It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect

What is perfect?  The dictionary meaning is being FREE of any mistakes.  We as human beings are not perfect, but we strive to be the best we can be at the tasks that we are doing.

In music lessons I want my students to strive to play a piece of music in the way that the composer intended it to be played.  This is out of respect to the composer.  Dynamics (loudness and softness) and phrasing (like how we talk in sentences and with expression) are used by the composer to show how they wanted the song to be performed.

As their teacher, I consider the piece played to perfection when all those musical markings are being observed.  HOWEVER, I don't judge the perfection of a piece by how many mistakes the student made but by the overall interpretation and performance of the music.  When the student follows the directions given by the composer it gives the music "heart" - a term that I use often when working with the student in the lesson.  Music has to have feeling, not just correct execution of the notes.

Imagine Fixing a Mistake!

There are some times when a student is working on fixing a mistake and things just don't seem to be going anywhere.  Here are a few reasons that this may happen.

1.  The student stops imagining the corrected sound or feel once they start playing, and just reverts back to the mistake

2.  The student does not have the precise imagination of sound or physical feeling in their mind that will make it possible to correct the mistake while they are playing

3.  The student has not found the proper thing to imagine (the sound of a steady beat, a different feeling in the rhythm of their hands, etc.) that will correct the mistake

Most students can get back on track with a reminder to do #1.  Sometimes #2 is simply a matter of the student paying more attention to the correction task.  And #3 is most typical if the student is trying something new and/or has not thought through exactly what it is about the music they are trying correct.  Once a student becomes more aware of how their mind is working while fixing a mistake, they can start using these solutions in their practice time.

Carolyn W - "Dancing Elephants" (Garage Band composition)

Artist Name - Dancing Elephants - Carolyn W.m4a

Charlie W - "Electroman Adventures" (Garage Band project)

Artist Name - Electroman.m4a

Joey K - “Super Mario Bros.” (Garage Band project)

Artist Name - Mario Bro’s .m4a

Joey K - “Rewrite The Stars (Greatest Showman)” (piano arrangement)

Artist Name - RewriteTheStars.m4a

Blake B - "Senorita (Shawn Mendez & Camila Cabello)" (Garage Band project)

Artist Name - Senorita - Blake B.m4a

Blake B - "Memories (Maroon 5)" (piano duet)

Artist Name - Memories - Blake B.m4a

Jon B - "Bleeding Out (Imagine Dragons)" (Garage Band project)

Artist Name - Bleeding Out - Jon B.m4a