9 items tagged "hints and tips"

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A tour of the redesigned Clavier Companion

Category: ThePianoMag Blog
Created on Friday, 15 November 2013 19:36

the piano magazine cover

You may have received the November/December issue of Clavier Companion, and I hope you've been enjoying it. If you haven't seen it yet, I invite you to take a look at the digital edition by visiting our website at www.claviercompanion.com. Better yet, subscribe today so you don't miss another issue!

There are many changes in this new issue, and I wanted to take you through some of them to give you a behind–the–scenes look at what is different. Before I discuss what is new, however, I want to stress that one thing has remained the same: the quality content that is at the core of every issue. While some things have a new look, and there is some new organization, we remain dedicated to bringing you practical, interesting, and informative articles to improve your learning, teaching, and playing. Our mission has not changed, nor will it ever change.

All hands on deck: Teaching piano on the high seas

Category: ThePianoMag Blog
Created on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 14:44

White glove service. Sumptuous gourmet food. Black-tie formal nights. Beautiful sunsets. Ocean as far as the eye can see. Exotic ports of call. And piano classes. Wait, did you say piano classes??

Yes, that’s what you’ll find on select sailings of the Crystal Serenity, thanks to a unique program called Passport to Music sponsored by Crystal Cruise Lines and the Yamaha Corporation. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching on these cruises twice, most recently in April on a transatlantic crossing from Miami to Lisbon.

Teaching Expressivity

Category: ThePianoMag Blog
Created on Friday, 04 January 2013 12:43

Richard Chronister was a wise man and a most insightful piano teacher. Among his legacies to our profession were the co-founding of the National Conference on Piano Pedagogy with James Lyke and the piano teachers’ journal Keyboard Companion. In his second editorial in Keyboard Companion, Richard wrote (I paraphrase) “Students enroll in piano lessons for one reason: to make exciting sound at the keyboard.” He went on to point out that when we teachers do not capitalize on the student’s musical goal, we are cultivating a potential piano drop-out.

When Chronister writes “exciting sound,” he includes the entire gamut of expressivity. Sound can be expressive and emotionally moving, or it can be boring and monotonous. It is our job as piano teachers to help students turn correct notes and rhythm into gems of expressivity. The encouraging news, and something all piano teachers realize, is that expressivity can begin in the first year, in the first term, even in the first lesson!


Do It Yourself! 4 Music Games on a Shoestring Budget

Category: ThePianoMag Blog
Created on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 16:17

Sometimes students need hands-on, interactive ways to reinforce the musical concepts they are learning. If you are looking for games or activities for your students that won’t break your budget, here is a fun way to get started. Everyday thousands of lids for plastic containers of milk and other beverages are thrown away. With the help of your students, you can repurpose them as enjoyable learning tools. 

To create interest and student involvement, begin by collecting a few lids, and set them out them out in view of your students. Explain that you need the students to help you gather enough lids to play some music games. Sending e-mails to parents can also help your collection grow.


How to be Choosy!

Category: ThePianoMag Blog
Created on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 14:06

One of the most important jobs a teacher has is repertoire selection. Choosing the right piece for a student can make all the difference. Pick the wrong piece, and you could face weeks of frustration and a lack of motivation. Pick the right piece, and you can give an unmotivated student new energy in their studies.

Unfortunately, repertoire selection is more art than science. (That’s code for “there are no rules, so it’s really easy to screw it up.”) Every new piece you assign a student is always a bit of a gamble, but over the years, I’ve found that there are a few ways to stack the deck in your favor; simply submit the piece to your senses and ask yourself: Does it sound good? Does it feel good? Does it look good? (I suppose you could also ask yourself if a piece smells and tastes good, but that would be weird.)

Does it sound good?

Music is first and foremost for the ears, so a piece has to sound good. This could mean a lot of different things. It could mean the piece needs to be familiar, or fast, or dreamy, or dance-like, or whatever, but it has to appeal to the ears. I always ask myself - is this something I could sing in the shower? Could it get stuck in my head walking down the street? Would I ever pull it off the shelf and play through it for fun?


The Real Reason You Should Be Using Technology in the Studio

Category: ThePianoMag Blog
Created on Thursday, 15 November 2012 17:16
Over the last few months, I've had numerous discussions with teachers about technology, how to effectively implement it in the studio, and how to seamlessly use a laptop, iPad, or the internet when teaching in new and interesting ways. 
There are so many music–related websites, apps, services, and products on the market these days that no one could possibly know about all of them. You can read many lists of technology resources in textbooks, articles, and blog posts, but none of them could ever grasp the sheer diversity of what is being produced today, and any such list is doomed to become obsolete after mere months.  
If the only reason you're using technology is to be using it for its own sake, to march ahead with the times and somehow take advantage of technology in order to become more "engaging" as a teacher, you're approaching technology from the wrong place.
What's the real reason to use technology? 

Say it with silence

Category: ThePianoMag Blog
Created on Thursday, 01 November 2012 12:38

Our November/December 2012 issue is loaded with interesting articles, many of which discuss the piano
on film. Penny Lazarus and Donald Sosin each contribute articles about the art of accompanying silent movies, showing us how this can be a creative and inspiring activity for young students as well as seasoned performers.

Watching these silent movies got me thinking about music, communication, and the nature of “silence.” Music is often called the universal language, but isn’t it remarkable how well music can communicate not only the story of a film, but also the emotional twists and turns of the plot? And isn’t it interesting that silent films are never experienced in actual silence? Their “silence” is in fact filled with audible music, traditionally performed live.

Happy New Year!

Category: ThePianoMag Blog
Created on Tuesday, 28 August 2012 12:27

For students and teachers, this time of year is the beginning of a new adventure. In their school classrooms, students may experience the smell of new crayons, the uncertainty of how their new teacher will accept them, and the joy of seeing their friends again. What questions come to your mind and heart as you begin this academic year? Below are some questions I’ve contemplated for 2012-2013:

Welcome, fellow companions!

Category: ThePianoMag Blog
Created on Wednesday, 22 August 2012 12:52

Greetings, and welcome to the first installment in our “PianoMag” blog. This space will feature regular contributions from a variety of writers. Entries will come from Clavier Companion staff as well as guest contributors, and we intend to provide interesting and entertaining content relating to piano study, piano performance, and the magazine.