How can student notebooks be more effective?

When I first started teaching, I was determined not to make my students fill out the dreaded practice log. As a young teacher, I still had fresh memories of my own student days, and times spent scrambling right before a lesson to reconstruct (or perhaps invent?) my practice times for the week. Even as a kid, it seemed like a pointless exercise to m...
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How do you assign repertoire to the "overstretched" student who has little time to practice?

In recent conversations with piano teachers, several have expressed some discouragement in their teaching because students frequently come to lessons too exhausted to play, or even think, and have had little time to practice. After reflecting on this, I believe as piano teachers, we are music educators first. Being professional musicians,...
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Culture of caution

Our culture is saturated with slogans, advertising and otherwise, encouraging people to be bold and brave and fearless. No fear.  You go, girl!  Go for it!  Just do it!  Yes you can! Given the sheer volume and intensity of these and other slogans, one would think that we all would have assimilated the message by now and our...
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Praise for nothing means nothing

My six-year-old granddaughter plays soccer in a league where the coaches and parents refuse to keep score, because they want the children to "feel good about them- selves and their performance." One afternoon my husband made the mistake of cheering on Corinne's team as it made a goal. Within earshot of our granddaughter, the coach took him aside an...
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Is slow practice always the best way to develop technique?

from the series: Let's Get Physical: Technique Scott McBride Smith, Editor  I had the great good fortune to study, at intervals, with one of the grand ladies of American piano teaching, Adele Marcus. She was quite a character, to say the least, and she put a strong emphasis on slow practice. I'm being tactful. It would be more accura...
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How do you teach students who learn at a slower pace? Part I

from the series: Issues and Ideas: Perspectives in Pedagogy Rebecca Johnson, Editor Over the years, I have received requests to teach students with various disabilities. I have always refused because I felt ignorant and ill-equipped to work with children who have these kinds of challenges. However, about a year ago I accepted into my studio a ...
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How do you teach students to practice memorization?

from the series: The Other Teacher: Home Practice Pete Jutras, Editor Recital performances often present a study in contrasts. How many times have we seen the youngest students march up to the piano and fearlessly play through their piece, while older students seem to exude anxiety and nervousness as they approach the piano with a terrified, h...
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"What's goin' on in there?"

Kids today are involved with lots of activities. Sports, music, special academic clubs, and other fun events keep them busy, busy, busy. In our family we try not to overload our two young boys with too much to do, yet we still find them involved in a variety of lessons and extracurricular events. As we go to these various activities, I'm ...
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A Teacher's Roundtable on Solutions to Common Practice Problems

from the series: The Other Teacher: Home Practice Elvina Pearce, Editor For our Home Practice column in this issue, we have invited five highly successful teachers to become a roundtable panel and share with us some of their solutions to the most common issues which have to be addressed in their own studios, and which those of us who teac...
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How do you teach students to listen to themselves as they practice?

from the series: The Other Teacher: Home Practice In an interview with Nelita True which appeared in the Home Practice column of the Autumn 2002 issue of Keyboard Companion, she was asked, "What do you consider to be the most important thing you do when practicing?" Her answer was, "Listening!" In the same article, when asked, "What things abo...
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What practice strategies would you assign for the "Fantasy Dance" from Op. 124 by Schumann?

from the series: The Other Teacher: Home Practice Elvina Pearce, Editor Over the years I have always found the "Fantasy Dance" of Schumann ("Phantasietanz," No. 5 from the Album Leaves, Op. 124) to be an excellent teaching piece for the early advanced student. Marked presto, it is brilliant, and dramatic - a wonderful "show-off" piece for...
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How does your own piano practicing inform your piano teaching?

from the series: Issues and Ideas: Perspectives in Pedagogy Kathleen Murray, Editor I think all good teachers find it challenging to carve adequate time for practicing out of incredibly busy schedules. We know we need to do it. We know that our lives are incomplete without it. But none of that adds extra hours to the day. I find that I ne...
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How Can We Find Out More About Our Students' Home Practice? Part II

by Elvina Pearce  Evaluating a student's home practice is getting a lot of attention these days. In KEYBOARD COMPANION's most recent issue, we reported on a project at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, that was designed to help their teachers find out more about their students' independent learning skills. At the 1994 meeting...
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How Do You Motivate Your Students to Practice Technique?

I am often touched by the sincere desire of music teachers to improve themselves and the lives of their students. It's ironic that so many large international corporations have only recently discovered the virtues of continuous improvement (one of the buzzwords of business in the '90s), for indeed we music teachers have known its benefits all along...
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How Can We Find Out More About Our Students' Home Practice?

Certainly one way we can find out about student practice is to assign a new piece, give the student no help with it, and then hear the the piece after a given amount of time. The results of such an exercise can tell us quite a bit about things such as accuracy (notes, rhythm, symbols), pedaling, musicality, and technique. What this kind of pro...
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What Have You Learned From Your Own Practice That Has Affected What and How You Teach Your Students About Practice?

Most of what I've learned about practice, I've learned from teaching. However, there are a few things that I learned as a student that I still strongly believe in and pass along to my students. Here's part of my "lecture" on practice that occurs during each new student's initial interview:  Students who practice at the same time each day ...
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What Is Your Opinion of Counting Aloud and How Do You Encourage This Activity at Home?

"I don't believe in counting aloud. I just feel the beat." You can imagine my surprise at this response from an adult student who was playing incorrect rhythms in passages of Rhapsody in Blue. I thought, like most of us would, that the fastest way to solve the problem would be to have this student count aloud. My ...
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What Do Parents Have to Say About Their Children's Practice?

Last spring, I asked seven teachers to distribute a questionnaire to the parents of five or six of their students. Twenty- seven parents (who, for the most part, retained anonymity) returned the questionnaires. Not all of them answered every question, and the resulting data is by no means "scientific," but for the purposes of this department, ...
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What Suggestions Would You Give Two Students to Ensure Productive Ensemble Practice?

It's probably safe to say that most piano students have most of their ensemble experience playing duets with their teacher. This is a logical introduction into the art of collaborative performance and is both fun and worthwhile musically. However, in this format the teacher continues to "call the shots," so-to-speak, setting the tempo, and mak...
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How Do You Use a Sequencer To Prepare Your Own Practice/Performance Disks?

by Marguerite Miller To fully appreciate some of the technological wonders of today requires some knowledge of or experience with the equipment of the past. For example, my first use of a recording device was in the '50s, when I bought a Webster-Chicago wire recorder. Eager to use it and unbeknown to my students or their parents, I recorded ou...
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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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