Although it has happened many times in my years of teaching, my heart sank again this summer when I received this text the night before the student's lesson. This student was a bright eight year old who had done quite well in her two years of lessons, and had a lot of potential to become a really good musician.
Students begin and end lessons all the time. Sometimes I suggest to students or parents that lessons be discontinued -- they have not made progress for a long time, or they are clearly stressed about other life events, or (rarely) the relationship between the family and myself is not constructive for either the student or me.
But WAY too often, the parent is letting a child (...
Need an opening song for your voice/piano or elementary/middle school performances? I used "Now Is The Time" as a welcoming song on my Spring Piano Recital (I encourage my piano students to sing -- it teaches them phrasing and emotion in music). My parents and students loved the humor, truth and beauty of this piece! Easy and fun to learn. Available on sheet music plus with just the piano/ voice score, or as a reproducible classroom packet for choirs.
Many instrumentalists are uncomfortable singing, but if they start at a young age, they are more likely to continue into their teens and adulthood. It is so much easier to understand the expressiveness of music if you sing, even if just occasionally. If I have s...
You know the driver that "puts the pedal to the metal" all the time? Never slows down, does not know what a brake is? Eventually that driver is going to run over something. Likewise, the pianist who keeps their foot on the pedal all the time or way too much is running over the rest of their musical expressiveness!
Why do we use the damper pedal on the piano? It can make Romantic period pieces and Popular pieces sound fuller and more resonant. It can provide color in Impressionistic pieces, blending harmonies and making the sound more fluid. The pedal can connect when our fingers cannot, such as with a jump bass. It can help us create accents when we just pedal on downbeats....
As private music teachers prepare their summer schedules, there is always a family that will say, "we will not be taking lessons during the summer: we are travelling, taking a break, taking camps, etc. etc." There are two issues that arise from this decision: the student loses skills they have spent months learning, and the teacher loses income and must find a way to fill the economic gap.
In thirty years of teaching, I have NEVER had a student who "takes a summer break" make it to an advanced level of playing. In fact, most of these students barely achieve an intermediate level. Besides losing the skills they have achieved, they often have difficulty getting started again in the routine of practicin...
Last summer I moved to a different house, leaving behind a wildflower garden, roses, hostas, rose of sharons, and many other plants that I had watched grow for several years.
In my new home, there were NO trees or flowers, just a few (stinky) boxwoods that are too big for me to pull up.
From my experience at my old home, I knew I needed to start working on plants right away, because it would be at least 5 years before they became the garden I would enjoy.
As I have planted and already watched some plants die (chewed on by bunnies), and others yet to take off, I realized that gardening, like learning or teaching music share a lot of the same need for patience, perseverance and wisdom.
At the age of eight, I started piano lessons with great enthusiasm. My parents had an old upright cabinet grand (I am talking HUGE) given to them. It was out of tune and some of the hammers would break off periodically, but I would sit down and pick out tunes on the piano.
My first lesson was great. The teacher gave me the red John Thompson method book, showed me keys, fingers, and notes and had me start playing a song.
I went home and practiced all week, and was excited to return to my lesson.
I played the song proudly.
When I finished, the teacher paused a few seconds, then said "Did you practice this week?"
Suspecting something was amiss, I nodded silently "Yes."
I met a very successful doctor at a party who said to me, when he discovered I teach piano, "I don't believe in MAKING my children do things."
I responded, "I do."
We did not have much more to say to each other after that.
I did understand what he meant, although I do not think he understood what I meant.
A lot of children are overscheduled, and sometimes their schedule is a result of their parents' choices and desires and not those of the child . Forcing a child in to an activity in which they have no interest or makes them feel uncomfortable is not a good idea, maybe even cruel in some cases. (To be clear, I am not talking about homework and household chores. It is never too early to learn to contrib...