Share, Suggest & Support
 
Barb Leidich:  Here is a link worth watching on you tube discussing the effect that music has on the brain.  Take a look. youtube.com/watch?v=ROJKCYZ8hng

 
Carolyn Houck: ​I wanted to speak to you about a website called timtopham.com.  I have found a lot of creative ideas for teaching.  On this website the author, Tim Topham,  has several guides that you may download and save to your computer.  I save them on my iPad in iBooks.  If you use dropbox you might be able to save them there as well.  One is titled,  5 Tips to Boost Your Teaching Productivity.  Another one discusses teaching piano to boys.

Another interesting article is about iPad apps for piano.  The author is an iPod proponent I will say!  If you are considering getting an iPad, this is the article for you.  It discusses what iPad to consider and what you can do with it. It also gives suggestions for app downloads.

On the same site, the author had podcasts from leading people in the piano world.  Joy Moran has one
titled Harnessing the Power of the Internet.  She presented this at the 2015 MTNA Conference.  A second podcast I'll mention is 5 Steps to Avoiding a Piano Teaching Rut.

Eight Tips on Setting Up a Piano Teaching Business is another post I enjoyed.  There are many more there that are very pertinent to our business of teaching piano.  I encourage you to visit the site.
The author has a subscription service as well as an additional fee for additional content.  I did that.  The one I am looking at now is a short course on teaching pop piano.  He goes into chord progressions and how to find the same ones in classical repertoire.A few of us are forming a small group to meet periodically to discuss music and what we experience in our studios.  I encourage you to do this as well.  Select several people with whom you fell comfortable and get together to share, suggest and support.

Thoughts About Insisting that Students Count Aloud by Donna Houser 
In paging through the April/May 2015 issue of Clavier Companion I read an article by Carol Wallace Payne titled, Should Students Count Aloud When Sight-Reading?  Regardless if a student is sight-reading or learning a new piece of literature, I seldom ask students to count aloud unless its the only option left when correcting errors or teaching a new rhythm.  I do teach beginners and transfer students who need remedial counting practice different sets of mnemonics such as ta-ah, ti-ti-tah or pineapple, pumpkin pie.  Then I have students clap hands, tap on the closed piano lid or select one piano key and play the rhythm.  Then I have the student clap, tap, or play very simple rhythm patterns on one key.  The process to this point is saying the mnemonics aloud with me and then without me.  Next step is to have the student think and feel the pulse/beat and/or the mnemonic internally, not aloud.  This process progresses to more complex rhythms as the students advance.  As students advance I have them tap the rhythm of the left-hand and the right-hand rhythms at the same time on the piano lid.  Don't misunderstand - I do teach the numerical note and rest values.  I want students to have as many music tools in their music box to use whenever the need arises.

Why do I teach counting this way?
1. I taught strings and directed the orchestra for almost 30 years in the Cumberland Valley School District.  String players cannot count aloud or tap their feet and coordinate the up and down bow markings at the same time; wind and brass players cannot count aloud because their instruments are in their mouths. They do tap their feet and continue to tap their feet even during their concerts.  That's  very distracting.  And lastly, vocal students cannot count aloud while they are singing!
2. Students must be able to internalize the beat and rhythm patterns, and the sooner, the better.  They're already reading notes, watching finger numbers, watching dybynamics, executing articulations, and coordinating two hands. Besides, students are supposed to be listening to their playing.  All of the above processes are internalized -  why not counting? 

In Carol Payne's article she compares all these processes going on at the same time to talking on your cell phone while you are driving.  Many more driving errors happen when you have "interferences" or distractions.  An experiment at Florida State University found that students who counted aloud made more errors than those who did not.  
Too many multi-tasks to process do not improve your performance.

Play Like A Champion by Christine Danielewicz
​The Olympics, Little League World Series and other popular events provide valuable opportunities for us to encourage our music students.  Tonight a student left his lesson discouraged by a challenging piece that he had chosen.

Still dressed in his baseball uniform from an afternoon practice, he picked up his baseball cap and headed up the stairs softly lamenting, :I'm not very good at piano."  Do you hit a home run every time you're up to bat?" i inquired.  "No," he replied.  "Do you still have fun?" I prodded.  "Yeah," he said as a light bulb turned on in his head.  "Just enjoy the process of learning your pieces.  Take your time and work at one section or skill at a time.  Hang in there; you're doing well," I encouraged.

When preparing for recitals, I often ask students if they've ever watched
gymnasts or figure skating competitions. We talk about what happens if an athlete stumbles.  We notice that the audience cheers him/her on when a gymnast or skater gets up and keeps going.  They throw flowers to the skater even if the performance is imperfect.  We recognize that these are the greatest athletes in the world, yet at times they miss the mark, sometimes taking big falls in front of thousands of people.  When that happens, they often come back four years later to try again.  Rather than give up, these champions regroup, make changes and press on.  They do this for the love of an activity that they may only be able to enjoy for a limited season in their lives.  Musicians who hang in there most often can enjoy the fruit of their efforts for a lifetime.