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Counting Out Loud: A Fresh Look at a Traditional Practice Tool

I give my piano students many tools to improve their practice, such as logging their time and playing their music backwards, but one of the most useful tools is counting while playing. This  technique is one of our most-loved pedagogical practices, and its benefits cannot be understated. By outlining these advantages for ourselves and our stud...
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Yoda eats mushroom pizza

It's the last lesson before the recital. Garrett, age five, is playing "Graduation March," the final piece in Time to Begin from The Music Tree . The B section is made up entirely of half notes and whole notes. The good news? Garrett's rhythm is perfect; a huge improvement over last week, when all of the long notes were being cut short and the acco...
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Understanding bar lines: A brief history

In Western notation, the vertical bar line through the musical staff first came into usage at a point in history when polyphonic textured music (two or more melodies simultaneously) evolved from monophonic textured music (one melody only; no accompaniment). The principal purpose of employing bar lines at that moment in time was to coordinate singer...
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What are the most important rhythmic skills for the early-level student?

I remember the first time I heard Elvina Pearce talk about piano teaching. I was a doctoral candidate in piano performance and pedagogy at Northwestern University in the mid-1980s, and a special class of master's and doctoral students was assembled so that "Mrs. Pearce" could teach both at the same time. From the very start I was riveted by the pre...
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What Is "Shakespearean Counting" And How Do You Use It In Your Teaching?

​from the series: The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm Bruce Berr, Editor Last year I had the opportunity to review videotapes of teaching that were submitted to Music Teachers  National Association (MTNA). The tapes were to be considered for use at one of the Pedagogy Saturday programs that kicked off the MTNA National Conference in Salt Lake...
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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 imagin e my sur pri se  at this respons e from an adult s tudent  who was playing incorrect rhythms in pas sages  of Rhapsody in Blue . I thought, like most  of us would, that th e fastest way to solve the  problem would be to have this student count&...
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