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 stude...
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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 accom...
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Should students count aloud when sight-reading?

Many piano teachers believe that it is imperative to teach students to count aloud when learning a new piece, and they certainly have support in many of the popular teaching methods. However, I have to ask: if counting aloud while playing is so important for developing good rhythm skills, how do trumpet and clarinet players learn to perform in rhyt...
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Owning the Rhythm

Owning the Rhythm
"As teachers, what we want is a student who owns the rhythm. He owns it, he doesn't have to borrow it from the teacher. He can use it whenever needed, in any piece in the whole wide world. He's got it for life! " – Frances Clark After my year as an intern at the New School for Music Study, I was teaching at a school with thin walls. Without meaning...
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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 C...
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How does teaching in small groups help students' rhythmic development?

from the series: The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm Bruce Berr, Editor It is an often-discussed perception that as we get older, time seems to pass faster and faster. This phenomenon has been observed and written about throughout the ages in many different cultures. I remember my own personal suspicions about this being confirmed when I was ...
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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 Suggestions Do You Give Students for How to Practice Ornaments?

We have all heard student performances of pieces which might have been quite acceptable except for the stumbles and hesitations surrounding the execution of ornaments. Perhaps these students should not have been assigned pieces containing ornaments. Or, maybe all of the ornaments should have been deleted before the pieces w...
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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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