Summer Piano Study: Ideas and Inspirations

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While routine can be valid and effective for piano students and teachers, sometimes a break from the usual can be refreshing. After nine months of the school-year schedule, the summer months provide an ideal time for the exploration of new approaches. The benefits of summer study include the freedom to try a different format for your teaching—if yo...
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Learning & Teaching: Create & Motivate

Rhythm boxes, Part II by Bradley Sowash  The last column introduced placing Xs in "rhythm boxes" to represent well-known tunes. Here are more ideas to enhance rhythmic understanding by teaching with this versatile tool.   Rhythm box activities Start by making and printing blank tables like those below. Then, try these activities with...
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Repertoire: Pupil saver

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A cheerful and dependable flower  by Adrienne E. Wiley I love finding new pieces for my students! One of my pupils is ready for character pieces; she is playing late-intermediate literature, and I wanted to find something besides the rather frequently used— although rightly so—Schumann, Gurlitt, Heller, Streabbog, and Burgmüller pieces. I...
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Why do you play the piano?

For years, I have written about and counseled many people regarding their performance anxiety. I have lectured on the topics of symptoms and symptom reduction, as well as deeper psychological issues that fuel stage fright. I have heard numerous comments about "wanting to play perfectly," "wanting the audience to like me," and "not letting...
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When students quit

I quit piano twice. During my last year of high school, I left my long-time teacher a handwritten note in an envelope on her desk. In it I detailed the reasons I was "quitting piano." I no longer remember what those reasons were, but I suspect they were related to feeling I had let her down by losing a then-recent contest. I don't remember that she...
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Pupil Saver: Unique; reflective music

Finding interesting late-intermediate literature can be a challenge. In addition to teaching the repertoire standards, I always look for something a bit more out-of- the box, quite often a contemporary composition. I find that the contemporary music of Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee fits my needs perfectly, and her two sets of preludes provide a wea...
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Unique; reflective music

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Finding interesting late-intermediate literature can be a challenge. In addition to teaching the repertoire standards, I always look for something a bit more out-ofthe box, quite often a contemporary composition. I find that the contemporary music of Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee fits my needs perfectly, and her two sets of preludes provide a wealth of ...
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Pencil practice 102

As a student pianist at music camp, I once asked an improvisation teacher for tips to help me improve my creative skills. "Learn everything you can about harmony" was his quick answer. Today, I agree that, especially for pianists, chord fluency opens more doors to creativity than any other element of music. Writing chords by root In addition to mas...
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I hope Tiffany still likes to jump in the mud

T​his issue's column features the writing of Tiffany Pon, piano student of my longtime friend and colleague, Mona Rejino. Mona teaches at the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas, and Tiffany has been her student from the time she was six years old until she graduated this year. Mona is a well-known composer, arranger, and author of countless method bo...
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A heavenly, bravura piece

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I am often confronted with the need for intermediate literature that will not only motivate students, but cover up any deficiencies they might have (I am sure we have all had this experience). Case in point: I had a transfer student who could barely sight-read, which made learning every piece take forever, and proper technique, hand position, and p...
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The value of music

Piano teachers have great jobs, and I think most of us are thankful that we get to spend our days sharing something we love with our students. It is immensely gratifying to see our students grow as musicians and watch music become an important part of their lives. At times, however, it seems like the rest of the world doesn't see music study in the...
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Repertoire: Tango! (Pupil Saver)

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The intoxicating South American rhythms of Kevin Olson's alluring solo, Tango Argentino (FJH), transport the listener to sunny climes. This piece is loaded with technical variety and sophisticated harmonies, but is without any overwhelming complexity for the performer; it should easily perk up those sluggish students. However, I find Tango ideal fo...
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Let's order in!

Occasionally I have a student who is reluctant to move past the first method book, or is easily discouraged when things get the least bit challenging. Some are unwilling even to explore past a C-major pentascale. Fortunately, I discovered "Pepperoni Pizza," a captivating little piece from Mona Rejino's elementary-level collection, Just for Kids (Ha...
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Of Robots and Clones

 "Motivating students to practice and developing students who know how to use their practice time wisely is our biggest single challenge as teachers." – Frances Clark It seems quite simple: We teachers give our students excellent practice guidelines, our students practice in precisely the way we have painstakingly communicated via assignment s...
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Purple Moments

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 Plant a Purple Moment in every lesson. Call it what you will – every lesson needs at least one. Perhaps it came in the duet you played with the student. The ritardando and diminuendo in the last two measures left both you and the student momentarily speechless. It might have been with a piece that had been practiced slowly for several weeks. ...
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Ease and Excitement

"Never send students home with a piece without capturing their interest and excitement in the piece, and giving them a sense that they can master it easily."– Frances Clark One part of this quote particularly permeated Frances Clark's lectures: "A sense that they can master it easily." If the students feel they "can" and they are also are excited a...
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Create and Motivate

​One fun and important area of teaching music that sometimes gets overlooked is creativity. While most of us would agree that improvising, composing, arranging, and playing by ear are necessary ingredients for developing comprehensive musicianship, somehow we may not get around to teaching these skills often enough in our lessons. One thing is for ...
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A Show-Stopper from Norman Dello Joio

Norman Dello Joio's Simple Sketches (Edward B.Marks/Hal Leonard) provides a rewarding musical and technical challenge for the late-intermediate student. The collection contains three fairly short pieces, the first of which, Allegretto, is my favorite to teach. For some students, the quirky tonality—a trademark of Dello...
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Still on fire or burning out?

W​hat type of music teacher burns out? Often she is an idealistic, "on fire" individual who does not have a firm pedagogic sense of what is real and what is fantasy. Someone who believes that all children can achieve a high level of mastery at the instrument, regardless of their level of intelligence, talent, discipline, and parental support. He ma...
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Tackling a twelve-year old's slump

Katherine, one of my more talented students, recently gave me this honest description of a typical practice session. She is twelve.  "It takes me forever to get myself to stop what I am doing and go to the piano. When and if I do get there, I usually begin my practice by playing a chromatic scale the entire length of the keyboard— first with m...
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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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