Monthly Archives: September 2013

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Making Piano Technique Fun-Ideas for Fixing the Problematic low wrist

Looking for a fun way to make piano technique relatable for little ones? I have found that very young students don’t completely grasp why they need use proper playing technique when learning the piano. They just want to learn new songs. I am always thrilled when students are excited about playing pieces but I have yet to find students excited about technique. So over the next few weeks I will be covering some of the tricks I have learned that help students understand and get more excited about playing technique.

Ideas For Fixing Low WristsTeaching Piano Technique Part one: Ideas For Fixing Low Wrists

When students first start playing piano they often play with a low wrist.  A first, there may be no direct effect on their playing. They’re just playing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. But what happens when these students grow up? Can they play as well with a low wrist? Not really! And not only will their skills be in danger but they could experience a playing injury and have to quite all together. So how can we as piano teachers put an early stop to these low wrists? Here are some tips I have found very helpful for young students.

 

  1. Using Stuffed Animals in Piano LessonsGet a stuffed animal. I like using an alligator but there are many options. Have the student pretend the area blow their wrist is a swamp. Then say something like, “Whenever your wrist gets low Mr. Swampy the friendly alligator is going to come give you a friendly nudge. Can you play your piece without Mr. Swampy giving you a nudge?”  Whenever their wrist gets to low give a gentle nudge with the stuffed animal.
  2. Have the students pretend there is a helium balloon attached to each wrist. This balloon is then “pulling” their wrist up. This is a good one for kids who aren’t comfortable having their wrists adjusted while playing.
  3. Finally get a highlighter (make sure it is washable). Hold it below the student’s wrist. The highlighter should only be close enough to touch their wrist if it is too low. The student’s goal is to play their piece without getting any colored marks. This is a great game to use with the slightly older student who is past stuffed animals.

Method to My Madness- How to Effectively Teach Music Theory

How to effectively teach music theory. As I have taught piano lessons over the years I have found that young students need their theory broken down into baby steps. If theory is not broken down into manageable pieces they either become overwhelmed and frustrated or don’t learn the material well. In order to try and solve this problem, I  introduce a basic theory concept in steps. This helps me see if a student is understanding the new material and also helps make sure they learn it well.

For example, when I teach the notes on the staff I start with middle C and treble G. Then I add bass clef F. From there I go on to add treble D through E. Once a students has learned these treble notes well, I will add the remaining bass clef notes between F and C. I then do lots of practice with these 9 notes before expanding to more notes on the staff.  Usually each of these levels is spread over several weeks. I give  myself freedom for plenty of review if a student needs help.

With each of these steps I use a theory game I created to make learning these notes fun and interactive for each student. For example check out the free bug catchers game I use to introduce C and G.

 

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Supercharge Your Piano Studio This Year With This one Easy Tip

Supercharge your piano studio this fall with this one idea and see it grow.I think all piano teachers discover at some point that students dread theory books. Early in my career I found that it was not worth the effort to keep re-assigning theory pages, because students weren’t doing them. Instead I started looking for another way to teach theory through games.

I found that students loved learning through games and were effectively learning theory without even realizing it, better than with theory pages! So I started using games every week instead of giving theory books.  Planning a music theory game every week has helped my students not only become better musicians but also they look forward with excitement to every lesson. Parents then see how much their children are learning while enjoying their lessons and are quick to refer other families to my studio.  Though I started out with the goal of teaching music theory in a fun and engaging way, I reaped so many other advantages from this idea. Student’s love taking lessons and rarely if ever want to quite piano lessons, so I increased my retention rate, and my studio has grown because parents want to share how much their children are enjoying their lessons.

Using Music Games in the Piano StudioI personally think there are two keys to including theory games successfully in piano lessons.   First is using a different game every week. The game can still be reviewing the same concept but if we as teachers always use the same 5 games, then students are eventually going to become board. Lessons have become predictable. The second valuable key to successfully including games in lessons is planning ahead. I personally like to plan the skills I want to teach and plan the accompanying games for an entire semester in either August or December. By planning ahead I know what I need to have prepared for each lesson and will not be scrambling at the last minute to gather the necessary games.  The second benefit of planning ahead helps make sure that I am not needing to invent a game that a student will enjoy and will teach the skills I want them to learn all at the last moment.  Need more game resources for your students? Subscribe and receive a new free game each week.

 

How have you used games in your studio? Which games are your student’s favorites?