“Doing Clinton” student performances

The first time event, “Doing Clinton”, took place on October 1 and 2 and our students had the opportunity to share their music with the town. Over 45 businesses participated in the event and offered interactive demos, food samples, clinics, and children’s activities.  We took our musicking to the streets! Thank you to everyone who musicked with us 🙂 

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Take a look inside!

Sometimes I forget how fascinating the inside of a piano is to a new student, especially to a student who has only played on an electronic keyboard. After playing a few of the notes, I find most new students peeking under the music stand of our baby grand piano to see what is going on in there! It is exciting and important to explore how a piano works. Each hammer, damper, and string can create unique and beautiful notes depending on the way we play them. One of my favorite pianists, Vladimir Horowitz, said “The most important thing is to transform the piano from a percussive instrument into a singing instrument.” Our fingers, our arms, and our bodies are all crucial parts in creating beautiful tones and colors. It takes practice and good listening to develop a beautiful piano singing voice!
After the students experiment with different notes and ‘colors’ of sound, I try to play a faster piece so that they can watch all of the hammers in motion. After playing one such piece, my student exclaimed, ‘The hammers are just like little steaks!’ 🙂 I thought that the Tom and Jerry picture above illustrated his steak vision!

Take some time to look inside of your piano. For some fun facts about pianos and other instruments, visit the NY Philharmonic’s Kidzone website. They also have a ‘create your own instrument’ room! For an in-depth look at the inside of a piano by a man with funny hair, go here and scroll down to ‘Grand Piano Tutorial: The Piano and How it Works’.

Wouldn’t it be fun to make our own studio video ‘A new look inside the piano!’?

Splurts

This month, the students and I have been trying to practice in ‘splurts’ (from Johnston’s The Practice Revolution).

To do this, we divide a piece into small areas which we call ‘splurts’. We try to play these small sections or even a few notes at a slow, medium, and fast tempo and then gradually add more notes.

This method is great for longer pieces or for those two or three measures that you just can’t seem to get right!

Today, one of my students said, “Instead of splurts, can we call the sections ‘cola cola split splits?'” Great!

The Practice Revolution

“The Practice Revolution”

We have all heard that ‘practice makes perfect’, but how should we practice? Philip Johnston, The Practice Revolution, offers some fun and effective practice methods!

#1 Nightmares First

Are you feeling stuck with your new piece? Look for the ‘scariest’ looking parts of the song first. Out of those, find the ‘King of all Scary Bits’! Start practicing these monsters first. By starting with the most challenging sections, your mind will be in top shape for battle and then the other parts will seem easier.

#2 The Tabletop challenge

Before attempting to practice your new piano piece, take it to the nearest table and study it. Look for the key signature, sharps or flats, piano’s or forte’s, etc. After studying, try to play some of the piece by memory! Some performers can learn entire pieces before even playing a note on the piano.

#3 Picking on the bully

Some parts of pieces can be like bullies, hiding out and then jumping out at you whenever you come near. Turn the tables and pick on the bully of the piece! Circle the places that you keep getting caught on and practice them until they know who is boss.

More to come! If you would like more information about the book, please ask!

Grand Piano made by Audi!

Grand Piano In collaboration with Bösendorfer, Audi has designed a grand piano just as smooth as their cars.  With concealed hinges and slim metal legs, Audi designed this piano to have a sleek and contemporary vibe, while keeping the traditional appearance of a grand piano.  Expect to drop more than $100,000 if you are in the market for a grand piano.  March on! via Acquire … Read More

via THE NEWNESS

Healthy hearts

February is healthy heart month! Did you know that research has shown that music can help to maintain a healthy heart? The following study suggests that joyful music can increase blood flow similar to the way that aerobic activity does.

ABC news: Joyful Music in Tune with Heart Health

In honor of healthy heart month, we will be encouraging students to compose their own heart-themed songs and perform them at the Rolling Hills nursing home. If you have an idea for a song or have read a similar article about heart health, please share!

What color is your scale?

No more black and white scales! This week, we are playing our scales in full color. The student chooses a color and then we imagine what that color would sound like. Is the color bright? soft? warm? dark? Does the color fade in and out during the scale? Maybe the tempo of the scale changes or the dynamics swell around certain notes? I love this idea because it brings life into an exercise that most of the students feel is not very exciting. The color creation  encourages the students  to listen and shape the sounds and tones that they are playing. The exercise also helps students in applying musical terms like forte, piano, accelerando, etc.

Some examples so far:  A bright green, polka-dotted G  major scale. The student said that the green scale would sound loud, fast, and that the notes would be short.  We figured out the musical equivalents of these sounds- forte, allegro, and staccato. Another student created an aquamarine D major scale. The color reminded us of the ocean, a soft, warm blue. She created dynamic swells around certain notes to mimic  waves.

I am excited to hear the rest of the scale rainbow! Please share any thoughts or ideas that you may have 🙂