This morning was a whirlwind of activity at the house. Between dealing with an email from my kid’s teacher (Really, glue in the desk?) & ensuring everyone was ready for a morning filled with learning, I was glad when I finally got to sit down with my tea & listen in on experts sharing great ideas for teaching theory, reading, technique, & artistry in playing.
It was wonderful to start off with “Groove Your Theory” & move into “Rote Teaching in the Development of Reading, Artistry and Technique”. What did I learn?
First off, wow! Both of these webinars were jam packed full of ideas & practical advice for teaching many of the more ‘boring’ parts of learning music.
Groove Your Theory
Leila & Bradley teamed up to share how they integrate technique & improvisations in a multitude of ways for their students. While the focus was on iReal Pro, I really liked how several other apps were highlighted.
Leila’s portion focused on “the four T’s”: theory, technique, timing, & technology. Including a pedagogically sound chronology of concepts & patterns will be beneficial when planning fun technical exercises for students. She also included several improvisation group activities that build upon one another. And, after her demonstrations with a few of the apps she uses (including iReal Pro) iTunes has been kind enough to send me another couple receipts.
Bradley’s portion really focused in one playing & practicing with backing tracks. I really like his options (by order of preference) of live teacher accompaniment as well as auto accompaniment (rhythm only AND rhythm chords, and basslines). Having step-by-step guides for how to practice with scales, chords drills, & scaling the chords will be hugely beneficial for planning purposes. Add to this the numerous drills Bradley created for the webinar, I think it is safe to say that we are all feeling a bit more prepared to groove our theory.
Between Leila & Bradley’s easy to follow guides for using iReal Pro, I am looking forward to incorporating this into my lessons in the next several months.
Rote Teaching in the Development of Reading, Artistry and Technique
Rote teaching can have a bit of a bad rap. Visions of drilling over and over mindlessly can come to mind. Or, perhaps it has a mystical quality to it. Suzuki teachers use it quite a bit in their teaching. Thankfully, Julie Knerr & Katherine Fisher (creators of the popular Piano Safari series) were able to shed some much needed light on this important teaching tool.
I enjoyed how both Julie & Katherine talked about the role of rote teaching in terms of reading note, artistry & technique. It was a great reminder that focusing on everything at once overwhelms beginner students. A much better strategy is to focus on one thing at a time with plenty of teacher modeling.
These were my take-aways from this webinar.
- Reading notes comes with practice, but should not hold back students from playing interesting pieces.
- Artistry comes when students listen, then play it back.
- Improvisation & composing is successful when students use patterns they have learned in their pieces (rather than going from scratch).
- Rote pieces contain certain characteristics:
- easily remembered patterns
- a technical element to focus on
- is better demonstrated than analyzed (at least initially)
- is more difficult than a student’s current reading level
In between all the information, Julie & Katherine included many demonstrations & videos to help us better understand what they were sharing. And, after hearing them present I am seriously considering purchasing their series to include for my little ones.
If you are looking for more information, head over to the Piano Safari blog for tons of videos, articles & ideas on piano teaching. I’ve welcomed the blog into my Feedly account so I can continue to learn from these wonderful teachers.
Well, that’s it! I hope that you have a great weekend & that the above blogs will encourage & inspire your piano teaching as well.