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.

If you are looking for more information, head over to 88 Piano Keys (Leila) & Bradley Sowash’s blog for more great ideas!

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.


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