Friday, December 5, 2008

Suzuki Piano Volume 2

For those of you trying to track down the New International Edition of Suzuki Piano Volume 2, you can get them here.

I recommend getting the book and the CD together. This new edition has a clearer format, editing more true to what is played, and includes romantic and 20th century music as well as the baroque and classical we are used to hearing in the Suzuki repertoire.

I’m very excited about teaching from the new books!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Getting Recital Ready....

When a student has a recital approaching, it is always an exciting time. We want our children to be successful and we want them to work hard. This is the perfect opportunity to practice both of those things.

We will choose a recital piece six weeks in advance of the recital date. This piece is one that will be READY at that time. That way, there are only minor things to tweak and your child can get more and more comfortable playing this piece - in his head, in front of family and friends, and weekly in lesson.

If your child is in a group class with me, we will practice the entire recital routine - including being a good audience, having poise on stage, and performance techniques that will make the recital a success.

At home, a week before the recital, you should have your child “perform” his recital repertoire every day for you. This includes walking nicely, taking a bow, putting his hands in his lap, hearing the first line of the music in his head, playing, again putting his hands in his lap, and taking that very nice bow at the end.

Recitals should be seen as a fun and exciting celebration of everything that your child has been working on at home and in lesson. If your child (typically the older child) experiences nervousness, let me know - it is something we can work on!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

While You Were Busy Practicing.....

I was in Greenland!!! Pictured above are a glacier, an arctic fox, some icebergs, and a mountain I climbed!

Glad to be back - see you all in lessons!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Suzuki Students Listen to CD for EIGHT WEEKS STRAIGHT!

Welcome back to Piano Lessons!

There have been some advancements made this summer - lesson time lengths, new Suzuki Books, but I think most important of all is the Suzuki CD Listening Challenge that went on among some of my students at Sherwood.

Congratulations go to the following students who listened to the Suzuki Piano CD every day for eight weeks NO MATTER WHAT!

Mason Schilling
Anna Schilling
Marleigh Belsley
Max Bebawy

In fact – it gets even better! Double congratulations go to Mason and Max for listening to both Books 1 and 2 over the course of the challenge.

A notice has been put up on the Suzuki Board at Sherwood and outside of my studio. This was some impressive dedication over the summer. Everyone keep up the good work!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Start By Practicing What You Know

To get the most out of the Suzuki Method, you can really help your child by having him practice from the beginning every day.

We cover everything in lesson, so your child should be covering everything at home. There are many benefits of this type of practice:

* Your child will maintain a repertoire of polished and performable pieces, helping her to feel confident and eager when asked to play.

* Practice sessions will become easier as your child will be able to see a beginning and an end to his practice independent of what you or the clock says.

* We will be able to focus better in lessons on learning new pieces as we can use the old pieces that your child is fluent in to work on new concepts, skills, and techniques.

* If your child is comfortable with her old pieces, group activities that use these pieces to teach ensemble playing and reading will be more fun.

Give it a month, and let me know how it works!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Vacation Practice Tips

For many, the summer months are great opportunities for focusing on non-academics (like piano!), but it is also a great time for vacationing. In order to make returning to lessons in the fall a successful and happy event, there are a few things you can do AWAY from the piano that will help to keep your hand in, so to speak.

1. Guessing Games - You play something for your child using the body staff without humming and he guesses what Suzuki Book 1 piece it is (this is also good for stretching on long car rides). You can do the same thing with fingers - if you pretend to play something, your child guesses what it must be based on the fingers that you used. You can do the same thing with clapping rhythms based on the Suzuki pieces.

2. Listening - listen to the CD! Put it on your ipod! Sing the music! When listening to other music, encourage your child to label piano,forte, instruments, repeats and echos. Have your child close his eyes and play the listening game (listening for nature, traffic, etc.... now can you hear Honeybee?). This is also good for getting a little peace and quiet on vacation. :)

3. Visualization - have your child close his eyes and picture two black notes or treble G, or the beginning of Little Playmates (etc) in his mind. (this is good before naps!)

4. Finger exercises and coordination - Ask me about these! However, you can have your child play pieces on his lap, a table, etc. (On vacations, this is good for the fidgets or siblings that can’t keep their hands to themselves.)

Enjoy your travels!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Listening to the Suzuki CD

As with any new venture, it was easy to listen to the Suzuki CD when your child first started taking lessons. However, now, more than ever, listening to the CD is going to make a difference:

1. Your child is now learning music quicker, so familiarity with the melodies will help.

2. We are still, and always working on ear training, and want to create a good model of playing in your child’s ear.

3. Learning new pieces in lesson will be easier (I don’t teach notes).

4. The Suzuki Method is based on the mother-tongue approach and that will only work if you are playing the CD!

To have this be successful, you need not sit down and actively listen - merely playing the music in the background will do. Do this daily (you may skip the Twinkles) - it only takes fifteen minutes!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer Class Only - Musical Time Machine!

Starting Saturday, July 12, I will be offering a Music History class at Sherwood Conservatory on South Michigan Avenue. Pianists with basic music reading skills and at least one year of individual piano lessons will be entering a musical time machine and exploring different time periods in music such as Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern. Students will learn how to apply the musical ideas from class to the piano pieces they are working on in lessons. For more information about the class contact me, and for enrollment information, contact Sherwood at (312) 427-6267.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Taking Notes in Lessons - Suzuki Parents

One of the best things you can do for your child’s piano experience, especially for the young beginner, is to take notes in lessons. I believe strongly in this for many reasons:

1. What needs to be worked on in every piece changes almost every week. There is always something slightly new.

2. Practice at home needs to follow the same structure as the lesson and taking notes can make that a lot easier and worthwhile.

3. Your child is not going to remember every new item taught to him/her in lesson, nor will he remember the order of practice.

4. Many parents like to take notes to remind themselves that there WAS a lesson that week! I keep track, but you might like to as well.

5. When on vacation or during the summer hiatus from lessons, you might like something to reference to make sure that your child keeps making progress.

6. If you are not the parent that practices with your child, but you are bringing him/her to lessons, you need to provide a clear structure for your spouse for practicing at home.

A Well-Rounded Musician

Besides regular practice, taking piano lessons, and performing, listening to other musicians is important for your child to develop appreciation of music and a sense of what he or she really likes. Our role models are not only sports figures, so check here weekly for musical events around Chicago that are appropriate for you and your child to attend. You will also find here news about upcoming classes, music education and practice tips to make piano lessons more productive and enjoyable for you and your child!

* The Chicago Blues Festival starts tomorrow, Thursday, June 5th! It is finally warm, and this is a great way to celebrate summer music!
* Ralph’s World Kids Concert at Ravinia, Saturday, June 7th.
* Lauren Upshaw’s Suzuki Book 1 Recital will be held at Sherwood Conservatory, Saturday, June 21 at 4:30pm.