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.