Practising without the Piano

Great ideas to practice on the bus, at your desk and more!

Melanie Spanswick

My most recent article for the Piano Professional Magazine (a publication for piano teachers, published three times a year by EPTA or the European Piano Teachers Association), focuses on working away from the instrument and using the mind to aid learning in a variety of different ways. You can read the original article by clicking on the link at the end. I’ve also added a downloadable practice PDF sheet, 10 Tips for Working without the Piano, which can be printed out for students (at the end of this article). I hope you find it of interest.


Back CameraPractising without an instrument. Just how helpful can this be? To some it might appear a rather curious concept, but as teachers, we know it’s a universally popular practice tool, and for countless pianists, a very effective method of learning.

The masters have routinely praised this form of practice; Polish pianist Artur Rubenstein…

View original post 2,009 more words

Chopin

It’s the month of the famous piano composer’s birthday!  Check out this site’s great resources for Chopin’s music. They have so much interesting information gathered in one spot – and it changes every month!

Parents and Practice Help

Most parents know the value of practice.  How can a parent – musically inclined or not help their child to develop good practice habits?

Children need parental help to establish a productive practice routine at least until they are 11 years old.  Help them to read their assignments.  Help them to keep their routine.  Encourage them to keep trying – even when the going is tough.  They can overcome many difficulties when they learn to keep a positive attitude,

Decide with your child when is the best time to practice.  Give them two or three options to choose from.  They will enjoy being an active participant in choosing their routine.  These chosen practice schedules should be kept every day such as any doctor or dentist appointment.  Consistent daily practice is the key to good progress.  Cramming for an hour the night before the lesson is much less effective than 10 minutes every day.  And don’t forget to practice on the lesson day!  Instructions are still fresh in their mind and will be better applied to their week’s work.

Give a visual feedback chart to record their practice.  Many charts are available to download.  Students may fill in with times or stickers.  You may even have a “thermometer” chart that could be coloured for each practice session.  Children may also be encouraged if rewards are offered after a certain amount of practice is achieved.  Rewards may be as simple as choosing a special dessert or as extravagant as choosing where to go for a special occasion.

Enable a successful practice session.  Make sure that proper lighting is available.  Do they have a distraction free place to practice?  Are siblings cooperative in allowing them to practice at their designated time?  Do they have all the necessary tools?  Do they need a music stand to hold their books?  Does their keyboard need new batteries or a power cord?  Is their chair/stool the correct height?  Is their instrument tuned?  Does their instrument need to be tuned?  Great guitar tuning Apps are available for free for most electronic devices.  I’ve also found that tuners that clamp to the guitar head are easily handled and very accurate.

Invest in a quality instrument to help your child experience beautiful sounds.  There are many great and affordable options that will give your child the tools that they need to truly experience music lessons. An investment in a good instrument ensures that you are receiving  the most benefits in your child’s musical education.

Record them.  This can be done with both photos and videos.  It will enable both parent and child to see progress over time and to create a wonderful keepsake.

Be involved!   Ask questions about their lesson.  What is their favorite piece? Here is a great resource of good questions along with blank cards to create your own.  Question Cards  Show them that you care about their musical abilities.  Brag about them to grandparents and friends.  Encouragement and taking an active part in their lessons will develop their confidence and desire to continue to develop their musical skills.

Not all children will become professional musicians, but all children may benefit from music study by developing life long skills and the enjoyment of music!

 

 

The Seven Deadly Performance Sins

A successful performance is not about the mistakes. It’s about the whole”show”.

Preach What You Practice

7 deadly sins picAll sorts of things can go wrong in a performance. A cockroach can scuttle across your pedalling foot (this has happened to me). The music may fall off the stand (this has happened to me). A blood blister on your cuticle may burst during a glissando (you guessed it, this has happened to me).

But no matter what happens, as they say, ‘the show must go on’. What is the reason for this? Why do you have to keep going no matter what?

Because it’s not about you. It’s about the audience, and their enjoyment of the music you are playing. As a performer, it’s your job to make sure their enjoyment is not interrupted.

So here are, in my opinion, the Seven Deadly Performance Sins:

1.   Drawing attention to mistakes

If you say ‘oh sorry’ while you’re playing, or start again, or suddenly slow down during a performance, the…

View original post 1,037 more words

Music as Medicine

“Music boosts the body’s immune system and is more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before a surgery…  “I think the promise of music as medicine is that it’s natural and it’s cheap and it doesn’t have the unwanted side effects that many pharmaceutical products do,” said Daniel Levitin” Read more of this interesting article HERE