Even More Fun Listening Ideas
Some of you have requested more music to listen to besides the Suzuki CDs. There is so much good music out there it can be overwhelming! Here are just three places to start.
Mozart’s Magic Fantasy is a favorite—it is an opera, translated to English and made kid-friendly. Mozart’s music is wonderful--you can’t go wrong with any of it! You can always just see what they have at the library and go from there.
This Tchaikovsky album is a delightful addition. It's great for any student to know and be able to recognize.
And finally, some charming music written by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Have a great time listening!!!
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I think about half of my students have some sort of exciting summer adventure this year. It’s such a great time to get away and learn new and completely different things! As a way of keeping the mind musically engaged even without access to a piano, try listening over the summer. For younger students, listening to the CDs for Suzuki Books 1-3 is a great place to start. If your student is no longer learning with the Suzuki books, try to find their current music on YouTube.com or iTunes and download them onto an iPad or iPhone to use during vacation.
I highly encourage all students to also listen to piano and orchestral music that is more advanced than their level. If you’re interested but need a starting point, let me know and I will be happy to give you personalized suggestions! Listening is not only helpful for improving musicality and understanding but also very inspiring and motivational.
Good times to listen include while driving in the car, waiting in a long line, eating, exercising, dancing, sleeping, playing, crafting and right before, during, or after practicing. Listening DOES NOT always have to be a project in itself! Instead try thinking of it more as background music and enjoy your amazing faculty of absorbing difficult music subconsciously. If you’ve found an especially helpful time for listening, I’d love to hear about it from you! :)
I recently decided to have a practice tip for the month for my students and parents to check out here on my blog. My tips will be about a musical aspect I am emphasizing during each month’s lessons. Hopefully this will help keep everyone informed and excited to learn! :)
During March, I’ve been working with my students to prepare for Certificate of Merit®, a statewide music evaluation program that covers many different facets of musical knowledge, including repertoire, technique, sight reading, theory and aural skills. It was held on March 14th, 2015, at UCSB and went very well this year. Special congratulations to my students, who all passed with flying colors!!! If your student is age 8 or above, there is a good possibility that they would benefit from participation in CM. I will be asking you all in August to see if this opportunity would be helpful to you. You can find more information about it at the official MTAC website.
So, now for the practice tip!
POSTURE: 5 Things To Know
I am going to be emphasizing posture at the piano throughout April. Posture makes a HUGE difference in a pianist’s ease of playing. Here are 5 things to keep in mind:
1. Is the bench high enough? When in the “ready to play” position, a pianist’s elbows should be slightly above the level of the keys.
2. Is the bench far enough from the piano? Generally the best distance is one which allows the elbows to rest slightly in front of the body’s center line when hands are in “ready to play” position on the keyboard, with the hands in front of the elbows (i.e. not in front of the body or at the extremes of the keyboard).
3. Do the feet have enough support? If the student is young, help them make sure the footstool is adjusted correctly. Feet should be able to be firmly planted flat on the ground or footstool surface, thus also supporting the entire body.
4. Are both wrists above the level of the keys? If the wrists are too low it can be nearly impossible to execute difficult passages of music. Adjusting the bench higher often makes the wrists feel easier and more comfortable doing this.
5. Is the student sitting up? This is a great habit to have, especially at the piano! Not only does it look absolutely fantastic, it can help prevent back aches that may occur after sitting at the piano for extended periods of time.
The final goal is to not have a rigid or tense position but rather a free, relaxed and easy posture at the piano. :)