For jazz musicians, music very much encompasses the full range that language does, from informal conversation to polished performance. We can do that with our native language because we are fluent in our native language. Jazz musicians are fluent in the language of jazz.
Building on Pumpkin Hand Piano and Pumpkin Tapping, Pumpkin Squeeze gets students to feel their hand and fingers working together. I really could not be happier with the results I’ve seen with this. I’ve found this useful not just with beginners, but with all students who have not quite mastered using their fingers, particularly for finger staccato. Pumpkin Squeeze is partly what it sounds like, squeezing the pumpkin.
In last week’s post, Pumpkin Hand Piano I presented the use of a pumpkin as a metaphor and prop for teaching kids how to use their fingers and hands in playing piano. In short, I took the ideas of rounded hand shape and holding a ball a step further by using the stem of a pumpkin to call kids’ attention to the bridge of the hand.
Perhaps the greatest struggle young beginning piano students have is with learning to use their fingers effectively. Teacher’s have generally agreed that curved fingers are essential, but getting kids to play this way often seems impossible. We often simply strike out, and with good reason! Strike One With most, they have never had to pay attention to or use their fingers—or likely any part of
Empathy is a valuable ability for us to develop, and I believe making music and empathy are related. At its most basic empathy is being able to feel what another is feeling. Often, we don’t really have it unless we have experienced the same thing or something close to what another is going through. We might know that a mother whose son was killed in
I have had students place first in competitive contests. I’ve had students earn the highest rating of Superior Plus in Piano Guild auditions playing a National program of 10 memorized pieces. I’ve had many students make a perfect score on the TMTA Theory Test and the TMTA World of Music Test. Finally, I’ve had students perform perfectly in recitals and for recordings. In all of these cases,
Names in this post have been changed to preserve the privacy of those involved. John is a great student. He’s had the benefit of growing up in a house with older siblings who had been studying piano since before he was born. He’s exceptionally bright. With most young kids, I have to lead them to seeing patterns in music. Even at 5, though, John would
The conundrum many young (4-7), beginning piano students face is that ineffective practice is easy, but is also soon boring and frustrating because it’s ineffective. Playing through a piece is not hard if all you are concerned with is playing through it (doing things correctly? maintaining a beat? huh?). That is often, unfortunately, what the practice of students amounts to. Yet, although effective practice is
If you don’t have an ax or a saw, you might “cut” a tree down by building a fire on the ground around its trunk. Fire is a powerful tool, but it’s not naturally a precise tool, so you could end up with a lot of ash and not much tree! An ax, on the other hand, is very precise. If it’s sharp, it makes