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HavingattendedTimRichardsABRSMJazz
PianoSyllabusforPianoTeachersatBenslow
January30,2016//

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IjustreceivedanewcoursecataloguefromtheBenslowMusicTrust,whichincludesTim
RichardsABRMSJazzPianoSyllabusforPianoTeachers,whichwasintroducedfortherst
timelastyear.IthoughtIdcontributemythoughtregardingthecourse,hopingthatitwould
encouragemanyapprehensivepianoteacherstotryitoutthemselves.
Isuspectmostclassicallytrainedpianistsandteacherswouldfeelhesitantwhentheyhearthe
wordjazzimprovisation,letaloneworkingsuchartformwiththeirstudents.Inmyview,its
notthatwerenotinterestedinit,itsjustthatthewholeconceptinvolvedinjazzimprovisation
seemsveryforeigntousandwesimplydontknowwheretostart.Butyet,weknowthat
childreningenerallovecatchyjazzytunesandtheirchoiceofmusicfromtheexampiecesmost
denitelyincludesajazzyone.Youmaysay,whybotherwithimprovisationwhentheycan
enjoyplayingjazzmusicfromthenotationonly?
Childrenarenaturallycuriousandimaginativebeing.Youngagesarethebestperiodintheir
liveswheretheycanexploreunknownterritoriescarefree.Justforthatreasononly,Istrongly
feelthatitsourdutyaspianoteacherstoprovideanenvironmentforthemtobeableto
exploretheworldofpianoplayingfromvariousangles.Especiallycreativeapproachesthat
wouldleadthemtoacquireaskilltothinkoutsidethebox.Jazzimprovisationcanbeoneof
suchcreativeexercisesthatteacherscanincorporateintotheirconventionalpianolessons.But
wheredowestart?Thisexactquestionleadmetoaenda3daycourseattheBenslowMusic;
ABRSMJazzPianoSyllabusforPianoTeachers.ThetutorwasTimRichards,averyseasoned
jazzpianistandinspirational(andvery,verypatient!)teacher.Fromthetitle,thecourse
seemedtobeintendedforpianoteacherswhoarepreparingtheirstudentsorthemselvesfor
theABRSMjazzpianoexamsbutIfeltthatitalsocouldbesuitedforthosewho:
wishtohavealiledipintotheworldofjazzimprovisationwithoutanyprevious
knowledge
areinterestedinlearningafewnewideasforjazzimprovisation
areinterestedinhowbasicjazzimprovisationcanbeintroducedandtaughtinpiano
lessons
arebuddingpianoteachersorteacherstobewhowishtobuildtheirteachingideas
wishtogetagraspofbasicjazzharmonyandstructure
Jazzimprovisationcansoundverydauntingforthosewhohavenevertrieditbefore.But
whatifyousayinstead,Letshavefunmessingaroundwithafewnotesfromthescaleand
createourowntune!Imsurethatmanyteachershavealreadydonethatwiththeirstudents,
especiallywhenstudentsareattheearlybeginnerlevel.Inmypersonalopinion,thisjazz

especiallywhenstudentsareattheearlybeginnerlevel.Inmypersonalopinion,thisjazz
courseforteacherswastolearnoneofsuchmethodsthatyoucouldhavefunyourselforwith
yourstudentsinastructuredwaywhilegeingtoknowdierentmusicstyles;improvingyour
auralskill,eareyehandcoordination,steadypulse,phrasing,musicalshapingand
articulation,understandingoftheform&rhythmicandharmoniclanguages,etc.Heresa
quickviewofwhatwentoninduringthethreedays:
Blues12barharmonicprogression;2pentatonicscales;basicimprovisationusing3note;
variousbasspaerns;improvisationtechniques,etc.
Listening/suggestedlistningtojazzpianomasterscultivatingtheeartounderstandthe
feelofvairousjazzpianostylesbylisteningtomanyinuentialpianistsinjazzhistory,such
asJellyRollMorton,JimmyYancey,MeadLuxLewis,DukeEllington,CountBasie,Art
Tatum,TheorniusMonk,ErrollGarner,OscarPeterson,HoraceSilver,WyntonKelly,
AbdullahIbraimtonameafew.
Basicjazzchordsincludingtritonechord(LH)&arpeggio(RH)workoutroutinesaround
thecircleoffth
BasicjazzscalesMixolydian,Dorian,Lydian,Flat3Pentatonic,MinorPentatonic;chord
&scalerelationship
HarmonicanalysisrecognisingIIVV&IIVIinthetunebothvisuallyandaurally
RH&LHcoordinationchordwithrhythmicvariations(LH)&simplescalepaern(RH)
Jazz/Classicalstylecomparisonpedaluse;treatmentofquavers;articulation;tempo,etc.
PerformingpiecesfromABRSMJazzPianoPiecesbookswithimprovisationadded(one
eachfromBlues,StandardandContemporarysections)
Slashchordspolychord(2dierentchordsplayedbetweenthehands)
Embellishmentmethodstopharmony;gracenote;glissando;arpeggio,etc.
Funwithscales&arpeggios!variouswalkingbass(LH)&majorscale/broken
chord/arpeggio(RH);duetwithateacherorsolotoexerciseimprovisation
VariousLHchordstylerhythmicvariation;swing&Latinfeel;shell;rootlessvoicing
Improvwithinasecuredcomfortzone5ngerposition(RH);startwithanynoteofthe
scale;asmanymelodicvariationsaspossiblewith4notepaern,includingvarious
pentatonicscalenotes;cue(teachergivesastartingnote)&respondgame,etc.
SingandPlaygameplayback(RH)themelodyyoujustsangover2chordharmony(LH)
Exploringvariouspentatonicscalesstartfromanynoteofthescales
IntervalsingingP4,P5,M2m2,etc.
Auraltrainingtappingongivenbeat(s)orupbeatofgivenbeat;echosinging;improvise
answeringphrasetoagivenphrase;quickstudy(improviseacontinuingphrasetoaphrase
learnedbyearoratsight)withasinglehandorboth

SinceIwasacollegestudentmyinterestinjazzhasalwaysbeenthereinthebackground.I
wentthroughcountlessbooksonhowtolearntoimprovise.So,Ihadaverybasicknowledge
ofjazzharmony,includingvarioustypesofscalesoftenusedinjazzidiom,butpuingthem
intopracticewasatrickypart,especiallywhenIhadtostepoutofmycomfortzone.Having
beensousedtoreadthenotesputinfrontofme,whenIseethesuggestednotesinthe
improvisationsection,Icanthelpplayingthosenotesinthewrienorderthatshardlyan
improvisation!HavingaendedTimRichardsjazzpianocourseforteacherswasagreathelp
inasensethatheknewwhatourhabitsareasclassicallytrainedpianistsandtaughtushowto
getoutofitandwhatsmoreisthathealsotaughtushowtopassitontoourstudents.
Asyouwouldagree,itusuallytakesyearsoftrainingtomastersomethingthatrequires

Asyouwouldagree,itusuallytakesyearsoftrainingtomastersomethingthatrequires
intricateskills.Thesamegoesforjazzpianoplaying/improvisation.So,howcanwe,classically
trainedpianists,possiblyteachjazzimprovisationtoourstudentsafterhavingaendedjusta
3daycourse?Ifyourstudentsfeelseriousaboutbecomingaprofessionaljazzpianist,thenit
goeswithoutsayingthattheyshouldbesenttostudywithprofessionaljazzpianiststobe
trainedasone.Butformostpianolearners,jazzisjustoneformofstylesofmusicthatprovides
reliefandpleasure.Whenyoulookaroundthecurrentmusicsceneyouhearfullofstylesthat
areinuencedbyjazzmusicinsomeformortheother,whetheritspop,rock,orevensomeof
classicalmusic!Imsurethatsthereasonwhymanypianolearnersaredrawntoplayjazzy
piecesbecausetheynditaccessibleandtheycaneasilyrelatetoit.
NowgeingbacktothequestionIposed.Cana3daycourseprepareteacherstobeableto
teachjazzimprovisation?Aslongasteacherspossesgenuineinterestsinthesubjectand
preparetodedicatesometimetoextendtheirknowledgeonthesubject,Ithinkitspossible.In
thisjazzcourseforteachers,wehadaframeworkwithinwhichwecouldfocuson,using
ABRSMjazzpianogradeexampiecesfromGrade1to5(mainly13).Thepiecesarequite
simplebutitallowsyoutoexperimentwithitbasedontheinformationthateachpiece
presents,intermsofform,harmony,scales,tonality,etc.Justtobeabletogivestudents
opportunitytolookintothepieceofmusicfromadierentangleinsuchway,Ithinkits
worthspendingsometimetolearnhowtoimproviseandpasstheacquiredknowledgetotheir
studentshoweverbasicitcanbe.Thismayopenthedoortoanewventureforyourstudents.
YoullneverknowwhereitllleadbutImsureyourstudentswillhavejoyoustimewhile
learninghowtoimprovise.Ialwaysfeelthatifyoucanteachsomeonesomethingyouve
learned,andthatpersonunderstandsittoo,yourunderstandingisproventobewellenough.
Inthatsense,teacherandstudentarelearningnewskillstogether.
Evenifyourenotpreparingforthejazzexam,therecanbewaystoincorporatetheelementsof
jazzimprovisationintoyourregularlessoncurriculum.Forexampleifyourstudentis
currentlylearningajazzysolopiece,youcouldaddanimprovisationsectiontoitsothats/he
getsaglimpseoftheessenceofjazzmusicfreedomtocreateyourownmelodywithina
certainframe.OryoucouldtryoneeasyjazzpiecefromtheABRSMJazzPianoPiecesbooks.
Youcouldmodifythescalesthatyourstudentalreadyknowtotwithintheharmonic
structureofthepiece.Alilefreedomfromwriennotationscanbeveryliberatingandboost
studentscondenceinpianoplayingandalsohelptothemtogetagripofmusictheoryina
practicalwayaswellasimprovingtheirrhythmicsense,includingthecoordinationskills
requiredforthat.
Regardingthelevelofskillsrequiredforplayingjazzpiano,forthosewhoareaboutgrade2to
4standard,agoodplacetostartisprobablyjazzgrade1to2.Forthosewhoareaboutgrade5
8standardmaytryjazzgrade3to5.Playingthewrienpartofthepiecemayberelatively
easybuttheimprovisationsectionwillgetmorechallengingabovejazzgrade3becauseyou
havetocoordinateyourimprovisationwithrhythmicharmonyinthelefthand.
Now,fortheteacherswhoseimmediateintentiontousejazzimprovisationintheirpiano
lessonsisnotontheircardjustyet,thequestionwouldbe,Howcanthisexperiencebeuseful
toyourconventionalpianolessons?Ifitdoesnttwithintherepertoireyouteach,itdoesnt
havetobeinaformofjazzimprovisation.Perhaps,applyingsimilarexploringmethodstoget
aroundtheproblemsthatstudentsarefacing(technically,aurally,etc.)?Forexamples,ifyou
studentfeelstuckonaparticularspotinthemusicwhichdoesntseemtoimprove.Youcould
tryanimprovisationgameinapianoduetstyle,usingthenotesfromtheproblematicpassage;

tryanimprovisationgameinapianoduetstyle,usingthenotesfromtheproblematicpassage;
yourstudentcopieswhatyouplays;whenthestudentgetsahangofit,s/henowcreatesan
answeringphraseusingthesameselectionofnotes;makesuretoexploreasmanyvariationsas
possiblehere.Then,foundouthowthewriennotesintheproblematicspotinthemusicare
formed,thestudentmayhaveplayeditorsimilaroneinhis/herimprovisation.Lookingatthe
samethingfromadierentangleoftenhelpsyouovercomethestubbornproblem.
IwasverygladthatIaendedthiscourse,althoughIwasslightlyapprehensivebecauseI
knewIhadtogooutsidemycomfortzonetolearnsomethingunfamiliar.Itwasthemost
intensive3daylearningcourseIvehadforaverylongtime.Preparingonepieceeachday
withimprovisationhadusgostraighttothepracticeroomswheneverpossible,reviewingover
whatwevelearnedfromtheprevioussessions.Ialsometlikelymindedpassionateteachers
whowishtobringafreshapproachintotheirlessonsexploringjazzmusic.Needlesstosay,
accommodationandfullboardservicewerespotonattheBenslow.Practiceroomswere
alwaysavailable;youcanpractiseuntil11pm.Ifearlyinthemorning,youcanchooseadigital
pianowithaheadphoneon,whichwasstrangelymypreferredwayofpractisingwhenit
comestoworkingonimprovisation;somethingaboutusingotherthanpianotoneshelpsmeto
improvisebeer;andalsoitwasveryprivate!
IhopethispostprovidedsomeideasastowhattoexpectintheTimRichardsjazzcoursefor
pianoteachersattheBenslowMusicandhowyoucanmakeuseofitevenifyourintention
doesntincludeenteringyourstudentsfortheABRSMjazzpianoexams,andthoseteachers
whofeelalileapprehensiveaboutaendingsuchcourseasthisareencouragedtotryitout
themselvesandlearnafewideastoincorporatesomeelementsofjazzimprovisationintotheir
pianolessoncurriculum.
Staycreative!
Tagsauraltraining,coordination,improvisation,multisensoryapproach,pianoteaching
Categoriescoordination,creativeactivities,decoding,etudes,listening,rhythm,Teaching

Learntoselfaccompanyapopsongin
30mins!?
May25,2014//

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Inditveryrefreshingtofaceachallengethatputsmetothetestasapianoteacher,fromtime
totime.
Oneofmy8yopupilsbroughtasheetofpaperwiththelyricsofChristinaPerrisHuman
wrienonit,andtoldmethatshewantstolearntoselfaccompanyonthepianosingingthis
songforthetalentshowatherschoolin3weekstime.
Nextweekisahalfterm,hencenopianolessonnextweek,sobasicallyshewasaskingmeto
showherhowtoplaythepianopartofasongIveneverheardofin30minutes,withherlate
elementarypianoplayingskill.
MyPCinmypianoroomjustcrashedthenightbefore,sonoYouTubeaccess!ThenIrealised

MyPCinmypianoroomjustcrashedthenightbefore,sonoYouTubeaccess!ThenIrealised
thatmyhusbandhasgotaniPad(theonlytimeIfounditveryusefulunquestionably)!So,we
YouTubeditandlistenedtothesongandcreatedasimpleharmonyinaneasierkeyforherto
beabletoplayasshesings.Noteasyforsomeonewhosstilllearningtocoordinatebetween
singingandplayingdierentthingsatthesametime.
IgenerallylikeChristinaPerrissongs.Hersongstendtohavesomeelementsthatcanbe
exploredinaneducationalsense,eitherharmonicallyorrhythmicallybasedonacleansong
form;verseprechoruschorusbridgechorus.
Hereswhatwecameupwithduringthelessonandlearnedin30minutes.

Wesettheaccompanyingpaerntobeasimplerepetitionofdescendingparallel10th,intwo
dierentkeys(Cmajor&Aminor),withasustainingmajorchord(Fmajor)fortheprechorus
sectionandalsotolinkbetweenChorusandVerse.
Simpleideasometimesworksjustasneasmoreelaborateone.Whatwehavehereisjusta
threenotedescendingscalewiththehandsseparatedbytheinterval10th.Onenoteeachfor
eachhandconsistspartiallyofamajororminorchord,whichdenestheharmonicbasefor
thissong.
Sincethispianopartisverysimple,itcanbeagoodcoordinationexerciseforthosewhoare
startingtosingandplaydierentthingsatthesametime.Itgivesyouanunexplainablejoy
whentwothingsttogetherandoutcomesapleasingharmony!Thissonginparticularoers
averysimpleandrepetitivemelody,socoordinatingwithpianoplayingcanbeeasilydonefor
theverybeginnerstoo,Isuspect.
Allyouneedisasheetofpaperwithasongslyricsinfrontofyouandplaytheseharmonies
onthebeatwhereitshouldtasyousing.Inthatsense,itsagoodauraltrainingaswell.Have
atry!
Mypupilseemedcontentwiththispianopartwithoutfeelingtrickytocoordinatewithher
ownsinging.ReliefHersingingwasamazingthough,itwasthersttimeIveheardhersing
apopsongproperly.ShesbeenpractisingselfaccompanyingAdelesSomeoneLikeYoufora
verylongtimeinthelessons,andshejuststartedtogetagriponcoordinatingsingingand
playingdierentthingsatthesametime.Nowitstimetoputherselftothetesttoseeifallthis
hardworkisactuallypayingoornot.
TagsChristinaPerri,coordination,Human,pianoteaching,poppiano,popsong,self
accompany
Categoriescoordination,listening,Music,performance,rhythm,Teaching,teenage/adultstu

BoogieWoogieEtudesbyYukieSmith
February13,2014//

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ItsmyusualpracticetowritesomethingformypianostudentsfromtimetotimewhenIsee
thattheyneedalilehelptogettheirmotivationlevelboostedupfromdierentangles.When
thathappens,Ioftenuseaformofetude(study);shortbutusefulwithvariousskillbuilding
contents.Someofmyearlyetudesforthatpurposehavebeenpublishedasanarticleinthe
EPTA(EuropeanPianoTeachersAssociation)sownmagazine,PianoProfessional(issue34),
April2014.BoogieWoogieEtudes,Icallit,areasetofthreestudiesbasedonBoogieWoogie
style(pianobasedblues)tocoverawiderangeofskillbuildingexercisesfromtheaural,
visual,kinaesthetic&intellectualpointofview.Acrossthe7pagesinthisarticle,Icovered
everydetailaboutwhattheyrefor,howtheyreintroducedandhowtheycanbeexploredin
theareaofimprovisation,etc.Ihopetheseetudesndtheirusefulnessinmanypianoteachers
studios.ThemagazinecanbepurchasedviatheEPTAswebsite.

Tagsaural,bluespiano,BoogieWoogiepiano,EPTA,intellectual,kenesthetic,multisensory
approach,pianoetudes,PianoProfessionalissue34,pianostudies,pianoteaching,skill
building,visual
Categoriescoordination,creativeactivities,decoding,etudes,keyboardorientation,kidsstu,
listening,pianosolopieces,rhythm,Teaching,teenage/adultstu

Whenistherighttimetostartreadingmusic
notation?
January9,2014//

Ivebeenaskedbyoneofmy8yearsoldpupilsmotheryesterday;Iwonderwhenmyson

Ivebeenaskedbyoneofmy8yearsoldpupilsmotheryesterday;Iwonderwhenmyson
startslearningtoreadmusic.Heseemstobefrustratedbecausehecantreadyet.Hessokeen
andwantstodomore.Heonlystartedpianolesson2monthsagoandheslearnedafew
piecesandetudes,andduringtheholidayheenjoyedplayingaChristmassongwitha
harmonyinthelefthand.Otoagoodstart,withoutneedingtoreadnotestolearnpieces,so
hecanfocusongeinghiseareyehandcoordinationsortedandreadytotackleanintricate
taskofdecodingnotationlateron.
Coordinationdoesntjustmeanmovingngersandpuingthehandstogether.Italsoincludes
theabilitytohearwhatyoureplayingorwhatyouregoingtoplayandhowyouregoingto
play,tounderstandhighandlowinsoundinrelationtoupanddownofthekeyboard,tobe
abletosingorhumthemelodylinewhileyoureplayingtomaintainsteadypulse,tolearnto
singorhumrhythmicpaernswhileyoureplayingsothatyoureawareofrhythmicvaluesin
music,totransfertheinformationthatyoureyetookintoyourngerwork,etc.Whenpupils
havegainedsuchcoordinationrst,theyusuallyndtheirwaynottogetfrustratedwhenthey
startlearningtoreadnotation.So,tomyview,acouplepagestocoverhowtoreadnotationas
youndinmostconventionalpianotutorbooksseemsnotsucientenough.Alotmore
carefulandconsideratepreparationsleadingtoreadingnotationseemsnecessaryandmore
sensible.Withanythingelse,internalisingtakestimeandeort.
Tocomparehowwelearntospeakandreadyourlanguage,itmaysoundmuchclearer.Did
youstarttoreadabookbeforeyouspeakyourlanguage?Didyoustartlearningtoreadbefore
youcanwriteafewwords?Whenyouread,doyoureadleerbyleertoformaword?And
nally,canyoureadthis?
IcnduotbvleieetahtIculodaulacltyuesdtannrdwahtIwasrdnaieg.Unisgtheicndeblire
pweorofthehmuanmnid,aocdcrnigtorseecrahatCmabrigdeUinervtisy,itdsenotmaer
inwahtoderrthelteretsinawrodare,theolnyirpoamtnttihngistahtthefrsitandlsat
leerbeintherhgitpclae.Thersetcanbeataotlmsesandyoucansitllraeditwhoutita
pboerlm.Tihsisbucseaethehuamnmniddeosnotraederveyleerbyistlef,butthewrod
asawlohe.
Inreadingmusic,thesamecanbesaid,Ibelieve.Ifyourmindistrainedtorecognisepaerns
inrelationtohowtheysound,guessingworkcankickinandyoucanfocusonexecutingthe
soundonyourinstrument.Forthisreason,Iusuallyintroducetomypupilsanintervalreading
technique,rhythmicreading/writingexercisesandafewlandmarknoteswritingexercisesin
theearlystageoflearning,whiletheylearntoacquirecoordinationskilltobeabletohear,
singandplay,sowhenitcomestoreadingmusictolearnpieces,theyknowwhattodo.
Theytakeinrhythmicvaluesproperly,theycanmaintainsteadypulsewhiletheyplay,they
canplayinanensembleseing,etc,andtheycaneventuallybecomeindependentlearners.
Backtothis8yearsoldpupilofmine,hesalreadydonequiteabitofpreparationstostart
readingnotationverysoon.Hejustdoesntrealisethattheyrepartthecourseandthathes
alreadyacquiredsomereadingskilltoreadmusic!Hellsoonnodoubtndouthecanactually
readmusic
Tagsaural,coordination,earlystageofpianolearning,etudes,intervalreading,landmark
notes,listeningskill,musicnotation,notesreadingskill,piano,pianobeginner,pianoteaching,
readingmusic,rhythmlearning,sightreading,singing
Categoriescoordination,creativeactivities,decoding,etudes,intervalreading,keyboard
orientation,listening,notation,rhythm,Teaching

orientation,listening,notation,rhythm,Teaching

HowtolearntosightreadPARTIIIthevery
basics
December5,2013//

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AsIbrieymentionedinPARTII,Idliketoexploremoreaboutpaernrecognition(visual)in
relationtoexecutingthemonaninstrument(kinaesthetic).Though,anotherinvaluableskill
nottobeforgoenistobeabletohearinyourmindwhatyousee(aural).ToexplainwhatI
mean,IdliketogiveyouasimpleexampleherebeforeImoveontofocusingonvisualand
kinaestheticcombinationexercise,hopefullyinmynextpost!
Heresaverysimpletunethateveryoneknows.Somemayhaverecogniseditinstantlyjustby
leingyoureyerunthroughthese4barsquickly.Thosewhodontreadmusic,hereswhat
youcantry.

1.Learntosingtherhythmwithsteadypulseyoucandetectfromsingingthesepaerns;youll
ndthatitusuallyoccursnaturally!(SeemypastpostdatedonJanuary26,2012at4.
Understandingrhythm,abouttherhythmicsyllableyoucanusetosing)
Bar1:shortshortlong_______
Bar2:shortshortlong_______
Bar3:shortshortshortshort
Bar4:twiceaslong_________
2.Recognisethedirectionofthenotes(SeePartII,abouthowtorecogniseintervals)
Isitstayingthesame?
Isitgoingupasteporskip?
Isitgoingdownaskipordoubleskip?
Isitgoingstepwise,upordown?
3.Nowtryaddingvariouspitchesfollowingthedirectionofthenotes(Itmaybehelpfultouse
yourhandshowinggoingupordowntoguideyourvoicevisually).
Whenitgoesupaskip,raiseyourvoicepitchabithigher.
Whenyouseeabigdrop(adoubleskiphere!),loweryourvoicepitchdownslightlymore
thanabit.
Whenyouseeastepwisemotion,simplytrysingingthescaleupordown.
4.Trysingingthatwayacoupleoftimeswithcorrectrhythms(Animportantbit!correct

4.Trysingingthatwayacoupleoftimeswithcorrectrhythms(Animportantbit!correct
noteswithwrongrhythmswouldmakeawellknowntunevirtuallyunrecognisable!)toseeif
youheararecognizabletune.
5.Ifyoustillhavenoluckbynow,changeyourrhythmicsyllablesingingtojusthummingbut
withcorrectrhythm.Orevenwithoutlookingatthemusicifyoumanagedtomemorisethe
melodicshapesbynow(Itoftenhelpsyoufocusbeeronlisteningwhenyoutakevisual
distractionaway!).
Now,canyouguesswhatthetuneis?Also,animportantthingtorememberhereistoletyour
earhaveanaentivelisteningwhileyouresinging;howthepitchmovesupanddown.Isnt
thatobvious?,youmaysay.Butyoullbesurprisedtorealisethatyouhearafewdetailsthat
youpreviouslydidntwhenyoubringmoreaentiontoyourownsinging.Thisobviousskill
wehave,listening,tendtogetpushedasideevenmorewhenitcomestoplayingan
instrumentbecauseyourmindissobusywithgeingyourngerworkright.Itsthevery
reasonwhyitsimportanttotrainyoureartoknowwhattolistenfor.
Forthosewhojuststartedreadingthenotations,trynottouseyourinstrumenttoworkout
whatthetuneis.Trytogureitoutbysinging!Beingabletocreatinganauralmapinyour
mindandtobeabletosingitbeforetransferringthattoyourngerstoexecutewhatswrien
onthescoreisprobablythemostusefulskilltodevelopifyoureseriousaboutgeingbeerat
sightreading.Whenyoudevelopthisskill,youllndthatyoustartmixingwithsome
guessingworktogetthemusicgoingwithoutanybreak,whichisessentiallywhatthesight
readingisallabout;beingabletoplayitthroughwithsomesenseofmusicaldirectionswith
lessmistakesaspossible!
Tagsauralmap,coordination,hearwhatyousee,pianoteaching,readingnotation,sight
reading,singing,visualisation
Categoriescoordination,decoding,intervalreading,listening,notation,rhythm,Teaching

BlackKeyPianoDuetsforYoungBeginners
March15,2013//

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Oneofthejoyfulexperiencesyoucanhaveinpianoduetplayingistobeabletoexplorethe
soundofrichharmoniesandawiderangeofdynamicsthatpianoiscapableofproducing.For
theveryyoungbeginners,itsstillpossiblewithjustafewkeysonthekeyboardtohaveataste
ofthatexperienceevenbeforetheystartlearningtoreadnotation.
Ihave3videoswith3dierenttuneshereasanexamplewhereweexploredvariouselements
ofmusicaswell;
No.1TheGroundIsBreaking
steadypulse(pupillisteningtootherthanhim/herself)
metre(wesang1234intunewiththemelody)
structure(3sectionstobeawarefortheirdierentcharacters)

structure(3sectionstobeawarefortheirdierentcharacters)
harmonies(somethingthatpianoisexcelledat!)
musicalcharacter(makeuseofwhatchildrenaregoodat;makingastoryaccordingtothe
characterofthetune,thencomingupwiththetitleoftheirownforthetune!)
articulation(detachedratherthanlegatotofollowthecharacterofthetune)
dynamics(loudandsoftwiththeuseofarmweight)

The Ground Is Breaking - black keys piano duet - Yukie Smith -...

No.2TheGrandOldDukeofYork
Inadditiontotheabovelist,wehadafewextraactivitiestoexplore.
composing(somelileonesarefullofideas,givethemachancetousetheirown
imaginationtomakethetunespecialtothem!)
articulation(legatowasachievedbythengerwalkinggameonthekeyboard)

The Grand Old Duke of York - black keys piano duet - Yukie Sm...

No.3GoingHome
Thistunehasabitmoremovementthantheothertwoprevioustunes.So,weneededtowork
outsomethingmorevisualsothatmypupilcaninternalisethetuneinanorganisedway.In
doingso,wecreatedacolourcodedshapeforeachphrasepaern.Colouriseddrawingof
somesortalwayscomesinhandywhenreadingnotationisnotjustyetpartofaregular
practiceinthelessons.Herestheexampleofwhatwecameupwith:

Going Home - black keys piano duet - Yukie Smith - young pia...

Finally,heresmythoughtonwhyIchoosetospendmoretimeonusingblackkeysforthe
youngbeginners.Notonlyithelpsthemtoorientatethemselvesaroundthekeyboard
geography,butalsotinyhandsandngerscanlearntodevelopanicegripeasierwiththe
blackkeysthanthewhitekeysbecauseofthefactthatthelevelofthehandstaysmoreorless
withthelevelofthewhilekeyswhentheblackkeyispressed.Lesschanceofthewrist
dippingwhenthengerpressesthekey!
AnotherimportantissueIdliketoaddressisthatsingingthetunewhileplayingisavery
positivestartoflearningtoperformmusically.Notonlyithelpstointernalisethetunewith
steadypulse,butalsohelpsthengerstondtherightnotesonthekeyboard.Havingsaid
that,Imustadmitthatsingingtheblackkeyrange(g,a,b)maybeabitoutofcomfortable
voicerangeforsomechildren.Itmayhelpiftheteachersingsalongintherightpitchandsing
downanoctavewhennecessary.Thefocushereistofollowthemelodicshapereectedinthe
singing,nottosingabsolutelyintune.Itsamazingtorealisewhatscapablewhenthe
listeningearistrulyopen!
Ihopethisvideoservesausefulpurposeofhelpingtoinspireanyonewhoinvolvesinmusic
makingwithyoungchildren.
InthisvideorecordingIusedthefollowingequipmentsandsoftware:
Pianomodel:YahamaC5A

Pianomodel:YahamaC5A
Microphone:2xAKGP420(MSseing)
Digitalrecorder:ZoomH4n(IdidntuseitsinbuiltXYmics)
Audioeditor:CubaseLE4
Videorecorder:FlipVideoUltraHD
Videoeditor:CorelStudioProX5
Idliketowriteablogaboutmyhomerecordingatsomepoint.Thisisaneverending
experimentationsincerecordingandcapturingthesoundofpianoisconsideredtobethemost
diculttaskbecauseofitswiderangeofdynamics,frequenciesandovertones.Aslight
changeofpositioningandangleofthemicrophoneseasilyaectshowthesoundcomesoutin
therecording,Ind!
Tagsarmweight,articulation,aural,blackkeys,blackkeypianoduet,composing,dynamics,
ensembleplaying,ngerwalking,harmony,listening,metre,musicalcharacter,musical
elements,musicalform,piano,pianoduet,pianoteaching,pianotechnique,simpletune,
singing,steadypulse,structure,teaching,youngpianobeginner,yukiesmith
Categoriescoordination,creativeactivities,decoding,intervalreading,keyboardorientation,
listening,Music,pianoduetpieces,rhythm,student&teahcer,Teaching

PopSongsforPianoLesson
July12,2012//

0
Idontlistentopopmusicmuchthesedaysbutinteaching,mypianostudentsbringenough
popsongsintopianolessons.Mostofthesongsareuptodatepopularonesamong
youngsters.Thisitselfisaneducationforme,theydoalltheresearching,theypickthebest
ones!Somanynewsongsouttherebutthoseselectedbyteenagersareoftenthebestkind.And
Imustadmitsomeoftheirchoicesareveryeducationallysound.Simplepianoarrangement
butchockfullofeectiveharmonies.Theproblemisthatthosesongsareusuallywrienina
keythatisoftennoteasyforpianobeginners,butnoneofmystudentswanttolearnina
dierentkey,theywanttheoriginal!Sofar,theirmotivationisstrongenough,andnoneof
themhasgivenupyet.Theyeventuallygetit.Ihavethisteenagebeginnerwhostarted
learningthepianoaboutayearago.Shewentthrough,EllieGouldingsvesrionofEltonJohns
YourSong,AdelesSomeoneLikeYou,SaraBareillesLoveSong,nowworkingonChristina
PerrisJarofHearts,allinaoriginalkey;Bbmajor,Amajor,Fmajor,Ebmajor.
Whenmystudentsaskforacertainsong,mostofthetime,Idonthavethemusicwrienout
exactlyhowitsdoneintherecording,somyusualtaskaftertakingarequestistotranscribeit
fromtherecording,sotheygettoplayhowtheyknowit.Whatyounormallygetintheprocess
oftranscribingistodiscoverhowwellsomeofthesongsarewrien,harmonicallyand
strucrally.Andtherearesomegorgeousharmonicsequencesthatareusuallythereasonwhy
teenage/adultstudentsaredrawnto.
Soonerorlater,theystartexploringtheircreativetraitsbyhavingagoatwritingasongoftheir
own,Icantwaittoseehowtheylldevelop.Partofjoybeingateacher

TagsChristinaPerri,harmony,piano,pianoteaching,popsong,selfaccompany,teaching,
transcription,yukiesmith
Categoriescoordination,listening,Music,notation,pianosolopieces,rhythm,Teaching,
teenage/adultstu
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