Sunday, August 29, 2010

Music Tip #48 Just 3 minutes a day!

I think my most favorite scripture is " small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise." Alma 37:6-Book of Mormon. I've been teaching my piano students that one of the "small and simple things" they can do to become a better piano player, is to practice their note reading flashcards 3 minutes every day. Those students that know the names of the notes can sightread faster, learn their pieces faster, and progress faster. And all it takes is 3 minutes every day.

If your child is learning his notes, don't have him learn the whole scale of flashcards from bass clef C up to treble clef C above middle C. That's too much to learn at once. Start with 2 flashcards, and when he knows them, add a third. Then a fourth note and so on. Start with just the treble clef notes first, then add the bass clef.

The brain stores this information in two different places in the brain. You can show your child a flashcard and she can easily and quickly play it on the piano (or other instrument). But to have her SAY the name of the note is a whole other brain processing skill. So when practicing flashcards make sure your child plays it AND says the note name.

Children learn in their own special ways. Some children easily pick up on learning "every good boy does fine" and that helps them learn the note names. Other children process and understand the note names when they realize the notes are in alphabetical order. Still others just can't remember them at all! When this happens I try to "hook" one of the note names to a person's name in their family. For example, one of my students-Greg-could not remember the note names at all. I showed him where the top space on the bass clef was and said, "that's your home. Look at the top space and always remember that is where you live--G for Greg." Once that was established (after several weeks) we could branch on to neighboring lines and space names.

Recently one of my students noticed that the bass clef top space, top line and space above, spelled G A B. For him, that will be the hook that will help him learn his notes--I hope. If children can discover a pattern or hook, it becomes theirs to remember forever.

There are several sites where you can download free flashcards.§ion=5&level=x&subtype=Music%20Reading&subtype2=x

Children LOVE games, so play games 3 minutes a day during practice time and see the improvement!

Parenting Tip # 49 Don't you know about having fun?

I got a text from my daughter. She said Laney, her 7 year old had just asked her, “Mom, don’t you know about having fun?” I thought that was hilarious. Later I found out about the situation that precipitated that remark-- Laney and her two siblings were playing in the bathtub with water up to the very top. Well, Laney, there’s fun, and then there’s fun involving a mess!

Does your family have fun together? Do your kids have fun playing with each other? What are some fun things to do as a family? The most fun ones, of course, should be free. I heard about a family that every once in a while would have a “book dinner”. That meant everyone could bring a book to the dinner table and they all read their books while eating. Fun! What about flying kites, jumping on the trampoline as a family, or laying on the trampoline and watching the clouds. That’s fun! Singing funny songs while in the car, playing jokes on April Fool’s Day, riding bikes together, putting up a tent in the back yard. Fun, fun, fun.

Then there’s using shaving cream as finger paint, playing with rice/beans in a cake pan, or this: squirt hair gel or shampoo in a ziplock bag, then lay the bag down on a flat surface and let your kids draw shapes on the bag. You can play beauty shop with the kids fixing the parent’s hair, play restaurant for lunch/dinner, or play hide and seek in the house—with the lights off.

How about making a fairy garden? The list goes on and on. Decide to have fun with your family. Relax, smell the roses and have fun!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Music Tip #47 Big rocks in a jar

I'm sure a lot of you have heard or seen the object lesson of putting big rocks in a gallon jar. I LOVE this story because it is so true.

What are some of the BIG rocks you have in your life and in your family's life? If one of them is private music lessons, this becomes a tough rock to put in the jar. Parents know and understand the importance and value of practicing a musical instrument, but they have the harder job of getting their child to buy into that belief system.

So HOW and WHEN do you put the practice rock in the jar? The how could be having a family council meeting with your family and explaining your belief system of the value and importance of music. You could continue by saying that your family believes so strongly in the power of music, that it will be a priority for your family. It will be a daily practice. A big rock.

Then look and see what other big rocks you need to put in the jar. Do you have so many big rocks they WON'ALL FIT ? You may have to analyze the rocks and determine if some of them may not be so important after all. Are you rushing your child from soccer practice to piano lessons on Monday, followed by karate, dance, church activities, homework, etc on the other days? What about free time for your child to play and read? Should that be a large rock?

In the analogy, after the big rocks are placed in the jar, then there is still room for gravel, sand and water. What are the gravel, sand and water? More activities to cram in? I like to think of them as blessings that come from prioritizing. Like a smooth running home, time to talk with and enjoy your family, peace.

Now another big question is WHEN to put the practicing rock into your jar. Each family's schedule is different, and you may have to be creative. My sister and I took turns getting up at 6:30am on school days to practice the piano. The TV may have to be turned off on schools days so it is not a distraction. Other activities may need to be postponed until summer. Favorite times to practice for my piano students are before breakfast, after school, and after dinner.

The bottom line is this: if you want your child to be proficient at playing an instrument, consistent daily practice has to be done. Practicing 3 times a week won't do it. Practicing incorrectly won't do it. Practicing for short times won't do it. Learning to play an instrument is a really big rock! And it is worth it! Music is the language of the soul. Help your child discover and express his soul.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Music Tip #4 6 If you don't live on a farm....

I was recently listening to a podcast of an interview of Julie B. Beck, General Relief Society President of the LDS Church. Sister Beck's two married daughters were present for the interview and eventually the questions got around to talking about how it was growing up in their home. One of the daughters said that all three of the children had to take piano lessons. Sister Beck chimed into the conversation and said, yes, that since she couldn't raise her children on a farm and teach them good work ethics, she decided learning to play the piano would be her vehicle to teaching her children how to work. Both her daughters and her son took lessons for many, many years. She would drive them to their lessons and took advantage of having a captive audience, and used these drives to talk with her children and ask them how their lives were going. One of the daughters didn't enjoy taking lessons or see the value until she was 16 years old. Then suddenly she fell in love with the piano and loves teaching it now. Today all three children give piano lessons themselves.

I loved that idea of having something in your family to teach good work ethics. And since most families don't have a farm, why, learning to play the piano--or any musical instrument--is a wonderful idea!

If you live on a farm, you discover that every day you have to feed/water and tend the animals. Everyday you have to irrigate, weed or fertilize the garden. If you live on a farm you learn the Law of the Harvest. You reap what you sow. Hard work in the beginning pays off in the end. If you live on a farm you appreciate that little things soon become big. Little seeds grow into tall plants. Little animals grow into large animals.

When you learn a musical instrument you discover that daily practicing helps you master a piece of music. When you practice a musical instrument you learn the Law of the Harvest. The amount of practicing you do each day directly effects how quickly you learn to play a song. When you take music lessons you learn that little things, like practicing a line a day eventually leads to knowing the whole piece of music.

Good work ethics--it's what you can teach your children--on a farm, or through music!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Music Tip #45 Connections

I love to look for teaching opportunities when I’m giving piano lessons.
“Well, duh,” you say, “Aren’t you teaching all during piano lessons?”
Yes, of course, I’m teaching, but I like to look for opportunities to connect piano teaching with real life teaching. For example, the other day a student played his piece very well, except for all the B flats he missed—about 4 of them. I circled some of the Bs and had him play a passage from the piece again. He still missed the B flats. So I had him circle the B flats himself and then talked to him about noticing the circles. I said, “when you see the circles coming, you need to be prepared to play the B as a B flat.”

That kind of rang a bell in my head, and after he played the B flats perfect this time, we talked about life and what things he should be noticing in life so that he would be prepared.

I have another piano student who is a perfectionist. If she starts making mistakes on a piece of music she thinks she knows well, she gets frustrated and starts crying.
Lately when I see her starting to tear up I interrupt her playing by clapping and saying, "Yeah for you. I love it when students make a mistake and then try to fix it. I don't expect you to be perfect--I'm not. But I love to know that when you make a mistake, you can figure out how to fix it."

Then I ask her if her mother or father get mad at her little brother when he is learning to walk but falls down. She says, "of course they don't". I tell her that's the way I feel when she falls down and makes a mistake in playing. I don't mind at all, because I know she's learning and eventually will play the piece well just like her brother will learn to walk.

It’s those teaching connections that I love to find and help students to relate to. And I don’t even charge extra for them!

Parenting Tip #48 Yea for technology!

Yea for technology--as long as you use it to your advantage rather than letting it take over your life. Case in point-- clip art. You can find clip art on everything you can think of—animals, objects, crafts, you name it. So my daughter took advantage of all these pictures that are available and used them for a creative writing project (actually, I think she was just using them to keep her daughters from being bored—but a “creative writing project” sounds better).

She printed off several pictures of dogs, gave them to her daughters, then they colored them, cut them out, pasted them on paper and wrote stories about the dogs. Ingenious. Simple. Creative.

You could also print off words that rhyme (like hat, bat, rat, mat, fat, sat, etc). Depending on the age of your child, they could categorize the pictures that rhyme, or write a poem and instead of writing the rhyming words, paste the pictures of the rhyming word at the end of the sentence.

The computer is great for children to practice skip counting i.e. 2,4,6,8, or 3,6,9,12. One of my piano students mentioned that at her school she had to learn to skip count for all the numbers, then when it came time to learn her multiplication tables, she had everything almost memorized because, for instance, if you can skip count 7,14,21,28etc. you can easily figure out what 3X7 equals from your skip counting.

Learning the alphabet is another great way to use the computer. Preschoolers love to find the alphabet on the keypad and type them in order. Especially when you use a fun font and a different color.

I know a lot of you have used the computer to teach your children. Please share your ideas with us.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Parenting Tip #47 Stop/Rewind!

My daughter was tired of the endless fighting that was going on in her house with her three kids. Summer had just started and looked like it was going to last a l-o-n-g time.
So she implemented the STOP/REWIND game. Here’s her words: “We just kept fighting and picking on each other, myself included. I was tired of disciplining every time, so we decided we could give each other a second chance by saying 'Stop! Rewind...' then we could go back and handle the situation right or say something nicer etc. The game was that anytime something was escalating, anyone in the family could call 'stop, rewind', even if they weren't in the fight. Then the person who called it plus anyone who was in the argument and cooperated by going back and trying again got a point. At the end of the day they got a chocolate chip for each point [they had accumulated that] day.

I remember being in the other room and hearing the girls start fighting, then Graham said, stop-rewind and the girls went back and corrected. All without me! That happened where Addy said it once too. They even justly called it on me a couple of times. The best part about it was there wasn't added fighting about 'who called it first' or 'who got the point' or whatever because everyone who participated would get a point.

This [game] worked great for a couple days until we were out of the habit of fighting and were distracted by other things.

post script. I am trying it on the kids [again]right now,[two months later] and they're looking at me like, 'whatever mom, that was so a month ago.' Ha. The little boogers...... Little do they know I have 8 discipline/ back talk/ naughty children books checked out from the library right now!"

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Music Tip #44 Thunder Tubes

The last two days I went to a music conference. The first day it was held at the new Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Az. Wow! If you live in the valley, this is a “must see” museum. They have over 10,000 musical instruments and objects from almost every country. There is a self guided tour complete with headsets so you can watch and listen to video clips of the featured instruments. The also have The Experience Gallery which is a hands-on room where you can actually play lots of the instruments seen in the other galleries.

Of course, my favorite room was the Gift Shop. I bought an instrument that I can use at school and I know my students will absolutely love it! It’s called a Thunder Tube I had so much fun playing with it and so did all the adult family members who came for Sunday dinner tonight (unfortunately the only "kid" was my 4 month old grandson).

I want to make a thunder tube and so I looked up on the internet how to do it. Naturally, there were several posts., My favorite post said to use a Pringles potato chip can for the tube.

This would be a fun activity to involve your whole family in and you would not only be making a fun new musical instrument, but learning some science principles at the same time.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...