Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Music Tip - Clocks,simplified

Here's a great song preteens and teens like to learn.  Teach your students how to analyze and see patterns in music.  It makes it so much easier to learn songs that way.  Notice that in the first measure, it is a 1st inversion of a D chord that is played as a broken chord, but backwards.  You play it 3 times in a row (except on the 3rd repeat you don't play the last note)

The 2nd and 3rd measures are identical, and again, they are just broken chords played backwards (A minor 2nd inversion).  The 4th measure is an E minor chord (in root position) played backwards too.  Then you repeat all four measures.  A piece of cake!

Teach the next section by playing the melody.  Notice that the melody is played 3 times, but the rhythm is a little different each time because of the words.

I love to help children analyze and quickly learn a song that could have been hard to learn without noticing the patterns first.


Thanks for reading,


Music Tip - Don't Stop Believing

Here's another 4 chord song to teach your student or child.

I teach the right hand chords on the first line and help them identify the kind of chords they are, ie. G 2nd inversion, D root position, e minor 2nd position, C root position.  Have them play the chords several times, then you play the left hand with them.

Next, have them play the left hand. On the second measure they will need to move their 3rd finger to the E.
Duet the first line with student playing left hand and teacher/adult playing the right hand.  This makes it so much easier to play before they put hands together, which is the next step.

Teach lines 2 and 3 with learning the left hand chords first. Then follow the same procedure of dueting it, they play right hand, duet, they play both hands.

The last two lines can be taught, notating that on measure 3 the right hand needs to move the 2nd finger to the B.


Music Tip - Popular 4 chord Songs

I've been teaching my piano students chord inversions to prepare them for playing the 4 chord songs I've been giving them.  My pre-teen and teen piano students are loving them--the songs, not the chord inversions!

For some students, I give them just the chords for hands alone until they are comfortable playing them--usually one week--then I give them the whole song.  For other students, I give them the whole song, but first have them play the chords, hands alone, so they can understand the chord progression.  I also reinforce the correct fingering and point out that it is always the 2nd inversion (for the left hand) that changes and uses the 2nd finger instead of the 3rd finger.

The whole point to these songs is to show a simple 4 chord progression that is repeated throughout the song, thus making the song EASY to learn and FUN to play.  It "hooks" my reluctant learners. 

"Piano Man" is a popular song that I give my students first.  I teach the left hand chords, then I play the melody while they play the chords.  This gets them interested in learning both hands, plus, if they're not familiar already with the melody, it helps them learn what it sounds like. The first week all they practice are the left hand chord progressions, which sound pretty cool and they all come back playing them really well.

The second week I play the melody while they play the left hand again, just to reinforce the song/melody.  Then I have them play just the melody line by themselves.  Next I play the left hand chords while they play the melody.  Dueting a song is SO IMPORTANT because it helps the student hear how the left and right hand coordinate the sounds together. Finally, I have them play both hands together.  This whole process takes about 5-8 minutes of their lesson time. They go home and practice both hands together and whola, when they come back the next week, it always sounds pretty darn good!  I can tell they have practiced--which is my aim!

By the way, did I mention I have been using my smart phone during piano lessons a lot?  I use it to introduce a popular song I want my student to learn to play.  I play the song on you tube (finding appropriate views, first) so they can get interested in the song.  Sometimes they've heard it before and sometimes they haven't, but hey, getting to watch a you tube cover song during piano lessons is a real grabber and motivator for my students!

Here is my arrangement of "Piano Man".  Enjoy!!

Thanks for reading, offer any suggestions you might have on the music.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Parenting Tip - Angels to Help Us

There is a great article on LDS Living that reprints some of Sister Wendy Nelson's writings in her newest book, "Covenant Keepers: Unlocking the Miracles God Wants for You".
She tells the poignant story of a woman deep in despair, ready to take her own life, when she happens to walk by a bookshelf that has a picture of herself as a young mother with her children.  The picture has been lost for years, but now there it is exactly at the moment she needs to see it.  She realizes that those young children, though now grown with children of their own, still look to her with trust and need her continued guidance.  She realizes that she could never leave her children and "was amazed at the precise timing when the Lord sent His angels to find the framed, formerly lost photograph and place it exactly where she would see it. Exactly when she needed to see it."

I want to read the book!  It tells us how we can ask for angels to help us, how God wants to help us through His angels and who those angels are.

I experienced angels helping me after my husband passed away and I was left to live alone with my mother-in-law who was living in my home. I don't like to cook and feel very inadequate and so my husband had been the cook for lots of our meals all of our married life. Now I was the cook, and had to prepare meals for my aging mother-in-law. For a week or more after the funeral, every time I thought with a sinking feeling in my stomach, "Oh no, what shall I fix for dinner?" immediately a meal would come to mind that I felt qualified to fix.  This happened so often and so quickly after my thought, that I knew I was receiving help from the other side.  I think my maternal grandmother, who was a professional cook, was helping me.  I know she was.  What a tender mercy from a loving Father in Heaven who could have looked at my need and viewed it as something trivial, but instead loved me enough to help me in my needs.

Sister Nelson quotes Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s April 2010 general conference address where he counsels us to, “Ask for angels to help you.”

As we enter into covenants with the Lord and try our best to uphold those covenants, we are entitled to received the blessings of ministering angels.  I feel I need to ask more often for help and then I need to thank Heavenly Father as He gives me the help I ask for.

How about you?

Thanks for reading,



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