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Showing posts from January, 2019

Practice Tips & Tricks: Visualization

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My final practice trick for you this month is visualization. If you've played sports or done other competitive activities, you may have heard of this before as a training technic. And it does work in practicing your instrument as well. If you follow the blog regularly, you may have caught my book review of This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin last month. In reading it I learned that when we imagine doing something, the same portions of our brains fire up as though we were actually doing it. This is why visualization actually can work. 

When I am using visualization to practice a piece of music, I like to have the sheet music in front of me and I read along at the performance tempo, and mentally 'play' the piece. I know which fingers fall on each note, I hear the piece in my head, I know which parts get louder or softer. I rehearse all the elements minus actually playing it on a piano.

Some variations to make this do-able for beginning students:
Your piano kid could t…

Practice Tips & Tricks: Backing Tracks

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Backing tracks are my favorite new practice tool! I'd been using them a little bit for the past couple years, but after moving & transitioning to lots of online lessons where playing in-person duets is not as feasible anymore, backing tracks have taken center stage. And after implementing them so successfully with online students, I've also started using them more with my in-studio students too!

So what is a backing track? 
A backing track is a recorded accompaniment that your piano student plays their piece along with. It can either be a piano duet part or a full band accompaniment. If there are backing tracks for your music, I will bring them to your attention so you can arrange to have access to them at home. 

And how do we use them? 
Start by listening. If your piano kid hasn't heard the backing track yet, listen to it first. When available, listen to the version with the melody included, so your piano kid can hear their part & how it fits with the accompaniment.

Practice Tips & Tricks: Metronome

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Before you groan & go back to browsing Facebook or checking your email, hear me out. Metronomes don't have to be drudgery. They don't have to make your piano kid rage-y. They can be do-able, and they are definitely effective for those of us who struggle with pacing (sometimes this is me too, y'all). If you've had metronome related meltdowns, I know you're probably reading along and feeling pretty skeptical that this might actually work with your kid, but metronomes have seen some fun developments in recent years that make them a little more kid-friendly, a maybe even a little more hip. 

So first up, let me tell you about some of my favorite metronome app: 

Super Metronome Groove Box Available on iTunes & Amazon for Android
If you want something that's going to give you fun drum beats to play along with, this is the app you want. It's not free, but it does have a lite version you can download to try out. The full version has LOTS of beat options. You…

Practice Tips & Tricks: Games!

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Happy New Year! We know the new year is a great time to get a fresh start & form some new habits. So to kick off 2019, I'll be sharing a series of blog posts all about my favorite practice tools & tricks complete with tips for how to help you use them at home! Teachers & parents alike, we all know that piano practice is necessary, and sometimes the discipline to keep it going can be tricky. But many of the tools that us teachers use in lessons to make things engaging & interesting can be adapted for easy use at home so your piano kid is digging into their music in new & fun ways. This helps piano students to grow into well-rounded musicians because they develop a whole toolkit full of ways to engage with and make music.

To kick off this series, I'm going to talk about games. Gamification is an incredibly effective learning tool. Did you know that on average it takes 400 repetitions for the human brain to create a new neural pathway? BUT if we're having …