Piano Video Log

Progress in piano study can be difficult to recognize because it is so gradual. This can sometimes feel discouraging for the student, because even though we make strides from week to week, it's not always easily measurable from the student's perspective. The best way to remedy this is to track and celebrate long term progress. Those who follow the studio on social media will know that I often share student videos. In addition to celebrating current success, these videos can also be a way of marking where we've been so at a later time students can look back and see how far they've come. But you can go further than this by keeping a video or audio journal of your child's piano progress. 

In episode 128 of the Piano Parent Podcast Shelly gives us some tips on how to keep just such a video or audio journal of a piano student's musical journey.

You can listen to the episode right here, or read the full show notes on the podcast's website

One of the added benefits of this kind of journal that Shelly highlights in the episode is when students listen back to pieces they've played, they can get some really good feedback. For example, a student may have focused on a few mistakes and thought that they ruined the entire performance, but in listening back to it, they realize that overall it sounded pretty good! This reinforces the idea that when we play through mistakes, and practice good musicianship, the audience is often not as aware of errors as we may be in the moment. On the other hand, if they thought they played it perfectly and in listening back realize that the piece doesn't sound as musical or as dynamic as they remembered, they can brainstorm how to improve that in the future. This is a good reminder that playing expressively with dynamics and phrasing is just as important to meaningful performances as getting the notes correct. 

So how to do this without adding a big task to your life? Here are some ways to easily incorporate this: 
  • Shelly recommends setting a monthly reminder to record whatever pieces your piano kid is working on at that time.
  • If your student is nervous about recording, just grab your video without making a big deal about it.
  • And absolutely record any performances along the way.
How can we use this as a tool to celebrate your piano kid's journey, and encourage further growth?
  • At the end of each season, or if they are in a little slump, sit down and watch the videos. Point out the things that were difficult at the beginning of the session, and have grown easier since then. Celebrate their achievements.
  • When watching the videos, set some goals for future growth. Do they want to get better at incorporating dynamics? Do they tend to rush their music? What would THEY like to try and improve. This teaches students to be analytical listeners, and self-motivated in their pursuit of music.
What about equipment and video storage? Shelly has some terrific suggestions for this:
  • Equipment: Just use what you have. A smart phone or tablet will do just fine. 
  • Storage: My favorite suggestion is to upload it to Youtube (if you have privacy concerns, just create a private or unlisted channel). This frees up the storage space on your devices, and has the added bonus of being easily sharable with family & friends or your teacher. Most smartphones will upload videos to Youtube directly from the photo/video gallery, so it's just as easy as uploading something to social media.
If you try keeping a video journal of your piano student's journey, I'd love to hear about it (and incidentally, so would Shelly!) So let us know if you try it and how it goes for you!