Monday, March 12, 2018

Group piano class

I was feeling badly that my younger students hadn't had a performance opportunity over the holidays.  The Frederick County Music Teachers Association hosted a Holiday Recital in December, but none of my kids were available.  In the past, I have hosted a Twelfth Night party for my kids in early January, giving them an opportunity to play what they've worked so hard to master in December, as well as a reason to continue to practice over the Christmas break.  Again, I picked a date that was already filled on my students' (parents') calendars. 

So finally, before the spring break rush, I scheduled a piano class, just for the kids, no parents (my house is too small).  I haven't done a group lesson in many, many years.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  We had a good turnout, only one student had a conflict this time around.  Everyone had at least one relatively polished piece to perform, after which we talked about the difficult sections, the techniques involved to make the music interesting for both the performer and the audience.  We then reviewed scales, everyone showing whatever scales they knew, and naming the key signature, after which we made scale chains.  Black and white beads, indicating the notes of the C Major and G Major scales (so far).  We will add more beads as everyone learns new scales.  (An aside - I've been doing this little craft for years, and have bought alphabet beads for the whole alphabet.  How happy I was to find individual letter beads on!  I only need to buy A-G ever again.) 

I think everyone enjoyed the event.  My 2 students yesterday brought their scale chains back, in anticipation of adding new beads.  I need to find a way to display them, so the incentive stays current.  Did I say I ended the group lesson with cookies and soda?  I've been enjoying the cookies myself -- most of the kids told me they don't like sweets!  Maybe I'll serve veggies and dip next time?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Looking ahead

I've done it.  I'm committed.  Summertrios, look out, 'cause here I come.  I'm coming back in June!  Some of my earliest posts were about going to Summertrios, summer music camp for adults.  That was 2010, and I'm so excited to be able to go back this summer.

I like to give myself these challenges every now and again.  I like to convince myself that yes, I can, like the Little Engine that Could, and I like to put myself in my students' shoes, being the performer, to remember those nerves so I can still relate.  Nice thing about being a private teacher, I don't have to perform, and I went through a phase when I couldn't.  I just didn't have the wherewithal to git 'er done.  The clincher was subbing at a church  one Sunday morning a few years ago.  The choir director insisted I play the hymns at her tempo, which was much faster than I had imagined.  And during the offertory, my music blew off the music stand and no one came to my rescue!  I had to fake it.  I was a wreck.  I think I'm on the other side of that phase now, I've had more opportunities to play for others and succeeded, and I am thoroughly enjoying the process of learning this new music.

I've been working on Beethoven's Piano Trio No. 1 in c minor.  I've been working for a few months already.  And I've got most of it.  A few tricky spots still have my fingers a bit tangled, but I am working through them.  These next few months, I need to learn another trio (! that was a surprise to me, as if one trio wasn't enough) and work on the subtle nuances of the Beethoven.  I've listened to it a few times on YouTube, different performing artists, different settings.  My biggest struggle will be the tempo -- it flies by!  But I sit down just about every day, and review, and dissect, and play, and it's coming together.