Author Archives: Susan Paradis

So You Want to Play the Piano? by Melanie Spanswick

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Melanie Spanswick is an English concert pianist, presenter, adjudicator, author, composer, and music educator. That is the short list! She has also written many articles for music publications and has given presentations and lectures on learning how to play piano.

To this list of outstanding achievements, she has written a book , So You Want To Play the Piano?.

This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in piano lessons for themselves or a family member. It is extremely comprehensive and includes everything you could possibly want to know about piano lessons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book quite like this, and anyone considering piano lessons should use this book as a resource.

An important chapter is how to find the appropriate piano teacher. She explains the confusing diplomas and degrees that teachers may obtain, as well as the conservatory system, such as the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and others.

The next chapter discusses popular method books and basic music theory. Melanie uses both the UK and North American music vocabularies. She reviews method books in detail and also discusses other music education methods such as Kodály, Orff, and Suzuki.

The book continues with detailed chapters on piano basics, technique, exams, festivals, and competitions. There is an entire chapter on technique with good photographs to explain the concepts.

One of the best things about this book is the extensive lists Melanie includes. There are lists of resources for everything she writes about including websites, methods, conservatories, examining boards in 8 countries, composers, publications, and more. It is a treasure trove of resources!

So You Want to Play Piano? is aimed for potential students, but it is a great reference book for beginning teachers who are starting a studio.  As an experienced teacher,  I found it contains helpful information including what to discuss at student interviews.

This book is currently published by Alfred UK and will soon be published in the U.S. by Alfred Publishing. You can read more about Melanie at www.melaniespanswick.com

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Filed under Pedagogy Book Reviews, Teaching Business

Steal A Heart – A Valentine Game Revised

StealaHeart

Steal A Heart Game

I created this game about five years ago for a group class I had near Valentine’s Day. It was an older group with middle school and high school age students. I told them it was a game to test them on the dreaded ledger line notes! But I also included all the notes so I could use it with more students.

They had a lot of fun playing it, stealing the same cards back and forth and trying to figure out the really hard ledger lines. They laughed a lot and I was glad that I had a game this group enjoyed.

There were really only two problems with this game in the original form:

  • It used a whole lot of red ink.
  • I could never remember the rules!

With that in mind and with Valentine’s coming up, I remade it. I cut the amount of red ink by about 80%. If  you don’t want to use all the difficult ledger line cards, you don’t have to print them because they are on a separate page. And the game directions are included in the PDF file, so you can print them and keep it with the game.

I hope these revisions will encourage more teachers to try it. It works well with any age student and it is lots of fun.

It can also be modified for use in a private lesson.

Objective

  • To review the names of notes on the grand staff.
  • To learn identify ledger line notes in the bass and treble staves.

Materials

  • Print a game board for each player.
  • Print and cut the small note cards along the dotted lines.

Directions

  • Place a stack of the little heart cards face down in reach of everyone.
  • The first player draws a  card, names the note, and places the card on an empty heart on his/her game board.
  • Give students time to figure out the note.
  • If a student draws a “Steal a Heart” card, he may take a heart card from the game board of the person on his right, but he must name the note he is stealing.
  • If he draws a “Be Mine” card, he puts it over a card he has already placed on his board to protect it, and then draws another card. The other players cannot steal a card that is “protected”  with the “Be Mine” card.
  • If the player draws a “Give my Heart” card, he gives one of his cards to the player on his right, who must name the card before he can accept it.
  • Feel free to modify the rules or change the way the game is played.

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Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Intermediate Students, Valentine's Day

Droid Key Signatures

DroidKeysSigs

Droid Key Signatures

Happy New Year everyone! As the New Year starts, I want to thank everyone for your support. Without you, this website would not be possible and I sincerely appreciate all you do to help out.

Today I am posting 2 worksheets. These were made for students ages 9 to 11.

I wanted to make a worksheet to review key signatures, but it needed to be a little special, not just another boring worksheet. So I thought of the idea of making a secret code for some of the famous quotes from Star Wars.

IMPORTANT:  When you use this, don’t tell them the quotes are from Star Wars! If you do, and they have seen the original Star Wars movie, they will fill out the missing letters without bothering to fill in the key signatures. Don’t ask me how I know this. Let me just say that I test everything out with my students!

The first worksheet includes the major keys of C,G,D,A,E,B and F. The second worksheet contains C,G,D,A,E, plus F, B flat, E flat, and A flat.  Be sure to encourage students to put the flat sign on the keys B flat, E flat, and A flat. It doesn’t help solve the message, but it is important they get used to adding the flats. I ask my student what if they are playing in a band and the key is E flat, but they wrote down E. And then I play Jingle Bells with one hand in the key of E and the other in E flat!

This turned out to be a fun way to review key signatures! I hope your students like it, too!

 

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Filed under Theory, Worksheets

Ornament Interval Worksheet

OrnamentIntervals2nd-8ve

Ornament Intervals 2nd to Octave

Here is the last ornament worksheet I will have time to make this year. Thanks very much to Peggy for proofing it for me!

FYI, if you have some students who are looking for Hanukkah worksheets, I made some a few years ago and you might want to check them out.

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Texas State Theory Test, Worksheets