I have enjoyed creating a few simple arrangements of hymns for my students to practice.
I will be sharing several of them in this blog.
The photo included is one I took at the Riparian Park in Gilbert, Arizona.
All of the hymns I have arranged and also original hymns I have written
in the pentatonic scale include a photograph I have taken.
This blog is honoring two students that have improved their piano ability greatly, not because of their gift or talent, but because they have persisted over many years and been constant with attending every lesson! They do not even practice consistently, but they just keep on keeping on. These are students that began at age four with no inner ability at creating piano music and are now age 10 (a boy) and age 14 (a girl). To hear them play, the audience would think they are just average students. No! They have excelled beyond their natural ability – and the truly fantastic thing is they both love playing the piano. In fact, they consistently arrive with smiles on their faces. They are not related and are not even friends, but they both have positive and willing attitudes as they improve through consistent efforts their comprehension of reading, memorizing and performing skills .
Most of my students excel with talent and ability development and performing skills, but a few are on the slow, but steady boat of progress and the fast boat of musical enjoyment. I have several other students that are moving from the slow boat to the fast boat. What fun for this piano teacher to have this special opportunity.
Dr. Suzuki felt that any child could learn to play the piano by using the “mother tongue” method. I believe that, but sometimes they learn, even if imperfectly, because they never give up, but face the challenge with a positive attitude.
That is a great lesson for success in life!
For piano students who like to pound with fist and feet, this would be a great career – except it’s very limited as there are only two traveling CARILLON instruments in the United States. (Read information here and listen to samples of his music here). However, for a fun adventure , you can watch Frank Della Penna perform this amazing instrument at the Arizona Renaissance Festival every weekend through the end of March. I recommend it as supplementary education for piano students – just don’t try this on a piano or organ.
My students’ Christmas recital was a delight. My mother said, “It was as wonderful as the Christmas concert I attended last week in the Mesa performance center.” A recital creates an opportunity for a student to greatly increase skills in sight reading; memorizing; listening; creativity; musicality; dynamics; poise; self-confidence; self-acceptance and….. a desire to continue piano practice. The recital also gives a student the opportunity to receive praise, acceptance and support from family and friends. The recital is not about perfection but instead it is about learning and developing abilities that can apply to life – especially the ability to accept mistakes.
Today I couldn’t stop laughing as Mckay reached up to turn an invisible page on a newly memorized song. He is a student who would much rather be playing football than coming to a piano lesson but has a positive attitude to please his parents and teacher.
All the students are busy memorizing their songs in preparation for the Christmas recital. When practiced enough, songs seem to automatically memorize with very little effort. The memorizing skill is fun as once a song is memorized it usually becomes a favorite that is played over and over again. I have a returning student that has been in South America for 3 years and still remembers all the songs she memorized before going there.
When music is memorized it can be used to develop technical, musical, listening, and performance abilities.
The other day my darling 15 year old granddaughter said, “I wish I could play the piano like my sister – but then I’d have to practice.”
Today at lessons a little 4 year old played all the right hand of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” without any help.
Her mother’s imagination for her little one became reality due to persistence and patience.
It usually takes a lot of patience and persistence for the challenges of reality to create the sweetness of our imagination.
The young piano student is a delight to teach – this does not mean they are easy students.
Most young students already love playing the piano before ever having any lessons.
They also have very strong opinions and like to be appreciated for how smart they are.
It is a challenge for a teacher to use creative ways in order to allow the young child to develop ability.
When the parent plays piano music the child likes, such as folk tunes, a natural interest develops.
A patient parent and a patient teacher then may use many creative motivational ideas to encourage practice.
It is important to notice the positive abilities being developed: sitting position; hand and arm position;
ability to sit with hands in lap;
ability to hold hand above keyboard and wait before playing;
ability to play a long note; ability to play a short note; ability to play a few notes; then a whole song;
ability to play soft, medium and loud with musical tone; etc.
When small abilities are noticed, then it is natural to enjoy the progress of a young student.
When a parent feels their young child must be pushed and hurry to the next song and progress rapidly,
only stress can be developed.
Success with a young child occurs when their efforts are appreciated and their strong opinions are understood as developmental as well as personality traits. It is important to remember that physical ability will occur by steps and cannot be rushed – but regular, consistent practice can train the finger muscles to be used in a comfortable way and sitting with control over back muscles and feet support will insure comfort and thus increase desire to play the piano.
Listening to fine piano recordings – consistent practice (even 5 minutes) – and attention to posture of back, arms, feet are very important for the young student.
The young child should never be forced to sight read music. If sight reading is difficult, then the young child is not ready for that step. There are other wonderful ways for the young child to study piano lessons and prepare for the natural time when they are ready to read music.
A few children are ready around the age of 6 or 7 to read and enjoy, but many are not ready until 7 or 8 to really progress with reading. If the student has not had a good experience with sight reading, then they learn to hate the piano.
In my experience, the child who has careful practice and ability development with finger muscle training and posture from the very beginning is prepared to play musically. It is important for the young piano student to have parent attendance at lessons and involvement with piano practice at home. The young piano student is not ready for independence.
A child who learns to play music they listen to from the very beginning will love learning to sight read later on.
Duets are an effective way to have a student improve sight reading, timing, listening, and especially keeping the beat.
What an excellent opportunity for students to have fun and cooperate with their partner.
Duets are also a fine way to improve ability to follow instruction of teacher.
The student also learns the art of sharing performance applause.
What a great experience to improve all areas of practicing and develop ability
and keep summer practice going in a fun way to prepare for a fall recital!
This precious 3 year old has just completed her very own art project – a princess crown –
It’s logical to her to go to the piano and create princess music –
Both art ability and music ability can be developed –
Nurtured by love and effort is the method that works-
There is no deadline to create ability.