Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Second Instrument?

This post might not be relevant to my fellow piano teacher friends and bloggers but I thought I'd share my little excitement about continuing the violin again and I am curious how many of you play a second instrument. I have always loved the sound of the violin and it's been a lifelong dream for as long as I can remember to be able to play this instrument like the soul yearns to hear. As a child, I enjoyed accompanying my father when he played the violin and always wished I could play as well as he did, envying particularly the warmth and beauty that the vibratto brings. Piano was then my main instrument and having had to practice 2-3 hours a day on top of school and homework, I realized that I had to choose between the two instruments to keep up with the workload and still do reasonably well. Since then, I have been fortunate to advance on the piano but not without a sacrifice, leaving violin music purely for listening and appreciation.
A month ago, I listened to a CD recording of Midori's Mendelssohn's Violin concerto in E minor which deeply moved me.  It got me thinking that perhaps one day I will be able to play the violin at a decent level that one might be able to appreciate.  I had incidentally played the CD for a student who needed some direction with the concept of "a musical performance" and to experience what it means to have a beautiful phrase.  I turned to violin music this time. We listened and examined a combination of  dynamics employed,  the expressive vibratto, the long lines shaping the melody and most importantly the performer's emotions that had communicated a message, eliciting a certain mood that we could both identify with. The result was astounding when we finished listening to the 1st movt. The student could instantly relate to the concept of phrasing, the rise and fall of a melody, the subtle nuances, the rubato and translate it to her piano music which made the 2nd rendition of her work quite musically sound!  It would otherwise have taken many words and still not get the point across. The way the music communicated my intent was magical!
It was then I felt an overwhelming aspiration to pick up the violin from where I left off and make a lifelong goal to work towards attaining the sound and music I would love to hear from the violin. With this new goal, I set out on a google search for tutorials and was thrilled to discover the Violin.lab created by Beth Blackerby, whom I found inspirational and understanding of the challenges that adults face when learning the violin. This website is primarily created for adult students and offers over 250 videos discussing violin techniques from beginner to advance levels. I'm excited to explore the art of playing the violin and working through online videos at this stage. I hope that with a burning desire to play this instrument and through lots of perseverance, good time management and DISCIPLINE, I will be able to get where I want to be with  the violin. Please share your story if you play a second instrument...how did you arrive at selecting the next instrument, did you pick it up in your adulthood?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Introducing Music Study Studio

It is with great pleasure to share another great blog recently created by Lacy Range from Arizona. Lacy has a beautiful site with lots of fun and creative ideas and she has just added a new post about another interesting find on the iPad
Please join me in welcoming Lacy and hop on over to Music Study Studio to say hello :) I'm sure you will all enjoy reading her posts as much as I do. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Snowman Chord Progression Chart

The snowman is indeed very popular in MYC and I'm sure my fellow MYC colleagues will be very familiar with this chart. Students are introduced to primary chords with cute little stories of snowmen and the chart above provides a visual progression of the chords when harmonizing scales. I'm planning to decorate my studio with colorful  charts (with this being the first) and a gallery showcasing the students in the 2011-2012 musical year. 
I'm glad to share this printable if anyone is interested in adding to their studio decoration or  teaching aid collection. I also have this saved in jpeg format for use with the Whiteboard app on the ipad - check under iPad resources. The turquoise bar provides some space for students to write the letter names of the scales or practice chord letter names on a given key. Enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Embraceable You

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a sweet note from a fellow MYC teacher, Charlene Valdo in Calgary along with her beautiful rendition of Gershwin's "Embraceable You" in response to my recording of Earl Wild's transcription for the piano. Charlene sang "Embraceable You" (arrangement by Dave Wolpe) with the Calgary based jazz orchestra, Estelle and recorded this song in a professional studio. She has also released the album "Only Trust Your Heart" that showcases her elegant interpretation of a wonderful collection of jazz classics.
Thank you Charlene for sharing your amazing talent. Your song is so refreshing to listen to and completely revitalizes my appreciation for the jazz genre.
I am sure this song will be enjoyed by many....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Parent Surveys

It's been a week of sunshine here and I really am enjoying the warmer weather apart from having to water my lawn! Although classes are over and it's time to relax, I can't help thinking that I should be planning and preparing for the fall when the MYC program starts up again. Looking back in the last year, I think I have been relatively successful based upon my own judgement and also having received some kind comments from families in the program. However, wouldn't it be nice to know in more detail what aspects of my studio and the program these families and students are enjoying (or not). With this information, I will be able to effectively look into the "missing holes"and brainstorm some ideas to fill the gaps and ultimately enhance the studio experience. If anything, now is the time to collect some information since summer offers me a bit of time for my personal and studio projects.
Hence, I've turned to surveymonkey.com to create an online survey. I think this feature is pretty neat in that users can create questions in a variety of formats complete with comment boxes for each question. Best of all? It's free for up to 10 questions. Users can send the survey through email or embed it right on a website.
Other advantages to online vs paper based questionaires?
  • No more creating surveys on word processing programs and forgetting where you save them
  • Create surveys with beautiful and professional looking pre-made templates
  • Convenience! Receive real time responses. Users can even get more sophisticated use of the tool to generate a report!
  • Comments are saved and accessible anytime, no more rummaging through piles of paper to get to the response you need
  • Surveys are saved on a users account so these are available as templates for future use
  • Easy and Convenient for parents, surveys can be delivered via email, through a web link, by embedding on a website or shared through facebook.
I am working on my survey and quite excited to email it out this afternoon. To encourage participation, parents will be given an entry to a draw for a Chapters or Starbucks card for each survey completed. Just curious if anyone has tried or currently using this or other tools to collect feedback from parents? If you have, I would love to hear of your experience.
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