Piano Blog

A piano teacher's notes and successes!

Parent Meeting 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 by Becky Brouwer | Parents

Here is the presentation from the parent meeting held on October 3, 2018. We shared ideas about helping your children be motivated to practice and what practice really is and why it is important. I hope these notes are useful to you.

Parent Piano Meeting

September Musical Notes

Friday, September 1, 2017 by Becky Brouwer | Newsletter

Hello Musical Families!

I am excited to have you join our musical family! I have heard most of you play and you are embarking on your first week of practice with great goals and direction with your musical education. I plan to send out musical notes once a month and focus on a different time in history and composer from that period. We will start with the Baroque Period which included musicians such as Johann Sebastian Bach, François Couperin, George Frideric Handel, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Domenico Scarlatti and Georg Philipp Telemann. All the Baroque Period composers lived during 1600-1750. 

Elaborate detail, powdered wigs, ruffles and jewels were characteristic of the Baroque period. In music they were fond of ornamentation like trills, mordents and turns. Piano music during this time period was not played on a piano. In fact they didn't even know what a piano was, it hadn't been invented. They played on an instrument called a clavichord or harpsichord. Clavichords produce a small, delicate sound. They were played mainly in salons and at dinner parties. Most musicians in great halls played on a harpsichord which were louder with a bigger sound. Notice that the harpsichord also has the color of the keys backwards! Black where there is white on a piano.

Clavichord

Harpsichord


Music in the baroque period was played in polyphonic texture. This music often has a right and left hand melody playing against each other or rather in a two or three way conversation. Baroque period music is also often written in binary form with an A and a B part of the song. Much of the music was written in as a dance of the day like a minuet, gavotte, gigue, polonaise, march, bourse and courante. Preludes were written to be played before another piece as the name implies.

Have your children listen to music by J.S. Bach this month. Also, have them listen to this great show about Bach on Classics for Kids.  Access the link here: Classics for Kids J.S. Bach

Music to listen to by J.S. Bach

Anna Magdalena Notebook - Bach put this together for his wife Anna Magdalena

Anna Magdalena Notebook on harpsichord - I prefer a piano, but this is probably how it sounded to Bach!

Concerto for 4 pianos - This is an amazing recording with 4 of the greatest pianists of our age.

The Well-Tempered Clavier - I love this recording. Although not very harpsichord like, it is very calming

There are lots of recordings of Bach. Try to listen to a few this month. At Master Class on Tuesday, September 26th at 4:00 or 5:00pm we will be talking more about the Baroque period and J.S. Bach. Be sure to sign up! There will be prizes for those who can answer questions about the Baroque period. 


Spring Carnival Recital 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017 by Becky Brouwer | Recital

Our Spring Carnival Recital was great fun! The kids enjoyed earning tickets as an incentive through music practice and performance. We let the guests and students earn more tickets before the recital by playing fun music games. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and brought nerves down quite a bit. After the concert, the kids could use their tickets to play carnival games and to buy fabulous prizes! Although the performing was the best piece, the other fun aspects made this recital one of our best!

Games to earn tickets:

One-minute challenge - They just had to improve their score to earn a ticket. They had to go through a stack of 20 flashcards and name them correctly in one minute. We counted up how many they went through for their score. I generally do this at the piano for them to find the notes as well at the keyboard.

Sing my melody - Player one would sing a melody and player two would repeat it. This was a great one for the younger siblings.

Clap my rhythm - This was similar to "sing my melody" with clapping rhythms.

Sing the interval - Player one would sing an interval. I had a list of songs that would help them figure out what the interval sounded like. Player two would indicate which interval it was.

Step or Skip? - I had a white board with a staff on it. Player one would write a series of steps and skips and player two would name if they were skips or steps

Line or Space note? - I had another pack of flashcards that the kids would go through and name if they were space or line notes. This was also a great one for the non-musical younger siblings.

Carnival games:

Penny Toss - I made a target on the floor that the kids could toss pennies at. I gave them about 10 pennies to try to get a bullseye.

Thank you mamaslikeme.com

Ball Toss - I had a piece of cardboard that I painted and hot glued cups to. I bought some plastic golf balls to have the kids toss into the cups.

Thank you mamaslikeme.com

Sock Toss - This was just some rolled up socks that the kids tossed into a laundry hamper.

Ring Toss - This was just a simple ring toss over a cone. I made the rings out of paper plates that I cut a circle out of the middle

Fishing - I made a fishing rod from a pvc pipe and yarn and a clothespin. I had someone at the bottom of our atrium hooking pieces of candy to play this game.

The prizes were divided by number of tickets needed. I had a drawer full of little prizes like pencils, balls and plastic rings for 10 tickets, then there were bigger prizes like plastic balls that lit up, a whoopee cushion that was highly sought after, notebooks, candy bars and other little toys. They went up in price to 50 tickets. The kids loved shopping at the store and exchanging their prizes.

I'm afraid I don't have many photos from the carnival portion of our concert. I didn't have a designated photographer and was caught up in chatting with parents. 

If I were to do it again, I would have less games or more helpers. This would be a great group activity if you have enough musical helpers to play the games. I have a very small studio. I wouldn't try this with more than 10 students at a time unless you have a huge space and lots of help. I also wanted to provide cotton candy, but it was a little expensive, so we opted for popcorn. I think cotton candy would be a great addition as well as a clown or someone to make balloon creations. The prizes got a little carried away too. I would probably put someone in charge and have a policy of no returns or exchanges! :)

I love having themed parties. I got a degree in Recreation Management and love planning these events and making them fun for the kids. The best reward is when a child tells me. "I love this! Piano is fun!"