Music Christmas Crafts

Christmas is approaching so here are a couple of crafts I made for my studio.

1. Music Candle Holder - I photocopied music onto some tracing paper, wraped the paper around a glass tumbler and taped the seam. I then placed a small battery operated led light ornament inside to illuminate the music!

2. Magazine Christmas Tree - These Christmas trees were made out of old magazines. The white one was made out of Hal Leonard Level 5 Classical Themes book. I had a spare copy. Only three folds per page. Takes about 1 hour to complete each tree. I should have sprayed each tree with glue and sprinkled glitter but I think they look fine as is.

iPad App: ShowMe (Interactive Whiteboard)

This is a personal interactive whiteboard ideal for any teacher!

ShowMe allows the teacher to record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online. It’s extremely easy to use.

As soon as you open the app you can begin recording, there is no need to navigate complicated menus.

Images can be dropped from the photo library to write over or around.

It's easy to switch between drawing and erasing (as well as pausing and playing.)

You can make your tutorials as long or as short as you like, and record as many tutorials as you want.

Once you’re finished recording, you can upload your tutorial to share with the community or keep it private.

* Easily explain a range of music theory topics.
* Add tutorials to blogs and websites
* Email tutorials to students

* Use during private and group lessons

- Voice-record
- Multiple brush colors
- Pause and erase
- Import images
- Unlimited lesson length
- Easy embedding for sharing anywhere


Exercise Book Alternative

Over the last 15 years of teaching piano, I have been writing down assignments on students' notebooks. Last week I decided to change this habit and use email instead.
I have been emailing assignments to students from my iPad and it saves a lot of lesson time.

I use two iPad apps during lessons for this purpose:

1. Teacher Pal (I could write a whole post just on this app)

2. Email

I created 6 classrooms on TeacherPal. One for each day of the week I teach.

Next, I created an account for each student in each classroom. I took a photo of each student.

I then, individualized each students' account. This took ages to do but once it's all set up, only minor changes are needed week to week.

At the end of the lesson, I send a copy of my comments, suggestions and assignments to the student.

The great thing about email is that I can attach audio files to student emails. Last night, I video recorded a section of music (with iPad) that the student was playing incorrectly and attached it to his email. General knowledge information such as composer biographies can be copied and pasted straight from the internet.
This is something I would not be able to do in an exercise book!

How Mozart K448 can increase your IQ

Does listening to Mozart make you smarter? According to a landmark neuroscience research study out of the University of California, Mozart’s sonata for two pianos K448 can increase your spatial-temporal IQ scores by 9 points. While the duration of the effect on your brain is only about 10-15 minutes, the findings are nonetheless fascinating.

Spatial-temporal intelligence allows you to perform 3-D type manipulations on a mental image. It’s thought to be important for problems that arise in areas such as “mathematics, engineering, architecture, science, art, games (e.g. chess) and everyday life”.

This original study, published by Rauscher in the journal Nature, has given birth to what is now known as ‘The Mozart Effect‘. While many people have used the research to peddle exaggerated claims and products (like Mozart music tapes for parents to play in their child’s nursery), I think there is clearly something noteworthy going on with this type of music and the brain.

For example, further research shows that K448:
Significantly increases the speed & ability of rats navigating through mazes Strikingly diminishes the number of seizures in patients with epilepsy

What is so special about K448? How might it power up your brain? According to one Mozart authority, K448 is “one of the most profound and most mature of all Mozart’s compositions”.

A more scientific explanation, however, may have been uncovered by the work of Neurology Professor John Hughes. As he comments in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine:…we have found a long-lasting periodicity in the power of Mozart’s music, seen also with JS Bach and his son JC Bach. Furthermore we have just analyzed the melodic line and find that Mozart repeats his melodic line far more frequently than other well-known composers, but often in an ingenious manner reversing the notes. We feel that periodicity is the key or secret here and characterizes many brain and bodily functions.

In other words, Mozart’s K448 is characterized by a high degree of long-term periodicity. The music cycles, with elements recurring at regular intervals.

While I do think that certain types of music can have interesting and significant effects on brain function, I do not believe merely listening to Mozart can drive long term gains in brain power. (And if you look at the findings of the original ‘Mozart Effect’ research paper, the authors never claimed such).

Click here to listen to Mozart K448.

iPad App: Music Cubes and Music Tones

This morning I found a couple of free apps (Music Cubes and Music Tones) for my iPad.

Music Cubes is a music memory game where you have to memorize pitch patterns.
Music Tones is where you identify notes on the treble and bass staves.

I'm going to use Music Cubes with my 7th grade piano students to help them prepare for the memorization test in the aural section of the exam.

Music Tones will be great for students just learning to identify notes on the treble and bass staves.

I plan to have a lot of fun with these two apps with my students.

Teaching Rhythm

I was in Bunnings hardware store and found a useful way of using paint sample cards to teach rhythm. These sample cards are free so I asked if I could take 5-6 of each color. It took nearly an hour just to get the cards.

I bought some sparkly colored number stickers ($1.50 per pack) and stuck the numbers on the paint cards to form various time signatures. I taped the cards together to form a cube.

There are two other cubes made in the same way:
1. BEAT: crotchet, quaver, dotted crotchet, minim
2. PULSES: quaver and semiquaver

Then, I made number cards (1-12) to represent quaver pulses. I just stuck the number stickers directly onto smaller sized paint cards and numbers 1-4 on some clear cream bottle tops I found in my cupboard. These represent the beats.

Here are some pictures of the finished product and how to use:

Crayola Dry Erase Activity Centre - My New Toy!

I was in K-Mart yesterday and found the most amazing new teaching toy for my studio. I was so excited that people around me thought I was a bit weird. Anyway, it's called 'Crayola Dry Erase Activity Centre'.

The Dry Erase Activity Centre has a pocket on the side that allows the teacher to slip a worksheet inside and then use a dry erase marker on the top surface.
I will certainly be using this in my private studio and in the primary school I teach at.

Cost: $18.00 AUD

General Knowledge Worksheets (AMEB Theory Grade 4)

There are 5 worksheets in this collection:
1. Vocal Ranges (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass)
2. String Tunings (Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass)
3. Baroque Ornaments
4. Baroque Suite (Speed and Time)
5. Baroque Suite (Characteristics)

Print on stiff white paper and place in clear plastic pockets or you may wish to laminate it. Students can use dry erase markers to fill-in the worksheets.


Intervals Worksheet (AMEB Theory of Music - Grade 1)

This worksheet (DOWNLOAD HERE) can be used by teachers to revise over intervals.

Students and teachers should note that only 3 keys (C,G and F major) will be examined in this grade (AMEB Theory of Music First Grade).

The most common mistake in writing intervals above given notes in this grade is forgetting to place a sharp in front of F above G and a flat before B above F.
C major causes no problems.

Matters of the Heart

It's so nice and comforting to know that students and parents appreciate all the things a teacher does.

Last night, I was presented with some home-made chocolate biscuits which were so beautifully presented. My heart just melted.

It's thoughts and actions like these that really encourages me to to do the very best for my students.

I feel so lucky that I have the opportunity to work with such amazing families and students.

The cookies were delicious!

Just cleaning out my sticker draw and found this. This lovely sticker set was given to me by Kloe. Kloe was my last student tonight and we (Kloe, Kloe's mum and I) had such a great time playing Interval Towers.

Triads Worksheet (Theory of Music - AMEB Grade 3)

This worksheet was created for my (Australian Music Examinations Board) Grade 3 Theory of Music Class.

A lot of my students forget to raise the leading note in minor dominant triads (root position and first inversion) so this worksheet was a result of this common error.

I use this worksheet to revise over triads during lesson time so it's easier to make copies and laminate it. Students use a dry erase marker to complete the worksheet. I re-use these with other students and classes.

Feel free to use this worksheet. Click here to download.

Organized Music Collection

Having an organized studio helps save valuable lesson time. My books/CD's are all in order so it's easy to find during lessons and no time is wasted searching.

I have loaded all my CD's on my laptop which sits on top of the piano. It's now very simple to play a recording for a student. No more going to the CD library, inserting the CD etc...

I store all my flash cards in a door shoe rack. It's so easy to find as one pocket stores one set of flash cards. I have yet to put labels on the front of each pocket.

Brahms Rhapsody in B minor Op.79 No.1

I am currently learning this piece for fun and what a challenge it has turned out to be! It is expected to be finished by the end of next month (July 2011). I'm rewarding myself with an Ipad 2 once completed.

Classical Connect - Free classical music online

General Knowledge and Technical Work

General Knowledge: I printed out on yellow paper the most common questions asked by AMEB examiners on piano examination day. I cut them in the shape of stars. When it's time for general knowledge during a lesson, I ask the student to select a star and answer the question printed on the star. Depending on time, the aim is to answer all 18 questions correctly. I also place transparency paper over the top of the students sheet music and ask student to mark the form and all modulations using whiteboard markers (Crayola Dry Erase is the best!!).

Technical Work: I divided all the exam technical work (AMEB) for each grade into groups (A, B, C, D etc...) and printed them out on colored paper and laminated it. Each week I choose a group to check. For example, this week was group B, next week will be group C etc... Over a period of 1 month, all technical work is checked. I make a note of which technical work a student is having trouble with and check that one each week until it's fixed. I set many challenges with these problem scales such as:

1. Play the scale from memory once correctly.
2. Be able to play the scale in contrary motion
3. Play a four octave version of this scale.
4. Play the scale that covers the entire keyboard.
5. Play the scale three times in a row without error.
6. Play the scale 10 times in a row without error,
7. Play the scale 25 times correctly within a 3 minute time limit.
8. Play the scale for 3 minutes continuously without a single mistake.
9. Play the scale in front of a total of six different people.
10. Start the lesson with this scale , no mistakes, first attempt.
11. Play the scale super-slow with no mistakes at 60bpm, 4 beats per note.
12. Commentate the scale by describing the notes and fingering of the entire scale without actually playing it.
13. Play the scale in splat cluster.
14. Play the scale with eyes closed.
15. Play the scale on a tabletop.
16. To play a piece in the key of the scale in question.
17. Collect 250 octaves of this scale.

I have plenty more such as playing scales in various rhythms, articulations, dynamics, ratio, balance, interval, contrary and cacophony of other twists.

Whole-Step and Half-Step Sprint

Students having a bit of fun towards the end of a theory class playing Whole-Step and Half-Step Sprint. What a fun way to learn all about tones and semitones!


Interval Tower Game

I was so excited when I found this game online and could not wait to try it out with my students.

Each student had to draw an interval card, identify the interval and then add the number of blocks to his or her tower. The next person does the same.

They played back and forth until all of the blocks were used or one of the students tower topples.

If all the blocks were used, the student with the highest tower at the end wins.

The interval cards are available here DOWNLOAD.