Sheet Music by Students for Students

What can I say?  I feel like the luckiest piano teacher alive!  

Lately, my studio seems to be bursting  at the seams with creative talent.  This summer, a number of my students caught the composition bug (Luckily, there is no fever or cough involved!) and these kids show no signs of slowing down yet.  This included brothers, ages 6 and 10, who had so much fun working on their compositions they wanted to make them available for the rest of the studio to enjoy too.  As I often say…

The joy of music is meant to be shared! 

Two wonderful new pieces entitled “The French Horn” and “Steamboat” are now available for download from the student portal.  I’m so proud of these students for being brave and putting their work out there. Now who’s ready to make some music? ☺

Chelsea’s Summer Entertainment Guide

Need something to satisfy your musical cravings this summer?  Wondering how you’ll ever survive these next two months without your favorite piano teacher? 😉 Fear not, for this guide is sure to keep any music-lover happy this summer!  From cool websites and apps, to movies and TV, to live performances at local venues, there’s a little something to please everyone.  You’ll have so much fun, it’ll be fall again before you know it!


Local Venues

SPAC

SPAC is a world-class performance venue in our hometown where you can hear everything from classical greats like Holst, to Billboard Top 40 artists like Halsey.  Piano students won’t want to miss Carnival of the Animals on August 9th featuring Lucas and Arthur Jussen in a thrilling piano duo alongside the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Music students can even save 20% off ticket prices with a special discount code.

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Skidmore College

Every summer, high-caliber musicians from around the world flock to the Arthur Zankel Music Center at beautiful Skidmore College.  Whether you’re enrolled at the college or simply consider yourself  a student of the world, you can catch first-rate performances without having to pay first-class prices, or often any admission at all.  Be sure to check out performances by the Skidmore Jazz Institute and the illustrious DeCoda chamber music ensemble before the summer is over!

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Proctors Theater

Watching musical performances, Broadway tours, and comedy shows in the historic Proctors Theater is a treat well worth the drive to nearby Schenectady, NY.  Just be sure to reserve your seats early because tickets sell out fast!

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Film & TV

Florence Foster Jenkins

Based on a true story, this film depicts the hilarious and heart-warming tale of a wealthy patron of the arts and amateur soprano who was widely regarded as the world’s worst opera singer.  Starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant.  Free with Amazon Prime.  (PG-13)

 

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Amadeus

This dramatic comedy celebrates the life, music, and eccentric genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Since sweeping the 1985 Academy Awards with eight wins and three nominations, Amadeus has deservingly earned the status of a cult classic, prompting the release of a director’s cut of the film in 2002.  Available to rent through Amazon Prime.  (PG – Theatrical Release, 1984; R – Director’s Cut, 2002)

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Mozart in the Jungle (TV)

Despite its name, this award-winning TV show explores a wide of breadth of musical periods and styles from Mozart, to Messiaen, and Mazzoli.  The show follows members of the New York Symphony after their long-time conductor is replaced by an eccentric young man whose unorthodox methods and celebrity-like status defies the traditions of the classical world.  Many real-life classical musicians have made cameos on the show including LA Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel, violinist Joshua Bell, pianist Lang Lang, and composer Caroline Shaw.   Free with Amazon Prime.  (TV-MA)

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Websites & Apps

Tonic Tutor

Lessons may be over, but your Tonic Tutor games will be available all summer long!  Keep your theory and aural skills sharp by playing your favorite Tonic Tutor games, or use Tonic Tutor’s messaging service to stay in touch.  (Ages 4+)

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Clapping Music App

Put your rhythmic skills to the test with this addicting game set to Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music.”  No music reading is required, simply follow along with the colored dots.  Be warned, it’s harder than it sounds!  While this game is safe for children, the level of difficulty is better suited for teens and adults.  (Ages 4+)

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Vox Pop

Motion graphics artist and music enthusiast, Estelle Caswell, delivers a fascinating series of videos that explore topics in contemporary music such as “How a Recording Studio Mishap Shaped ’80s Music”, “How Sign Language Interpreters Are Bringing Music to the Deaf”, and “Why We Really, Really, Really Like Repetition in Music.”  Please note that the songs featured in Vox Pop videos are uncensored, and some may include profanity or other content that is not appropriate for young viewers.

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Books

Musicophila: Tales of Music and the Brain

Imagine becoming a piano prodigy after being struck by lightning or a having a 7-second memory for everything except for music!  In this enthralling book, neurologist Oliver Sacks unveils the mysteries behind these real-life case studies, and more.

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Star Charts

At the beginning of the school year, I introduced a new sticker chart system to reward my young students for their hard work.  Each week, students have an opportunity to earn stars by following instructions on their practice sheets, completing theory games, or by going above and beyond on their assignments.  So far, the chart system has been a huge hit! My students have been working extra hard to earn their stars, and a few have already been awarded the coveted “three-star” prize.  Now, I’ll do a happy dance for that any day! 🙂

Star Opportunity #1

1. Brought practice sheet to the lesson.

2. Checked off one or more practice days.

3. Correctly performed one or more prep-steps picked at random from practice sheet.

Star Opportunity #2

1. Completed weekly Tonic Tutor assignment.

2. Completed any additional homework assignments.

Star Opportunity #3

1. Exceeded expectations by a significant amount.

2. Teacher was shrieking with delight.

3. We all jumped up and started dancing.

 

 

 

 

How to be an A+ Student from the Start- Part 2

Are you taking lessons for the first time? Resuming lessons after a hiatus? Getting ready to switch over from another studio? In this blog series, I’ll discuss some tips and tricks to help you be successful right from the start!


Go to lessons even if you haven’t practiced.

Why: If you’ve ever taken lessons before, then you’re probably familiar with this scenario:

You love piano music and enjoy playing but your practice record tells a very different story. The week flies by and before you know it, it’s time to go to your lesson again. You’ve had no time to prepare, so you rack your brain for a solution. You could skip the lesson and try to do better next week, but what if you still can’t break through your practice rut? You’ve always had a passion for music, but your present lack of motivation makes you wonder if you’re cut out to be a musician after all. Maybe–gasp!–you even consider quitting lessons!

If you find yourself unmotivated or routinely skipping practice, then seeing your teacher is more important than ever! In most cases, students who don’t practice nevertheless continue to show a high level of interest in music making. As your teacher, I’d be doing you a huge disservice if I let you give up on something you love!

How: Learning to play piano can be great fun but it also takes work. Moreover, this work is often very isolating. Whatever your reasons for not practicing, they’re much easier to overcome when you have a teacher on your side. Chances are, whatever struggle you’re working through is one I’ve encountered before too. While it may be tempting to skip lessons, the best thing you can do is come to me for help.

Since you’re on your own for the other 167 hours of the week, start embracing your inner teacher. Consider how Teacher-You might address another student’s lack of practice. Would you offer an extrinsic reward, make a checklist, or set a practice timer? Would you respond with kindness and encouragement or discipline and tough love? Whatever the reasons for your practice rut, putting yourself in the teacher’s role can help you gain perspective on the situation and propel you into problem-solving mode!


How to Be an A+ Student From the Start- Part 1

How to Be an A+ Student from the Start–Part 1

Are you taking lessons for the first time? Resuming lessons after a hiatus? Getting ready to switch over from another studio? In this blog series, I’ll discuss some tips and tricks to help you be successful right from the start!


Treat your music with care and remember to bring it every time!

Why: Although my music library is constantly growing, I don’t always have extra copies on hand. Also, chances are your score has been marked up with finger numbers, corrections, or other comments. These markings help me keep track of your progress and address your weaknesses more efficiently. Additionally, failure to work from the same score can create inconsistencies in your practicing. This in turn will slow your progress and leave you frustrated. Piano is challenging enough with the proper music; so don’t let this problem become a roadblock on your path to success!

How: The solution is simple: Stay organized and keep everything in the same place. For most of you, a 3-ring binder is essential since you will receive handouts on a fairly regular basis. Similarly, if you’re the parent of an early elementary student, your child will likely have multiple books to keep track of every week. In this case, it’s helpful to store your books in a carrying tote or bag when not in use. If you make it into a habit now, you’ll be ready to grab and go on lesson days!


How to Be an A+ Student from the Start–Part 2