All posts tagged: piano

musical notes

All Cows Eat Grass

Most of you will know EXACTLY what I am referencing here.
If you were trained as a musician in the last 30 years, then this is most likely how you learned to read music.
If you are a musician, trained recently, and don’t know what I’m talking about, then I have to say that I am glad for you. Because this is not how to learn, or to teach, reading music.

Which came first: the rhythm or the melody?

Ah, the age-old question. The first time I realised that this was a matter of contention was when I was on a student placement (as a classroom teacher, not a music teacher). The music teacher was talking about how she never introduced pitch until Grade 3 (age 8), because children simply didn’t understand it before that. According to what she was saying, she only worked on rhythm with children in the first few years of school. Now, in her defense, she did in fact do a lot of singing with her students. What she really meant was that did not teach the western structures surrounding scales, melody and harmony. Was she right? At the time, I was horrified. And I have to say that I hope you’re a bit horrified too. Why, I wonder. You, as a music teacher yourself (or an enthusiast, anyway) will probably already have an answer. To state it plainly, to teach rhythm without any mention of melody, would be like telling a child to only eat the skin of an …

C or Do?

The title of this certainly is challenging to read. I can assure you that I do not mean ‘see or do’. The question I am asking is whether or not we call a note ‘C’ or ‘Do’, or anything else for that matter. This raises so many questions for people. We live in a world where we belong to schools of thought. Are you Kodaly trained, Orff trained, Suzuki trained? Or do those names make your eyes hurt? I have received extensive training in aural studies, sight singing and piano/music teaching. And what I have arrived at is that it is important to know what other people think, and why they think it. The programs I have listed have lasted for a reason; they are effective. So then why doesn’t everyone do it exactly the same way? The short answer to that is that music is a cultural product; it is intrinsically connected to language, communication and, in many cases, national identity. I learned the music notes as C,D,E all the way up to my …

Why singing?

I have been a piano teacher since I was 15 years old. Safe to say that my first students had to deal with my teething problems. But thankfully when I graduated school and moved, they graduated me, and got the variety we all need for a good music education. One of the regrets I have from that time is that I did not sing with my first students. Instead, I taught the way I had been taught, by playing scales, exercises and pieces. Now, more than a piano teacher, I consider myself a music teacher. Whenever you have a student, you are teaching the whole child. They might end up specialising in the instrument they happen to be studying, they might switch musical specialties, or they might pursue an entirely different career. So the question that needs to be asked is: what skills do you want to leave them with? That brings us around to singing. Apart from the fact that aural skills are part of every music examination, they are also an indispensable musical …