Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why I'm Invisible These Days....

    I'm pretty invisible these days because.....

    I am taking another exam soon!  Yeah, I know I'm crazy....

    So, some of you know I took my Advanced Rudiments exam in December, and passed with a happy 95%!  I guess I was on a roll, because in January I started back with my amazing teacher, Peggy Craig (Instructor at Mount Allison) with the Royal Conservatory's History 1 course.  My exam choices boiled down to either May or August.

     Seriously, who wants to spend the summer cramming while everyone else is swimming, biking, sunning, gardening, and all sorts of other things that end with "ing!?"  NOT ME.  So May it is, which leaves me with about 6 weeks left to get ready for this. For those of you who think that sounds like a long time, it's not. I have been in "information overload" mode for weeks and still don't quite know how it's all going to come together for me.  My teacher tells me that hardly anyone gets an A on this one....hmmm, knowing that fact really takes the pressure off, eh? Not. ;)

     So, although I'm busy teaching and learning, much of it will have to be invisible until this history cloud passes by. :)

     Have any of you taken this History exam? Did you find it hard? Any tips on helping all those facts come together in your mind?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Salty Notes Practice Game


I have an unusual number of students who play by ear.  One of them is a young girl who reminds me so much of myself when I was her age!  She spends hours playing on her piano at home- improvising, making up arrangements…..just using her ear to her heart’s content.  My goal with such students is to balance their skills by bringing their eye skills to match or even exceed those of their ears.

Students who are strong in ear often have trouble connecting the note position on the staff with the actual piano keys.  A drill to learn where notes are on the piano is sometimes a waste of time. But  they need  lot of reinforcements on the staff. 

Enter the “Salty Notes” game, which was actually inspired by Pinterest.  The original pinner used it to review ABCs with Kindergarten students in a school setting.  When I saw the picture, I immediately thought “That would be GREAT for piano students too!”  So here is my version of this game, created especially with my dear “ear” students in mind.


I half-filled a sturdy tray (actually the top of one of those heavy board photo boxes) with salt.  Why did I use salt?  Because I knew my little students would be tempted to eat the game! Open-mouthed smile


On one end of the box, I attached one of my nifty curly paper clips, to hold the flashcards.


Here’s how to play:
Teacher puts a card in the clip, and student writes the letter of that note as quickly as possible. There are many variations for playing this game. Last night I did all treble notes, then all bass notes, then treble and bass combined. Once the student got the hang of it, I put the timer on to add a bit or pressure. 

The only complaints I had were from students who didn’t like the feeling of salt in their fingernails…..maybe they wouldn’t mind so much if it were sugar, eh?! Smile  Over all, it was a winner, and one I’ll keep handy for some impromptu note review!

Have you designed any new teaching aides/games lately? Leave a comment and share them!