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Teaching tip: Preparatory Learning

Teach a very small portion of something without revealing what it's leading to. This works great with Arrangements, e.g. Soapy Dreams (Dreams #2): I teach just the LH chord shape and ask students to try it in different locations on the piano. Once everyone's got it (usually the next lesson or two), I ask them to remember a few positions for the chord: first D on bottom, the C, and go back and forth so we…

Webinar Series: 04/19/2018 – Piano – Ask Neil Anything

This webinar is driven by teacher questions. Topics range from the rationale behind some of the curriculum to supporting coaches to the future of Simply Music. Enjoy! Topics include: Intro: Funny Story About Neil (00:05) Helping Parents be ‘Requirement-Based’ (2:06) How Teachers Can Improve Their Rhythm Skills (12:55) Engaging All Students in Shared Lessons (20:04) Rationale for Repertoire of 30-40 Songs (28:13) Reason for Notation Changes in Foundation Music (31:23) Blues Songs – More Common Keys Used (33:58) Developing Our…

Webinar Series: 02/06/2018 – Piano – Becoming a Self-Generative Teacher

In this webinar you will learn the importance of developing your own self-generative skills in supporting self-generative students. Practical steps are shared with regard to how to accomplish this. Topics include: Distinction Between Receptive & Generative Skills (00:00) Importance of Supporting Self-Generative Students (05:55) Developing Yourself as a Generative Teacher (17:38) Relevance of Playlist & Long-Term Relationship Conversation (30:59) Recap - How Teachers Can Develop Generative Skills (33:51) Teacher Questions: Parents Helping Struggling Students (35:32) Transition into Development Program (38:58)…

Siblings learning at different paces

I have a group of home schooled students. Three are siblings. The oldest one catches on much quicker, and the youngest one struggles, especially with blues pieces. There is one other student in that group from a different family. If they were all different families, I would probably move the oldest and youngest ones to two different groups (assuming I had an appropriately-paced group to move them to). Since they are brother and sisters, I'm not…

Improv duet ideas

Improv duet ideas (student/teacher): 3-note improv with any blues song (G-A-Bb, G-Bb-C, C-Eb-F). Choose any of these combinations for the student to improv on while you play a blues song. 5/5, 1 on A with Night Storm Accompaniment arrangement 5/5, 1 on C with Dreams Come True Accompaniment arrangement Black notes with Life Song lower part (in Time for More Music) White notes with Honey Dew or Amazing Grace These are good for beginner students or…

Fun improvisation exercise

Today my mid-level 2 group came in and we started with a playlist check. I had them choose Level 4 songs and play something that sounded like the song name. One got Lullaby, so he played Night Storm in the upper register of the piano really softly. For Deep River, the student improvised a "river" on the black keys with the pedal down. For Squidgies, the student played a blues song and the other students improvised…

Adult student resistant to comp & improv

Any advice for an adult student who is extremely resistant to comp and improv? She hates improv every time I bring it up and stomps her feet. She does it reluctantly, though. She is also showing resistance to arrangements and is practically hitting a wall with the Fur Elise arrangement. She practices and logs her time all the time, but really digs in her heels to anything self-generative. She continually brings up the "age card" and…

Webinar Series: 05/16/2017 – Piano – Teaching Special Programs

Neil provides an overview of the background and scope of the Special Programs – one of the 3 required components of the Core Curriculum. Topics include: The Genesis (00:06) Introducing Special Programs (07:53) Fitting it All In (13:07) About Composition & Improvisation (15:35) About Arrangements (23:06) About Accompaniment (27:57) Variations vs. Arrangements (38:14) Motivating Students to Compose (39:23) Click through the video below to hear Neil discuss the previously stated topics.

Adult student reluctant to improvise

I have a student in her 50s who has rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. She had to miss her last lesson as she had a sore wrist. She told me today at her lesson that her physiotherapist told her to give up piano. She doesn't want to as she loves it. She suggested to me that the best way for her to cope with playing is to practice less and just learn songs. She doesn't want to…

Praise for Tune Toolkit

Reviewing Tune Toolkit ready to start some students. As I get my head around it and feel my enthusiasm building I want to say a couple of things. I like the rich cross pollination to core SM and the enormous help this program will be to the Comp & Improv students who are unsure, with whom I have found it so difficult to empathize and therefore teach well. I love the playful and useful use of…

Showing articles 1-10 of 61