Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How To Do The One Minute Club

The One Minute Club is not easy and should be reserved for 2nd year+ students. First year students will start strong, but quickly become frustrated when they cannot juggle all the notes in combination.

CLICK HERE for links to charts, etc.

Thanks to Anne Crosby Gaudet for her flashcard photos- taken from her ipad goodies page
Thanks to Susan Paradis for her new 2013  One Minute Club Membership Card

Level 1: (C's) When the student practices,
they should name and play each note on the piano.
Middle C
Low C
Face C
High C

When the student is timed the following week, they only play each letter without naming it. If the student can do this in under 60 seconds, they can progress to Level 2.

(Finger numbers shown on some cards are not used for the One Minute Club and should be ignored here)
Middle C

Level 2: (F's) Follow instructions as above. When student is timed the following week- they must play BOTH level 1 and level 2 cards in order to to progress to Level 3. The cards are shuffled and presented at random.

Incidentally, I use the following sentences:

Treble Clef line notes: Empty Garbage Before Dad Flips
Treble Clef Space Notes: F A C E

Bass Clef Line Notes: Garfield Bit Dad's Foot Again
Bass Clef Space Notes: All Cows Eat Grass

Face F

Low F
Level 3: (D's) Follow instructions above, but when the student is timed, they must play Level 1, 2, and 3 cards combined and shuffled- in under 60 seconds in order to progress to Level 4.

Level 4: (G's) Here is where it becomes its a good thing to have easy G's right about now! The student really must be reminded that they should be drilling these every day if they expect to get them in under 60 seconds! Remember, in practice they should be naming the notes while playing them.

Level 5: (B's)
The student plays all the C's, F's, D's, G's, and B's in under 60 seconds
to progress to Level 6. If they have difficulty and are unable to do this in under 60 seconds, praise the student for what they were able to do and encourage them to just keep drilling! This really does take daily drilling to master.

Level 6: (A's and E's) Here is the final push to complete all 7 letters of the music alphabet. All 6 levels are shuffled together and presented at random. Completing level 6 can take several weeks. Once the student can do Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 combined in 72 seconds, I move their name to the chart that tracks their time down to 60 seconds. But they must do 60 seconds three times in succession. (This can be over several weeks). More advanced students can enjoy getting the lowest time score possible. Last year, my student's fastest score was 42 seconds!

Club Members receive a Membership Card and a $3.00 Menchie's Gift Card.
Club Members also receive the following-
At my Double Scoop Recital in April, the One Minute Club members get a special treat. At the Awards Recital (end of the year), my One Minute Club members wear a lei and get another special treat.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A whole lot of practicing going on!

Practice chains have been a regular feature in my studio for 2 years now. They have really changed how my students and their parents view daily home practice. The beads don't represent how many minutes or hours my student claimed to have practiced, or a quickly dashed off signature of parents just before the lesson, but they are in fact a rating of how well the students could demonstrate their daily home practice to me in their lessons. 

Several of my students are consistently receiving the highest rating of 5 each and every week this year. This means they not only did their entire assignment perfectly, but they blew me away in the lesson- playing even better than I expected. Its really exciting to see these students progress so much over the past 2 years. And even more exciting is seeing how their ability to play more easily results in more practice. Isn't amazing what daily practice can accomplish? 

Here is how the beads work-

5 beads- (A+) The student was not only prepared, but they “hit it out of the ball park”. Lesson progress exceeded teacher expectation. Student worked ahead.

4 beads- (A) The student did very well and was prepared for the lesson. 
They were able to demonstrate progress through home practice and were also able to demonstrate that they understood what was expected and followed through with that expectation.

3 beads- (B) Although the student may have practiced, improvement is desired. The student may not have followed specific practice instructions given on the assignment sheet, or the student did not practice the suggested period of time each day. The student may have forgotten to complete the assignment as directed. Progress was limited and home practice can be improved.

2 beads- (C) The student was not completely prepared for the lessons. 
They failed to complete some or all of the assigned material or failed to demonstrate acceptable progress through home practice. They may have practice only what came easily to them.

1 bead- (D/F) The student did not complete the assignments in an acceptable manner and was unprepared for the lesson. Home practice was not evident based on their ability to play the assigned material. Continued and persistent lack of observable progress will require a 
parent/teacher conference.

Our practice chains are looking great! 
What a wonderful motivator these have been for my students!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Yes, Times Have Changed

I love reading LaDona's Blog - she always posts what I call philosophical "food for thought". Today, she posted a cartoon of how times have changed for the poor beaten down music student and the knuckle-breaking music teacher. So true, LaDona! I think the only students who could still relate to that teacher in the cartoon are the students of Abby Lee Miller (Dance Moms). I'm so glad teaching styles have changed and piano lessons are now fun with additions like exciting recitals, games in the studio, supportive words from a teacher, and lots of parental encouragement at home.  

My thoughts went immediately to the cartoons posted above- I couldn't agree more, that times HAVE changed and this is not only true for that poor teacher above, but also true for piano teachers. These days, there some parents who blame the teacher for the lack of effort on the part of the student and in effect, teach their child to externalize blame.

Preparing for a piano lessons is alot like preparing for a college course. Your grade is really entirely contingent on the work you put into the subject OUTSIDE of class. Graduate-level college courses are really just meeting places to hear the professor lecture on the topic. But then you go off and read about it, research it, and learn, learn, learn-- on your own, in the library, mostly. And when next week's class is held, you are prepared to discuss the topic in an intelligent knowledgeable manner. 

Its a shame when a student comes to piano lessons unprepared and cannot even remember what the topic was last week, let alone demonstrate what they worked on during the week. How will these children ever progress beyond that of beginner? 

How will they ever graduate from college? Will their parents continue to blame the professors or the boss? Isn't our job to raise independent adults capable of putting forth effort and making good decisions without externalizing blame?

Food for thought, I guess.   

Sunday, January 20, 2013

One Minute Club 2013

Each January I begin the One Minute Club initiations. My students love the challenge of being able to get through each level and see their names displayed on the list in the studio. I offer plenty of incentives to keep my student motivated to drill flashcards each and everyday at home, so when they come for their lesson they can make it through their level in under 60 seconds and advance to the next level.

Level 1 - C's
Level 2- C's, F's
Level 3- C's, F's, D's
Level 4- C's, F's, D's, G's
Level 5- C's, F's, D's, G's, B's
Level 6- C's, F's, D's, G's, B's, A's, E's

In practice, they must say and play each flashcard on the piano. When timed, they just need to play the flashcards.

Each level must be played in under 60 seconds. Level 6 must be played in under 60 seconds 3 times in a row in succession in order to finally become a member of the One Minute Club. (Flashcards cover C2-D6 on the keyboard.)

One Minute Club Members receive-

  • One Minute Club Membership Card
  • $3.00 Menchies Gift Card
  • A special treat at the Double Scoop Recital
  • A special treat at the Awards Recital

Membership Card (Thanks, Susan!)
Practice Chart
One Minute Club Members

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Practice & Performance Strategies

Facing that piano in the competition arena is daunting for students. They have one chance and one chance only to wow the judge and play flawlessly. No pressure.

Each month I hold a Rep Class for these students. Mostly to keep them in check and keep them working on their pieces. Secondly, to be sure they can execute the pieces under pressure in front of other students. And finally, to be sure they don't forget all those things the judge looks for each time they sit down to play. But even this becomes static after 7 months of Rep Class. So these students also perform their competition pieces for a live audience at the Double Scoop Recital held only a few short weeks before the competition.

In class, I do try to keep it as light and upbeat as I can, but this can get difficult the closer we get. As a professional, and a teacher who wants only the best for my students, sugar coating mistakes, or praising when the performance wasn't so great would be a disservice.  So we do some fun adjudications of each other, and play a game with performance cards. Each student picks a performance aspect to judge the player on. Only the player doesn't know what they are being judged on! Our class is small, so the performer is only being judged on 4 aspects at a time. But knows fully well that the judge at the competition event is judging them on ALL of these at once.


Here we are in January, and a few of these students are getting hung up on the difficult passages.....knowing the pressure that lies ahead, knowing they have to play this in front of their peers as well and their teacher, and having just come off of a long
Christmas break, I guess it inevitable that I would encounter a few tears of frustration. And sometimes the standard practice strategies don't work.

In the past we have used Practice Strategy cards to help. Students can pick a card and practice the piece as instructed on the card. This changes things up a bit and breaks the monotony. Although there are TONS of practice strategies around, (I've used so many over the years) these cards list just a few.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

FlashCard Frenzy!

I'm sure there are a few students who did not keep up with daily practice over the Christmas break, so we will be drilling flashcards every week in January to get the skills back up. FlashCard Frenzy is a game I made up last September that contains various ways of drilling flashcards both at and away from the piano.

January begins the 2013 One Minute Club Initiations, so what better time to work on note reading and recognition?

My students LOVED the Fall Book Bash- the idea of picking a card and having to play their lesson piece in whatever way the card instructed was super exciting to them.

FlashCard Frenzy is similar in that the student gets to pick a card and then drill the flashcards according to what the card says.