Jan 22, 2011 Winter Music Recital

We’ll be having our recital at the Carroll Gardens branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 2pm. The space looks nice and they even have a grand piano – though so out of tune it is unusable!

It’s located at the corner of Clinton and Union Streets.  The recital, as always, is free, and open to the public, so come early to guarantee a seat and to help me set up the room!  I appreciate your help in putting away the chairs afterwards as well.

So we continue our tour of the Brooklyn Public Library spaces as weekend hours have been cut at Pacific Library and Park Slope is still under renovation for another year! Please support your/our public library!
Brooklyn Public Library - Carroll Gardens branch

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Winter Semester for Music Lessons

The Fall semester is fast coming to an end with the last lesson on Saturday November 20, 2010. We’ll have a break for Thanksgiving with the new Winter session starting Tuesday November 30, 2010 and running until Saturday February 19, 2010.

The cost for the new semester is $550 with an early bird discount of $50 if paid before November 15, 2010.

There will be no lessons the week of

* December 24 – January 2 – Winter Holiday Recess

If you are not currently studying with me, space is extremely limited, but you may register on the waiting list here.

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How To Read Music: Rhythm using Stick Notation

When teaching to read traditional music notation, I separate the 2 parts of pitch and rhythm.  Rhythm is easy to teach using stick notation.

[update-12-3-12] Stick notation is taking traditional notes and removing the note-head.  The note-head is the round dot at the bottom of the stick.  The dot is placed on the 5 lines of the staff and depending on where it is, tells us which pitch to play.  By removing the note-head, we focus only on the rhythm.

The use of hand movements, words and sounds enable us to get the music in our body, mind, eye and ear.  Multiple modes of experience!

This method is created by Michiko Yurko and you can find her and her books/games/workshops at MusicMindGames.com.

Here’s a little video I made with the help of Ava.

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Music lessons & effects on the brain

EVANSTON, Ill., July 21 (UPI) — Musical instruction can “prime” the brain to improve human skills in language, speech, memory and attention, U.S. researchers say.

A study at Northwestern University found the effects of musical training on the nervous system can build meaningful patterns important to all types of learning, ScienceDaily.com reported Tuesday.

Researchers studied music training’s effect on neuroplasticity, defined as the brain’s ability to adapt and change as a result of training and experience over the course of a person’s life… read the rest at UPI.com

And here’s a snippet regarding the same study from The Sun UK.

Dr Nina Kraus, who headed the research at Northwestern University in Illinois, said: “The beneficial effects confer advantages beyond music. This argues for an improvement in the quality and quantity of music training in schools.”

Musical training has long been linked to intellect. But until now experts believed it was because children who played instruments were more likely to come from wealthier backgrounds where they got extra help.

The study showed musical training benefited children from all backgrounds.

It claims music “stretches” the brain by forcing it to recognise pitch and rhythm.  Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/3062237/Learning-music-will-make-you-cleverer.html#ixzz0vNLGNKsP

And another take from the journal Nature.

We can hardly be surprised, meanwhile, that music lessons improve children’s IQ7, given that they will nourish general faculties such as memory, coordination and attentiveness. Kraus and Chandrasekaran now point out that, thanks to the brain’s plasticity (the ability to ‘rewire’ itself), musical training sharpens our sensitivity to pitch, timing and timbre, and as a result our capacity to discern emotional intonation in speech, to learn our native and foreign languages, and to identify statistical regularities in abstract sound stimuli…Read this  full article

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Register for Fall Music Lessons

We’re moving to a semester-based system with Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer sessions.

Fall 2010 semester is now open for registration.  It runs 11 weeks from September 7 through November 18 and costs $475.

All lessons are 30 minute private lessons and will be scheduled after receipt of payment and registering on the website.

Please register here.

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John Lennon’s Imagine

This is from a concert at Madison Square Garden in 1972.  Essential listening for anyone!

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

I’m starting a songwriting class in September and we’ll be analyzing some of the greatest rock, pop, jazz songs of all time as part of the curriculum.  Stay tuned or get on my waiting list on the registration page.

Buy this song at Amazon

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Video from our Spring Music Recital

Last Saturday’s Spring Recital was a great success and I am so proud of all of my students!
Performing in public is a skill that only a small minority of people in this world have developed a comfort and ability with.  It is such a huge accomplishment even to get up onstage and then to perform a piece that they’ve worked hard on for months.   You as parents should be happy and proud of this achievement and I hope you celebrated this milestone in your child’s life.  Whatever small mistakes they made in the performance were greatly outweighed by the entire experience of publicly performing.

[tubepress mode=”playlist” playlistValue=”B5C644512F57586D” orderBy=”random”]

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Free Piano Checklist for Beginners

Many of my students have been forgetting some of the basics around technique.  Here’s a handy chart that you can post by the piano or on the first page of your music notebook.  Probably the most important one I’m finding is sitting the proper distance away from the piano.  Many kids like to sit almost with their bellies touching the piano.  This makes it so much harder for their fingers to be in the right shape to play well.   You should be sitting so that your forearms are about level with the floor, elbows bent and shoulders not hunched or lifted.

Curling the fingers can take some time to remember for the youngest students.  I usually tolerate the flat-fingers for a while until they get a few pieces memorized.

You can download this piano checklist as PDF to print out.

Hope this helps.

Enjoy, make music and have fun!

Andrew

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The Beatles, Let It Be

Let It Be
By Lennon & McCartney

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.

Let it be, let it be, …..

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, …..

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Lean On Me by the great Bill Withers

One of the greatest songs of all time by probably my favorite songwriter of all time, Bill Withers.

Lean On Me

Words & Music By Bill Withers

Sometimes in our lives
we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Chorus
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things
you need to borrow
For no one can fill
those of your needs
That you don’t let show

Chorus

If there is a load
you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

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Spring Recital June 12, 2010

We’ll be having our next recital on Saturday June 12, 2010 at 2pm at the Pacific branch of the Brooklyn Public Library – downstairs.  Please save the date!  It’s a great chance to showcase our talents and I look forward to seeing you all there.

View Larger Map

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How To Teach Rhythm to Beginning Music Students

Teaching rhythm using stick notation & hand signs

I’ve been teaching how to count rhythm to most of my students using Michiko Yurko’s genius method of naming note values with easy and fun to say words.  I highly recommend her book Music Mind Games for all music teachers and home-schoolers and interested parents..

  • For example, a one beat (quarter note) is called BLUE.
  • Two eighth notes are called  JELLO.
  • An eighth note triplet, where the three notes are played in one beat is PINEAPPLE.
  • And four sixteenth notes is HUCKLEBERRY.
This is so much more fun and easier to remember than when I was in school learning, “one -eee- and – ah.”

Practice counting the beats of any song you already know and other new ones as well.  It becomes a much easier task to learn a new piece if you have internalized the rhythm already and can then focus on the pitches and fingering.
This past week, I did just that by having several of my students learn “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” by first counting out the song in this Blue Jello way.  Then, by teaching the distinct hand signals for each, which adds another level of kinesthetic learning, I played the melody while the student counted out the piece.  After 3 or 4 times, the melody and rhythm are so ingrained, that playing it on the instrument becomes just a minor technical matter.  It’s already in the body, brain and ear!  The results?  Everyone learned much, much faster and without the stumbling and frustration.
A book I recently read describes the importance of communication using multiples levels of engagement.  Made To Stick, by brothers Chip & Dan Heath, is a NY Times Bestseller and popular among business and marketing types, but is equally usable by teachers and parents.  Anyone, looking to make their ideas “stick” can benefit.  So one of the main principles of the book is  the concept of CONCRETIZATION.  By making abstract concepts concrete, giving a physical nature to the abstract, it makes it easier to grasp.  So by adding hand signs to the funny words for each note, we add another layer of concretization.  By saying it aloud, making the hand gesture and using the Blue Jello words, we are creating a unique kinesthetic experience of what was just quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes and whole notes.
And besides, how much more fun is it to say HUCKLEBERRY, GOOSEBERRY, JELLO BLUE?

Here’s another article with a video that made about this.

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The History of Rock and Roll – 12 Bar Blues

We’ve been doing some great explorations of the roots of rock and roll which began with the basic form of the 12 bar blues.  These 12 measures are like a pattern, a recipe that hundreds if not thousands or hundreds of thousands of songs have been based.  Once you know the “recipe” you can cook up your own or play all of the variations.  Here’s a few of them.

You can view these video clips and read along in the music notation I gave you.

1950’s Early Rock and Roll Clips

Elvis Presley – Blue Suede Shoes

Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode

Jerry Lee Lewis – Great Balls Of Fire

Little Richard – Tutti Frutti

Little Richard – Lucille

Little Richard – Long Tall Sally

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Video from Winter Music Recital 2010

I’m so proud of all the great progress  and awesome-ness of all my students.  And some of you said you were afraid of playing in public!  Doesn’t look like it.  Congratulations to you all!

You can see all the videos on YouTube under my ParkSlopeMusicLesson channel.

I’ve also added Lila’s video of her “home recital,” as she couldn’t make it.

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Winter Music Recital Update

Pacific Library branch of Brooklyn Public Library – 2:30pmPianoHeadercropped

Everyone is sounding so good and ready for this week’s recital.  So here’s a reminder of the event.  It’s at 2:30pm on the third floor of the library which is located at the intersection of Pacific Street and 4th Avenue – right near the Atlantic/Pacific subway stops and the Long Island Rail Road.

There is a GED class going on in that space until around 2pm so we need to set up quickly.  I would appreciate any help from the parents as I’m not sure if the chairs will be arranged for us.  Also help in cleaning up will be greatly appreciated.  I’ll be bringing my digital piano and will set that up as soon as we are allowed too.

There will be 20 or 21 children performing each for between 1 minute and 3 minutes.  So I expect the whole affair to be done within 45 to 60 minutes.  We have the space until 4:30pm.

The space is provided free to community events and we must give thanks to librarian Salvador Salame.   We hope to impress him so we can book a summer recital here too.

Please note, I plan on video recording the entire event and will share the clips on my website.  if anyone prefers not to be included, please let me know.

Thanks and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday afternoon!

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Winter Music Recital is Saturday January 30th, 2010

The recital will be open to the public at the Pacific Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library from 2:30pm to 4:30pm on Saturday, January 30, 2010.  It was the first of the Andrew Carnegie libraries to open in Brooklyn in 1904 and features a lovely third floor light-filled auditorium with windows.

Special thanks to librarian Salvador Salame for the space.

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Teaching and learning music in slices

I’ve been talking with many of my students about the importance of not trying to learning in giant gobbles but rather in small bite size pieces or slices of pie.  Learning a new piece is like eating pie; you don’t eat it all in one bite.  You take slices, and then forkfuls and then chew on each bite a while before moving on to the next.

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki  called  it “steps.”  To match the right step to the child, you need to adjust according to the individual.

So how do we do this?  By breaking up the piece into digestible chunks.  Often I will use my handy colored translucent tape to mark off a measure or a phrase that we want to concentrate on first.  So going from the “red phrase” to the “blue phrase” or whatever.  This has been tremendously successful.

If your child has come home with some of my music with a multicolored tape collage on it, have no fear, we’re just learning a new piece – in slices!

Each color block is a teachable chunk or slice of music

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Using Colors to Learn Music

One of the core concepts of my approach to teaching music to young children is the use of colors to represent pitches.  I’ve used this with great success on both piano, guitar and in reading music notation.

Those of you studying with me have already seen my piano covered with translucent tape and my guitar with colored stars up the fretboard.

Here’s a link to that highlighter tape that I use.  Thanks to my son’s first grade teacher Melissa for the great tip.

This pack will last you a long long time.

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Music Recital, June 13, 1pm at Park Slope Public Library

We’re celebrating all the hard work, fun and music we’ve experienced this year.  Come join us at the Music Recital on Saturday, June 13 at 1pm in the community room downstairs at the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

I expect that 10 or so of my students will be performing but all my students, family and friends are encouraged and welcome to attend.

Poster designed by Dana Zaldo.

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Study shows link between music & brain plasticity

A recent research study on the linkage between the arts and brain development shows that students of music have definite structural changes in happening in students who practice as little as 15 minutes a day.

So, I’m not making this all up!  It’s really true.

From the Baltimore Sun article:

Charles Limb, a Johns Hopkins doctor and a jazz musician, studied jazz musicians by using imaging technology to take pictures of their brains as they improvised. He found that they allowed their creativity to flow by shutting down areas that regulated inhibition and self-control. So are the most creative people able to shut down those areas of the brain?

Most of the new research is focusing on the networks of the brain that are involved in specific tasks, said Michael Posner, a researcher at the University of Oregon. Posner has studied the effects of music on attention. What he found, he said, was that in those students who showed motivation and creativity, training in the arts helped develop their attention and their intelligence. The next great focus in this area, he said, is on proving the connection that most scientists believe exists between the study of music and math ability.

The imaging is now so advanced that scientists can already see the difference in the brain networks of those who study a string instrument and those who study the piano intensely.

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