BlitzBitz - Samantha's Blog
Author: Created: 9/11/2009 9:07 PM RssIcon
Samantha Coates' musings on teaching, publishing, theory, musianship, music craft, the AMEB and other things that spring to mind.
By Samantha Coates on 24/01/2016 11:06 AM
7 deadly sins picAll sorts of things can go wrong in a performance. A cockroach can scuttle across your pedalling foot (this has happened to me). The music may fall off the stand (this has happened to me). A blood blister on your cuticle may burst during a glissando (you guessed it, this has happened to me).

But no matter what happens, as they say, ‘the show must go on’. What is the reason for this? Why do you have to keep going...
By Samantha Coates on 23/11/2015 11:28 AM

The end of year concert can be a lot of work for the piano teacher. It takes a huge amount of effort to find and book an appropriate venue, make sure the majority of students can make it on a certain date (at a crazy time of year!), ensure every student has a piece ready to perform, send out invitations, organise the catering, print the programs and generally coordinate everything on the actual...
By Samantha Coates on 23/11/2015 11:23 AM
carnegie hall largeLast week I had the very exciting privilege of being a speaker at Microsoft’s Ignite conference. This is a technical conference for computer developers in Australia. They called for sessions for a track called ‘Hack@Ignite: Unique Sessions that give you Bad-Ass Superpowers”. Basically, they wanted a series of non-technical talks that could offer something to technical people....
By Samantha Coates on 17/09/2015 11:29 AM
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series I talked about how to get students to sing, the main goals to aim for in aural skill preparation, and tips on each component of aural tests in an exam.

Here in Part 3 I’ll deal with melodic references. Below is a list of associations between intervals and triads and famous pieces/songs. You may not be familiar with some of the pieces listed, so there are plenty of options for each interval and triad. When students DO recognise and use these, it makes life so much easier!

Intervals (ascending): Minor 2nd: The Entertainer, start of chromatic scale.

Major 2nd: Happy Birthday, start of major and minor scales.

Minor 3rd: Greensleeves, Supercalafragilistic, Smoke on the Water, Brahms Lullaby.

Major 3rd: Blue Danube, When the Saints Go Marching In, Kumbaya.

Perfect 4th: Away in a Manger, Advance Australia...
By Samantha Coates on 13/09/2015 3:10 PM
mouse guitarRecently, I decided to learn the guitar. You would think that given my musical knowledge and background, my good ear and great fine motor skills from playing piano for over 40 years (oh boy that was a scary thing to write!), that guitar would be easy for me.

Well I have had 5 lessons so far, and… I cannot play guitar. I am hopeless. My fingers won’t do what I want them to do, I find...
By Samantha Coates on 21/07/2015 9:57 PM
In Part 1 of this blog I talked about ways to get students to sing more confidently, as well as the three ‘essentials’ for good aural training: Singing, Practising and Memorising.

Now, let’s look into some of the sections of the exam more closely.

Rhythm Clapping and Metre The rhythm section of the aural test is very often a weak spot for students. There are two possible reasons for this: the first is that the student finds it hard to memorise the whole rhythm before clapping it back, and the second is that the student has not had a lot of experience at isolating rhythm from a piece or from a melody.

One way to find out whether a student is having trouble with memory or clapping would be to do a rhythm dictation. In other words, ask the student to write the rhythm instead of clapping it. If the student can’t clap it but can write it, they just need to practise clapping. If the student cannot do either, some remedial memorisation...
By Samantha Coates on 12/07/2015 10:11 AM
WP_20150703_11_37_51_ProHi :) I’m Courtney, Samantha’s daughter. I’ve been learning piano from mum for an extremely long time now, about *mumbles* years. In my experience, she always has some quirky way to get her students motivated to practice, and this term is no exception. Last week, she introduced to me the concept of Jelly bean practice. Naturally, this piqued my interest. Jelly Beans? Count me in.

She sat me down...
By Samantha Coates on 14/06/2015 9:17 PM
question 1Wouldn’t it be great if there were never any misunderstandings between teachers and parents? Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone was on the same page re things like practice, missed lessons, budgeting for music? In this blog post I explore two perspectives when seeking the right teacher/student combination. First, 10 questions I believe all piano teachers should ask in the initial interaction with a prospective student or parent, followed by 10...
By Samantha Coates on 4/06/2015 9:14 PM


We've re-opened the BlitzBooks Aural Survey. If you missed out on taking the survey the first time, please click here to take the survey now.

By Samantha Coates on 16/05/2015 1:39 PM
In the February BlitzBooks newsletter, I wrote an article summarising some of the survey results. This contained some fascinating data, including the fact that professional musicians had only slightly better aural skills than non-musicians.

Here, finally, is a much more detailed overview. Just to recap my reasons for setting up this survey in the first place: I have observed many times in the past an individual who is supposedly ‘tone deaf’ being able to accurately identify a certain pitch or piece of music, as long as it was very familiar to them. I thought it would be fun to devise a survey full of very familiar sounds to test the level of aural accuracy, and for this test to be open to absolutely anyone and everyone. While I was putting it together I have to say I was a little worried that perhaps it was too tricky for non-musicians, but I was HOPING that I was wrong… and I’m so glad I was!!!

I’ll start by showing the breakdown of correct answers for each of the 10 sounds in the survey (participants...
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