For parents and students
Hi everyone and welcome back to a great teaching year!
It’s nice to settle back in to a normal routine after the hectic holidays! I met so many wonderful music teachers around the country, celebrating BlitzBooks’ 10th birthday as well as running many professional development seminars.
For parents and students
My colleagues and I spent a great deal of time talking about you in the holidays! That's right, music teachers spend their holidays preparing for the new year by getting all revved up at workshops. Here are some of the things that were discussed:
1. How to get students (that's you) to practice more
We realise that music practice is sometimes squeezed into the tiniest corner of your lives! But a good practice routine is invaluable, and you will reap the rewards in the end. See the 7 deadly practice sins and the 7 deadly practice excuses!
2. The illegalities of photocopying
Piracy (i.e. photocopying) is a real problem in the music industry and is forcing the price of sheet music UP. It is not ok to photocopy even the smallest, shortest piece out of the biggest, fattest book. The best thing is to pick collections of repertoire that you will use and to OWN those books. After all, that music lasts forever and will be part of your music library. Photocopies are useless in a library! Ask your teacher for a budget for music for the year, so you know what to expect.
3. Preparing for exams vs enjoying the instrument
Exams are not for everybody. It's fantastic to have a goal to work towards, but not to be completely stressed out and have a negative experience! It's also important to make sure your practice routine matches your goals… i.e. there is no point in forging ahead to the next AMEB exam if you did no practice for the last AMEB exam! This is where the ‘commitment triangle' comes in: parent, teacher and student should all sit down and have a chat about the best course of study. The key here is COMMUNICATION and making sure that everybody's expectations are being met.
4. Improving sight reading and aural skills
These things need to be done EVERY LESSON. It can easily be integrated with repertoire study, but the 'How to Blitz Sight Reading' series certainly helps.
5. The importance of performing
The positive experience a child gets from performing cannot be underestimated. These have incredible extrinsic value – that is, the child's self esteem and confidence is reinforced by others. Performances don't have to be in a concert hall, or in a pressured situation like an exam… it can be as simple as a Sunday afternoon tea with the grandparents or the neighbours with a little 'concert' to kick off, or even just recording some pieces and posting them on YouTube... it should all be fun!
Blitz 10th Birthday
If you go into your local print music store this month, you may be greeted with a fabulous Blitz display and may be given freebies with your BlitzBooks purchase! You can also enter online to win a $100 voucher to spend in your favourite store.
See website for participating stores.
Take a look at some of the current store displays:
How much practice is enough?
(This is an extract from my latest blog post)
Studies show that if you invest 10,000 hours of practice into pretty much any field, you will be a master in that field. This applies to musicians, sportsmen, chess players, computer geeks, anyone.
This comes from a book called 'Outliers – The Story of Success' by the economist Malcolm Gladwell. It's a fascinating book that discusses all sorts of reasons why people become successful at what they do – accident of birth, opportunity, cultural legacy -but a big factor is how much time you put in, and he calls this the '10,000 hour rule'.
My first reaction upon reading this was to mentally calculate how much piano practice I'd done in my life and figure out if and when I had ever reached the 10,000 hour mark. I kind of lost count somewhere in the memories of 3rd year Uni, but I think that basically yes I have certainly invested 10,000 hours along the way, yet for some reason I am not a world-class concert pianist. Oh.
Is this a flaw in Malcolm Gladwell's theory? I don't think so. The point of becoming a master of something also has to do with the rate the 10,000 hours are accumulated. Child prodigies who practise 6 hours a day will have done it in 5 years; chess champions have similar, intense exposure to the game. Perhaps if someone had told me, back in primary school, to hurry up with my 10,000 hours, I might have had a shot at the world-class concert pianist scene. (But really, probably not.)
Parents who are paying for piano lessons don't necessarily have aspirations for their children to become world-class concert pianists. However, many parents have aspirations for their children to become 'really good' pianists, or at least to have achieved a reasonably high level before they ultimately give up (to pursue medicine or law). So this got me thinking… how many hours of practice gets us to a 'reasonably high level'? Is there a number, an actual numerical goal that we could work towards, that would get us to about 8th grade piano?
Yes, there is. But before I discuss this number, the reason I've quoted 8th grade as the 'reasonably high level' is because 8th grade is so often perceived as 'the end'. I have had many students who just want to get Grade 8 done because then they will be 'finished'. This is not so. Pianists who have done 8th grade have not 'finished' their piano study. There are diploma examinations after 8th grade, if one still wishes to be in the examination system, and then of course there is the whole world of undergraduate and postgraduate study at University, piano competitions, overseas study... the list goes on.
But let's get back to the number. In my teaching experience, the amount of practice needed, over a period of years, to be prepared enough for an 8th grade standard of exam is... Click here to continue reading the article.
To your music education,
PS: Here's a few snaps from our recent workshops. View more in our Facebook album.
PPS: Thanks to everyone who attended our Brisbane Workshop at Masson Music - we donated all proceeds to the Queensland Flood Appeal.
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From the BlitzBitz Blog
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BlitzBooks is the series by Samantha Coates that has revolutionised music theory teaching. Students are no longer bored with their theory books! Since January 2001, music students have been able to ENJOY their theory education with fun, user-friendly texts. The conversational, easy-to-use format has made BlitzBooks incredibly popular with students as well as making teachers' lives easier.
The BlitzBooks series covers the AMEB syllabus for Grades 1 to 5 in both Theory and Musicianship as well as offering fantastic publications in the areas of beginner music theory, sight reading (piano) and general knowledge (any instrument).
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