Hi there Blitzers,
BlitzBooks Turns 10!
This coming January BlitzBooks will celebrate its 10th birthday. Huge celebrations are planned in the form of specials, prizes, giveaways and champagne cocktail parties! Your local music store will have more information and we’ll keep you posted with all the happy events.
I had great fun presenting my session entitled 'The Inherited Student' at the recent 'Refresh and Recharge' conference run by MTA NSW.
I’ll be presenting this same session in January at the VMTA’s upcoming Summer Conference 'Bach to the Future'. More details about this can be found at www.vmta.org.au
Watch this space for information about other great workshops that will be taking place in January 2011.
The Perceived Perils of Sight Singing
This Friday afternoon my 11-year-old daughter will audition for Gondwana Voices, a national choral school run by Sydney Children's Choir.
To help her prepare, I downloaded some of the practice materials from the Gondwana website. I was particularly interested to find out the level of sight singing required, and was amazed to find that even the easiest tests are actually quite involved! How are these children going to cope? Most of my piano students – and I dare say even a few of my colleagues – would struggle. Yet there are apparently a record number of applicants for Gondwana this year, from children aged 10 – 16 years.
In my experience with students, parents, friends and colleagues, sight singing would have to be the most feared activity of all time. No-one volunteers to do it, very few are comfortable, and hardly any actually do a good job. Why is this? Why should sight singing be any harder than sight reading?
In a recent workshop I did for the Victorian Music Teachers’ Association on aural training, I decided run an activity on sight singing. I started by asking the teachers to rate their sight singing skills on a scale of 5 down to 1. There weren’t many who rated themselves a 5 – being extremely capable. 4 – a few more hands. 3 – even more hands. 2 - the majority of hands! And finally a rating of 1, being ‘I cannot sight sing for the life of me’ – about 4 hands went up.
At this point I flipped the exercise on its head by asking those 4 people to come out the front! They were not happy, to say the least (the rest of the audience was positively gleeful). I then proceeded to get them to sight sing extremely easy examples, such as the following:
The teachers coped with these examples with no problem at all (and let me just say that the Gondwana examples are a LOT harder than these!). In fact although they had rated their sight singing skills as a 1, they were relieved to see the ease of examples. You could almost hear the voices in their heads: "Oh, I didn’t think you were talking about something THAT easy!"
I had of course previously tried out examples such as these with many ‘guinea pigs’ amongst my family and friends, both musicians and non-musicians, to prove that sight singing is not only achievable but somewhat instinctive. For example, in ex. 2 above, no matter who I asked to have a go singing it, there was not a single person whose voice went up instead of down. They were following the shape of the music.
Competent sight singing certainly requires a sense of pitch and pitch memory, but it is an issue of confidence more than anything else. If we start early with extremely simple examples, we gain confidence and think nothing of gradually trying harder and harder examples.
I imagine that most of the 10 – 16 year old potential Gondwana choristers are brimming with eagerness and confidence, which is the perfect tool for good sight singing, and is obviously why the Sydney Children’s Choir is such a shining beacon of musicality! My daughter and I now eagerly await Friday. And... we'll practice a bit in the meantime. :)
Even more sight reading feedback
I love receiving feedback like the following - it makes my day:
I just wanted to say thanks for your great books on sight reading. After using them for 6 - 12 months, my students entered their AMEB exams. This is THE VERY FIRST TIME, all of them came out and said that the sight reading was EASY!!!
I have also found that many of my students are now zooming along because, they have the confidence to learn more on their own at home.
Let me know ASAP when level 3 is available!
Thank you from me and my students.
Deanne Scott, CTMusA, MTAQ (Prof), Co-ordinator of Student Performers Society
Michelle Madder and I continue to get comments like these from delighted teachers around Australia. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that students are improving so much at sight reading! Michelle continues to run the 'Sight Reading Society' (which was the inspiration for the sight reading books) at Australian Music Schools. Read more about the importance of sight reading on her blog.
Reminder - BlitzBooks on Facebook
We've created a BlitzBooks Facebook page - you can see it here. This is where I'll be adding links to useful music articles, AMEB news and product updates.
Please stop by and join us by clicking the 'Like' button at the top - it's the best way to stay informed on music happenings in Australia.
To your music education,
PS: We hope you like our new monthly email newsletter. Let us know what you think (please email me).
PPS: Make sure you read my BlitzBitz blog - where I regularly discuss music theory, upcoming workshops and new downloads.
Help promote Blitz Books
Please forward this email on to your work colleagues if you think they will benefit. A tweet about us would be appreciated!
Australian Music Schools Blog
As I mentioned above, my good friend Michelle Madder from Australian Music Schools has started blogging about all things music related on her AMS Director's Blog. Check it out.
More Music blogs
There's many more great music blogs - here's two more that caught my eye: Jen's Piano Studio Blog and Diana Denley Music. Great stuff!
Got a recommendation?
Got something worth sharing? Please email me with your recommendations and I'll add them in to our next newsletter.
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).
Each Theory/Musicianship workbook is complemented by a comprehensive Teacher Guide and separate Answer Book, a feature no other theory series offers. There are many additional music resources on the BlitzBooks website, as well as constant updates relating to revisions and changes to the AMEB syllabus.
BlitzBooks remains on the cutting edge of music theory education, making this series the number one choice for students and teachers in Australia and overseas.
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