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Archive for January, 2012

The Practice Puzzle

How do I practice?  How many times should I play through each piece?  Is 3 or 5 times for each piece enough?

I’ve been asked this questions by students since I began teaching.  In this short blog I want to give you a new way of thinking about practicing piano.

I think most beginning students approach practicing piano like they do putting together a puzzle.  They dump all the pieces out of the box and put the pieces face up and begin to try to find matches.  Very often this is done in a hit and miss fashion.  You find a piece that “sort of” seems like it may fit; or “seems to” have the right color and experiment to see if it fits.  With enough testing and experimentation eventually the picture emerges.

Many students practice this way.  They play their piece from the beginning to the end.  They think by doing it with enough repetitions and practice eventually the composition will emerge.

That is the longest and most inefficient method of practice we could devise.  We need A NEW METHOD ….. A BETTER METHOD of practice.

Mr Severino Presents – A BETTER METHOD

Let’s play a NEW GAME.  The example above is a 25 piece puzzle.

Our goal is to put this puzzle together in only 25 MOVES.

That means we must be perfect.  We cannot guess and try to put together pieces that “sort of” look like they “may” fit together.  To put this puzzle together in only 25 MOVES we are going to have to concentrate and think carefully, unlike before where we just guessed our way through to the completion of the puzzle.  We are going to have to closely examine each piece and imagine if the shape of one puzzle piece will fit into the other piece.  We are going to have to examine each piece to see if the colors of each piece and then imagine if they are going to help complete the image of the puzzle.

How does this apply to our piano practice?  We examine each “piece” of our musical composition.

Examine the “time signature”.  If your piece is in 3/4 time, with your music in front of you begin to sense the accent on beat one of each measure.  You may do these exercises with your piano in front of you or you can do them mentally.   You want to train yourself to do as many of these steps as possible away from the piano.  Not all piano practice must be in front of  your piano!

Examine the “rhythm piece” of the composition.  Mentally go through each rhythm and make sure you understand it.  If you do not, isolate that rhythm, play it or clap it until you understand it.

This includes the important point of being able to know how the right hand and left hand work together.  Don’t go on until you understand how this rhythm is going to “feel” under your fingers.

Examine the “harmony”.  Are there any chords that you know?  You want to get to the point where you can easily identify all the chords in your compositions.

Examine the “key signature”  If a composition has no key signature is it in C major or A minor.  Search for the note C or the note A in the composition  Search for C chords or Am chords.

Examine the “accidentals”   Many students are thrown by accidentals when practicing by just slugging away and trying to learn by going through each piece 5 times.  But if you are prepared by mentally going through each accidental you will be much more successful and make far fewer mistakes.

If we use this same approach in our piano practice our learning will be much better.  And if we make this as the main method of learning our assignments we will be able to learn our assigned pieces much more rapidly.  How would you like to learn 5 pieces in the time it now takes you to learn one?  This will be within your capabilities if you learn how to practice with your strongest concentration.

Thanks for participating in Mr. Severino Presents.  ‘TILL NEXT TIMEKEEP PRACTICING!!

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Blogging at Piano Teacher Press

I was recently browsing the net to see what other piano teachers were doing.  I always seem to find a great deal of creativity in the web sites of various piano teachers.  However, this time my eye noticed that many teachers simply refuse to take on a student that cannot read.  There’s also the issue of “sitting still” that gives many teachers pause concerning teaching the very young.  Maybe here’s an area when my creativity may prove helpful.

Since I first put out my shingle advertising myself as a piano teacher I’ve taken an avid interest in teaching the very young.  I’ve studied the young beginner very carefully.  I’ve also simplified musical concepts to the 4 – 6 year level. I have taught music to pre-schools exposing students to Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and even Stravinsky.  The key is to bring the information to the student at their level of…

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Piano Lessons – Cranberry Twp PA

I know of many fine piano teachers in the Cranberry area, so, why choose Piano Lessons PLUS?  GOOD QUESTION!   I’ve been teaching piano since I was in high school.   Even before my formal education in teaching and college degrees. It was just something I found I could do well and enjoy.   In high school I was a member of Future Teachers of America. Then it was off to college to procure my formal musical education. I remember wanting to be a teacher from an early age. I get a charge out of observing a young person learn and exploring the treasures that is hidden within him.  I enjoy teaching children of all abilities, not just the musically gifted.  I feel every student is deserving of my best attention regardless of their ability.

However, I have had students perform as finalists in competitions sponsored by the American Music Scholarship Association and play in Carnegie Hall in New York City.

I’ve had articles published in leading journals dedicated to the piano teaching profession.  Professionally, I’ve been involved in the National Guild of Piano Teachers, the  Music Teachers National Association as well as the National Federation of Music Clubs.  I’ve served in leadership positions in each of these organizations.

From the very beginning of my professional career I’ve taken a strong interest in the very young beginner; ages 4 – 6. So much so that I’ve developed my own piano method to teach these young student.  I’ve written numerous books of various aspects of developing a young student’s piano skills. My teachers brought to me a strong appreciation in the value of folk songs and they feature a prominent role in my instruction.

I’ve also written numerous solo compositions that my students will often feature in local festivals as well as recitals.  When you study at my studio you’re child is going to be under the instruction of someone who wants to teach. You will be studying with an experienced instructor who knows how to patiently advance a student and monitor their progress.  To find out more visit my WebSite at www.pianoteacherpress.com    Feel free to call my studio at (724) 935-2840 for a FREE INTERVIEW.  My studio is governed by three major themes; a love for music, an active interest in the whole educational process, and an approach that promotes the individuality of each student.

(724)935-2840

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Piano Lessons PLUS Wexford PA

Why Choose Piano Lessons PLUS?

I think that’s a good question; especially since I know of many fine piano teachers in the Wexford area.   I’ve been teaching piano since I was in high school.   Even before my formal education in teaching and college degrees. It was just something I found I could do well and enjoy.   In high school I was a member of Future Teachers of America. Then it was off to college to procure my formal musical education. I remember wanting to be a teacher from an early age. I get a charge out of observing a young person learn and exploring the treasures that is hidden within him.  I enjoy teaching children of all abilities, not just the musically gifted.  I feel every student is deserving of my best attention regardless of their ability.

However, I have had students perform as finalists in competitions sponsored by the American Music Scholarship Association and play in Carnegie Hall in New York City.

I’ve had articles published in leading journals dedicated to the piano teaching profession.  Professionally, I’ve been involved in the National Guild of Piano Teachers, the  Music Teachers National Association as well as the National Federation of Music Clubs.  I’ve served in leadership positions in each of these organizations.

From the very beginning of my professional career I’ve taken a strong interest in the very young beginner; ages 4 – 6. So much so that I’ve developed my own piano method to teach these young student.  I’ve written numerous books of various aspects of developing a young student’s piano skills. My teachers brought to me a strong appreciation in the value of folk songs and they feature a prominent role in my instruction.

I’ve also written numerous solo compositions that my students will often feature in local festivals as well as recitals.  When you study at my studio you’re child is going to be under the instruction of someone who wants to teach. You will be studying with an experienced instructor who knows how to patiently advance a student and monitor their progress.  To find out more visit my WebSite at www.pianoteacherpress.com    Feel free to call my studio at (724) 935-2840 for a FREE INTERVIEW.  My studio is governed by three major themes; a love for music, an active interest in the whole educational process, and an approach that promotes the individuality of each student.

(724)935-2840

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A LITTLE BACKGROUND STORY – When I was a youngster my dad was part of the auto industry.  When my first autos needed repaired my dad would help by repairing my cars.  My first cars often needed a lot of repairs!  He would go to the auto supply store and buy the parts I needed to fix my car.  I noticed that when dad bought a part, a muffler for instance, there would be two prices in the bill.  One price was the retail price and the other was the price was the price that my dad was charged.  It was significantly lower, depending upon the item purchased.  Of course, my dad only charged me the price he paid for the item; but if I went to an auto shop I would have been charged the higher retail price.

The point is that the repair man made a significant part of his income beyond his hourly wage on the parts he need to purchase to repair the car.  When I became a piano teacher I would get a “teacher’s discount”.  The discount was not very significant; barely enough for a cup of coffee.

When I was thinking how I wanted to put together Piano Teacher Press I was reminded of the experience of the auto mechanic to the auto supply store.  I knew how hard my fellow piano teachers worked and I knew they could use means to raise their overall income.  With those thoughts in mind I designed my pricing structure to give piano teachers an opportunity not only to have unique piano teaching material that could be purchased no where else but also priced in a way that would help them financially.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS

POINT ONE – I personally do not like to pay shipping charges.  At Piano Teacher Press there are NO SHIPPING CHARGES for sales over $15.00.

POINT TWO – At Piano Teacher Press we offer a lot of sheet music offerings.  Our retail price for a piece of sheet music in $3.50.  YOUR PRICE is $2.50.  You make a full dollar on every piece of music you purchase from Piano Teacher Press.

POINT THREE – Our Book Pricing

A book retailing at $7.95 will cost you $5.95.   YOU SAVE $2.00

A book retailing at $11.95 will cost you $8.95.  YOU SAVE $3.00

A book retailing at $14.95 will cost you $9.95.  YOU SAVE $5.00

I think you will find Piano Teacher Press a place to find well written, attractive, pedagogically sound and musically satisfying materials that will also be financially beneficial; helping you in the very hard yet rewarding work you perform every day.

When deciding on the outlets you choose for your piano teaching needs THINK Piano Teacher Press.

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