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When I began studying music it was all a mystery.  All the notes seemed to be fixed and I couldn’t change them.  This was reinforced to my uneducated mind through the mistakes I made.  Whenever I played a note that wasn’t notated on the page it sounded terrible.  I assumed that any note beyond the notation was wrong.

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I thought it was like the story I read of a famous sculptor who was asked how he would sculpt an elephant.  The sculptor said it was easy.  All I do is eliminate everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.  I assumed music worked the same way.  To play Yankee Doodle all I needed to do is eliminate every note that wasn’t Yankee Doodle.

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There is a principle in teaching that instructs the teacher — GO FROM THE KNOWN TO THE UNKNOWN.  It was obvious from my childhood assumptions above that there was a great deal of the UNKNOWN in my musical education.  I remember that experience and assume the same process is going on in my student’s minds as they begin their piano instruction.  My goal was to help my students not fall into the trap and limitations of holding on to the assumptions I had as a young student that were limiting at best and downright wrong at worst.

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There are many ways I do that in my teaching but today I want to focus on only one of them.  I’ve made several anthologies of “classical music” for my students.  In several of the compositions I took some of the major ideas employed by the composer and applied it to a common folk song.  If a composer uses imitation in a composition I take a folk song and arrange it using the same type of imitation.  If a composer uses syncopation I take a folk song and apply syncopation within the arrangement.  When the young music student compares the similarity between the classical composition and the folk song; what is unknown becomes known.

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This method of learning helps the student understand far better than just giving a text book definition of imitation or syncopation.  Let’s take a couple examples to demonstrate using this method in applying the principle of going from the UNKNOWN TO THE KNOWN.

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Here is a popular teaching piece by Kabalevsky – Chit Chat.  The piece is a simple piece of imitation; a measure is first played by the left hand and is directly imitated by the right hand in the following measure.

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I always mention to students that imitation is something they are going to find very common in the music they will study.  It will enter into their compositions in many different and creative ways.  I use this piece as my “entry level” piece to teach the concept of musical imitation.

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This little arrangement of Are You Sleeping?  uses the same imitation technique as Chit Chat by Kabalevsky.  To add a little variety and to give students another example I created a variation on the Are You Sleeping? theme.

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Using this method helps students become aware of how a composer can use an idea like imitation to create a composition.  For teachers who teach composition this is a good simple technique that can be used to guide students to make their compositions more interesting.

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The page on the left is another way to reinforce the concept of imitation.  The student is given the major phrases of the folk song Three Blind Mice.  The student is given two measures to write out the imitation.

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The teacher may certainly aid the student in helping him write out the imitation but most students do rather well in understanding the assignment and knowing what to do to fulfill the requirements.

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A good piece to introduce students to syncopation is Morning Greeting by Gurlitt.

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The same syncopation is repeated throughout the piece.  Also, there is always a chord to play on beat one to help the student feel/create the feel of the syncopation.

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To reinforce the concept of syncopation to the student I created an arrangement of the popular folk song Cockles and Mussels.  I used Cockles and Mussels because it also could be syncopated with the same rhythmic arrangement of notes as Gurlitt’s Morning Greeting.

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The pedagogical use for the Ecossaise in G major by Schubert is that it is one of the few pieces that uses root position dominant 7th chords.  Root position 7th chords makes a perfect springboard for the introduction of teaching 7th chords.

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To compliment the Ecossaise in G I took the old madrigal Now is the Month of Maying by Thomas Morley and arranged it with several root position dominant 7th chords.  Again, when students get an opportunity to see the similarity between the two compositions the student grows in understanding that music follows rules and traditions.  When students are made aware of these rules and traditions their understanding and assimilation of their repertoire will be facilitated.

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Finally, I would like to explain my way of helping students experience the common practice of changing from a major mode to the parallel minor.  Kabalevsky makes use of this technique in a piece he wrote called The Little March.  The first phrase is in C major and the second phrase repeats the same material in C minor.

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To further the students understanding of the changing from major to minor I took the popular folk song Shortnin’ Bread.  Through the little arrangement I alter the mode of the phrases going from major to minor.  Being that most students are familiar with Shortnin’ Bread they can more easily discern the dramatic difference that this change of mode creates.

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Using folk songs in this way has been a great way to teach my students the great musical tradition we follow.  It has been one of the major ways I use to help my students go from the UNKNOWN and make it KNOWN by going from the KNOWN (folk songs) and showing the connection it can have to the UNKNOWN (our musical tradition).

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This handy little chart defines the task of a music teacher quite well.  I would like to comment on the major points.
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MUSIC IS A SCIENCE:  We live in an age that has seen giant strides because of scientific discovery.  That sense of scientific discovery is also a very handy tool in teaching music to students.  For example, the piano is an instrument that takes full advantage of the “overtone series”.  This scientific idea is a part of our natural world.  I demonstrate how a fundamental low bass tone “sensitizes” other notes above that fundamental tone.  These tones are “sensitized”  WITHOUT EVEN PLAYING THOSE TONES.  The notes they sensitize are the notes of the major chord from this fundamental tone.  This little exercise puts the student in direct touch with natural world itself.  Students discover, through this little scientific experiment, that music is part of nature itself.  It opens their world to see what they are doing in their music is touching on the the pulse of nature and in fact, the whole universe.  Music is a cosmic activity!
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MUSIC IS MATHEMATICS:  There are so many ways in which music is mathematical.  The natural pulse in music divides most commonly in twos and threes. It is my starting point for teaching the mathematics of music.  From the very beginning I emphasize the feeling of the strong beat in a musical pulse.  After the strong beat is easily discerned we can move on, in a rather scientific manner, to our discussion of the weak beats that are found in music.  This directly leads to meter in music and duple meter (such as 2/4) and triple meter (such as 3/4).  The nice thing about music being mathematical is that the teacher can present the musical material in a very logical systematic and “scientific” manner, relating back to our first point.  Most students are fascinated by the logical and mathematical ways in which music can be understood.
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MUSIC IS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE:  I personally think that it would be better to say simply that MUSIC IS A LANGUAGE.  I think mathematics can be also said to be a language, too.  It can express things that words cannot.  Music is no different as it expresses things words cannot.  Music can even express things that even math cannot.  Again, MUSIC AS LANGUAGE can be approached from a myriad of different ways.  The language of “major” and “minor” opens up many possibilities.  As the poster alludes, music comes from many cultures. Just as each language has its unique sound, the music from each culture has its unique sound.  An Irish Jig sounds different from an Italian Tarantella, even though they often share the same meter. A Polish Mazurka sounds very different from a Viennese Waltz, even though they share a common triple meter.  Music puts a student on a journey that traverses the world.  Music is a language we can share and learn from others even though we may not understand a word of their native language.
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MUSIC IS PHYSICAL EDUCATION:  Learning a musical instrument takes intense physical training.  I will often draw a student’s attention to new born children.  When we observe them we notice, as they lie on their back, they are full of activity, especially the kicking of their legs.  This constant kicking of their legs strengthens them for the eventual task of learning to crawl.  When they learn to crawl on all fours their arms become stronger.  In time they can use the strength of their arms to become upright; yet their legs are not yet strong enough to walk.  But in time they can make their first step. then two. Then comes the magic day when they can walk.  But they are not done.  Eventually they run, skip and even jump.
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When students show me their first creations at the piano I always give them the praise they deserve.  But when we begin working on proper technique I say their finger movement reminds me of the kicking of that newborn child.  They have to go through many steps of training to eventually get to the place where they can run.  This is a journey that takes time, and just like that newborn they keep on moving forward until they could eventually run, if they go through all the steps of the process, they will eventually run too.
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MOST OF ALL MUSIC IS ART:  Even though music is a very scientific and mathematical venture, even though its a journey that is as exciting as learning how to run; the reason for learning a musical instrument is because of the challenge it brings to the imagination.  The challenge of learning to become artistic.  One of the best ways I found to get across the concept of art, artistry or becoming artistic is through stories and poems.
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I give the student two examples.
 
ONE …
I almost fell asleep one night
While reading some books.
But an old bird woke me up
By pecking on my door.
It was winter.
 
TWO:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door
Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
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Both examples describe the same incident.  The first is very plain.  You may even think “so what“!  The second example stimulates your imagination and brings you into the story.  You can see it, you can almost hear the tapping of the raven, you begin to imagine the furnishings of the room, you experience your feelings of a dark winter’s night when you’re all alone.   This stimulation of the imagination is what makes this poem — art.  When we play a good piece of music we should be inspired to imbue the notes with meaning and tell the story or express the feelings that the notes bring to your imagination.  Art is the communication of imagination to imagination.
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The most joyful aspect of teaching music is giving students the tools and means to communicate imagination to imagination through the media of music.  This can be said no better than in this poem by Franz von Schober.  It was beautifully set to music as an art song by Franz Schubert.
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TO MUSIC
by Franz von Schober
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Oh lovely Art, in how many grey hours,
When life’s fierce orbit ensnared me,
Have you kindled my heart to warm love,
Carried me away into a better world!
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How often has a sigh escaping from your harp,
A sweet, sacred chord of yours
Opened up for me the heaven of better times,
Oh lovely Art, for that I thank you!

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Mr. Severino Presents – STEPPING STONES

Every student who has studied a musical instrument has been challenged.   Every emotion listed on this chart is felt by almost every piano student at some point.  Sometimes a piece looks so difficult that you feel it’s not even worth giving it your best effort.  This is not a very fun place to be but know many of your fellow piano students have felt this same thing.

More frequently you may feel I CAN’T DO IT!!  Piano teachers have heard these words from piano students for as long as they have been teaching.  When we feel this way it seems like we cannot possibly get to the top step YES. I DID IT!

Some student that have taken lessons for a while will say I WANT TO DO IT but they are not yet convinced that they CAN do it.  But then these students decide to take up the challenge and decide HOW DO I DO IT?  They know they need a plan or some special help from their teacher that will  help them through the difficult spot(s).

Whenever I hear a student say I’LL TRY TO DO IT I know the student has just put himself in the path to success!  All that is not necessary is the practice time to accomplish the work.

When the student begins to do the work they finally get to that point where they realize I CAN DO IT!  When students reach this point they themselves know success is within their reach and they are full of the energy it takes to overcome the challenge to play the piece.

When a student says I WILL DO IT the student has set his will to succeed and nothing is going to stop him from mastering their music lesson.  Then comes that magical moment when all the practicing pays off and the notes just seem to roll of your fingers and you know YES! I DID IT!

SO STUDENTS ….. Whenever you are assigned a challenging composition use this chart.  You can print out your own personal copy of this poster by clicking Stepping Stones HERE.  Put it by your piano or musical instrument and decide what STEP you are on in the poster and move yourself up the staircase until you reach the top – YES! I DID IT!   Sometimes JUST TRYING is all it takes to move up the Stairway.  Sometimes you will need your teacher to help you through the tough parts.  But after you succeed to the top several times you will gain in confidence and before you know it you’ll be beginning on the higher steps of the Staircase – I CAN DO IT.

Thanks for listening to Mr. Severino Presents — STEP RIGHT UP!   and until next time — KEEP PRACTICING!!

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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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Piano Lessons Are FUN?  THINK AGAIN!!

I say this without apology or equivocation.  I’ve been teaching piano since my teen years and have never considered what I do as “fun”; yet, I absolutely love what I do.  What I want to propose is that making piano lessons “fun” is a recipe for superficial music education.

I also notice that many teachers feel pressured into making piano lessons “fun”.  After all, we must compete with glitzy video games to get a student’s attention.  How can a teacher compete for a student’s attention unless they make lessons “fun”.  I know many good teachers and they all approach their teaching with a great deal of individuality, yet they all have one thing in common.  They to not fall for the superficial solution of making their lessons “fun”.  Rather, they make sure their lessons are INTERESTING.  They capture the imagination of their students.  As teachers dedicated to the educating of their students, their interest is in opening the mind of their students to the vast world of music that they have studied diligently, most often, since their childhood.

I have never heard ANYONE who makes their living in music say the thing they remember most about their teacher is that they made lessons “fun”.  Challenging – yes. Interesting – yes. Demanding – yes.  “Fun” –  NEVER!

For the first teacher it’s very important to make each step of learning move freely to the next step BUT the reason is to facilitate learning NOT make lessons “easy”.  “Easy” is the death of keeping the child’s imagination captured and quickly becomes boring.   The teacher with less aptitude will think –  “My student is bored. I need to make this more fun.”  The teacher with greater aptitude will think – My student is bored.  How can recapture the student’s imagination.

“Easy” and “Fun” are related to each other and both are terrible goals for an educator.  I’m not saying here that education should not be enjoyable.  I have heard multiple dozens of times from parents – My child loves coming to piano lessons but doesn’t like to practice.   This tells me that I have passed the all important “nice test”.  Mr. Severino is nice.

After I pass that threshold point of being “nice” I feel “I’m in” and trying to be more nice, or more fun is superfluous.  Trying to be more nice is about as necessary as trying to become more clean after taking a bath.  In fact, after passing the “nice test” one has built some teacher capital to become strict when necessary.

Yet, if a teacher is overly concerned with making lessons “easy” or “fun” discipline and hard work becomes a fear.  With “fun” as the goal, lessons become a burden to the student and parent. The parent will finally approach the teacher with the problem of lessons not being “fun” anymore.  The teacher then realizes that discipline wasn’t established because so much “fun” was put into the lessons. Discipline, at this point, would drive the student farther away because the false values of “fun” will no longer sustain the student.  This is why “fun” as a goal is so misguided.

Ron Clark, author of “The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck — 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers,   “The truth is, a lot of times it’s the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone.”

Giving good grades is very related to instructors that emphasize “fun” in their teaching.  A real pet peeve of mine is when I enter my students into various student evaluations or music festivals and 100% of them get superior ratings.  I’ve been a judge in these events and we are told before hand that we will be called out if we give low scores.  This really hinders the teacher that would like a little support to push their students to their highest potential.  Why should I work harder, the student reasons; I always get a superior rating.

I remember when I was in grade school in the late 50’s and early 60’s.  Music class was a class that no one took seriously.  If one got a poor grade in music class it was overlooked because it wasn’t really that important of a class.  I think that attitude is still held by many today.  Piano lessons are not really that important.  If my child doesn’t do that well it’s no big deal.

Parents, remembering their musical memories of piano lessons, ask me, almost beg me — I just don’t want my child to hate it.  My solution to this desire is to take a bold and courageous stand — PLEASE!!  Give your child a chance to hate music; because if you do not they almost certainly will.

COMPARISONS BETWEEN FUN AND ENJOYMENT

Having said all this I do not want to give the impression that piano lessons are a dreary and joyless undertaking.   I DO want to make, as forcefully as I can,  the point that making lessons “fun” will diminish optimum learning and produce superficial results as compared to piano lessons in the hands of a gifted teacher that strives to capture the imagination of the student.

One time I went to a pre-school and observed a music class.  The teacher was having the students march to some music.  The students were going around in circles while the music was playing.  The teacher would even say — I don’t see marching.  Let’s lift those legs high.  Then the students lift their legs high.  The class laughs as some of the boys exaggerate the lifting of their legs.  But I noticed there was absolutely no connection  between the students and the music.  It was pure fun but really lacking in any educational value.  A parent may observe this activity and think the children are being educated about music.  Students will tell their parents that they had fun in music class and maybe even tell their parents they learned how to march.  Everyone is happy.  Everyone had fun.  I’m looking at this and thinking what a useless activity.

This activity is based upon “fun” but is terribly anemic on educating the student.  What can be done to bring this activity from one of shallow fun and questionable value to true enjoyment and true educational value?  First, a groundwork of rhythm must be laid.  Students must be able to respond in sync with a rhythmic beat.  My definition of a March for pre-school students is a March is music in 2’s.

So our first activity, therefore, is to count together as a class in 2’s.  We count together ONE-TWO ONE-TWO ONE-TWO.

After we do that we add great rhythmic clarity by counting ONE slight louder than TWO like this —  ONE-TWO ONE-TWO ONE-TWO.

After a rhythmic pulse is established students find a partner and and we play pat-a-cake counting ONE-TWO ONE-TWO ONE-TWO.  The next step is to repeat the activity while singing Pat-a-Cake.

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man
Bake me a cake as fast as you can
Pat it and roll it and mark it with a ‘B’
And put it in the oven for baby and me
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The next step is to listen to a March.  I choose a March with a very regular rhythm in duple meter.  The next step is to play Pat-a-Cake to the March.  Then we count in 2’s to the March.  At this point I simply instruct the students that marching is counting with their feet – ONE-TWO_ONE-TWO.  Then we listen to the March and march in place.  Through all these exercises I’m watching the students to see if the students are responding to the music with rhythmic accuracy.  Once that connection is made with a good number of the students THEN we march in a circle and we practice until we get the greatest number of students to respond accurately to the March rhythm.  This is an educational exercise that is enjoyable in every step. It’s not dreary and joyless; yet, it’s very strong in educational content.  Students enjoy the many activities.  The point is that each activity is directed to the goal of getting students to accurately and rhythmically respond to a March.

STRIVE FOR AUTHENTICITY

Neil deGrasse Tyson, famed astrophysicist, once commented about the blockbuster movie Titanic.  The producers of the movie strove to make the movie authentic in every detail.  Upon watching the movie our famed astrophysicist was quite satisfied with the whole experience except for one seeming insignificant detail.   The night sky of the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, the night the Titanic sunk,  was not the sky that was filmed for the movie. The wrong stars and constellations were pictured.  This point took away from the authenticity of the film.   The sharp eye of Dr. Tyson caught this immediately.  As an interesting aside; word got to the producers of Titanic of deGrasse Tyson’s observation and they are going to reedit the night sky to made the movie accurate on this point.

Applying this point to piano teaching is that we need to educate our students with an eye to musical authenticity.  I do not think a teacher can teach authenticity without incorporating a great deal of musical vocabulary into their teaching.

I think we can draw a cosmological analogy that Neil deGrasse Tyson, himself would be proud. Cosmologists tells us before the creation of the universe there was no space and no time.  Or, to put this in contemporary parlance there was no “there” there.  But upon the creation of the universe there was a great expansion of space and the primordial particles began filling that space and time began.  Stars and galaxies weren’t yet formed nor would be brought to existence for ages to come.  What existed were four fundamental forces or attractions that exerted their influence to the eventual creation of stars and galaxies.

The piano teacher does no less than create a musical universe within the students mind.  Within this space we have the four fundamental interactions of music; melody, rhythm, harmony and timbre.  Just as man’s understanding of the universe became more clarified through centuries of study; the universe of music, through skilled instruction and the diligent study of the student, will begin to take shape.

The beginning is the most important part of the work. Plato

Using the analogy of the teacher creating the student’s musical universe gives Plato’s quote an accurate insight to the importance of the first teacher.   From the very beginning by the way we present each idea we realize we are fashioning the students mind to understand greater and greater ideas.  It took aeons of time before the first stars were formed from the initial matter created at the beginning; and even more aeons for the formation of galaxies.  In like manner it’s going to take a considerable amount of time before notes, rests and dynamics develop into expressive phrases that develop into a simple AB form and yet more time still before they can understand a more complex Rondo form, and yet more for a multi-movement symphony or concerto.  Yet, in the teacher’s creation of the musical universe being created in their student’s mind, since we have an understanding of the musical universe, it’s only proper that we plan our materials to set up layer after layer to lead to an accurate picture of what the musical universe will look like.   This is why the first teacher and the beginning is the most important part of the work.

Because of this, it is very important to teach accurate musical vocabulary from the very beginning.  It is also important to expand the student’s vocabulary from the very beginning.  After a student understands triple meter we can begin to expand on that with different compositions – the waltz, the landler, the scherzo, the mazurka, the minuet.  Each of these ideas express triple meter differently.  If we form students in this degree of authenticity and accuracy then we are filling in our student’s musical universe. Given enough time a big picture begins to develop and a connection of facts begin to gel and a panorama of musical culture emerges.

Studies have shown that good vocabularies can be directly related to subtlety in musical interpretation.  The word “happy” is certainly a fine word to use as an interpretive clue for a piece of music they’re learning.  But, we could also use words as “mellow” or “elated” or “joyful” or “content” maybe “festive” or “buoyant” or “tickled”.  If we go through each word with our student and discuss the different shades of meaning we can find the exact shade of “happy” we want to express.

Approaching piano lessons in this manner goes far beyond “fun”; it goes into comprehensive learning and understanding.  The whole process goes far beyond “fun” and becomes very very interesting.

Many have learned of the “Mozart Effect”; that music lessons can be a great boom for intellectual development.   But, the desired “Mozart Effect” will not have a chance to take root in the shallow waters of “fun”. True satisfaction comes from the enjoyment in learning something well.  Your child may not know the difference in a piano lessons that is based on the shallow “fun” level or on the level of comprehensive “enjoyment” but after several years of lessons it makes a world … let’s make that a universe of difference.

Look for Part 2 of Piano Lessons Are FUN? THINK AGAIN!! for the benefits your child will experience by having a teacher that values your child’s education over simple amusement and “fun”.

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Greetings!!  Welcome to this installment of Mr. Severino Presents.  I think you’ll have fun going through today’s music lesson.

Look at the picture.

What animal do you see?

The lion is known as “the King of Beasts”.  Kings and lions can be described with the word MAJESTIC.  Majestic describes things that are grand and noble or stately and dignified.

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Now what animal do you see?

Of course, we have a picture of a turtle.  Turtles do not move very fast.  In fact, because they are so slow, people may express things as being as slow as a turtle.  If you are on a trip and caught in traffic you may say a turtle is moving faster than this traffic.  We characterize turtles as being slow.  Or, maybe we could say it like this …      S___L___O___W !  !  !

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What is our next animal?

How would you describe a monkey?  Did you ever go to a zoo and observe the monkeys?  If you went to the zoo and saw the monkeys how did you react?  Did you ever see monkeys in cartoons?  Did the monkeys make you happy?  We can describe monkeys very well with the single word PLAYFUL!

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Finally, what is being described in our fourth animal card?  The butterfly!   Butterflies are a favorite part of summer.  Their beautiful colors make them very fun to watch.  A very good word to describe the butterfly is to say they are FLIGHTY.  They fly from place to place, from flower to flower. They move to each destination with grace and motion.

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We described each of our four animal creatures with a characteristic word.

Lions are MAJESTIC.

Turtles are SLOW.

Monkeys are PLAYFUL.

Butterflies are FLIGHTY.

Music also can be described with words because music also has character.

We are now going to listen to 4 examples of music that can also be said to be MAJESTIC, SLOW, PLAYFUL and FLIGHTY.  Your job is to tell me if we are listening to …

LION MUSIC (majestic)

TURTLE MUSIC (slow) 

MONKEY MUSIC (playful) or

BUTTERFLY MUSIC (flighty)

There will be two short quizzes.

QUIZ ONE will have 4 questions.  QUIZ TWO will have 4 questions.

Before beginning, print out the Character in Music QUIZ SHEET  [Click HERE]  Play each musical example.  Decide what animal creature best fits with the musical example.  Put the example number in the upper right hand corner of each creature you decide upon.  If you wish, color each animal creature on the QUIZ SHEET.

To do the second quiz print out a second copy of the Character in Music QUIZ SHEET [Click HERE]

QUIZ ONE

QUIZ ONE – EXAMPLE 1

QUIZ ONE – EXAMPLE 2

QUIZ ONE – EXAMPLE 3

QUIZ ONE – EXAMPLE 4

.

QUIZ TWO

QUIZ TWO – EXAMPLE 1

QUIZ TWO – EXAMPLE 2

QUIZ TWO – EXAMPLE 3

QUIZ TWO – EXAMPLE 4

Would you like to know how you did?  Click HERE for the Character in Music ANSWER SHEET.

Listening for character in music asks us to use our imagination in ways that most of our school work does not.  Yet, this is the daily work of composers and musicians.  YOUR JOB, as a music student, is to use your imagination to best express the character that is found in every composition you perform.

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

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