Posts Tagged ‘pre-school piano preschool piano’


Monkeys, Lions and Turtles (and even Butterflies) …….. OH MY!!

Four very different creatures.  Four very different characters!!  Let’s talk about each one.

What is the character of a MONKEY?  Think of a word that describes a MONKEY?  What’s your word?

My word is PLAYFUL.


What is the character of a LION?  What is your word that describes a LION?

My word is MAJESTIC.  This is why LIONS are known as the KING OF THE JUNGLE.


What is the first thing that pops in your mind when thinking of a TURTLE?  What is your word?

My word is S—L—O—W.  My mom would often tell me I was as slow as a turtle.


Finally, what one word best describes the character of a BUTTERFLY?

That one is pretty tough.  My word is FLIGHTY.  Butterflies quickly bounce from place to place.


Music can express these same characteristics.  Music can be MAJESTIC.  Music can be SLOW.  Music can be PLAYFUL.  Music can be FLIGHTY.

You are going to hear four excerpts of music.  Listen closely to see if you can hear its characteristics.  Is it MAJESTIC?  Is it SLOW?  Is it PLAYFUL?  Is it FLIGHTY?  Which animal is best pictured by each musical example.  Are we listening to LION MUSIC or TURTLE MUSIC or MONKEY MUSIC or BUTTERFLY MUSIC?


Which of the four examples was MAJESTIC ….. which one was SLOW ….. which one was PLAYFUL ….. which one was FLIGHTY?

In no particular order you just heard …..

1) March from the Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint Saens.

2) Concerto for Recorder, Oboe and Bassoon by Antonio Vivaldi.

3) Etude in G flat major by Frederic Chopin.

4) Offenbach melody from Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint Saens.

Let’s try again with another set of musical examples!!


Listen to each example and ask yourself; which one of the four examples was MAJESTIC ….. which one was SLOW ….. which one was PLAYFUL ….. which one was FLIGHTY?  Are we listening to LION MUSIC or TURTLE MUSIC or MONKEY MUSIC or BUTTERFLY MUSIC?

The MAGIC of music is that it can express almost anything even without using words.  In fact, some people say music is one of the most powerful languages that humans can experience.

In no particular order you just heard …..

1) Birds from Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint Saens.

2) Fragments for Woodwind Trio by Robert Muczynski.

3) Jupiter from the Planets by Gustav Holst.

4) Cello Sonata in D major (excerpt) by Johannes Brahms.

Thanks for listening to MR SEVERINO PRESENTS —Character in Music   and until next time — KEEP PRACTICING!!


“Click” on the Piano Lessons PLUS picture to visit Piano Lessons PLUS WebSite.


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An Old Man In Front of A WindowLook at this picture.  What do you see?  Most people would say I see an old man.  If that was your answer you are absolutely correct.

But is that ALL that we see?  What else do we see?  Do you also see the window in back of the old man?  YES!  This picture also contains a window behind the old man.

This picture teaches us about FRONT and BACK.  The old man is in the front of the picture.  The window is in the back of the picture.

Music also has a front and a back.

What we see first in the picture we can call the FOREGROUND.

What we see next in the picture we can call the BACKGROUND.

Music also has a FOREGROUND and a BACKGROUND.

The FOREGROUND is what our ears hear most easily.

But if we listen closely we will notice other musical sounds.  These other sounds make up the BACKGROUND.

Let’s now listen to a piece of music to find the FOREGROUND and the BACKGROUND.  Let’s listen to a song by the famous composer Franz Schubert.  Franz Schubert lived 200 years ago when the United States was a very young nation.  George Washington could have seen Franz Schubert as a little baby had they lived in the same nation.  Franz Schubert was born in Austria, one of the nations of Europe.

Franz Schubert composed beautiful songs with beautiful melodies.  The song we are going to listen to is called Hedge-Roses.  Let’s listen!

What did you hear FIRST?  What was in the FRONT or in the FOREGROUND?  Did you hear the singer?

But, upon listening a little closer did you hear a different musical instrument?  Did you hear an instrument that was in the BACK, or BACKGROUND?  Did you hear the piano?

This song by Franz Schubert has a FRONT and a BACK just like the picture of — An Old Man in Front of A Window.

The next time you listen to music listen for FRONT and BACK.  Listen for the FOREGROUND part and the BACKGROUND part.  This will help you to listen to music better and you will enjoy it more.  Learn to be a GOOD LISTENER!!

Thanks for listening to MR SEVERINO PRESENTS — An Old Man in Front of a Window   and until next time — KEEP PRACTICING!!


“Click” on the Piano Lessons PLUS picture to visit Piano Lessons PLUS WebSite.

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I would like to invite all parents with pre-school children to consider my Keyboard Kids – CYBER PIANO Program.

Between the explosion in online learning and the ever growing interest in homeschooling I’m ready to begin a pilot program that combines these two ideas where parents become the child’s first piano teacher.  Imagine yourself giving your child their first piano lessons under the guidance of an experienced piano teacher!

The concept of online education is one that’s only going to expand.  The following quote is from an article How Tech Is Changing College Life

Community college students are less digitally connected than students at four-year schools, but more and more people are making the Internet their education gateway. Twelve million students take at least one class online today — in five years, that number is projected to exceed 22 million. By 2014, analysts say, more than 3.5 million students will take all of their classes online.

If you read of the greatest musicians you will find that most began very young AND many were given their first training by one of their parents.  Mozart’s first teacher was his father.  Chopin’s first teacher was his mother.  I’ve been teaching young pre-school age children since the 80’s.  I have always been most successful when the parent accompanied the lessons to provide support and reinforce my instruction between each lesson.

I have found that many courageous home schooling parents feel confident to teach their child almost any subject EXCEPT MUSIC.  In that field they don’t feel confident.  My Keyboard Kids – CYBER PIANO Program is going to fix that.

What I am going to provide you is my Keyboard Kids Method Books 1 and 2 and My First Theory Book.  These books are geared for 4-5 year old beginners.

For an article on my Keyboard Kids go HERE. I will also provide Powerpoint presentations that accompany the Keyboard Kids Books that will give you detailed instruction on how to cover each and every page of the Keyboard Kids series.  If you don’t have Powerpoint you can obtain a free run-time version that will play Powerpoint files HERE.  Just follow the links.

Keyboard Kids – CYBER PIANO Program will also provide you, as part of the program, a weekly online consultation that you may use any way you wish.  We can use any of the free online video conferencing available; e.g. Skype.  I can A) answer any of the question you may concerning your teaching of the Keyboard Kids Curriculum OR B) I can give personal instruction to your child OR C) a combination of each.

If you’re interested in Keyboard Kids – CYBER PIANO Program and want MORE INFORMATION you can eMail me at dan@pianoteacherpress.com and if you live in the Wexford, Cranberry,Gibsonia area north of Pittsburgh call Piano Lessons PLUS at (724) 935-2840.

For more information about other exciting programs offered at Piano Lessons PLUS point your browser HERE!!  or HERE!! We not only offer piano lessons at our studio on Route 19 at 11565 Perry Highway in Wexford but we offer a variety of plans that keep your traveling down to a minimum.  Check that out HERE!! or HERE!!

Piano Lessons PLUS


(724) 935-2840






Begin teaching your own little Mozart!!

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Piano Lessons PLUS

In the late 80’s is when I made the jump into the world of computers.  I did a lot of reading and saw the great potential that was developing in using computers in music education.  I’ve been using computers ever since and have never looked back.

Today – a quarter of a century later – I see a new leap forward as the computer industry advances in making technology more immediately useful to educators.  The opportunities are too much to pass up.  What I can now offer students is so much more than I could when I began my professional teaching career in the late 70’s.  I can even offer a great deal more than I could when I began Severino’s Piano Keyboard Lab in 1988.  Let’s begin to explore what I can offer to piano students in this new wave of innovation.


Tablet Computers is going to bring computing to a new level usefulness.  The power that can be packed into a thin computing device the size of a book is revolutionary.  Here is how I plan to take advantage of this technology in my PRIVATE LESSONS at Severino’s Piano Lessons PLUS.  I will continue to use my innovative system of marking my students books by using highlighters to draw the student attention to my instruction.  (See “HIGHLIGHT” Your Teaching).  I will still continue to use the books and methods I’ve published through Piano Teacher Press.  I will still continue to utilize the creative music programs I developed for readying students for music lessons when I was going to schools as Dan Dan the Music Man.  I will still continue using the computer programs I designed that supplements the method books I designed in my Keyboard Kid series of books.  What I will now begin to offer is a new level and a new dimension of instruction using the newest technologies available to give you better and more creative musical instruction.

What I can now do is to made a COMPUTER NOTEBOOK for each student.  This notebook will include, among other things, mp3 files of key explanations given in my lessons.  Let’s say in a lesson there is a need for a thorough explanation of “key signatures“.  I can easily record this part of the lesson and include it in the student’s personal computer notebook.  After the lesson I can now send this is to eMail this recording TO YOU so you can review the lesson again at home.  The instruction can be reviewed for greater, more comprehensive learning.

Let’s say a little later in the lesson I assign a new composition.  Very often I would play the piece for the student.  Now I can make either an mp3 of the piece or even a video of the piece and put this directly into the student’s computer notebook.

I recently had a student learn – O What A Beautiful Morning from the musical Oklahoma.  We listened to this song on YouTube.  Now, I can put the link in the student’s computer notebook where they can listen to the piece again.  They may enjoy the piece so much they may even put it on their personal iPod.

Often at the end of a lesson I don’t always get through all the music the student prepared.  I can put a little note in the student’s notebook what we need to cover first at the next lesson.  I can put a notation into the student’s computer notebook and send it via eMail so it will not get misplaced.  I have a record and the student has the same record so there is less confusion and communication breakdowns.  Progress will gain consistency.

It is the practice of many teachers to play new assignments for their students.  What I can now do is make a video of that performance and again put it into the STUDENT NOTEBOOK.  They can now have the performance as part of their permanent record.  The student will not have to recall what they remember  from the lesson but will have live recordings and performances of the most important parts of their lessons.  This cannot help but make the piano lessons more effective.

I can also bring little inspirational quotes and easily put it in each students notebook to personalize the student’s notebook.  It will be much easier for me to get out universal messages to my students concerning recitals or auditions.  As it is now it’s easy for me to forget a family or two concerning an upcoming event.  Now it will be much easier to get my messages to parents.  This only scratches the surface to what I can do through Tablet Computers in making my studio run more efficiently and more professionally.


Another emerging technology that has emerged in the past few years is that of the teleconference; the connecting of people not only aurally but visually.  Some means of doing this is Google Plus – Adobe Connect – and the popular SKYPE.  SKPYE has become a popular platform for piano teachers to connect with student for a piano lesson.  A WebCam (Web Camera) often included with laptop computers, an internet connection and SKYPE (a free download of SKYPE software HERE ) is all you need.

I know many people, both adults and children, would love to take piano lessons if only it could be made a little bit more convenient.  Severino’s Piano Lessons PLUS is going to now offer a program of study where one can, for example, take only one lesson per month at my studio and the other lessons through SKYPE.  This would be especially helpful for busy professionals wanting a self-study program.  BUT with the advent of “cyber-schools” it is being found that young children can learn just fine through this type of computer technology.  Many people are even getting college degrees learning at home with a minimum of visits to a local university.  Please call my studio at (724) 935-2840 if this program interests you.  On the table below are the basic plans I devised for my expanding service of “CYBER-PIANO LESSONS”

30 minute PRIVATE 30 minute  PRIVATE 45 minute PRIVATE 60 minute PRIVATE 45 minute PRIVATE 60 minute PRIVATE
20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE
20 minute SKYPE 30 minute PRIVATE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 45 minute PRIVATE 60 minute PRIVATE
20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE 20 minute SKYPE
90 minutes  monthly 100 minutes monthly 105 minutes monthly 120 minutes monthly 130 minutes monthly 160 minutes monthly
$75.00 monthly $83.35 monthly $87.50 monthly $100.00 monthly $108.35 monthly $133.35 monthly

Some may have questions concerning the effectiveness of online piano lessons. Here is an encouraging note.  Actually, the nature of the medium gives way to increased focus and concentration.  Thus, one can more done in less time and actually costs can be contained.  This is why I designed my SKYPE lessons to be 2o minutes in length and pass that savings on to you.

American Journal of Distance Education, 24(2), 92-103. Orman, E. K. and Whitaker, J. A. (2010).

Time usage during face-to-face and synchronous distance music lessons.

This experimental study closely compares multiple aspects of applied instrumental music lessons in face-to-face and online lesson settings. Three middle school students (one saxophonist, two tubists) had lessons with a saxophone and tuba instructor respectively. Each student had a mix of face-to-face and online video lessons which were videotaped and coded for a variety of factors. When on-line lessons were compared to face to face lessons, there was a 28% increase in student playing, a 36% decrease in off-task comments by the instructor, a 28% decrease in teacher playing (modeling), and an increase in student eye contact. In the online lessons, less than 3% of the time was spent on technology issues, although audio and video quality concerns were mentioned.


I mentioned that I began my teaching career by going to my student’s homes.  When I saw the great things computer technology could add to piano lessons I began to do all my teaching at my studio.  Now with the advent of the new technologies including the tablet computer I can bring a large part of that technology from my studio to YOUR HOME.  With a  piece of equipment the size of a book, and a rather thin book at that, I can again offer piano lessons as part of my expanded services.

Again, if this is the type of convenience you need please don’t hesitate to call my studio at (724) 935-2840.  CALL TODAY!!

These EXPANDED SERVICES actually only scratch the surface of the exciting options I have available to offer my students.  My first studio, Severino’s Piano Keyboard Lab, had the byline – Where Traditional Instruction Meets Modern Technology;  That byline is still true and growing at Severino’s Piano Lessons PLUS.


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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 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.


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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.


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

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.


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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