Fill in the Reel

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Fill in the Reel

School began a few weeks ago, and our A4M students have started working on new music for the third annual 'Sounds of Silents' event ( mark your calendars for November 1! ). To help motivate students to practice with intentionality and care, John and I have created the "Fill in the Reel" practice challenge.  As you can see below, each student has a "reel board" on the studio wall which includes a border of large slides and small ticks.  Students may fill in a tick for each five minutes practiced, attending a lesson, bringing lesson materials, and completing written activities.  Slides are filled in after earning 30 tally marks (a successfully met goal) or 60 dots (not quite a success).  We want our students to set attainable goals each time they practice and  evaluate their own playing so they know how much they're progressing at home.  

Reel boards of Laura's piano students.

Reel boards of Laura's piano students.

Roger practicing the marimba with mallet and pencil in hand. 

Roger practicing the marimba with mallet and pencil in hand. 

The tally mark/dot practice method was not my original idea.  I am thankful that I attended Sarah Lyngra's workshop at the 2013 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. She explained her method using post-it notes to help students set clear visual goals directly on their sheet music.  See Roger below: his goal was to play through the first line of music with no stops and clear articulation.  At this point in his practice, he saw more unsuccessful attempts, so he needed to change something about the goal.  Slow down the tempo? Practice a shorter section perhaps? 

Roger marking a dot for an unsuccessful attempt.

Roger marking a dot for an unsuccessful attempt.

On average, students are earning between 20-30 tally marks and dots in each lesson.  Therefore, we expect everyone to earn more in their practice at home.  Although it is one more thing for a student to keep track of, this system really pays off!  It has been rewarding to see students realize their own successes and challenges.  In addition, students can show parents these marks as an effective way to communicate how their practice is going at home.

We are offering a few rewards for students who complete their reel boards with movie-related themes, but it seems that once they start to see measurable progress, it motivates them to spend more time "filling in the reel".  

Our next post up will be all about the 'Sounds of Silents' event.  We've chosen Buster Keaton's Sherlock, Jr., Florence Turner's Daisy Doodad's Dial, Winsor McCay's The Flying House, and Lotte Reiniger's Cinderella.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

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Piano Lessons are Good for You

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Piano Lessons are Good for You

Not sure if piano lessons will fit in your busy schedule?  Here is an incredible infographic that demonstrates countless benefits of studying the piano.  

Of course, one of the perks for me is being able to make music with my sisters, Sarah and Marylee. 

Are you convinced now?

 

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The Fabulous Frisco French Horns

As well as teaching piano, I enjoy playing for band events in the area as a piano accompanist.  No, I am not going to complain about the quality of the piano, late payments, or the difficulty of Gliere's horn concerto piano reduction.  Instead, I want to highlight some amazing players from Frisco High School, located about 14 miles west of our studio in Allen.

My friend and colleague, Mike Wharton, who toured with me in The Kings Brass, recommended me to the FHS directors, but I was hesitant about playing for additional events around the same time as Allen High School's event.  Since I'm always up for a challenge, I took on 22 students in addition to my 32 in Allen.  Although I spent 3-4 hours a day learning scores, it was a huge payoff when I began rehearsals...especially with the french horns in Frisco!

Now, I know absolutely nothing about the french horn, except the transposition to concert pitch.  So, this is not a post about how well they hit the "partials" but about the musicianship of the players.  It is a pianist's dream to play for anyone (amateur or professional) that has an understanding of the whole score, not just their own part, and especially enjoys what they are playing.  I knew immediately that they must all have an awesome teacher.  After brief interviews with Drew Hayes and Annie Ratner, I learned that Hailey Hoops of the Dallas Symphony is a teacher to many in the section.  Nathaniel Meeks, Abigail McCallum, and Kaleigh Gallant were the other great players I didn't have a chance to interview.

Performing Bozza's 'En Foret'

Performing Bozza's 'En Foret'

Also, the majority of the section is in the Wind Symphony of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, which brings back memories of my days in the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra.  I know that experience was crucial to my development of an artist.  

When I asked Drew and Annie who their greatest inspiration is, they both replied with "my dad", and I'm sure the they are quite proud of their accomplishments.  Drew's father, Gregory Hayes happens to be the band director of the Wind Symphony at Frisco High School, which was "weird at first but really kind of great," according to Drew.  His main goal in music to play at a level where everyone can enjoy the music he plays, and I think he has already met that one.  He hopes to attend SMU or Texas Tech this fall to study the horn further, and hopefully we'll all hear him in a symphony someday!  Annie's dream is to play for film scores, which was what I always wanted to do, too.  It was cool finding out that we're mutual film soundtrack geeks!

A goofy face on my part and Drew waiting to begin Gliere's Horn Concerto

A goofy face on my part and Drew waiting to begin Gliere's Horn Concerto

I hope you've enjoyed reading about the Frisco horn section that I had the pleasure of making music with, because it was a memorable experience.  I want this blog to be focused on celebrating other musicians, especially our piano/percussion students and the students I collaborate with.  Quick shout out to two Euphonium players at FHS that also blew me away: Aubrey Worley and Zach Altman.  

P.S.  Euphonium is my new favorite band instrument (toss up with the bass clarinet)

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Welcome to Allnutts4Music!

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Welcome to Allnutts4Music!

We are super excited about opening our new web page!  This part of our website will be dedicated to our music students and upcoming performance events.  

Laura has been hard at work for Texas UIL solo and ensemble with over 50 soloists to prepare for.

You will find new offerings on our website each week so stay tuned!  

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