Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaching Plans and Outlines

Here are some suggested first steps for beginner piano students:

  1. Playing by imitation
  2. Melodic analysis of song for form (AABA, for example)
  3. Five finger hand positions of right and left hands
  4. Tonic and dominant-seventh chords
  5. Rhythm exercises
  6. Sight reading
  7. Transposition
  8. Theory
  9. Technique
  10. Home Practice
  11. Creative work
  12. Block and broken chords
  13. Analysis, melodic and harmonic
  14. Playing the song and observation of cadences
  15. Melodies for the left hand
  16. Technical development through varieties of fingering
  17. Increasing finger independence
  18. Piano pieces without words
For more information about piano classes NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Adding Chords to a Melody

Adding chords to a given melody is a great type of creative work to learn keyboard among beginner piano students. In supplying an accompaniment to a given melody, the student first studies the melody thoroughly until it can be played fluently, and until the child can think the tones away from the keyboard. Then he experiments at the piano with the I and V7 chords until an acceptable accompaniment is evolved. Each child decides for himself the way he thinks the chords may best be used. Then, the student plays his arrangements to the piano teacher and comes to an agreement as to the most effective accompaniment. That may be transcribed to his composition book.

Another creative project might be to have the student complete an unfinished composition. This gives him the opportunity to make up some music. Give the student the first half of a little song, and have him finish it. First have him complete the melody. The part which is given is like a musical question, and the student completes the answer. Then he must complete the accompaniment with chords which sound well with his part of the melody. When it is all done, it will be fun to sing and play some pieces which he has helped to compose.

His attention should be called to the balance and proportion of the two phrases. He should observe the feeling of "question" in the first phrase and of "answer" in the second. Children enjoy the game of musical "question and answer" in which the child or teacher invents the question and the other invents the answer.

For more information about piano classes NJ, please contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio today.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Piano Student Performance Review

Review pieces should be used to build a repertoire. Each student should master five or six pieces that can be played with confidence and polish, preferably memorized. This repertoire may change frequently, with newer pieces replacing older ones. Such pieces could be played at home when company comes or relatives visit. When it's time for a recital performance, the piano teacher and the student can choose the best from among present or former repertoire pieces.

According to Julie Gunvalson who teaches piano lessons Agoura Hills CA, there must always be a purpose for review. Tell the student what needs to be improved. Accuracy of rhythm, notes, fingering, dynamics, phrasing, and pedaling are elements that often need extra work, especially when preparing for piano performance.

A typical student will work one, two or somethings three weeks before finishing a piece of music. During that time, most practice effort is devoted to the basics -- correct notes, rhythm, fingering, dynamics, etc. Although you give an award seal or star when a piece is completed, there are often things that the student could have done better. Review is an opportunity to improve and work on the fine points of performance.

For more information about piano lessons NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chopin and the Keyboard

Chopin advocated the unrestricted use of the thumb on the black keys, and often used it to strike two adjacent keys simultaneously, much to the dismay of the conservative pedagogues of the day; he would sometimes pass the longest fingers over the shorter ones without the intervention of the thumb if that would secure a better legato; he recommended a flat finger for a singing touch; he employed the organist's favorite device of finger substitution to sustain melodies; he favored a low piano stool, finding it more comfortable than the high one adopted by the hard-hitting virtuosos who liked to descend on everything from a great height. Above all, there was his "flutter pedalling," that continuous vibrating of the sustaining pedal, which cast a warm glow over everything he played, yet gave it at the same time its unusual clarity. He reacted strongly against the so-called "finger-equalization" schools of Czerny, Kalkbrenner and others, maintaining that each finger has individual characteristics, which are there to be enhanced, not equalized away. "The third finger," he would tell his pupils, "is a great singer," and he would then go on to unfold entire phrases with this finger taking the major share of the work.

From the Music Teacher by Alan Walker.

For more information about piano instruction NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Piano Teaching Tips

  1. Singing the Song. Young piano students should try singing the song before trying to play it on the piano. The piano should consistently be a medium of expression. The student first knows the tones that he wants to play, and then makes the piano express what is in his imagination.
  2. Playing by Imitation. The piano teacher should play a phrase on a keyboard so that the student can observe every detail, and then they imitate what they see the teacher do. The early stages of every form of endeavor begins with the process of imitation. Students, however, are expected to begin the graduation development of independence in their work with recurring ideas and technique. The teacher should gradually withdraw assistance reserving the imitative processes for unfamiliar ideas only.
  3. Sight Reading. A firm foundation for sight reading can be laid in the first year of piano playing -- not through laborious note-by-note reading, but by teaching the student to learn to think and feel tones and notes in groups, melodic and chordal. Note-to-note playing seldom develops into skillful sight reading. The student can learn to sight read from recall of phrases or parts of phrases of familiar songs.
  4. Form. All music, and all other forms of art, is based on principles of form. The two essential principles are repetition and contrast. A song, for example, might consist of four phrases, each phrase on a separate line. Three of the phrases are alike (repetition) and one is different (contrast). The letter A is used to designate the first phrase and all similar phrases in the piece. The letter B designates the contrasting phrase. A study of the form of a song will have immediate application in the process of learning the song, because the student will perceive that when he can play the first phrase, he is also able without further study to play the next. The rhythm of one phrase covers the rhythmic problems of the complete song, at the simplest level. a) The teacher shows the student how to play the first appearance only of a phrase which is repeated. b) The student must be led to realize that the repetition of a phrase should be played with the same fingering as its first appearance. c) The phrase divisions of the song must be carefully indicated by raising the hands at the point of the song where the singer would breathe. Sometimes this motion of the hands can be slightly exaggerated until the principle of phrasing becomes firmly established.
  5. Technical Development. Insistent development to position of body, arm and hand should be emphasized from the beginning. The relative height of the keyboard and bench should be correct for the student. The distance of body from keyboard is also important. Constant attention should be given to the position and action of the arm, hand and fingers. There should be no rigidity, only ease and relaxation. Some five-finger and chord studies are designed as technic drills.
  6. Major Scales. The practice of all the major scales should be continuous. Pieces can be transposed as a helpful practice to play the scale of the key into which the composition has been transposed. Scale work eventually should include the major scale, natural minor scale, harmonic minor scale, and melodic minor scale.
  7. Further Technical Development. Development of freedom in the feeling of relationship between the student and keyboard and ease of attack and release, through constant changing of the location of the hands up and down the keyboard should be promoted. The development of accuracy, smoothness and singing tone by keeping each hand in position directly above the five keys of the phrase or group of tones to be played is encouraged. Over time, a gradual extension of range over the keyboard can be encouraged, but the student should not be advanced so rapidly that he loses the feeling of the presence of the keys directly beneath his fingers. This feeling may be maintained through relaxation, from the shoulders, of the arm and wrist. Varieties of fingerings introduced should include replacement, expansion, contraction, substitution, broken chords, perhaps organ point, finger crossings, and hand crossings.
  8. Pedaling. Too early use of the pedal can likely lead to many bad playing habits. The student should be trained to listen to his own playing, and to secure a smooth legato and musical phrasing without the pedal. Gradually introduced, the pedal will enable the student to sustain a chord while adding other tones too distant to be played at the same time. A richer closing effect is then established. Practice may be given to developing a graceful sweet of the hand from the first position to the other distant key. An effort should be made to play the effects without looking at the keys, thereby developing the important feeling for the keyboard so essential to pianistic freedom. This development of playing with less visual attention to the keyboard should be gradual.
  9. Creative Work. The student should be encourage in original thinking by experimenting at the piano until he achieves a desired sound, and then to write the notes accordingly. The student can learn a melody until he can think about the tones when he is away from the keyboard. Then he experiments at the piano with the I and V7 chords until an acceptable accompaniment has evolved. The student decides for himself how the chords should be used. Then, in class, the student plays his arrangement for the teacher, and they come to an agreement as to the most effective accompaniment.
  10. Call and Response. The teacher can sing or play the first phrase of a two-phrase song, and have the student reply by singing or playing the second phrase. His attention should be called to the balance and proportion of the two phrases. He should observe the feeling of "question" in the first phrase and of "answer" in the second. He could himself invent a question and answer.
For more information about piano lessons NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Beginners Technique

A few young piano students may have difficulty in finger and hand control, resulting in stiffness. Probably the student stiffens because he feels that what he is trying to do is very difficult and will require a lot of effort and concentration. This very attitude can result in stiffened muscles, and the harder he tries, the stiffer he becomes. It is very important to relax the student and explain that at first you are only going to ask him to do things that are very easy, until his hands and arms 'get into training.' Everything should be made to appear easy and natural No physical action should be beyond the scope of the child's hand.

In my experience I have noticed that big problems arise where students seem to be making a continuous effort to 'push down' the keys. Piano playing requires execution and release and the moment of release is usually the more important. For this reason, I would suggest that most early exercises are played gently without force. Encourage the student to move from one level of tone to another as soon as possible.

Beginners should not practice too long at first, perhaps no more than fifteen or twenty minutes. This is really long enough for eight years and under. Do not begin finger exercises at this stage. On the other hand, any young piano student who enjoys sitting at the piano and picking out little tunes he has heard, or making them up and trying out improvisation, should not be discouraged or corrected, even in the technique is not perfect. I think that in our eagerness to teach all things correctly, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that the piano student wants to play the piano. The assigned work must be carefully done first, but after that a young artist should be free to enjoy his own music in any way he wishes!

For more information about piano lessons NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Young Beginners Piano Posture

The student should be seated at the piano at the correct height, so that his arm from elbow to wrist slopes neither up nor down. His arm should be slightly poised. It should support his hand, and not drag it downwards. The hand itself forms a slight uphill slope to the knuckles, curving away to the finger-tips. It is very important not to sit too close, and if the student's feet do not reach the floor, using a footstool is advantageous to stability. Those who can reach the floor should sit slightly forward on the stool, so that a little of the weight of the legs rests upon the feet. Anyone too low for the keyboard can sit on a pillow or raise the bench.

The distance from the piano is tested by the student reaching towards a very high note with the left hand and then toward a low note with the left. We want to encourage free movement over the keyboard from the start and not restrict the beginner to a five note range. With those who can reach the floor make sure they sit well forward on the stool. By using less stool, they are able to swing from side to side and cover the keyboard with ease. Many Intermediate to Advanced students come to me having problems with four-octave arpeggios because they have always sat solidly, as on a chair. A simple change of position works wonders.

For more information about piano lessons NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Harmonizing Melodies

As soon as students have learned two chords, I and V7, and have begun to practice pieces for two hands, melody and accompaniment, they can try to adapt harmonies to familiar melodies. Keep the melodies within the compass of the five-finger position.

Students can be led to listen to the agreement of melody and chord, and to change the harmony at the proper place in the melody according to the musical effect rather than because of the teacher's directions. This elementary study in the feeling for the proper relation of harmony and melody is important and is actually a fundamental lesson in harmonic ear training.

After harmonizing a simple melody, the student can write the chords in blank staves.

A little study will also show students that by changing the third tone of a five-finger group they can alter the effect from major to minor and vice versa.

If you need to find a piano teacher NJ, please contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Scale Playing

A thorough knowledge of scales in all keys is a fundamental necessity for the pianist. Scale practice, indeed, must be continued constantly throughout the career of the greatest artists. Scale study offers excellent ear training as a student must hear the scale pattern in order to play songs in various keys. Scale study is fundamental in transposition. It also provides drill in step and half-step relationships in scale patterns. Early songs that give five-finger and triad positions in each hand for every key are invaluable in scale playing. They are an excellent early step in the study of keyboard harmony.

The foundation for scale playing is laid in the early songs where through transpositions the first five tones of all the scales are learned, leaving only the addition of three tones to complete the ascending scales. In accordance with the pedagogy of the first year, the ascending scale occurs in various songs furnishing the fingering which is used in all ascending scales. The descending scale also is included with first year fingering.

The scale is the basis of melody, and this practice trains the ear to appreciate melodic relationships. With motivated students, the scale can be taught immediately from the beginning lesson, including the thumb-under position of the full eight-note scale. This introduces students immediately to fingering of the keyboard. Once the full scale is mastered, the students can proceed to full keyboard scales.

Scales are the beginning of finger exercises, as well. Scale drills, however, should not be forced upon young students or they may rebel. They will want to learn songs right away. After all, isn't this why they wanted to learn piano in the first place?

For more information about piano lessons NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chord Study

Early lessons with the Tonic Chord lead young students to discover that it consists merely of the first, third and fifth tones of the familiar five finger position. As soon as this is apparent the tonic chord will be played easily by either hand in any key that the student learns, both in the keys given in the book and in their transposition.

It should be noted that (with the exception of the first presentation of I) the chords are played first divided between the two hands either as the lower part of a four-hand duet or as an accompaniment to singing. This process is similar to that in which the melodies with a compass of more than five tones are played with two hands before undertaking the difficulties of expansion and finger crossings. By playing the chords with two hands any tendency towards awkwardness and stiffness of the fingers is avoided and a relaxed condition of arm and hand is maintained.

Chord playing and the playing of chord progressions will be learned far more readily if the student concentrates on this one problem for a few lessons. Where it is necessary to divide the attention between melody in one hand and chords in the other the difficulties are far greater than when melody and chords are treated as separate problems. After two hand experience has clarified the chord progressions and made them familiar to the student, the next forward step of playing melody in one hand and chords in the other will be much simpler and less likely to be accompanied by muscular tension.

The chords are first taught by imitation, the teacher playing on the keyboard followed by the student. All keys are fingered alike, and are therefore equally simple according to the presentation process. Of course no analytical description or discussion of these harmonies is appropriate to this stage of progress. The student hears the effects and is shown how to produce them. Thereafter he expresses his harmonic feeling through the appropriate use of these chords in the selections in his piano books and in harmonizing assigned familiar melodies. The teacher should be careful in suggesting for harmonization only such melodies as may be accompanied by this very limited harmonic vocabulary.

The student is naturally eager to play pieces in which one hand has a melody and the other hand plays accompanying chords. Such pieces seem to a young student to be musically advanced and highly interesting, and his desire to play them should not be suppressed. The teacher, though, should try to postpone the more difficult step until the chords and chord progressions are made familiar through demonstrated playing. The best way to do this is to stimulate the interest in two-hand chord playing. This can be done in a few ways:

1. By having the student play accompaniments for the singing at home
2. By the student accompanying his own singing at home
3. By transpositions of the chord progressions into as many keys as possible
4. By inventing a variety of chord figurations

These varied experiences are interesting to the student, and will give him considerable drill in two-hand chord playing as a preparation for the more difficult steps which follow.

For more information about piano instruction NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Every piece of music should mean tones to the student, not merely keyboard fingering adjustments. Transposition should be based on this principle. The early stages of transposition consist merely in finding the five finger positions in various keys and then playing the transposed melody with the same fingering as in the original key. Ear and muscular memory aid with this process.

At first the transpositions should be to keys made familiar by the pieces the students have previously studied, but very soon students will enjoy exploring the keyboard to find other possible transpositions. For the first of these new keys the piano teacher could show the five finger position. She may then play the phrase in several other keys, calling attention to the similarity of tonal effect. The student is then encouraged to find the five finger positions and play the phrase in other keys. The new five finger positions should be discovered chiefly by ear. Let the step and half-step relationship come as a result of these ear training explorations rather than as preliminary directions. Occasionally a student must be guided by such directions, but only when the teacher observes that he is becoming impatient or discouraged.

The contrast between major and minor five finger positions provides a definite place for clarifying the step and half-step relationships on the keyboard.

Melodies involving the entire scale are naturally more difficult to transpose than the five finger melodies. Even so, let the ear be the chief guide, and reserve mechanical directions as a last resort. In these melodies, it is most helpful for the student to play the scale of the key into which he intends to transpose the selection.

For more information about learning transposition, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Physical Expression of Rhythm. Rhythm is fundamentally a muscular rather than an auditory experience, and should be taught as this. Our natural impulse to a march or strong downbeats is to keep time in our bodies. In training the student in rhythm it is important to develop the physical awareness and response to the beat. The simplest form of this drill is to tap the hand or the foot synonymous with time keeping. Note that much music in 4/4 measure has the feeling of two beats to the measure, as has much music in 6/8 time.

Clapping. From the first lesson the students should clap the music. The hands are clapped for each note and held together during the value of the note. For a long note the hands are held lightly together with a slight swing at the moment of each beat. Between the notes the hands must be separated briefly to prepare to clap again. For a rest, the hands should be separated with a definite motion, the opposite of the clapping motion. For notes, hands move towards each other; for rests, away from each other.

Clapping the music is an excellent device for clarifying the meaning of the notes with respect to time. Students readily distinguish between quicker and slower motions of hands, and apply this analysis to the notation of their music.

Phrase Rhythm. The relationship of the phrase rhythm and the beat is too often taught in reverse order, on the assumption that the beat will eventually develop a feeling for the phrase. Rather, the reverse is true. In fact, a degree of relaxation between the phrases is desirable, even sometimes with a slight interruption of strict time. Every phrase should be played as a unit, just as it should be sung to one breath. Understanding keyboard phrasing is also fundamental to sight reading.

Counting Time. Counting time really presupposes an understanding of rhythmic experience. Otherwise it is mechanical and loses its musical significance. In the earliest years, occasionally the piano teacher may count time, especially in connection with a discussion of time values and signatures. But students should be introduced to counting and rhythm shortly thereafter and introduced to listening to music to actually hear the beat in music that they may duplicate the experience in playing pieces. Counting and rhythm are not the same thing. Rhythm has much more to do with groupings of notes and accents. Counting has to do with actualizing the time signature per measure.

For more information about learning tempo in classical music, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studios.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Different Kinds of Drills

Drill on Five-Finger Positions on Treble and Bass Staves. The positions are typically shown in the early literature. The piano teacher drills the student in finding these hand positions and then may call for the "five-finger position of the right hand, treble staff, key of G," or "the five-finger position of the left hand, bass staff, key of A-minor," etc. This drill can be reversed by the teacher playing the phrase and the student pointing to the notation in his book. This helps with early fundamentals in learning keyboard fingering.

Theory of Music. Naming the notations, key signatures, names of chords, and so forth are learned incidentally and not through drill. After a while when these are consistently called by their names, students will soon associate the correct names with familiar characters. Drilling theory is distasteful to young children and unproductive. But once notations and their names are familiar, it is good to occasionally question the student to be sure that the association is correct. Don't explain, merely use and call by name. Organized explanations will come in later years.

The Tonic Chord. The tonic chord is learned as it appears in the literature, and then serves for drill similar to the drill on the five-finger positions. All chord study should be presented as sound, not merely as notes.

Writing Music. As chords are studied in later lessons, students can write chords in predesignated keys. Later students are encouraged to discover experimentally the application of these chords in harmonizing the melodies, and to write the chords in the staves of predesignated pieces themselves.

Two-Handed Melodies. Drills can be developed in finding the two-hand positions and alternating the hands on the keyboard. The alternation of hands must be practiced until it can be done without an appreciable break in the legato passage. These little studies should never be played with both hands together.

For more information about piano instruction NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Sight Reading

One of the most important objectives of singing and playing is the development of fluent sight reading. Every selection provides material for correlating ear, eye and hand. The piano teacher should realize that the child's early experience is best not directed to playing new material from the notes. This practice leads merely to note-to-note reading, rather than to a comprehensive grasp of music notation. Instead of reading new material the child should have an opportunity to develop ready recognition of the notation of familiar passages of music.

For example, a child of at least five years old can be taught the C major scale fairly easily. Once the scale is learned, the piano teacher can point out pieces of the scale found in the song. Often beginner songs are composed of scale fragments. This will also facilitate fingering by reminding the student that the fingering used is the same as or similar to that used in playing a scale. The familiarity of the scale fingering gives the student an anchor of self-confidence in recognizing phrase patterns.

Songs can be freely used as sight reading drills. After a piece has been learned so that the student can play it readily and accurately, the piano teacher can choose a phrase and ask the student to play just that much. The indication may be given by directions such as "Play the second phrase," or the teacher might point to the phrase.

With a minimum of effort the student learns to recognize a familiar phrase and to play it in its correct octave, as indicated by the treble or bass staff. This practice in recall can avoid note-to-note playing and lead to real music reading.

For more information about how to learn piano NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Inventing Variations on a Melody

After learning a piece, have beginner to intermediate students find the same hand position higher and lower on the keyboard and play the melody in various octaves. Let them discover in how many places on the keyboard the same phrases may be played. What different effects result from playing in different octaves? Imagine a particular effect and find the octave most appropriate to produce it. The piano teacher may play keyboard phrasing and the student try to find the octaves he has heard. The phrases may be divided between the two hands and played in different octaves; occasional hand crossings may be used.

Have the student transpose the composition into different keys. Change a major key to a minor key and see what the effects are.

The variations are almost limitless in their possibilities, and the imaginative and inventive teacher will find this a fertile ground for stimulating creative practice.

This activity is great for

1. Encouraging creativity and playfulness by inventing new combinations and effects
2. Stimulating the imagination to find new effects
3. Clarifying spatial relationship of the keyboard, and developing the muscular consciousness of the extensive proportions of the keyboard
4. Promoting freedom of arm movement and to learn keyboard facility

For more information about piano instruction NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Training for Feel of the Keyboard

The development of the feeling for the keyboard is important from the start. From the first lesson, the hand positions should be made a matter of feeling the keys rather than merely seeing them. This development of the muscular sense continues throughout the training of the pianist, and eventually becomes almost an automatic reflex action. The ability to feel scale and chord hand-positions coordinates with sensing the aural effects of the tones produced, an essential in fluent sight reading.

The first step in playing by imitation is to establish the hand-position. The five fingers of the right hand are placed over the first five key of the scale involved. From this hand position it is a simple step to playing, by combined ear, eye and directions, the five finger pieces at the elementary level. The notation is then shown to the student as a picture of what he has played.

The same procedure is then taken with the left hand.

Next there is an alternation of hands, the first phrase being played by one hand and the second phrase by the other.

From this first experience in playing by imitation the student progresses to the subsequent steps of learning piano, each new element being presented through imitation. It is important to demonstrate the correct hand position, fingering, phrasing, and expression. From the first lesson the student should be made to realize that good piano playing demands thoroughness and attention to detail. He should be encouraged to think of the piano as a means of self-expressing, and that by beautiful self-expression can he find pleasure in his music.

For more information about piano classes NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rhythm & Singing

Singing will serve to keep the piano playing rhythmic and up to tempo. The student at the piano should be trained, if a mistake is made, to find the place at which the teacher is singing and join in with the song rather than to stop the song to agree with the error of the pianist. This training in keeping the music going is extremely important. The student should only be sent to the piano when the piano teacher is reasonably sure that he is able to play the music correctly, and then he must be required to keep the performance going at the correct tempo from beginning to end. If a mistake occurs, let it be corrected later and the difficult spot drilled upon until mastered, but avoid stopping in the middle of a piece to make correction. This is also a vital exercise in sight reading sheet music.

So-Fa Syllables. The use of so-fa syllables is recommended. The syllables are valuable in expressing the tone relationships within the scale, and offer the simplest means for tonal ear training. A difference of opinion exists between the advocates of the movable do and the fixed do systems. Once a system is selected, however, it is best to follow through with the methodology.

For more information about piano lessons NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Teaching Songs

It's always preferable to teach songs without using the piano except to get the right pitch. After the song has been learned the piano teacher may sometimes play an accompaniment as the student sings, but this should be done sparingly, postponing adding the harmonic element in the song until it occurs in the regular course of piano instruction.

Some children don't sing well, and occasionally one is met who can't carry a tune. This does not necessarily mean that this child is not musical. The non-singing child should be urged to listen nevertheless. He should be encouraged to sing alone as much as possible. Often he will be helped by singing beside another child who has a good voice. Someties he will imitate the voice of another child better than the voice of his piano teacher. Sometimes he can sing in a lower pitch than other children,and sometimes he can be encouraged to sing the song in a key within his own voice range. Every effort should be made to help him discover the light, high head voice which is the natural way for children to sing.

The song ca be presented a phrase at a time, first scanning the words of the phrase, then playing the melody, and lastly asking the student to sing the phrase. Thus it is possible to teach the song by rote, phrase by phrase.

Children should always be led to feel the spirit of thesong, as bright, lively, sad, quiet, etc., rather than arbitrarily directed to sing slow, fast, loud, or soft. Tone quality should be appropriate to the spirit and mood of the song. This helps young piano students develop an ear for expressing music.

For more information about piano classes NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How to Teach Song

In teaching a rote song, it helps to familiarize the children with the song as a whole before asking them to imitate the pattern sung for them by the teacher. While listening to the song as sung, it is best that each child has his book open and follows the music and words as he hears them. This helps in the development of his grasp of musical notation.

After the child has received a general impression of the song as a whole, the teacher sings the first phrase the the child imitates. The phrase corresponds to a line of text. If some portion of the phrase is not imitated correctly, the teacher repeats the phrase a a whole or repeats the figure in which the inaccuracy occurred, until the student responds correctly. The second phrase is learned in the same way. Then the two phrases are presented together and imitated. If the song is longer, the remaining phrases are taught in the same manner, first a phrase at a time and then combined in accordance with their structural relationship in the song.

After all the phrases have been taught and combined into sections, the teacher and the student sing the whole stanza. This process helps young students learn to hear music phrasing and notation.

For more information about a piano teacher NJ, contact Brbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Musical Orientation

Singing. Just because a child is a non-singer (monotone), does not necessarily imply that he is not suited to piano study. Sometimes these children correlate eye, ear and hand better than singers do.

The song approach, though, does make the ear the guiding force. Singing helps develop expressive playing. The song approach provides a connecting link between music associated with text and absolute music. Singing naturally introduces the study of music form and interpretation. Singing is a much truer and more musical rhythmic guide in early piano instruction than is the practice of counting aloud. It reduces mistakes at the piano and allows for self-correction. Further, the song approach easily leads to ready playing in all keys. Singing is the best background for the development of fluent sight reading. The song approach has the strongest, simplest and most interesting appeal for home practice.

. The piano teacher can play or sing something in simple duple time, having the student clap keeping time, gradually accenting more strongly, making crescendos, diminuendos, accelerandos, and ritardandos. Then change to triple time and try the same game.

Pitch. If children have been singing with so-fa syllables, you can test pitch discrimination simply. Play or sing various intervals, having the student name them by syllable. If they have had little or no music experience, give them an idea of "high" and "low"; then, playing or singing, start with the extremes, high and low, and gradually bring the intervals nearer and nearer together. The readiness with which a student distinguishes between the higher and lower tones indicates his power of pitch discrimination.

For more information about piano lessons NJ, contact Barbara Ehrlich Piano Studio.