This year we are welcoming a new team of reviewers who are discovering all kinds of interesting publications that are proving useful when selecting 40 Piece Challenge repertoire. This review is by piano teacher Rachel Yeo from NSW.
ChordTime Piano Jazz & Blues is proving to be an interesting addition to my collection of teaching materials. For those familiar with Faber method books, this book is around Level 2B with an emphasis on mastering chords I, IV and V in the keys of C, G and F. As the title suggests, it is a collection of jazz and blues tunes and it introduces swing rhythms.
This book is a great way to introduce swing rhythms. It provides strategies such as tapping exercises and mini-practice plans to help a student to get into the swing of it (excuse the pun!). It also has questions at the end of each piece to encourage the student to think about the chords, rhythms and musical terms used. The collection features twelve songs consisting a mixture of original tunes as well as popular ones such as Fly Me to the Moon and Tea for Two.
I like this book as it introduces a whole new world of piano repertoire at an early stage. The pieces sound cool and harder to play than they actually are. It is great not just for students in their first or second year of piano lessons but it also provides wonderful sight-reading practice and distraction from exam repertoire for higher grade students. I like this book so much that I want to buy the next level of the same series!
Celebrate The Piano Teacher magazine’s International Piano Week this week by playing Umi’s Lullaby by Sonny Chua.
You can download Umi’s Lullaby (free!) until September 8th by clicking here.
Young students might sight read it as a duet with their teacher. Older students could sight read it outright. Or play it for your very young students and ask them who they think Umi might be!
Share performances of Umi’s Lullaby on Youtube using the hashtag #IPWUmi
Or just watch these great performances.
Brisbane teacher Angela Turner’s trio arrangement of Umi’s Lullaby as performed at the Australian Piano Duo Festival
Jazz composer, performer and teacher Jeremy Siskind from his studio in Michigan, playing Umi’s Lullaby in the style of Debussy
Or in the Style of Bill Evans
Or in the style of Jeremy Siskind
Keen to find out more about Jeremy Siskind? Here are a few of his books that would be idea 40 Piece Challenge repertoire:
Around a grade 3-5 standard
Around a grade 7 standard
Around a grade 6 standard
Challenge teacher Rebecca has involved her local community in helping to support and motivate her 40 Piece Challenge students.
Rebecca uses the excellent Coffee Card idea and places a sticker on the students card for each piece learned.
When her students finish 10 pieces they can redeem a free hot-chocolate or ice-cream at her local café. The café provides this free of charge (wow!!!) and it allows the student a chance to celebrate their achievement with their parents.
I wonder how could you could involve other local businesses in your studio 40 Piece Challenge?
Some other little reward ideas to help motivate students along the way…
Lip Balm Treble Clef: VWS012 Keyboard: VWS014
And something for your adult students!
Issue 5 of The Piano Teacher magazine is due out next month and we are very excited to be launching a whole new look! Sneek peek below!
We are also thrilled to be launching International Piano Week!
Melbourne composer, Sonny Chua has written a piece he describes as a ‘musical smile’ especially for The Piano Teacher magazine.
To ensure you receive your copy of The Piano Teacher in the post (free!) click here to subscribe.
We are encouraging all piano teachers to have their students perform it during lessons in International Piano Week – September 1-7th 2014
The piece is called Umi’s Lullaby and there are so many ways you can use the piece.
- Play it as a duet with beginner students
- Use it as sight reading for older students
- Include it as one of the 40 Piece Challenge pieces
- Encourage students to improvise with it
- Write a variation or arrangement and add other instruments
- Add words or write a story or performance notes about the piece. Answer the question: Who is Umi?
We encourage students to upload their performances to Youtube and include International Piano Week Umi in the title. Then tweet about the performance using #IPWUmi.
Students might like to perform it at a school assembly or in a concert for family or friends.
Music stores might invite students in to perform Umi’s Lullaby on display pianos.
Teachers might contact a local newspaper or radio and give an interview about how your studio is participating in International Piano Week; write a blog about their experience preparing for IPW or upload outstanding or unusual student performances to http://www.facebook.com/AustralianPianoTeachersMusicHUB
The possibilities are endless!
We will collate a tally of performances heard and report back in Issue 6 of The Piano Teacher magazine.
Sneak peak of Issue 5! Piano Teachers click here to subscribe. It’s free!
The Piano Teacher magazines:
Piano Teacher Christina, from Rockhampton sent through a photo of her 40 Piece Challenge wall with this message:
“I wanted to share with you the bit of fun I’m having with my students at the school I teach at.
Our room has 2 walls carpeted for acoustics, so I thought I’d use this to my advantage and design this playing board for the students.
Each student has been given a little character to decorate which is their playing piece for the year.
I have some very creative students!
We are very excited about the challenge and I have some keen beginners who have already moved up the board.”
Thanks, Christina. We look forward to seeing how your students progress.
We heard from a lovely piano teacher from WA today, who writes about the challenge:
“I did venture into the 40-piece challenge last year (read about it on one of Tim Topham’s blogs) – well, I gave my students a choice of 20 or 30 or 40 pieces – and found there was quite an even spread amongst them of which challenge they undertook (though I did have one little lad who opted for the 20 piece challenge but completed that in 2 1/2 terms and then asked me for another challenge sheet!!)
I asked parents to give their children a little treat/reward at 10, 20, 30 and 40 pieces and asked the kids to make sure they reminded their parents!!”
Irene – WA
Teachers, to encourage suitable musical “rewards” to be given by parents to students, why not assist with a list of repertoire suggestions. Ensure the repertoire is easy enough so that the student and parent achieve instant musical gratification when the book is gifted.
For example, if a child has just completed their 3rd Lesson Book in a series (for example Level 3 of the Hal Leonard Student Piano Library)
suggest one of the books from the correlated series, perhaps a Broadway or Popular Collection. Allowing the parent to choose gives them some ownership or the idea and allows them to hear the music that they want to hear in the home.