Hello students and parents
I am excited to tell you about a piece of technology which i think will be very beneficial to piano students. I went to a presentation about this app (Piano Maestro) for iPad at Ruggero’s Store in Raleigh which my friend Allen Herther has a sheet music section. I rarely recommend technology in connection with learning an instrument because, although there are many apps out there which claim you can learn instruments on your own, it requires incredible discipline to do this and typically students do better, faster with a real teacher. However, this app is amazing. You play your real piano with it (acoustic or digital). The app hears the piano through the iPad microphone. I have the teacher’s app and when I invite students, they are able to download it for free. It is only free in the USA and I guess somewhere down the line at least I will have to pay but I am happy to do that as I really think it will help and motivate students.
Pino Maestro is marketed by Joytunes: https://www.joytunes.com/apps
This week I will be introducing students to piano maestro in a short part of the lesson. I don’t really want to spend lesson time using the app because I feel parents and students pay me for my expertise but as a homework tool it will be great for many students. It does mean you need to have access to an ipad, and I am sorry but they are expensive. It does not work on kindles but it does work on other tablets similar to ipads. It works fine on iPad 2 or higher or iPad air 1 or higher. So far I have not completely explored the app, mainly because I find it quite challenging never having been a big game player, but already i see that two skills are being developed:
1. Sight Reading – you must be able to read the notes to play with the app.
2. Fluency – you have to keep up with the notes flowing on the app. Many students who practice alone at home allow themselves to stop and start. Having that regular rhythm in your head (the internal metronome) is a skill that is hard to develop on your own. It is why I play duets in lessons with students so they have to keep in time with me.
However using the app is not a substitute for practicing pieces and technical work. The app cannot inject you with muscles memory or finger dexterity or even musicality. If students are going to work with the app I strongly suggest that regular practice comes first and the app last as a reward! Ah.. discipline! Have to start exercising it very early!!
The app has the facility for me to look at what the students are doing and where they are up to (one cannot skip some sections – they have to be completed before you can move on). I have yet to work on this facility!
I am so sorry but there is nothing equivalent yet for guitar or ukulele!
Now for some other news…
I have brochures for UNCG summers music camps for students. You can find all the information on the website: http://www.smcamp.org/ The camps are residential and on the Greensboro campus of UNCG.
Piano students who have been learning for 2 years in grade 6 -12 can apply. My students have been attending these camps for years now and I really like the way they are organized and particularly the professors involved. They are very positive and sensitive to students. Students who play in orchestras and bands can also attend depending on age, and so on (see the website for details). There is also a chorus camp for grades 9-12.
Ask me for a brochure.
At the end of every lesson I send an email from Evernote to either the student directly or the parent or both. The emails are short because I don’t want to spend half the lesson writing but they are a reminder of what the student and I have agreed they should work on in the coming week. There are various sections in the email: what I have suggested the previous week, what I am suggesting in the current lesson, record of payments and a note about fees due if any ( I do not send invoices unless they are requested). Students who are old enough to have their own email are old enough to look at it and work through it during their practice. Younger students might need some help in the form of parents making a short list to put on the piano or music stand or on a noticeboard. It depends on the student. I have 6 year olds who know exactly what to practice and they do! But then I have some middle schoolers who need a bit of supervision! It is all about that horrid word, discipline! I have to exercise it myself because I do confess that some lessons I do not get the emails done and have to sit for an hour that night and do them before I forget what I have said. Occasionally a parent has to remind me that they have not received an email, so sorry!
I have three times spare now where students have left or changed lesson times. I am not anxious to fill them but I will put them here in case there is a family member or student who really wants to take lessons or move lessons.
As always thank you for learning music with Flourishing Muse!