P.S. One of the resources I share in the podcast is my favorite digital recipe manager: Paprika. I just saw they are having a big Thanksgiving/Black Friday Sale that will get you 40-50% off both the apps and desktop versions. I LOVE having the desktop version as well as the app – totally worth it!
As we’re just getting started with the start of the 2020-2021 school year I just wanted to highlight four of the best-selling Music Labs here on Piano Pantry as well as mention the kickoff of Tim Topham’s new Top Music Marketplace.
While I have the ability to sell products right here on Piano Pantry (and will continue to do so), Top Music Marketplace is one of the first websites (at least that I’m aware of) to set up one location for music teachers to sell their products.
While it’s a great opportunity for teachers who don’t have their own online platform to sell products (sign up here), it’s also an opportunity for those like myself that have a platform to reach an even bigger audience – and for that, I’m in! 🙂
Of course, it also makes it convenient for you as well to be able to search out a multitude of products in one location – some of which you might not otherwise have had exposure!
I just wanted to drop you a quick note and let you know that I’ll be a contributor on a webinar put on by The Francis Clark Center this Thursday, May 21 @ 11:00 a.m. EDT.
Our topic will be focused on games during online teaching. Other contributors include Nicola Cantan, Joy Morin, Christina Whitlock, and Melissa Willis. What a great crew and I’m honored to get the chance to be a part!
I’m guessing you know most of these ladies but if you don’t, here’s a little about each one:
Today we are celebrating the best-of-the-best finds from the past 24 posts – from #151 to #174.
As usual, in celebration of a milestone, there will be a giveaway at the end. Woot, woot!
What is it, you ask?
I’ll be giving away 1 copy of “The Sessions” book – you choose which book you would like!
My only rule for myself is that this post would contain no more than 25 of the best items from these past weeks.
In order for an item to make the top 25, it had either to still be quite interesting or something that I absolutely love. It also had to hold value for us both now and in the future. In other words, is the item (fairly) timeless?
I’ve broken them down into a few categories to make it easier to consume.
Piano Adventures can be purchased digitally! Find it on Kindle, Google Play, and iBooks. Another option is to use the Piano Adventures Player app and pay $4.99 per level. The grapevine says these don’t include title names, dynamics or fingers though so just FYI). (Credit to Ally Santos who shared this on Piano Teacher Central!)
I’ve been loving having bananas in my freezer at all times lately but they’re a mess to defrost when you freeze them with the skins on. I was just thinking I needed a new way when I came across this: The Best Way to Freeze Bananas for Smoothies and Baking (Kelli Foster | The Kitchen). I did it and it’s true!
Description: In this collection of insightful essays, the author describes fundamental principles of human learning in the context of teaching music. Written in an engaging, conversational style, the individual essays outline the elements of intelligent, creative teaching. Duke effectively explains how teachers can meet the needs of individual students from a wide range of abilities by understanding more deeply how people learn. Teachers and interested parents alike will benefit from this informative and highly readable book.
Why I love it: The first sentence to the preface of this book says it all. "This collection of essays is not about how to each. It's about how to think about teaching and learning."
Teaching is neither necessary nor sufficient for learning. People can learn without being deliberately taught and a teacher can inform, instruct, explain, and demonstrate in the presence of students without the students' learning what the teacher intends to teach. (Page 10)
Learning to play or sing any scale, any exercise or any piece is never the real goal of music instruction...The real goal... is for students to become superb musicians, doing all of the things that superb musicians do, irrespective of what is being played or sung at the moment... The far-reaching goal remains the same from the first day of instruction to the time when the student reaches the highest levels of artistic musicianship. In this sense, the goals of the lesson plan never change, regardless of the skills or experience level of the students you're teaching. Only the contexts in which the goals are taught (i.e. the activities, the music) change over time. (Page 29)
Students need to learn to study effectively, to practice effectively, to think effectively. So, when and where will they learn that? In class, with us. Not by our telling them what to do when they're alone in a practice room or in a carrel in the library, but by our leading them through the very activities that we expect them to do on their own in our absence. (Page 61)
...the decisions of what to teach when are central to artistic teaching. (Page 103)
In order to become independent thinkers and doers, learners must eventually use information and skills in situations in which they have had little or no prior experience. (Page 141)
All of this suggests a redefinition of what it means to learn something. Much of what we learn as part of formal education is presented to us in very limited contexts, and we have few opportunities to practice applying what we know and can do in contexts beyond those in which the knowledge and skills are initially taught. But if the goal of educaton is that students learn to use knowledge and skills effectively in the future, even in unfamiliar circumstances, then transfer must be definited as the goal of instruction. The goal is no longer the acqusition of knowledge and skills but the application of knowledge and skills in situations that have not been taught explicitly. For the developing musician, the goal is no longer to play a given piece beautifully, but to play beautifully (period). (Page 157)
Description (from GIA): The perfect introduction to Edwin E. Gordon's music learning theory!
With clear and compelling language, Eric Bluestine sheds light on the most vexing issues in music education—all the while drawing from the contributions of perhaps the most influential thinker in the field today, Edwin E. Gordon. In the process, Bluestine unlocks the mystery that frees a child’s mind to think on its own musical terms.
Why I love this book: Please don't let the fact that it's an "introduction to Music Learning Theory" deter you in any way! Even if you weren't necessarily looking to learn more about MLT, music teachers of every instrument and philosophy will get great value from and depth of understanding on how to teach music from this book.
In all my years of music education, this is the first book I read that really addressed how to teach "music." That is, how to understand the sound that music is and not just the symbols (a.k.a. music "notation") that we often define as teaching music.
I hold the elegantly simple belief that learning to understand music is its own reward. (Page xiv)
One of the basic tenets of Music Learning Theory is that children do not audiate intervals; they audiate functional tonal patterns made of intervals...In short, we don't audiate pitches, or even intervals. We audiate structured pitches, pitches that we organize into functional patterns that relate to a tonal center. (Page 42)
Music education could be separated into four topics. They are 1) the musical and pedagogical principles that give rise to Music Learning Theory "irrefutable truths about music and music education"; 2) Music Learning Theory itself; 3) learning methods; and 4) classroom teaching (techniques, musical examples, and materials). Now, think about these in a pyramid shape with #1 as the larger foundation and #4 as the top of the pyramid. (Page 60)
The nature of Music Learning Theory is that one cannot use it directly. To use it, a music teacher must design a method based on it, and then use techniques, materials, and musical examples to get the method off the ground. (Page 75)
A child is not a miniature adult! (Page 88)
If we are to help our students to become independent musicians and musical thinkders - our most important task - then we must encourage them to generalize what they hear. (Page 149)
Description: Through the eyes of a simple piano teacher, learn the strategies to remove any self-made learning obstacles so that you can achieve all you put your mind too.
After ten years of teaching piano, Matt had become completely disillusioned with his career choice. Teaching was increasingly more frustrating, students were more difficult to motivate and coping with the stress had become much more challenging. He was on the verge of quitting until he decided to have a cup of coffee at a café suggested by his GPS. That’s where he met Ray and that’s when everything started to change.
An engaging, funny and thought-provoking parable, written as creative non-fiction, Coffee With Ray will introduce readers to revolutionary ways of communicating that will help make students become more accountable and teachers more skilled at facilitating learning.
Why I love the book: I especially love that this book is an easy read. It's simply a direct peek into the life of one teacher and is a beautiful example of how we can learn to be better at our profession by learning from others not in our profession. This would be a great summer read. It feels casual but is still directed toward being a better teacher.
Teachers tend to think about teaching a subject. When you redefine yourself as a facilitator, you become responsible for facilitating your student through the learning of how to teach himself. (Page 61)
Instead of telling my students what they should do, I offered suggestions and asked them to take responsibility for choosing goals that felt best for them. (Page 102)
I asked her what she had accomplished this week that she felt proud of (I found that to be a better and more effective way of starting the lesson than asking them if they had practiced.) (Page 102)
[The last four excerpts are focused on using "but" vs. "and".]
I like the way you made contact with that pitch, Mike, and now you’re ready to turn your back foot. (Page 74)
The point is that if you validate someone’s performance, as Dominic did, and then you use the word ‘but’ to create a change in the performance, the student never remembers what came before the ‘but.’ “If, however, you use the word ‘and’ as the invitation for change after the validation, the student feels he has earned the right to go onto the next part of his training and he will both remember the validation AND create the change. (Page 75)
You feel as though there is always something to fix. While that may be true, the word ‘but’ creates a feeling of ‘less than.’ It creates a closed condition for learning as well as an ‘undesirable’ feeling. The word ‘and,’ however, creates a feeling of greatness, of progress. It creates an opening for learning and that is a much more desirable feeling. (Page 76)
Everything you have ever accomplished was at one time outside of your comfort zone. Yet, by labeling it as hard you put a question mark on your ability to learn or accomplish it. By labeling it as new you never question your ability but, instead, actually acknowledge that you are capable. (Page 78)
Those are my three favorite books! Do you have any favorites? Share them in the comments!
My Reading Lists
If you would like to check out some of my posts on books I've read in previous years, check out these posts.
As you can see, I haven't kept up very well with publishing my annual reading list. However, I do include books I'm currently reading in my monthly "secret letter" which goes out at the end of every month.
If you would like to be on my mailing list so you can receive that monthly communication, you can sign up here.
OK, I’ll admit I didn’t come up with this week’s title completely on my own. I was inspired by Seth Godin’s post “Seeing Clearly in 2020.” LOL
It was the perfect title though for the first Friday Finds of 2020.
What will you see from this weekly post in the upcoming year?
What will stay the same… This will continue to be a Piano Pantry staple in the same format each week with around 10 good things put together in one list just for you.
What will change… In the past month, I’ve been trying to freshen things up with two small tweaks. First, notice each week now has a title. The items may or may not necessarily all fit into that theme, but it will help distinguish each week a little more.
Also, my creative flair will change up the Friday Finds image according to themes, months, holidays, seasons, etc.
That all. 🙂
Just for fun, did you know that this isn’t the first time Friday Finds has gone through small changes?
Phase one – Every week was titled by the date. The most popular of those, Friday Finds 05.13.2016 was actually the last one! That only lasted two months (thankfully) until I realized how boring it was to just use the date.
Phase two – Every week was titled from two or three items on the list to try and catch your interest. The two most popular from this phase were:
I found it started to stress me out a little not only having to come up with the list and meta description (blogger stuff), but also pick the items that would create a catchy list in the title. So, phase three gave me a little mental break.
Phase three – When I announced the countdown to the big #100, I started titling them with the number. 96, 97, 98, 99, 100! (I follow Joy the Baker who titles her weekend list this way. I figured if it worked for her, it could work for me!)
A beautiful poem on the conversation between us and our pianos. “What Music Gives Us.”(Nicole Douglass | Tonara)
There are certain foods that I’m just weird with. Meatloaf, spaghetti, and chicken soup are the first that quickly come to mind. I’m not a big fan of any of them and it has to be pretty darn good for me to partake.
This chicken soup, however, I can handle (and it’s not chicken noodle soup). It uses Israeli Couscous!) The addition of ginger, garlic, turmeric, and fresh herbs make it rich in flavor and high in nutrient goodness. (Monique Volz | Ambitious Kitchen)
Please note that there may be links to Amazon in this post. Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.
Twenty-five of my absolute favorite items and posts from the past 50 weeks made it onto my offerings last week. One of those items, a $13 pack of stickers (that I’ve shared more than once), was offered as part of a giveaway to celebrate.
I’m pleased to announce that using Google’s random number generator, out of 21 comments/entries, the winner is…
The first person to comment on this post! Congratulations, Gina F! I’ll be emailing you to get your details.
We had our Fall group class last week and even though Halloween was two weeks away, I made it a “Halloween” group class.
As students entered, I was playing some of the pieces from Jason Sifford’s “The Creeps” book. Students would then tell me if it was in duple or triple/major or minor.
I’ve had this book for a couple of years but because I don’t do a lot with Halloween, I hadn’t pulled it out yet. Now I’m especially glad to have it as part of my music library as the pieces are pretty awesome!
It’s not currently available on Amazon, but you can get it from Sheet Music Plus following this link:
Addressing students trying to stretch and place one finger on each key:
I find it useful to have students practice bringing the hand to the keyboard with their eyes closed to avoid this problem. Most are shocked how few keys the hand covers.
Addressing students dropping their thumbs below the keys:
In addition to reminding students of their natural alignment, I enjoy the image of the thumb tip being a “ghost with a flashlight (or laser beam).” The light can go up or down, side to side, or shine at an angle but it should always shine on the fallboard when not playing.
Before involving the fingers I find it useful to have the student make a gentle fist (like holding a bird’s egg) and play short rote pieces on black key clusters to feel how the weight of the forearm is responsible for producing sound.
Addressing the hand and forearm working as one unit:
To get the sensation of the hand and forearm working as a unit I like to have students give me “high-fives” and playing “pat-a-cake.”
How I’ve missed Benjamin Steinhard’s blog all this time, I don’t know, but I finally added his blog to my Feedly. Check out why I prefer to use an RSS like reader like Feedly for following my favorite website rather than email in “Managing Internet Content the Easy Way” (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry).
Please note that Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.