It’s that time of year again! I’m busy brainstorming for next year’s studio practice incentive theme, so it’s time to pass along all of the studio decor from last year’s theme, The Secret of the Keys, to another teacher. And it could be you!
Here’s what some of my students had to say about it:
“It was cool doing the thumbprints!”
“I enjoyed the personal touch of putting our own fingerprints on the poster.”
“It was awesome putting the cipher cards together and decoding the clues.”
“It was a good mystery.”
And from a parent: “The clues and cipher cards were a good motivator.”
One special winner will receive a large studio poster (a $45 value) and the complete studio theme downloadable package (a $25 value). Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing to win. A winner will be chosen using a random number generator at noon (CST) on Friday, July 19, 2019.
Have you seen the Rhythm Randomizer website? I recently learned about it and am thrilled to have such a versatile, yet simple (and free!) rhythm tool to use with my students! In General Options you can select the time signature and number of measures you want (2, 4, or 8), and Note Options lets you select which note and rest values you want included in the rhythm patterns. I can see this being especially helpful for students who need extra reinforcement with specific rhythms!
If you’re looking for simple, easy-to-follow piano scale fingering diagrams, look no further! A complete set of Major, natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor keyboard fingering diagrams has been added to the Music Matters Blog store, and you can download them for free!
I’ve begun including these in the back of my student assignment books as part of our piano practice incentive theme each year and it saves so much time not having to jot down fingerings as students start new scales. Here’s a handy tip: when you open your print dialog box, you can select to print multiple pages per sheet if you want to create smaller diagrams and fit more per page. Or, if you’d like a book that’s already re-sized and compiled for you, along with a key signature chart, and an illustration of each scale on the music staff in addition to the keyboard, check out The Pianist’s Book of Musical Scales and Keys.
[A Note from Natalie: I’ve just barely begun exploring Tomplay, but I’m looking forward to learning more about what they have to offer. And I’m thrilled that they are offering all Music Matters Blog readers a promo code to access their entire music library for free for 30 days! See below for the code and instructions. I’d love to know what you think as you check it out!]
Which easy concertos can you get your students to play? When thinking about a piano concerto, it can be difficult to know which easy concertos to start with, or even how to choose the movement which suits you best. This is why we have drawn up, in collaboration with the interactive sheet music app Tomplay (click here to check it out!), a non-exhaustive list of concerto movements in order to guide you in this choice, whether you are an amateur pianist or a teacher wishing to tackle a concerto with one of your pupils.
With the Tomplay app, it becomes easy and fun to learn a concerto. Thanks to its interactive scores, Tomplay reinvents sheet music for an interactive and immersive playing experience.
Suited for all levels, from beginner to advanced musicians, Tomplay allows you to play along with your favourite classical, pop, rock, folk, jazz, film and world music scores accompanied by real recordings from professional musicians. The interactive scores scroll automatically on-screen, creating an immersive, concert hall experience. With features such as controlling the speed of the score’s audio, looping selected passages, and self-recording, Tomplay makes learning music simpler, more effective, and more fun.
You can find the score of each concerto mentioned below in the Tomplay app.
Mozart: 2nd movement of Concerto n° 23 in A major, K. 488
Mozart began working on writing this concerto while he was in Vienna. Composed in 1786, the work is contemporary with his opera, The Marriage of Figaro. It has become a real “hit” and is used abundantly in film scores and advertising, but nevertheless has lost nothing of its beauty and musical quality. It has been interpreted by greatest pianists such as Vladimir Horowitz, Hélène Grimaud, Arthur Rubinstein and Murray Perahia. It has been played by orchestras led by the most prestigious conductors. When talking about Mozart’s Concerto n° 23, Olivier Messaien concluded that it is “the most perfect of all, if not the most beautiful.”
For the sublime second movement of Concerto n° 23, the Adagio, Mozart chose a ternary form and created a dialogue between the piano and first violin, illustrating a nostalgic swaying motion close to despair, but where light continues to pierce its way through.
The notation of the Adagio is relatively easy to read; moreover, this movement invites the player to work on interpretation, imposing precise fingering with the aim of rendering the most delicate nuances. The use of the pedal is also interesting without being too complex. Some bars are even an open invitation to improvisation, something at which Mozart himself was quite adept.
Don’t hesitate to download the sublime, slow, and technically accessible 2nd movement of Mozart’s Concerto n° 23 via the Tomplay application. The application offers you many tools for optimising your learning: make notes on your score, adapt the tempo to work at your own pace, or repeat bars over and over again. When you feel ready, go for it and take advantage of the orchestra recording synchronised with the score to accompany you!
Bach: 2nd movement of Concerto n° 2 in E Major, BWV 1042
Bach found the inspiration for writing some of his works in Vivaldi’s Concertos for Violin, Opus 3 in particular. This is the case with the Concerto n° 2 in E Major, a strong and poignant work.
The movement we advise you to tackle is, here again, an Adagio, and the difficulties of notation and interpretation are quite similar. Playing this movement will call more on the flexibility of your left hand as it is this which leads the melody on the piano in response to the violin.
With the Tomplay accompaniment of a string orchestra recorded on a high-quality audio track, you will have the option of recording yourself and printing your annotated score if you wish. An opportunity to become familiar with the art of ornamentation – produced in our score – which was so dear to Johann Sebastien Bach!
Beethoven: 2nd movement of the “Emperor” Concerto in E-Flat Major, Opus 73
Written at almost the same time as his 5th and 6th symphonies, this is the last of five piano concertos composed by Beethoven. It was begun in 1808 while Austria was preparing to go to war against Napoleon and the composition of the concerto was even halted during the invasion of Austria by the Great French Army. Some draft pages are moreover annotated with words such as “song of triumph,” “attack,” or “victory,” reflecting the war-like atmosphere of the time.
Using the Tomplay application, you will be able to tackle the 2nd Adagio un poco mosso movement. Contrary to the rest of the work, which is judged to be very heroic, this part in E-Flat Major is quite lyrical and contrasts with the rest of the work. In this slow movement, the high-quality audio recording will allow you to blend your interpretation with the orchestra to unfold a richly embodied melody, close to meditation.
Thanks to the technology of the Tomplay application you will be able to play the movement accompanied by a professional orchestra! You will also be able to adapt the tempo to your progress in interpreting the score (useful for working on the many rises and falls in this sublime movement), and look again at the bars you’re not happy with by activating the “loop” function.
Ravel: 2nd movement of the Concerto in G Major, M. 83
Created in the fabulous Salle Pleyel in Paris in 1932, Maurice Ravel’s Concerto in G Major is his penultimate finished work. As with his Concerto for the Left Hand, it was written in fulfillment of an order from the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was composed over the course of two years. Although established according to the characteristics of the canons of the classical era, this concerto contains many references to jazz and remains to this day one of the most often played pieces by Ravel.
Tomplay offers you a high-quality recording of the orchestral score to accompany your interpretation of the second Adagio assai movement. You begin the movement by playing a long and expressive melody before the orchestra unobtrusively joins you in the 34th bar of this virtuosic contemplative work full of the delicate colours which are so special to Ravel.
As far as rhythm is concerned, the organisation of the ¾ bar time can pose some difficulties for the youngest pupils. The metronome built into the application will be very useful for them, allowing them to place the accents in the best way to create an impression of duple time and will help them master the waltz movement with the left hand while their right hand is trying to put them off.
Haydn: 2nd movement of Concerto n° 11 in D Major
Composed around the end of the 1770s for clavichord or pianoforte, Joseph Haydn’s Concerto n° 11 was only published in Paris in 1784. Although no original score remains of the whole concerto, the two cadenzas of the 1st and 2nd movements still available are those played at the time by the composer himself.
Moreover, it is with the Poco Adagio cadenza that the Tomplay application allows you to practise, accompanied by an orchestra and via a quality play-along recording. Thanks to the score, which scrolls on your tablet, you can be totally immersed in the music and you can get help or find inspiration from the professional recording of the work available in the score. Dive into the era of the classical concerto through the interpretation of this second slow movement!
We’d like to provide Music Matters Blog readers a 30-day free trial using voucher code MUSICMATTERS19. Just follow these simple instructions:
Select the monthly or the yearly subscription offer.
Register and create your account.
Enter the promo code MUSICMATTERS19 and fill in your details. You will have free unlimited access to the whole Tomplay catalogue for 30 days.
Tomplay Interactive Sheet Music is our newest advertiser here on Music Matters Blog, and we are grateful for their support of the online music education community! If you are interested in finding out more about how you can promote your company, event, or product, just send us an e-mail and we will let you know about our advertising packages.
The students have had a blast as super sleuths throughout the year earning cipher cards and decoding clues to solve the mystery! We concluded the year with a scrumptious mystery dinner that included menu items such as Rhapsody in White and Maestro’s Bravado. Here’s a shot from the occasion:
This summer my daughter Claire and I are participating in a short term missions trip to volunteer at a Joni and Friends family retreat for families of children with disabilities. I remember watching the incredible story of founder Joni Eareckson Tada as a young girl, and I’ve always been so impressed at how the organization cares for those who are often overlooked or rejected in society. One of my sisters was born with cerebral palsy, so I know firsthand the value that individuals with disabilities can contribute to our lives; I have learned so much from her and her determination to overcome and succeed!
In light of all this, I’ve decided that for every purchase made in the Music Matters Blog store during the month of June, 100% of the proceeds will go toward supporting our trip to volunteer at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat this summer. Also, through the month of June, you can use the following coupon code to receive 20% off everything in the Music Matters Blog store: Summer19
Have you heard of Tomplay yet? They are our newest advertiser here on Music Matters Blog, so I’ve been perusing their website and exploring all that they have to offer. It’s pretty amazing!
With an extensive interactive sheet music library, you can find everything from the latest pop songs to arrangements of Classical favorites. There are a handful of free pieces included, but most can be purchased ala carte, or you can opt for a subscription plan. I’m just getting started, but so far the variety and quality of the sheet music and the accompaniment tracks is appealing. They have versions for desktops, tablets, and mobile devices, and music for many different instruments. I’m looking forward to continuing my explorations and seeing if this is something that I want to “officially” incorporate into my piano teaching this fall. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
A little less than a month ago a new music theory website joined the ranks of myriad others providing helpful (and free!) resources for piano students or any musicians wanting to strengthen their understanding of music theory. Musicca offers exercises related to notes, intervals, chords, scales, and key signatures. Each category offers a variety of drills to help with piano keyboard recognition, music notation, and ear training. If you create a free user account, you can track your progress. The interface is clean and intuitive, so students of all ages should be able to easily navigate and utilize this great new free resource!
Musicca also has a Facebook page where they recently shared the above riddle (with the caption “Can you solve this music puzzle? Most musicians will fail! ? Learn music theory for free on www.musicca.com.“). I love things like this, so I thought I would share it and see if anyone here wants to take a guess at the answer. Share what you think in the comments below!
Josh offers detailed, practical suggestions and then demonstrates each one with various repertoire pieces. His explanations are easy to understand and accessible for any intermediate or advanced pianist. A wonderful set of practice tools that will help any student improve their technical skills and playing ability. I enjoyed being reminded of techniques that I’ve learned and taught over the years as well as learning some new tips!