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Posts Tagged ‘Piano’

I’ve seen this kind of thing before.  I know how music can change a person’s life.  I’ve seen it up close and personal in our own family.  But it never fails to amaze me when I see it again – changing someone else’s life – especially in such a dramatic way.  Enjoy!

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I am *SO* thankful for so many things this year –

for a loving husband of 34 years who fell in love with me 39 years ago and was willing to wait for me to graduate from high school and for him from college before we got married (we were friends before we were actually *interested* in each other),
for five beautiful, wonderful children and the extra-special blessing this year of a daughter-in-law who adores my son,
for an “adopted” daughter who has learned to believe in herself and also to say “I love you” and give terrific hugs,
for a sister who is a breast cancer survivor,
for a brother who is a cancer warrior just now,
for an aunt who is like no other, and we wouldn’t have her any other way (those of you who know Aunt Betty know what I mean),
for being able to stay in touch with my niece & nephew and my great-nieces through Facebook,
for renewed insurance eligibility for our daughter, Sara, (Thank You, LORD!)
for godly, loving friends who know all my faults (well, most of them) and love me anyway,
for a warm, loving, PRAYING body of believers who are willing and ready to stand in the gap for anyone in need of prayer,
for the awesome privilege of playing my flute for God’s glory each Sunday morning in the worship service at Zion,
for the joy of working with young children and their parents in my Kindermusik classes – it renews me each and every day to sing and dance with them,
for the blessing of sharing music with my piano students and instilling in them the belief that they are only limited by how self-disciplined or self-motivated they are or are not,
for the magic of teaching Simply Music to my beginning students and seeing the magic happen right before my eyes – who would ever have thought students could learn so easily and effortlessly?
for the blessing of music which weaves through my life every day from the time I get up until I lay my head down each night,
for my Lord Jesus Christ – Soli Deo Gloria!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my family and friends! May this day be filled with love, laughter, and beautiful memories that will last a lifetime!

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I was fortunate three years ago to attend the Kindermusik national convention held in Nashville, Tennessee.  I went, not really knowing many people, but content to sit and learn and absorb as much as possible of the Kindermusik experience.  What I didn’t realize was that it would be something totally new and different there that would shift my musical “paradigm” in ways I never could have anticipated.

I first met Lynn Frank and Karen Gibson, both Kindermusik educators, through our online KM Loop, made up of licensed Kindermusik educators.  When a question was posed on the loop about beginning piano methods, they both brought up Simply Music – a piano method that I had never heard of.  Having taught piano now for over 35 years, I’ve pretty much heard of most of them.  This was something new.

Developed by Australian-born Neil Moore and based in Sacramento, California, it was something that they raved about – as teachers, as musicians, as pianists.  They both mentioned how it freed not only their students from the written page, but also themselves.  Intrigued, I began to look into it and attended their information workshop in Nashville.

I was so impressed with not only what I saw, but also heard there, that I began checking into Simply Music more closely via the internet, spending hours pouring over the website, viewing their videos, and following links to licensed Simply Music instructors.  I also emailed these instructors, asking further questions about their decision to teach this method.  After a week of investigation, emails and conversations, I took the plunge and signed up for training.  I’ve never regretted it.

Simply Music is a revolutionary, Australian-developed piano and keyboard method that presents a breakthrough in music education.  Students of all ages are playing great-sounding blues, contemporary, classical and accompaniment pieces – immediately – from their very first lessons.  And they’re enjoying themselves tremendously in the process!

Simply Music sets a new standard in music education, and explores learning piano, playing piano, and teaching piano from a completely different perspective.  It presents the possibility of a new era in music education, learning, and self-expression. 

It is not the Suzuki method.  It is not rote memorization.  It is not a reading-based, traditional approach.  It is simply – music – taught in such a way that even teachers, long trained in traditional piano methods, find themselves transformed not only in how they teach piano, but also in playing and composing piano pieces for themselves. 

For your enjoyment, I present one of my beginning piano students, Alex, who is eight years old.  He has been studying piano with me since mid-March of 2008, just five (5) months ago, using Simply Music.  He has not had any previous formal piano or music study of any kind.  The piece he is playing is called “Alma Mater Blues” and is the final piece of the Level I Foundation book of Simply Music.  Enjoy! 🙂

There will be a *FREE* Information Session about Simply Music on Tuesday, August 26th, at Zion Baptist Church in Covington, Georgia, beginning at 7PM.  Interested in learning more about Simply Music and playing the piano?  Come join us!  Questions?  Email us at info at masterworks studio dot com or call 404-395-5247.

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Many times in our Village classes (for infants 0 – 18 months), during our exercise time, I will often tell the parents that by providing the cross-lateral movements between opposing hand and foot, they are stimulating the corpus callosum which contains the nerve pathways between the two hemispheres in the brain.  This area is also linked to future academic success, such as learning to read, being able to write, and eye-hand coordination.    Recently published findings now indicate that the consistent, faithful practice of a musical instrument also provides further lifelong benefits. 

boy playing piano

In ScienceNOW Daily News, an article entitled Music Builds Bridges in the Brain by Greg Miller was published this past Wednesday, and gives even more weight to those parental reminders “Have you practiced your music today?”  It documents the release of a study by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical College and Boston College who studied 31 children from the age of 6 to 9 who had all been involved in musical instruction at some time during the course of the study or were continuing in their ongoing musical studies. 

Detailed magnetic resonance images (MRI’s) were taken of the children at ages 6 and 9.  Of the original thirty-one, six children were faithful to practice each week, averaging at least 2.5 hours weekly in the time between scans.  (Side note here: this is the same amount of time I require of all of my beginners – one half hour for five days each week.) 

In these children, “a region of the corpus callosum that connects movement-planning regions on the two sides of the brain grew about 25% relative to the overall size of the brain.”  Those children who practiced less than this or dropped their instrument entirely showed no growth.  Consistent, faithful practice doesn’t just improve your playing; it also strengthens and builds your brain! 

All of these children involved in the study did study an instrument which involved the use of two hands, such as the piano or violin.  (Possibly even flute? 🙂 )  We will have exciting news about our piano studio up in the next few days, so stay tuned! 

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In our Village classes, you will hear a lovely rendition of the Shaker song, “Simple Gifts,” found on your home CD, that we use for rocking/bonding time in class.  Listen now as the Five Browns, two brothers and three sisters, play this exhiliarating arrangement of the same song, Simple Gifts, recognized from Copland’s Appalachian Spring, combined with the Largo theme from Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 (from the New World).  Enjoy!

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yudATA1XsyE]

Check out the Songspot in the righthand column for yet another enjoyable version!

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He didn’t know any better.  He was a self-taught musician whose creativity and technique was praised both by classically trained virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz and jazz giant Oscar Peterson.  He was remarkable in that he was blind in one eye and could only partially see out of the other one. 

Despite his physical limitations, he refused to give up his dream.  As a boy in the 1920’s, he idolized Fats Waller and wanted to play like him.  So, he listened to every possible source he could – both radio and phonograph. (Think very large, prehistoric CD) He taught himself to play using Braille and piano rolls.  He listened. He imitated. He copied. He practiced.  He improved. 

That’s where he started.  Where he ended up only demonstrates what can happen when you shed your self-imposed limitations and embrace your expectations.  I hope you enjoy Art Tatum.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bur2lO2uvuA]

The really amazing thing is that Art Tatum didn’t realize that sometimes, when he was listening to a recording, he was hearing two separate parts being played by two pianists.  He simply learned both parts and played them simultaneously.  He learned them so well that years later, when jazz artist Oscar Peterson heard Art playing, he thought there actually  were two people playing. 

Art Tatum found that dreams can come true in real life.  One night he visited a club to hear his idol, Fats Waller, perform live.  Upon hearing that Art was there, Fats told the crowd, “I just play the piano.  But God is in the house tonight.”

As parents, there are times that we limit our children in order to protect them from harm.  In some instances, however, limits, especially false ones, can hinder or even defeat us even before we get started.   What if Art Tatum had known that there were two people playing instead of just one?  Would that knowledge, that limitation, have kept him from developing into one of the most highly acclaimed jazz pianists of all time? 

This is why I believe that Kindermusik can be so important in a child’s life.  It is process-based, not performance-oriented.  It fosters and encourages a child’s creativity.  This is why I encourage parents to observe their children in class and follow their lead in instrument play or creative movement and to scaffold (or build) off of it with a slightly different twist to it.  By opening your eyes to the possibilities, you limit the limitations.

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Usually, when I hear an musical artist in concert, I will say afterwards that I enjoyed listening to them play.  Once in a while, I run across someone that I not only enjoy listening to them perform, but I also enjoy watching them create musical magic.  This is one of those rare times.  For your listening and viewing pleasure – Hiromi Uehara performing “The Tom and Jerry Show.”  Enjoy!

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0ERlIvwhAU]

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