Highlands Ranch, CO   
   
Email Donna at donnaarrants@comcast.net

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        Here are some videos that will hopefully help my students understand some of the philosophies of piano I endorse.

                       

       

One exercise that can help your child become a better listener is to take them outside on a pretty day and have them sit down and close their eyes and just listen to all the sounds around them and have them tell you what they hear.

I would like for all of my students to practice the piano for an hour every day. But being the mother of four boys, I fully understand that this is not always possible. That is why I would ask that my students practice at least 30 minutes per day for at least 5 days per week.   "Deep practice" , a term I learned from this book, The Talent Code, which I highly recommend that everyone read, will help your child gain faster results in less time.  This consists of practicing really slowly and in chunks.  It really works!  

       

Here's what one of my students' parents recently wrote to me in an email and agreed for me to share with all of you:  

Got it. He played Eleanor after school for the first time. After less than 5 minutes, it sounded like he was playing it for a month. I got him to play the 2 finger chords reeeealy slow about 5-6 times. Went back to tempo and nailed it. This is so much fun. We canít thank you enough.

Tell your kids to think of  learning a piece as they would think of mastering a video game.  Divide the piece into different levels.  Don't move on to the next level until you've mastered the previous level.  Label different stumbling points throughout the piece as you would identify challenging parts of a video game that you seek to master.  Turn learning a piece into something fun!  And most of all remember that repetition is the name of the game, repetition is the name of the game, get it?  You just keep trying to master a section  of the music just as you keep trying to master each level of a game. Eventually, with a lot of practice, you get it!

To the parents of my students, thank you for the confidence you have in me. I hope I will be able to give your child a foundation in piano that will carry them throughout their life and inspire them to continue growing and sharing their talent in music. If for any reason you ever have a concern or are not satisfied with the progress your child is making, please contact me and we can discuss this and hopefully come up with a resolution.

The following are excerpts from previous e-mails I have sent out to the parents of my students that you may find helpful:

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Please also remind them to curve their fingers when playing.  The back should be straight, wrists need to be flexible, the shoulders relaxed and the arms should feel heavy.  Here's a short video that explains proper hand position:                                                                                                                                                         

   

Here is a quote from pianofundamentals.com that I found useful: "Stuttering is caused by stop-and-go practice in which a student stops and replays a section every time there is a mistake. If you make a mistake, always play through it; don't stop to correct it. Simply make a mental note of where the mistake was and play that section again later to see if the mistake repeats. If it does, just fish out a small segment containing that mistake and work on it. Once you cultivate the habit of playing through mistakes you can graduate to the next level in which you anticipate mistakes (feel their approach before they occur) and take evasive action, such as slowing down, simplifying the section, or just maintaining the rhythm. Most audiences don't mind, and often don't even hear, mistakes unless the rhythm is broken.

The worst thing about bad habits is that they take so long to eliminate, especially if they are HT habits. Therefore nothing accelerates your learning rate like knowing all the bad habits and preventing them before they become ingrained. For example, the time to prevent stuttering is when a student first begins piano lessons. If playing through mistakes is taught at this stage, it becomes second nature and is very easy. To teach a stutterer to play through mistakes is a very difficult task."

It would be helpful if my students had a metronome at home to practice with. Of course, it's not mandatory, just a suggestion. If you don't already have one, you can pick one up at a local music store. Also, here are two websites that sell them.

http://store.musicbasics.com/met-6466.html

http://www.8notes.com/metronome/metronome.asp?marking=80

This will go a long way in helping your children learn to keep a steady beat. It's not necessary to use when practicing every piece. A small portion of their practice time devoted to using the metronome would benefit them tremendously!

Found these games today! Have them try them if you like!

http://www.classicsforkids.com/games/index.asp

I especially like the Note Name Game and Compose Your Own Music.

Here is a website I found that has "some" good advice when it comes to encouraging your child to practice the piano. As with everything I send your way, take whatever you like from the information. I don't necessarily endorse all of it. These are just some suggestions.

http://www.serve.com/marbeth/helping_kids_practice.html

Tell your children it's just like reading a book. The author would like for you to read their book out loud or hear it in your head a certain way. That is why they put adverbs, commas, exclamation points, question marks, etc. in their writing. If you read a book or story without those crucial elements, it just wouldn't sound the way the author intended. It's the same with music. Rhythm is as crucial to the way a piece sounds as the notes, rests, accents, dynamics, etc.

I hope this will help you help your child practice. Please if you have any concerns at any time, please do not hesitate to come by, call or send me an e-mail. Thanks for sharing your kids with me! It has been truly rewarding teaching them each week!   I love teaching your kids and hope they are learning as well as having fun! Keep me posted on your thoughts, questions and concerns.

 

 

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