Meri’s Musical Musings

Four focus points of this coming school year in teaching students

Posted on: August 28, 2011

During this past summer, my husband and I  have been coming up with new ideas for the upcoming year, and I thought we’d share some of our focus points.

The first one will be helping students learn to compose music. We have created a 6-part composition program, which will mean students will have a new unit once every 6 weeks. We are planning to feature student compositions in our Spring Concert the last Friday in May, although it’s possible we may do some in the Fall concert, last Friday in November.

The second one we’ve planned is the OYO program–which stands for On Your Own. We feel it’s critical for music students, especially piano students, to learn how to learn music when they do not have someone to assist them, and use the musical tools they understand to help learn the pieces. Many music students, especially piano students, often are dependent, sometimes extremely dependent, on the teachers to help them learn their pieces, which is one reason why many students quit playing music by the time they finish high school. This is more likely to be featured in the fall concert.

Third, we are planning to teach every one of our students, those currently studying with us and future students, to sight sing. We have found that learning to sight sing is not just for potential music majors. It aids in being able to remember the key signature of pieces, especially for music that has more that 2 or 3 sharps or flats, where students often forget the less common accidentals. Not only that, some of these students may decide to join a choir in middle or high school, or even as adults, and it is especially important for those of us who are not sopranos. (all men and a good number of women)

Finally, we plan to teach every student to play “Happy Birthday” in a few different keys on their instrument. There are a number of stories of professional musicians who can play complicated sheet music, but cannot play this tune to save their lives. We will help make sure we don’t produce any more students who can’t play “Happy Birthday” by ear or at least by memory.

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