Playing the Blues“Can I hear your progress on that song we were working on last week please?”

He just shrugged his shoulders and looked at me sheepishly!

“Oh okay then. How about those exercises we were doing? Can I hear how you got on with them?”

He just looked at his feet!

“Oh dear! What HAVE you been practicing?”

Suddenly a mischievous grin appeared on his face.

“I’ve been playing the blues ALL week!!! It’s been driving my mum crazy. I play it before and after school. I can’t stop!”

It never ceases to amaze me how much fun students have at learning to improvise the blues. And not forgetting the kudos it earns them when they can use it to entertain friends and family. Best of all, it’s just so easy to learn!

So this month, here are some free resources to get you started or to add to the ones you use already. I’ve tried to make the sheet music universal to whatever instrument you play or teach (treble & bass clef/guitar & bass tab). I’ve also recorded a slow blues backing track (in G) that you and your students can “jam” with.

Introducing the coolest scale on the planet! Whatever instrument your student plays, they will love learning the Read more…

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Posted in Music Theory, Performing, Practicing, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

The Blank Stare.

blank stareWe dread it, but we’ve all seen it: the face that tells you unequivocally that your students are lost and haven’t got a clue what is going on. This can happen suddenly, and sometimes in the most unexpected places. Picture this scenario:

My lesson or class has been rolling along smoothly, and I’ve felt encouraged by the odd head nodding, or some gentle smiles tentatively creasing passive faces. I’ve smiled myself, warming to my subject, and then I’ve taken the fatal step.
                ‘And that’s how we know that the composer is modulating!’, I swoon. ‘She’s been hinting for the last two systems with those occasional B-flats and now we know from this arpeggio followed by the cadence: we are in F-major!’. 
                My revelation is met with silence, which is not what I expected. A hand shoots up, breaking the still pool of now immobile faces. ‘Why is it F-major and not F-flat major?’.  
                What?!’ I think, and try not to frown.  ‘Can you explain what you mean?’, I say.
                ‘I thought you said those were the “flat keys”, so why isn’t it F-flat major?’.
                ‘Because F isn’t flat,’ I reply. 
                Faces go blank and a thick pause of unknowing oozes across the classroom. Heads drop and a faint voice cries into its sleeve, ‘I don’t get it!’ and (since this is the film version) all the desks start shrinking backwards away from the teacher and disappear into a black abyss at the back of the room….

“Unknown unknowns”

ha ha i don't get it tshirtIt would be my guess that every music teacher reading this will have experienced at least some version of this same scenario. It can happen with children, teenager, or adult students, and, although it looks like the moment of catastrophe was caused by what I’ve called ‘one fatal step’ instructionally speaking, of course, these scenarios represent a series of moments of unknowing coming to a head. The student who asked this question (and it is a real question asked me in a class just last year) must have experienced many moments in previous classes when he hadn’t understood what was going on but hadn’t said anything. At the same time, I will have been happily piling concept after concept on top of this student without realizing that he hadn’t understood what was going on.

How can it happen that we sometimes unwittingly leave our students behind? And is there anything we can do to help those students who find the theoretical side of music difficult, or are some people simply ‘more musical’ than the others, who will always at some point get left behind? Read more…

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Posted in Music Theory, Performing, Practicing, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

blue river6 fun pieces for intermediate to advanced pianists

When I was a teenager, I innocently asked my piano teacher one day if I could possibly learn some pop songs in my lessons. I will never forget his reaction!

Well, the colour drained from his ancient, wrinkly face and I could tell it was all he could do to withhold the rage clearly brewing deep within him!

“Why would you want to learn such rubbish?!?” he finally exploded.

“But it’s fun! And nobody has heard of the pieces I play” I grumbled, for he kept me on a strict diet of scales and Bach! I was tired of the same old routine and desperately wanted some excitement.

“Could I then just learn some jazz and blues?…What about some Scott Joplin even?” His cheeks were starting to puff uncontrollably and he gripped his chair for support. I could tell this was going nowhere!

I dropped my shoulders is resignation. The situation was hopeless. In fact I resorted to learning to play the “Maple Leaf Rag” in “secret,” dreaming of one day playing some cool popular music. The local music shop was just as disappointing carrying an antiquated stock in their so-called “popular music” section.

Now fast forward twenty or more years on and what a different world we live in! Exciting music is easily available from all over the world with the click of a mouse (or a poke of an iPad)!

Take one such book that I recently stumbled upon…

“Blue River” by Elena Cobb. A collection of six original pieces for the immediate to advanced pianist (grade 6+). Now had such a book been available for me as a teenager, I would have loved it! And to have shown it to my old teacher…now that would have been cruel but funny!!!

Full of bluesy, jazzy pieces and even some latin thrown in for good measure, this is an exciting collection which some of my advanced piano students are really enjoying at the moment. It’s challenging them but they are having lots of fun.

Cloud Seven, Latin. This was the first piece that caught my attention. It has a classic Cuban style groove, so perfect for Read more…

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Posted in Music News, Performing, Practicing, Product Reviews, Teaching Tips

New college cloister“When I was confronted with official tuition, the academic thing, I could see no relationship whatever between that and the music I’d been writing since I was 11.” – Harrison Birtwistle

For many musicians, and for many music-lovers who listen to them, the term “academic” has become a kind of musical dirty word. Defined variously as “not of practical relevance”, “of only theoretical interest”, or “pertaining to scholarship rather than practice”, the term is assumed to have little or nothing to do with the sound of music, or the enjoyment of music, or of music as an innate form of human expression. Indeed, the term “academic”, can for some by synonymous with “anti-practice”: we engage in “academic” music when we study theoretical concepts or argue about obscure points of critical theory; we engage in “practical” music when we put away our books, pick up an instrument, open our hearts, and sing.

But there is a difference and I can hear it!

blackboardIt’s of course true that reading a book about music is not the same as playing an instrument or attending a concert. And I agree that, in some quarters, so-called “book learning” of historical and compositional concepts can lean strongly toward the abstract, and can aspire to meet expectations of meaning and relevance that appear to have nothing to do with practical music-making or the preferences of the ticket-buying public.

But this is OK with me as a practicing musician, for three reasons: first, because it is these same “book-learners” who have provided musicians with so much of the foundation of practical music-making (from well-edited scores, to treatises, to knowledge about how our brains process musical information); second, because the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake – especially about something as essential as music – is important in its own right (if we can say that art justifies itself, then surely scholarship too can be self-justifying as a human pursuit); and third, because, in my experience, many student musicians and concert-goers vastly underestimate the significance of the role “academic” knowledge plays in the study, performance, and enjoyment of practical music-making, both for performers and for audiences. Read more…

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Posted in Music History & Facts, Performing, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

IMG_2720

A beach theme was used for the last studio recital. Can you tell?

Apparently I’m not the only one scarred by a horrendous memory black out during a recital. Riding home with fellow adjudicators from a nearby Federation of Music Clubs Festival, I discovered that others have endured unforgettable and traumatic experiences where the memory bank crashed during an important performance. As I’m preparing my students to participate in a local Federation festival that requires memorization, it’s critical for me to equip performers for NOTHING but a successful experience. I do not wish to pass along my personal past performance scars to anyone.

Playing for an audience is already risky but playing from memory for others including adjudicators could be equated to walking a tightrope.  If performers are going to tip toe on that high wire, it’s important that a safety net is below ready to catch them when, not if mistakes occur and bounce them right back up on the rope.

Designing a plan that will empower students to play through an error, find an exit, manage a detour, reroute and get back on track all within a feeling of control and not panic is essential–but not easy. I figured if I came up with as many options as possible, students would be equipped to rely on a number of fallback plans to ensure a positive performance experience. Below is my piano-teacher-not-very-scientific list for building a strong memory bank. Read more…

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

How do you prepare a student to have a good experience in a competition or other event? Below are a some specific ways that I try to make sure the student is ready. Event prep is an ongoing process of growth and learning for both teacher and student. This long list is in a somewhat random order and by no means complete, but I hope it will generate a few ideas for you.Competition Blog

Start early. Nothing spoils the process more than running out of time. Creating a reverse timeline is an excellent idea. Starting from the date of the event, work backward setting intermediate goals and deadlines. For example, if an event takes place on April 5, you might set a deadline for secure memorization of the material by March 1, articulation, phrasing, and dynamics integrated by January 15, and notes, fingering and rhythm secure by December 2.

Start the piece correctly from the beginning. Do not allow any bad habits to develop. It is easier to start with a new piece from the ground up than to choose a piece with ingrained problems to rehabilitate. Allow the student one play-through to get the overall feel of the piece, but then slow way down and work section by section, phrase by phrase. On the other hand, sometimes the second or third time you learn a piece, it really comes together. Don’t be afraid to pull out a piece learned last year and relearn it at a deeper level, if it does not have big issues.

Choose material that is level-appropriate. Too hard and tears and frustration will be the result. Too easy and boredom and carelessness will set in. Take into account the amount of time you have to prepare. If the competition requires a certain minimum level of difficulty, use Jane McGrath’s book “The Pianist’s Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature” to determine the level of your piece.

Start with the rhythm, separated from the notes. The rhythm drives Read more…

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Studio Management, Teaching Tips

duetMusic shapes us, but it is also shaped by our culture and practice of music-making. This is true whether we are students, performers, concert goers, consumers, or music teachers.

But how can we find space for experiment and innovation in our teaching without compromising standards or impeding the progress of our students?

In this post, I’m going to talk a bit about some of the ways we can make time to take risks and develop new approaches in our teaching.

I’ll also be talking about why this is important for our students, our job satisfaction, and our broader culture and practice of music teaching.

The medium is the message

IMG_1137The first thing I’d like you to consider is how your personal teaching method may reflect the space and/or institution you teach in, and the expectations that come with it.

You may be a solitary teacher working on the piano bench next to a stream of neighbourhood children, an instructor at a music school, a performer giving masterclasses or lessons on request, or you may be one of the increasing number of teachers who addresses students through internet portals such as YouTube.

However you connect with your pupils, your medium of interaction – your studio, institution, schedule, or online platform – will dictate how you teach to an important extent. A school typically requires teachers to follow a fixed curriculum, for example, while home studios usually prioritize one-on-one teaching over group classes.

Your school may encourage you to teach from a series of books they already have in the library, while in your home studio you may find that students and their parents appreciate following a system based on graded instructions books that are approved by some well-known institution. However you choose to teach, these work patterns will help to make your teaching effective, and they will help your students to progress at a regular rate alongside their peers.

But these same, what I am going to call ‘institutional systems’ can also have drawbacks, both for pupils and for teachers. What may seem like a time-saving book series or course curriculum that ensures standards in your studio may in fact be limiting your ability to express yourself as a teacher, and in turn, may be holding back your students from achieving their best as musicians.

DorianPerhaps the recommended studies and technical exercises take up so much lesson time that you can never really get to talk to your students about the special musical alchemy that is at work in the pieces they play? Or perhaps, in wishing your students to do well in exams, you may be encouraging them to conform too much to the received wisdom of previous generations of musicians, and in turn limiting the space in which they can experiment and innovate for their own and future generations?

Whatever system we employ will always bring with it both advantages and disadvantages. Our job is to try to identify the positive in both these things, and to put them in service of a greater ends: satisfying music-making, undertaken by both students and their teachers.

Rebelliousness in the teaching studio – making space for freedom

freedomLuckily for both teachers and students, there can be few conditions more inspiring to experiment and innovation than imposed limitations!

What starts out as a restriction, may end up inspiring some of our most innovative ideas – we simply have to think about them differently and make time and space to turn them to our advantage.

Many of you will be doing this already. Teachers in a home studio, for example, may work hard to create a clear curriculum of the sort typically found in music schools, while college teachers may take pains to carve out space for personal attention for their students of the sort made easy by the home studio format.

But we can go further, especially in the freedom we can give our students to experiment with music as part of their overall progress. We can take the time to let the students work their way more slowly through pieces, for example, perhaps taking time to help them identify underlying key structures, or colouristic effects, or aspects of text setting, and then giving them the space to improvise and innovate on these interesting and important musical features and ideas.

If your students don’t know how to improvise, remember that this is a very important part of music making – all the classical composers learned to do this at an early age using simple patterns. Teaching your students (and perhaps yourself) how to do this will hugely enhance their enjoyment of music, and will make your teaching – and your own playing – much more fruitful and enjoyable.

Another simple tip to consider is how you may be pacing your students. Many students want to progress quickly and can race through grade books because of their nimble fingers or strong memories. But these same students will almost without exception falter later on in their life as musicians. This typically happens either because the pieces they play at advanced level will eventually get very demanding of mental and emotional interpretive skills that they will not possess as players, or because they never learn to see the importance of musical life beyond their achievement in exams, and will give music up once their parents are no longer ferrying them to lessons.

If you gave your students more time to sit their exams – two years instead of one, for example – they may be annoyed at first, but in the end, they are more likely to enjoy playing, to become better musicians, and to develop the ability to have their own musical ideas. At the same time, they will make your work much more enjoyable! They will probably also score higher in exams and will do even more for the reputation of your studio. Who knows, you may even end up turning out more professional musicians than you were when you were simply ‘following the book’.

Music is play

dixielandHowever you organize your studio, university or college classes, or your online teaching content and interface, keep in mind that both student and teacher can learn as well as teach. Giving yourself – and your students – time to do this as part of their ‘regular curriculum’ will enhance your studio culture, your students’ progress, and your own work satisfaction.

But it’s important to remember that, without a doubt, your teaching makes an important contribution to something much bigger than yourself – broader musical and music pedagogical culture.

Like Mozart, and Beethoven, and Bach, and Dizzy Gillespie, all of whom played with music and broke away from the restrictions and patterns of the past, you too must take the time and make the space to break away from imposed work and playing patterns and come up with something new that is unique to you and to your students.

This, more than anything we can do as teachers to ‘maintain standards’, is what will keep music alive, both for now, and for future generations.

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Professional Development, Studio Management, Teaching Tips, Uncategorized

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for many years has been to practice more. (And exercise more, and read more important books, and avoid library fines, and remember to send birthday cards.)

I’ve learned through those many years that a goal without a plan is more like a wish. And while I have indeed had wonderful years of practicing more, I have also had years that started out with big repertoire and performance goals which fizzled as my need to finish so many daily tasks trumped my desire to improve my playing.

I love big dreams and big plans. I love the quest for transformation. I don’t love when my big goals fizzle because I’ve set my sights a little beyond the mark, and I don’t love that once those goals fizzle, it’s hard to get motivated again. So this year, I came up with a new concept, one rooted in a concept from the Tao Te Ching: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Or in my case, two measures.

Two Measures

While sitting at the piano bench at the beginning of the new year, flipping through repertoire on my “to learn one day” list, I attempted to sightread Frederic Rzewski’s Down by the Riverside, from his North American Ballads. Again. I’ve read through this piece many times in the last few years, but haven’t ever really put in the time required to conquer it. I decided to move it from my “one day” list to my “this year” list, and then decided that I would learn two measures a day. I decided if I was going to do two measures a day of the Rzewski, I might as well throw in another “one day” piece, so I added Bach’s Goldberg Variations to my two measure a day goal.

Two measures a day is such a small chunk that I have been anxious to get to the piano all month long. And surprisingly, two measures a day is a big enough chunk that measurable progress occurs. Today I attended my monthly piano group and performed the Aria and first variation of the Goldberg. The memory wasn’t 100% perfect, but it was fun anyway.

My process:

1. Read the two measures (always ending with the first note of the next measure)

2. LH fingering

3. RH fingering

4. HT super duper slowly (less than 1/2 speed) to check fingering and articulation. In the Rzewski, I check to see if I need to do any substitutions between the hands.

5. Slow to fast metronome work. In the Bach, I do the full two measures. In the Rzewski, sometimes I just do 2 beats, then the next 2 beats, and so on.

6. Choose a goal speed (usually 50-75% of performance speed). Once I can play the two measures at this goal speed three times perfectly in a row, my goal for the day is met.

7. Review all previous measures and continue polish and speed work.

8. Feel super awesome about completing my goal and go back to finishing the dishes or working on student invoices.

I figure at this rate, the Rzewski will be completed easily within the year. I am memorizing the Bach as I go, but not the Rzewski. Once I feel comfortable in my performance of Down by the Riverside, I will memorize two measures a day. The Bach? Well, if I learn a variation a month, I will be done in less than three years. And I guess that’s OK, because my journey of a single step has to start somewhere. Enjoying the journey is most of the fun, anyway, isn’t it?

What motivates you to practice? How do you fit practice into your busy lives? Do you think it is important for a music teacher to also be a practicer/performer? Why or why not?

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Posted in Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

cornelis-saftleven-the-duetWhat can we teachers do to keep the love of music alive for our students? As I said in my opening blog last month, one of the best things we can do is to have our students make music with other people as much as possible. Whether we are teaching absolute beginners or advanced students, playing music with your teacher, sibling, or another student is always possible, and it is guaranteed to enhance solo playing, while also at the same time being informative, inspiring, and fun.

Finding duets … in unlikely places

We may agree that playing duets with our students is a great way to keep them engaged, but where can we find material? And how can we do this for all our students without having to buy an entirely new library of pieces for multiple players?

duet handsFor those of you who teach piano, I would suggest looking at Yiyi Ku’s excellent MTH blog on four-hand piano music, which also contains recommendations for scores that can be purchased on line.

For all instruments, including voice, there is much we can do to find music to play together with our students from the music we already have. The first step is to remember that every solo piece we play is already a duet – or at least a potential duet – and that the more time we teachers spend giving our students tools for unlocking the duet potential of their pieces, the more we will be opening up some of the most fascinating and enjoyable aspects of music making for them.

Every teacher will have their own way of approaching the music they teach, and every musician will of course see different patterns and other improvisational potential in the solo pieces they play. By way of example, here’s a brief overview of a few of the approaches I take both in my studio and in my work as a performer to unlock the duet potential of solo pieces. These examples use quite simple pieces to demonstrate my point, but of course the same approaches can be applied to music of all levels.

Finding the song

frans-van-mieris-the-elder-duetWhether a solo piano piece, a jazz standard, a Handel aria, or a Bach partita, every piece of music can in one way or another be reduced to a song, by which I mean a piece in two parts: a melody with an accompaniment. Sometimes the division between these two parts will be obvious (a Handel aria – a catchy tune with many repeated chords underneath!), while at other times they will be more blended (a Bach fugue or the development section of a sonata). But some form of melody and accompaniment will always be there: we simply have to take the time to learn to winkle them out.

Once we find a melody and accompaniment in a piece, we have found the basis of the duet hidden in the piece. (There are many possible versions of course; use your ear to find out what melody and accompaniment stands out as sounding most representative to you.) We will also have identified the building blocks for endless varieties of musical play, whether swapping parts, changing rhythms, or adding or subtracting melody notes or harmonies as we explore the piece together in two parts.

Finding the duet in a solo piano piece by Haydn

To show you what I mean, here’s an example from the solo piano repertoire: the first section of a simple binary form in Haydn’s Minuet in C (fig. 1).

hayden minuet in c

A teacher starting a student on this piece might start by *not* giving the piece, but instead providing the student with a harmonic pattern to play, for example something like this (fig. 2): [To make the scores shown here, I’ve used noteflight.com].

hayden minuet progression

The potential for duet playing with a pattern such as this is endless. The teacher can play both parts or one part, one person can play the pattern while another improvises over it, or one person can sing (if possible using solfège) while the other person plays.

Exploring the harmonic and rhythmic pattern in this way helps the musical imagination, increases the awareness of harmonic motion, and is of course just plain fun. Once this can be done freely by the student (including the second part of the binary form of course), the teacher can then give the piece, which will look strongly similar – but in key ways different! – than the general pattern on which it is based.

The soloist will now approach the piece completely differently. There will be much more to hear, many more patterns to recognize, variations to notice, and it will be much easier to play with natural emphasis both note-to-note and in phrases. In an important way, even the beginning student will be approaching the piece in a way that is much closer to the position the composer took. He or she, too, will have created the piece as a kind of fixed variation on some known pattern or improvisation.

Playing duets with singers

singer in recitalEveryone can benefit from duet playing, and if you teach singers, I would strongly recommend that you take them off the melody line and into other parts of the texture to get them thinking more broadly about the role the melody plays from their very earliest lessons.

As in the above example, singing teachers can do this by preparing a student for a piece by first giving them some form of harmonic outline, and then engaging with them in different levels of musical play. The teacher and student can swap parts; the student can learning how to both play and sing; and both teacher and student can trying out some improvisational singing over a chordal framework extracted from a solo song.

Here is an example of a simple chord progression taken from the first phrase of the song ‘Flow my teares’ by English composer John Dowland (fig 3).

flow my teares - chord progression approximation

Before starting students on the piece, teachers can give this progression to students to take home and practice to the point that they can play it fluidly enough to be able to improvise a sung melody as they play. (If they are really challenged at the piano, they can be asked to play just the bass line, or the bass line and the top note in the right hand.)

Improvisation is not easy for everyone, so it helps to give students some tips to start them off with confidence. Once they can play the bass line, they can be told to sing any note indicated in the treble clef in that bar. As they get better at this, they can try to sing all the notes in each treble clef bar, and then play around with these notes by singing different rhythms, and by filling in or leaving out notes in each bar as they please.

The key is to get the singers to listen to the chords as they sing and to learn to accept or reject notes that don’t ‘sound right’ (based on the style of the piece as made clear in the chord progressions) by trial and error. (For singers who do not play piano, a graphic representation of the chords on a picture of the keyboard will work very well instead of notated music in the first instance.)

You can also send the text of the song home with the singer to see what they come up with when asked to write their own realization of the lyric or poem over the composer’s chosen chord progression.

When the student then brings the material to their next lesson, both student and teacher can improvise together using the same methods. When the student is finally given Dowland’s melody (fig 4), his clever text setting and beautiful dissonances will be heard as the revelation they are.

Dowland Flow my teares

Singers who strum

orpheusIf your singing students play guitar, ukulele or other chord-based instruments, it can be hugely interesting and informative to get them to bring these instruments to their lessons and to try to ‘accompany’ themselves while singing. This works whether they are singing a Schubert song (many are based on existing folksongs that can be sung and compared to Schubert’s version), a Bach aria (often very elaborate note to note but quite simple harmonically when all the ornamental notes are removed), or the recitative from a Mozart opera (these cannot be sung correctly if you don’t know how the chords fit together with the cadence of the text).

The music will suddenly take on a completely different shape if singers are asked to think of their line as something that must fit together with an ongoing harmonic motion they are producing themselves, or that is being produced as part of alternating duet playing with their teacher in lessons. Without a doubt, once they are back in their role as soloists, their pianists and conductors will notice the difference immediately.

The elephant in the room

Careful readers will have noticed that there is one term that I’ve not used throughout this blog post: ‘music theory’. This is because, while I recognize that this can be taught separately from performance, I strongly believe that all performers must understand how music fits together, whether they acquire this knowledge instinctively through playing or through improvising as outlined above, or technically through other study.

Creating duets out of solo repertoire as part of the learning process is one way to do this. There is much more to say on this topic and I invite all readers to chime in on this thread by sharing their techniques and experiences in the comments below.

The solo duet

In closing, I’d just like to add that, as a singer, I’m rarely performing truly solo repertoire in a professional context. Inevitably there is a pianist or an orchestra present, so in this work, of course, I’m writing from the perspective of a chamber musician.

But, like most singers, I practice predominantly by myself, and in these moments one can feel very much like a soloist, finding one’s own way through complex music and text in a quiet room, alone. Being able to play other instruments is hugely helpful in this regard, and I would certainly encourage teachers to press their students on this point; it really is necessary for singers to have at least basic piano proficiency if they intend to be professionals, and it’s always better to start sooner rather than later.

But it’s also helpful for all so-called soloists to remember that, really, we are never playing alone: our composer, and if our music features text, our poet, are always in the room with us, actively seeking our improvisational (in the sense of unique) response to the infinite number of possible interpretations they have left open for us in the score.

Any skills we gain duetting with our teachers, family, and friends, will certainly increase our understanding, and enhance our musical pleasure. But they will also serve us well when it is most important: when we are duetting with our composers, alone.

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Posted in Music History & Facts, Music Theory, Performing, Practicing, Teaching Tips

Yiyi Ku

AirTurn

December 22nd, 2013 by

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I first heard of the AirTurn almost 4 years ago, and finally bought one to use with my iPad in October. I LOVE IT!

What is it: The AirTurn is a wireless, hands-free page turner that sits flat on the floor. You use it with your favorite music reading App (I use forScore) on your iPad. The idea is that you can read your music on your iPad, play with your hands, and turn pages with your foot. I bought the one that comes with a handheld control unit that can be detached from the pedal board.

How much: $129.95. If you do not need the handheld unit, there is a cheaper version. Yes, it is a bit costly, which was the main reason I did not purchase it sooner. I just could not see myself using it enough. I am so glad I finally have one now!

Set up: Another reason I did not get it sooner was that I wondered if it was going to be difficult to set up, and if it was going to become one of those gadgets that sit on the shelf because I do not have time to read the instruction manual. Good news is that it was VERY EASY to set up! Just go to Settings on your iPad, turn Bluetooth ON, and the iPad finds it automatically, like magic! So far I have only encountered one instance where the iPad did not recognize it for some unknown reason, so I read the trouble-shooting section in the manual and the problem was quickly solved. Other than that time, I have not had to touch the manual again!

AE8A5787 asf lightened

performing with iPad and AirTurn. Piccoloist – Kate Prestia-Schaub

My experiences:

  • If you have never turned pages with your foot, it does take some getting used to. I used to swipe the pages on my iPad with my finger, so when I first started using the AirTurn, sometimes my left hand still turns the page out of habit, then a split second afterwards, my foot presses on the AirTurn as well, and I end up turning two pages instead of one. This is happening less and less as I use the AirTurn more.

    Read more…

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Posted in Performing, Product Reviews