Sunday, April 29, 2012

Using Jane Magrath's "The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature"

Jane Magrath's book, "The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature", is an invaluable resource for teachers of all levels of experience, from new teachers who currently are building their studios to veteran teachers who have years of experience and a waiting list a mile long. I remember purchasing my copy while still an undergraduate student, and I have used it faithfully year after year to assist in planning long-term curriculum, specific lessons, and recital repertoire for my pre-college, college, and adult students. We also spent hours using it as a resource in our graduate piano pedagogy classes at Louisiana State University. (Tons of thanks to our professor Steve Betts for incorporating this book into our classes!)

The guide contains descriptions of thousands of elementary through early-advanced pieces from the Baroque through Contemporary periods, and it is organized chronologically by musical style period, with the composers of each period listed and discussed alphabetically within the period. Major and minor works of each composer are discussed in detail, and a specific level from 1 to 10 is assigned to each piece. This great leveling system is included in the front of the book and lists specific examples from the standard literature offered as representative pieces of each level. For example, the first volume of Bartok's Mikrokosmos is labeled as Level 1, the Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook's selections are labeled as Level 4, Bach's easier Two-Part Inventions are labeled as Level 7, and Beethoven's Sonatas, Op. 49 and Op. 79 are labeled as Level 10.

I refer to "The Pianist's Guide" frequently, using it as a resource for discovering "new" repertoire for my students, organizing the literature they study into levels that progress smoothly from easier to more difficult literature, and exposing them to some wonderful composers that are perhaps less famous than great masters such as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven with whom they are most familiar. I also use this reference as a way to find, for example, all of the Level 2 pieces from the Classical period (I keep lists of these searches, which we began in graduate school, in a binder arranged according to level), especially when I am teaching multiple students who are studying music of the same level of difficulty and who need to play a variety of pieces for a specific recital or festival.

Using the levels from "The Pianist's Guide" as a standard gives me the luxury of maintaining one organized way of thinking about the many levels of elementary through early-advanced literature, especially when I am teaching from a variety of different collections and using many different series that each assign their own levels to their specific teaching materials. This organized thought process helps to ensure that I assign literature to my students that progresses smoothly from level to level and that I provide pieces for them that gradually move from elementary literature into more advanced literature in an organized and sequential fashion.

There are several collections of standard literature Jane Magrath has compiled and edited that follow the leveling system of "The Pianist's Guide". Stay tuned for more information on these wonderful collections!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Upcycled Ear Plugs Boxes

I have the most unfortunate "gift" of being a very light sleeper. A result of this inability to fall asleep without absolute silence is the purchase of multiple boxes of ear plugs on a regular basis. The boxes are small, plastic, and slightly opaque, and I have always hated throwing them away because there just HAD to be a way to upcycle them! I finally decided what to do with them as soon as they are empty of ear plugs: I use them for storing small flash cards (I printed two pages of the instrument flash cards per sheet of card stock, so they fit very well!), small manipulatives, paper clips, game pieces, stickers, and lots of other things! I also send them home with students when I allow them to borrow different sets of small flash cards that I have created. What are some additional ways they could be used?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whole Note Discovery

To add to the "Discovery" series of worksheets available on this blog, here is the next installment! Click to view Quarter Note Discovery, Quarter Rest Discovery, and Half Note Discovery. This Whole Note Discovery is a review sheet students can complete after learning about the whole note. You can place it in a plastic sheet protector and use it again and again! As I have mentioned before, my beginners LOVE using dry erase markers :)

  • To review the whole note
  • To review the number of beats in a whole note
  • To review counting a whole note
  • To practice drawing a whole note
  • This printable sheet
  • Plastic sheet protector
  • Dry erase markers (red and blue)
  • Eraser for dry erase markers
  • This sheet was designed with young elementary students in mind, but older students may use it as well.
  • Beginners who have just learned the whole note 
  • Elementary students who need to review the whole note
  • Teenage and adult beginners who need to review the whole note
  • Print this sheet 
  • Laminate it or place it in a plastic sheet protector
  • Give it to the student to complete either within the lesson or at home

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lots More Musical Instrument Flash Cards!

***6/21/14 Update***

The updated and better-than-ever flash cards are now located in my TpT store! Click this link and you'll be taken directly to their page. Thanks :)

Here is a sample pic:

Original post:

Here are 24 more musical instrument flash cards that you can print out to use with your students! Click if you would like to see the first set of Musical Instrument Flash Cards and instructions.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Musical Instrument Flash Cards - Supplement for Pin the Tail on the Bunny

***6/21/14 Update***

The updated and better-than-ever flash cards are now located in my TpT store! Click this link and you'll be taken directly to their page. Thanks :)

Here is a sample pic:

Original post:

This weekend I decided to create some musical instrument flash cards to supplement Pin the Tail on the Bunny so that my students will be able to continue practicing identifying instruments after Easter has passed. These cards contain the same instruments as Pin the Tail on the Bunny, with a couple of additions. There are three pages of cards that include the names of the instruments on the cards, and there are three pages of the same cards that do not include the names of the instruments on the cards. I do plan to create additional sets that will contain more instruments that are not included in the current set, so if you would like to see any particular instruments on the cards, please let me know and I will do my best to include them!

  • To give students additional ways to review musical instruments
  • To help students learn to spell the names of musical instruments
  • To help students recognize musical instruments by their pictures
  • To review musical instrument families by organizing the cards into correct family groups
  • White card stock
  • Printer
  • Any age, especially elementary students
  • Any level, especially students who have not studied musical instruments in the past
  • Print the cards onto white card stock 
  • Cut along the dotted lines and shuffle the cards
  • Show one card at a time to the student, and have the student name the instrument
  • Another option is to have the student draw a card from the deck and name the instrument
  • These cards could be used instead of the "bunny tails" from Pin the Tail on the Bunny to organize the instruments into their families
  • Students could take home the cards with the instrument names on them so they could learn the instruments, then they could use the unlabeled cards during their lessons to check their knowledge of the names of the instruments
  • There are many games you could play with these cards, so feel free to use your imagination and post a comment to let me know what you chose to do with them!