Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday inspiration: the Shropshire Music Foundation

image via Shropshire Music Foundation
I want to share a bit of inspiration today in the form of the amazing work the Shropshire Music Foundation does using music to promote peace and joy.  In Uganda, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, children who have been hardest hit by the violence in their countries can have the opportunity to attend classes for singing, drumming, pennywhistle, and harmonica, “sing-a-longs,” and performances for families and friends.

Says founder Liz Shropshire, “Our goal is for these children to know that they have the power to make their own choices, that the path of peace brings happiness and security, that weapons do not equal power, and that violence is not the answer. Sometimes a song can give us the strength to turn away from that which is wrong. Our goal is for these children to become instruments of peace.”

Are you inspired??  You can read about their history here and find out how to help here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pop Quiz (sight-reading made sweet)

Okay, I admit I had a leeetle to much fun coming up with a "Pop Quiz" title in iPiccy (awesome Picnik alternative) but I promise, the premise is cool.  It's a new tradition I've started with one of my students and WonderGirl at the end of every lesson and practice session.  I'll pick a short etude out of my unused techic books that is around or just below their ability level, and let them look at it with the piano turned off (or the cover down) for about 30 seconds to a minute.  Sometimes I offer a few suggestions, like reminding them to look at which direction the line is going or any repeated notes or rests - and then I turn on the metronome and a very slow speed.  They can start when they want and the only rule is they don't stop or go back if they stumble.

And if they get it right the first time, they earn a special little treat!  WG requests a chocolate chip, my student gets a whopper malted milk ball - it's a teeny reward, but even the teeny ones are sweet.  Since we do it every lesson and practice session, it's not the end of the world if they doesn't earn one because they know they'll have another chance to try tomorrow.

How do YOU make learning to sight-read not a chore?
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