Jazz has been around for 120+ years. It has gone through many different periods: early jazz, swing, bebop, model, free and more. Now it is 2022, what now? The hoary old standards are wearing a bit thin, but just in time, and to the rescue, the next generation of meta-modern musicians has arrived. I'm in awe.
Here is a small sample of performances that got "2 thumbs up" from my young teen jazz students this week.
Here is one profile of a successful student who thrives on boundaries, discipline, and competition.
Mei diligently practices the following activities:
If I can help your Mei; please give me a call.
If I can help you and your kids, call me.
Revised August 2022
These three are the most neglected aspects of music study.
Skilled musicians see harmonic, rythmic, and structural patterns in the music, beginners see a string of notes. The purpose of theory study is to help us to see and understand these patterns and their significance, which over time, leads to artistry. As a former teacher put it, "understanding what you are seeing makes everything easier."
How you think about the drum set, what you have heard, and what you understand about the musical past of the instrument determine how you play the instrument musically. Ed Soph, master teacher
Different eras of music sound different. When you understand the broad outline of music history, you will have informed knowledge on the interpretation of the piece.
Ear training is a wide set of skills:
Some folks have it easier here than others, but I can confidently say that as a kid I started with a tin-ear, but over time, with practice I developed a high degree of skill.
I can help you too.
Revised August 2022
All I would add to these fine words is the following: do these things long before they are teens.
Revised October 2022
Mark Pritchard is with Patricia Pritchard.
5 September at 10:20 ·
"One of my friends asked "Why do you pay so much money for your kid to play the piano”? Well I have a confession to make; I don't pay for my kid to play the piano. Personally, I couldn't care less about what instrument they play.
So, what am I paying for?
- I pay for those moments when my kid becomes so tired they want to quit but don't.
- I pay for those days when my kid comes home from school and is "too tired" to do to their lesson but they go anyway.
- I pay for my kid to learn to be disciplined, focused and dedicated.
- I pay for my kid to learn to take care of her body and instrument.
- I pay for my kid to learn to work with others and to be a good teammate, gracious in failure, and humble in success.
- I pay for my kid to learn to deal with disappointment when she doesn’t get that recognition she’d hoped for, but still she goes back week after week giving it her best shot.
- I pay for my kid to learn to make and accomplish goals.
- I pay for my kid to respect, not only themselves, but their teachers and fellow young musicians.
- I pay for my kid to learn that it takes hours and hours, years and years of hard work and practice to play beautifully and that success does not happen overnight.
- I pay for my kid to be proud of small achievements, and to work towards long term goals.
- I pay for the opportunity my kid has and will have to make life-long friendships, create lifelong memories, to be as proud of her achievements as I am.
- I pay so that my kid can be creating something beautiful instead of sitting in front of a screen...
...I could go on but, to be short, I don't pay for piano playing; I pay for the opportunities that learning to play provides my kid with to develop attributes that will serve her well throughout her life and give her the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen so far I think it is a great investment!"
Here is the sport's version: “Why do you pay so much money for your kids to do all their sports”? – Wisconsin Wrestling Online (wiwrestling.com)
Revised October 2022
I'll send you a Zoom link, a list of learning materials required for the first lessons, and suggestions from colleagues on setting up Zoom audio and a picture on where to set up your camera.
See you in class.
Group activities will be back. In the meantime we will all practice, stay safe and continue our lessons online.
It is fun.
It’s fun if you are young and playing with your mom, it’s fun if you are older and playing with your spouse. The experience of duet playing is social bounding.
The piece teaches so many skills to a neophyte.
If you like to be part of this, call me.
Before the current crisis about 1/3 of my student body had their lessons online. Now it is everyone.
I've lost 3 students. Two lost their jobs, one didn't like online lessons. We all look forward to resuming once the virus moves on and they get back to work. Five new students have been added in the same timeframe.
I now meet my music coaches online now as well. Today with my "classical coach', last week with my "jazz coach". Every week with my drum coach.
I believe a number of students will remain online after the crisis lifts and the others will resume as they were.
If I can help you,
Parents are dusting off their rusty piano skills and now playing daily with their kids. What a opportunity the lockdown has given them.
Some of them are one finger players, so they play whole notes with one finger.
Some of them were accomplished musicians, their playing reflects their growing confidence as skills return.
Most are somewhere in between.
This situation will be over soon enough, the opportunity will be gone. I say take it, it will bring added joy to your life and fond memories.
Here is a video of a parent getting ready to accompany their child at the upcoming Zoom piano recital.
"How good do you want to be?" A quick and snappy musicians answer. A gentler piano teacher question is, “what do you want to accomplish?"
RCM levels 1 to 4: 45 minutes a day
RCM levels 5 to 8: 60 minutes a day
RCM levels 9 and above: 90 minutes plus
This amount of time is sufficient to cover all that needs to be done.
PS: I'd like to thank my colleague Becky Yuan and former teacher Leon Karan for input on the numbers.
Becky Yuan: Mississauga http://beckyyuan.com/
Leon Karan: Hamilton http://www.leonkaran.com/
Maybe. But is that the point? Are music lessons taken and given for instrumental reasons only?
Playing music has its own rewards.
On the other hand.
Learning to play an instrument over a number of years instills though experience and a number of instrumental values that benefit children as they progress towards adulthood.
Successful piano students have committed parents who help the children stick to their practice regime and defend music lessons when scheduling conflicts arise with others activities.
“A parent has to think it’s important for a child to think it’s important,” said Green. “I had to pick between (Girl Scout age level) Brownies or piano.”
From the Blog: For parents, basic notes when considering music lessons
Revised November 2023
The Royal Conservatory of Music published a summary of studies on the benefits of music study in childhood development.
"A WEALTH OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH over
the last decade is proving that music education
is a powerful tool for attaining children’s full
intellectual, social, and creative potential.
l It speeds the development of speech and
l It trains children to focus their attention
for sustained periods
l It helps children gain a sense of empathy
Music study requires a high degree of precision
in auditory processing: being almost in tune
is not good enough. This means that musically
trained children are better able to distinguish
subtle details of speech, leading to improved
reading, better comprehension, and also a
greater ability to interpret what other people
– children and adults – are really saying. "
Here is the link to the full text. I think it is worth the read.
Your Child’s Development:Music Study may be the Best Tool
This past month I've had the privilege adjudicating at 2 festivals in Ontario. Here are some tips for preparing your children for competition.
If I can help your child get ready for a music festival, call me.
Dorothy Delay asked parents of prospective students, "who is going to be your child's practice partner?" A teacher of prodigies, she knew a thing or two.
With that in mind, I encourage parents to attend lessons and take notes. This communicates to your child the importance of this activity. And you will be able to help your child complete their assignments. Prepared students are happy students because they play well and are praised for their effort. Playing well and earning praise works in sports, and it in music lessons too. If I can help your child, please call me.
Revised November 2023
A tale of two adult students
Awesome advice. Click on the image or here for the full article.
I ponder the similarities between this advice and the advice parents receive from athletic coaches.
Niagara Falls Workshop
What a fun day for 12 young musicians, ages 7 to 13, in Niagara Falls Ontario. At the studio of Alessandra Dicienzo we learned how to play in a band. Using iPhones, iPads, Keyboards, Pianos, Cajon, Alesis Drum Pad, Drum set, and shakers we rocked up a storm.
We started by learning a Rock-a-billy version of Abigail’s Boogie for multiple keyboards and finished up with a rousing reading of Katy Perry’s Part of Me. Then we performed the 2 pieces for family, all in three short hours.
I was really impressed at the intensity of the effort and the wonderful music that resulted.
Thank you kids.
Music lessons at the piano verses piano lessons
An important distinction
1. Some children bring little experience with music to their first lesson. They require music lessons at the piano. Here they explore the concepts of time, rhythm, metre, pitch, dynamics and improvisation.
2. Children with experience with music can proceed directly to piano lessons. They understand the basic concepts, if only intuitively.
How does a parent help prepare their toddler for lessons? I understand children like what they know. So… if you want them to play classical music play classical music in the home. Make it part of their normal everyday experience. Ditto for country, jazz, or pop.
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
I'm a professional pianist and music educator in West Toronto Ontario. I'm also a devoted percussionist and drum teacher.