Our 1st camp on June 20, 2017 was such great fun! The focus for this "Song-Writing Camp" was on theory, composition, song-writing, and a tribute to the composer Robert Vandall.
What FUN we had yesterday caroling door-to-door! A handful of my students and their parents joined me at the studio for some hot cocoa and cake. We played our carols for each other then bundled up and headed to a nearby neighborhood.
I was surprised how welcoming people were opening their doors and joining in our Christmas cheer as we sang "Jingle Bells". Being a piano studio and all, we carried along a keyboard for accompaniment (thanks, Blue, for carring this!). I haven't been door-to-door caroling since H.S. (over 30 years ago) so it was awkward knocking on that first door. I mean, folks just don't knock on doors anymore, so at first we felt a bit like criminals.
At each house a student volunteered to hand the homeowner a candy cane after we sang. Every single house (except for one .... the "Grinch" sign in the yard should have been a clue) welcomed us so graciously. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have even answered the door in the first place, so I was quite impressed with their generosity! Perhaps it's because such cute youngsters with gigantic smiles welcomed them when they opened their doors? (I highly recommend bringing along some 6-7-8 year olds on your next caroling adventure!)
We generally tend to perform in assisted living facilities or hospitals. However, this year's adventure was so fun I think we might need to repeat it in future years!
Thanks to all those amazing music-loving students who were able to attend this year's party and make it such a memorable event. Happy holidays to all those friendly neighbors, too!
Fall Quarter started this week and the schedule seems to be working out well for everyone! Yeah :)! Scheduling can be tricky so I was very thankful for this.
Over the 2 week break in August I was able to make a lot of progress on my new piano method, "88 Keys to Mastering the Piano". It is unique in its inclusion of important "Taubman" principles of piano technic. Many of the popular piano methods currently published include information regarding technic which we now know can cause tension which leads to technical limitation and eventually possible pain and injury. In the year 2016 -- with all of the information we now know regarding ergonomic motion -- it is time for the field of piano technic to get an upgrade.
The field of piano pedagogy needs to (once and for all) let go of out-dated principles from the 1800 and 1900's. Inefficient (and unhealthy) principles such as "curling the fingers" (as if holding an imaginary ball), or "isolating" the finger motion from the hand and forearm (causing extreme tension/co-contraction and limitation), or "shaping" with the wrist collapsing too low or raising too high NEED TO BECOME A THING OF THE PAST. These outdated principles of technic encourage motions and misalignment of the body which cause us to use the wrong muscles, or use muscles which we don't need to use. Moving a limb part to the extreme range puts too much stress on our tendons and ligaments. And, most importantly, it makes piano playing difficult and limits our speed and facility. With some studies indicating that over 88% of pianists suffer from pain or injury, it is important that healthy, effortless principles of coordinate motion be applied from the 1st lesson on.
Though daunting and all-consuming, this project is so important. My students need this resource so I will continue to work on future books in my spare time in the years to come. Many thanks to my amazing students past and present for their help in this project. Your photos, videos, and input are invaluable!
Just 2 days after the Alabama Music Teachers State Conference at Auburn University (where, incidentally, longtime McLelland Piano student Evelyn performed beautifully in the Division II State Winners Recital), we held our 2016 Summer Piano Camp.
The theme this year was Pianist in Ensemble and the students had opportunity to learn about and accompany several instruments -- violin, (guest clinician Caroline Nordlund), flute (guest flutist Eleanor R.), saxophone and bassoon, (Evelyn C.)
New this year? An ENTIRE day at Oak Mountain State Park where we rehearsed piano duets, presented a play entitled "Wigs of Music History", played water balloon games, road boats, hiked, and enjoyed hotdogs/hamburgers and s'mores over the campfire!
We also had new games this year like Eggspert Jeopardy and of course old faithfuls like our Keyboard Carnival, and our fabulous pipe organ workshop with Dr. Jeff McLelland. Congrats to all our amazing campers and guest clinicians this year and many thanks to our camp helpers!
Here are some clips!
Wednesday at Oak Mountain State Park!
Thursday - Keyboard Carnival and Pipe Organ day!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s_jRUPijggFriday - Another chamber class with guest violinist, Caroline Nordlund, final rehearsals, fried chicken AND a performance at St. Martin's in the Pines Assisted Living. (The residents loved the special cards and origami critters we made and shared and we really enjoyed meeting them and performing for them!)
Congratulations to all my pre-college students for their wonderful performances in last week's Spring Studio Recital and Awards Ceremony. Here are some hi-lites!
Congratulations also to all the students who participated in the AMTA (Alabama Music Teachers Association, local affiliate of MTNA - Music Teachers National Association) District VII Auditions at Samford University. Highest ratings all-around. Now onto the state level auditions in May!
I enjoyed adjudicating the AMTA District auditions at Snead College, and then the next week at Huntsville. I always hear so many amazing students and receive such motivation and encouragement as well. Kudos to everyone I hear all around the state!!
It was such fun that we plan to hold our Spring Studio Festival auditions online at stageit.com. An adjudicator around the world (in Australia!) will be viewing the live auditions and providing evaluations and ratings. 6 PM our time, 11 AM the next day her time! More details later along with links if you would like to view the auditions!