Sunday, December 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
While we were there, the organist came in to rehearse. The chapel has four organs, and he played the big one. So a group of internationals stood in the middle of the church and sang "Star Spangled Banner" - it seemed fitting somehow, today of all days. That's what happens when music teachers get together - they make music!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...
18% Logical, 41% Spatial, 61% Linguistic, 37% Intrapersonal, 37% Interpersonal, 4% Musical, 8% Bodily-Kinesthetic and 37% Naturalistic!
"Verbal-linguistic intelligence has to do with words, spoken or written. People with verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words and dates. They tend to learn best by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, and via discussion and debate. They are also frequently skilled at explaining, teaching and oration or persuasive speaking. Those with verbal-linguistic intelligence learn foreign languages very easily as they have high verbal memory and recall, and an ability to understand and manipulate syntax and structure.
Careers which suit those with this intelligence include writers, lawyers, philosophers, journalists, politicians and teachers." (Wikipedia)
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The fifth of Bach’s three-part inventions was labelled BWV 791 by scholars and was one of the hardest in the canon, but it was Rita Scimeca’s favourite piece in all the world. It depended entirely on tone, which came from the mind, down through the shoulders and the arms and the hands and the fingers. The tone had to be whimsical, but confident. The whole piece was a confection of nonsense, and the tone had to confess to that but simultaneously it had to sound utterly serious for the effect to develop properly. It had to sound polished, but insane. Secretly, she was sure Bach was crazy.Her piano helped. It’s sound was big enough to be sonorous, but delicate enough to be nimble. She played the piece all the way through twice, half-speed, and she was reasonably pleased with what she heard…. (p.428)
To play this thing properly, you needed to be in some kind of a trance….She sat down and played it through again, a dozen times, fifteen, twenty, all the way from the first measure to the last. She was note-perfect, but that was nothing. Was the meaning there? Was there emotion in the sound? Thought? On the whole she reckoned there was. She played it again, once, then twice. She smiled to herself…She was making progress. Now all she had to do was bring the speed up. But not too much speed. She preferred Bach played slowly. Too much speed trivialized it. Although it was fundamentally trivial music. But that was all part of Bach’s mind-game, she thought. He deliberately wrote trivial music that just begged to be played with great ceremony. (p.432-433)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
It's more important to be able to make it right, than to get it right.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
"It's like this," he said. "Death comes. We leave this world for another. This is the cycle. We cannot change it. But I see other types of death around us too. These are little deaths. I'm talking about losing the stories of our grandparents. I'm talking about how we feel distant from nature now. Will generations from now know the beautiful colors locked in this simple root? I often think the answer is no, and my heart break."He looked at me hard."Tell this story," he urged. "Tell it well if you can." (p.6)
"[This is]...a scrapbook from a world that, if not yet vanishing, is certainly under threat.I imagine my goal could seem too modest or lightweight compared with the immense body of literature on wild carpets and their history. I could reply by repeating a snippet from a Turkmen folk saying from central Asia: Carpets are our soul....I hope others will listen.I like to think that, maybe, a few more people will skim their palms over a carpet's knots, marvel at the colors, and wonder: Who was here before? What dyer, with arms stained by madder, mixed these colors? What would the weaver want to say to me?" (p.7)
Monday, August 4, 2008
I watched a woman try to bribe her child with an icecream. She wanted him to be quiet while she bought a whatchamacallit. He was bored. She told him she would buy him an icecream. As a bribe, it didn't work.
Not that I advocate bribery, necessarily.
1) She didn't check that an icecream was a suitable incentive.
2) - and perhaps more crucially - she didn't link the incentive with the required behaviour.
So the child got his icecream, the mother got a headache and both were a bit confused by the mild ill-will created on both sides.
When working with pre-schoolers (and adults too, if I'm honest) I check that the 'reward' is going to inspire.
"If you can be quiet until I finish talking to Mum, I will give you this shiny sticker. Do you think that the sticker will help you remember to be very quiet?"
Marketers need to remember this more often.
Monday, July 28, 2008
No, I'm not about to "over share". The bathroom was clean and had the usual facilities. The toilet paper and dispenser of soap were... Coles homebrand.
There is nothing wrong with Coles home brand. But you expect something a bit more flash at that price point. There's a big dissonance or incongruity in a posh marble and chrome bathroom, with a little plastic Coles home-brand soap dispenser sitting on the vanity.
It's a simple - and probably sensible - attempt to reign in margins, something any successful restauranteur needs to do. Somehow it is easy to see this small thing as either "we didn't think" or "we don't care".
Inexpensive and attractive soap dispensers can be purchased from most homewares shops. All they had to do was buy one and decant the home brand into it. My friend's hands would probably have noticed that it was inexpensive soap, but she wouldn't have noted it as cheap soap.
As a result, this was the story my friend told about the restaurant. It sprang to mind today when I drove past the restaurant. I don't think that's what their Marketing Manager or Maitre d' wants me to be thinking.
On my last driving holiday in rural England, I found a way to get a good dinner was look for pubs covered with baskets of flowers. If the flowers were in good condition, the food was likely to be good. My theory was that any publican willing to climb a ladder to keep their flower baskets in good condition during high summer really cared - and that was the kitchen I wanted to eat out of.
Small things speak louder than you think.
I bought mine at Honeybee in Malvern, VIC.
It's curiously soothing to play around with the pieces, which can be put together in a number of different ways. Freude durch Farbe (Happiness through Colour) indeed.
The first 4 months of a child's life is all about INPUT. Like the fluoride in Colgate, it does get in Mrs Marsh. [That's a reference to an old ad, if you're under 30.] No, we can't see what the child is learning/getting out of class, but they're taking in the world.
Even asleep, they are absorbing rhythm and pitch. Most of all, they are absorbing the emotional flavour of the experience. We know from brain research that babies learn first through the limbic system, through emotion.
In a Kindermusik Family Time class, the baby is experiencing positive music making with its family. It is learning at the deepest possible level that music is something you do, not something you receive. Even if the baby is not conscious, it is still learning this. That's one of the most important things I want children to get out of KM - you can have music if you want it.
In a Kindermusik Vilalge class, the baby is experiencing positive music making with its mother, and a community of other babies (older and maybe younger). This baby is also learning that music is out there, it's something you can do. It's enjoyable. This baby is also learning that there are others like it in the world. It's a very positive experience of a peer group.
After 4 months, children become more EXPRESSIVE in their learning, so you start getting some OUTPUTS. At that point, you begin to see what the child has learned or 'got out of' Kindermusik from coming so young.
In my experience, the babies who attend young have excellent rhythm, they tend to carol and babble more freely and with a bigger range of sounds, they also tend to be more emotionally stable (at least at Kindermusik class). They feel safe in the space, and that is a great grounding for learning to build on later too.
The babies who come from their first weeks of life tend to respond to music more strongly - by jigging and waving their limbs, by copying the music with their voices or just by turning their head toward the sound when they hear it. So they are more
sensitised to music. They can actually pick it out of a range of sounds. I'm betting that means their hearing is better connected up than a child who hasn't done an early music and movement program.
I had a family who stopped coming at 4mths because, "the baby wasn't really getting anything out of it, she just lies there." They came back at 12 months, because the mum was playing the Village CD, and the track came on that we did the warm up
exercises to - the baby plonked herself on her bottom and began the cross lateral toe-touch in rhythm to the song. The Mum was astonished, she hadn't done that exercise with the child since they left KM (as she admitted to me, with a red face) yet her child remembered. Not consciously, but it was in there somewhere.
I remain a licensed Kindermusik educator, and have been a Mentor for Kindermusik International for several years.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Article: Driven by Distraction
While I am (obviously) childless, I was moved and inspired by this piece.
A book by the author will be out in September, published by Melbourne University Press.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Benjamin Zander on Music & Passion
If you've ever thought you might not like classical music, watch this 20 minute treat. If you like classical music, watch it anyway.
And if you ever thought you might be tone deaf, Benjamin Zander will explain why you're probably not.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
At the end of this week, I will no longer own my beloved Kindermusik studio.
I began my Kindermusik studio in February 2000, with a class of 3 children. Now there are more than 100.
One family has been with me throughout that period - we're on bub number 3 - so I have watched this entire family grow up.
Some of my original Kindermusik babies are now 8-10 years old, and learning piano or guitar with us. Some are in children's choirs. Some play soccer or do ballet. The music they learned helped them get where they are today.
My fabulous administrator, Leesa, will be going with the Kindermusik studio to the new owner. We have worked together for the past six years. She'll be working across the corridor, but I will miss working with her. (I'm not so convinced she will miss working with me... it can be chaos central!)
It's wonderful. It's sad. It's exciting. It's overwhelming. So, just another day in the life.
I continue to teach piano to both children and adults. I continue to love teaching. I never get tired of watching students realise, "I can do it!"
I am developing new short courses for those who are too time-poor to come for regular weekly lessons. I am writing a book. One of these days I may even get some rest.
Doors open, and doors close.
I wish you all the best with your week.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Judging your early artistic efforts is artist abuse. This happens in any number of ways: beginning work is measured against the masterworks of other artists; beginning work is exposed to premature criticism, shown to overly critical friends. In short, the fledgling artist behaves with well-practiced masochism.... Mistakes are necessary! Stumbles are normal. These are baby steps. Progress, not perfection is what we should be asking of ourselves....There will be many times when we won't look good - to ourselves or anyone else. We need to stop demanding that we do. It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time.
Remember that in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist. Give yourself prmission to be a beginner. By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps, over time, a very good one.
I may have to frame this. Most of my students suffer from this in one form or another. This week they can play a little Mozart piece - great! But why can't they play Rachmaninof? (After maybe 20 lessons.)
We don't have to set the world on fire. We do need to set our own hearts on fire, by playing at music with the same serious intensity of a young child learning to walk. The new toddler will fall down a hundred times, but she or he keeps on getting up and having another go.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I have had only a couple of students (in over a decade) who just seemed "made" for the piano. I have had more than a few students who asked should they "not bother" because they weren't good enough to continue. It depends, really: How good do you have to be?
Marcus Buckingham, a wonderful author, has written (or co-written) several books about strengths and talents. In First, Break All the Rules, he discusses what talent is. In my words, it's a way of thinking or being that is habitual and natural and which can be applied to a task or activity.
So the good news is, everyone has a talent that can be applied to music making and learning.
Your talent might be in seeing the pattern of spaces and lines that separate each note.
Your talent might be in automatically making a piece rhythmic - even if it's your rhythm rather than the one the composer intended, to start with.
Your talent might be in the way you touch the notes, instinctively adding light and shade, soft and loud to even the simplest exercise.
Your talent might be in hearing 'what comes next' and hardly needing to read the notes at all.
Your talent might be that you're willing to put in extra practice when your fingers don't instantly "get it".
Your talent might be that you're able to just sit back and enjoy the process of learning, without needing to evaluate yourself against concert pianists every five minutes.
All these are worthwhile and valuable talents. Most of us only have a couple of them. I have never met someone who had every talent.
So, how good do you need to be?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
One seven year old I know loves playing pieces with her Grandfather. An adult student plays endless repetitions of Vamping for her child to improvise against. A ten year old plays for the school choir to sing along. They all use their music. They are all good students. They have purpose. They have joy.
Too often, children experience music lessons as something intrinsically pointless that isolates them from all the fun and joy of life.
That's not who I want to be as a teacher. That's not what I want I want you to experience when you have lessons.
So, if you ever played an instrument (or sang) in your life, go and have a play now. Remember, it's meant to be FUN.