I wanted my piano students to have a quick and easy reference for all scale and arpeggio fingerings, but I didn’t feel that an entire book should be necessary, nor did I want to continue writing fingerings into their notebooks.
Using colors to show fingerings that are the same from one scale/arpeggio to another, I created this double-sided card, which shows hands-together fingerings in the simplest and most compact possible way for all of the following hands together parallel scales and arpeggios:
- all 48 major/minor scales
- all 24 major/minor arpeggios
- all 12 dominant 7th arpeggios
- all 7 ways to play the 3 diminished 7th arpeggios
- three fingerings for the chromatic scale
- two fingerings for chromatic minor thirds
- Before laminating, the paper is trimmed down to 6.75″ x 9.5″ (or about 17×24 cm)
- Laminated margins are cut down to 1/8″ – the final is small enough to act as a big bookmark for students’ sheet music or notebook.
- Laminated with 5mil thickness – very sturdy. My students’ cards still look brand new after years of use.
- The laminated corners are rounded.
- Great for evaluations and auditions, or for day-to-day use by students during normal practicing.
- The front of the card also includes instructions for late beginners to be able to quickly play 4-octave hands-together scales.
Whenever I tell people that I give piano lessons to my own daughters, the most common response is any combination of joy and curiosity, such as, “That’s great that you are able to do that! I’ve known many parents who weren’t as lucky – what’s your secret?” Many ask me about what I do during lessons and what I expect from my kids during lessons. The first part of my response is usually exactly the kind of response they expect: “I treat them exactly the same during lessons as I treat all of my other students.” The second part of my response is not expected even though it seems obvious with 20-20 hindsight: the biggest part of my success teaching my kids has to do not with the 1 hour per week that I teach them, but with the other hours per week that I help them practice and the even more hours during the rest of the week that I’m parenting them.
First, let’s discuss the part of the article that everyone probably expects will be 7 pages long, but in reality, it is the simplest and shortest part to describe. Continue reading
In May 2011, I outlined in great detail what I and my students enjoy doing so much at group piano classes. In the “High Schoolers and Adults” section, I mentioned that I sometimes like to assign each student their own musical issue to listen to. I’ve been doing this exclusively with all seven of my advanced high schoolers over the past year, and we’ve all come to really love this way of giving feedback. The only problems with this way of doing things:
- Sometimes we start losing track of who is assigned to what issue.
- Every time we have a class, there is a different number of students, which means there will be a different number of issues to rotate between them. It’s a pain to have to spend a few minutes each class prioritizing what musical issues to cover.
So, after a class yesterday with 7 advanced high school students, I finally decided to make charts that would cover anywhere between 3 and 8 students that we can refer to in future classes. I decided to share these charts with other teachers so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Continue reading
Studying piano privately can be a lonely experience without social performance events. That’s why I always looked forward to special music events such as festivals and recitals when I was younger. Perhaps the most social of all piano events is the group piano class, which I’ll just refer to as “class” in this article. I have a unique way of conducting classes that involves complete student interaction and almost no preparation time on the part of the teacher, although the latter benefit was never the reason I chose to conduct classes this way. I designed my classes the way I would have most loved for them to go when I was a young student myself. After years of tweaking it, I can only describe it as a purely musical game with no game board or props – just students and their music.
Auto mechanics have a responsibility when they work on our cars, so there are standards in the mechanic field. Dentists have a responsibility when they work on our teeth, so of course they have standards too. The presence of responsibility is what leads to the necessity of standards. I have always felt very strongly that the field of music should not be one of very few professions left in the United States that is void of any standards at all, because teaching music (especially to a child who may someday apply for a music scholarship) carries tremendous responsibility.
Isn’t it interesting that K-12 and college teachers Continue reading
When a company wants to invest in their employees, they will often pay for the entire trip to go to a conference or seminar. Companies recognize that while they are investing in the employees, ultimately they are investing in the company and benefitting the company’s clients. School districts work the same way: teachers are encouraged to achieve higher degrees. Not only are teachers paid more for their education, their tuition costs are often partially or fully reimbursed by the school district. While teachers themselves Continue reading
Scales and arpeggios have been an integral part of keyboard technique since before the piano was invented, and fingerings haven’t changed for hundreds of years. So then, why do scale and arpeggio books continue to sell in sheet music stores? I suppose it’s easier to have students buy these materials than it is to construct our own sheets. As for me, I never saw the point of having students buy books devoted to scale and arpeggio fingerings when I could just take 15 seconds to write fingerings in their notebooks.
But that’s 15 seconds of wasted time. Enough is enough. (Hey, it adds up!)
I finally took many hours to construct Continue reading
I cannot count how many times I’ve heard these two myths in my years of piano teaching:
- “I am really good at memorizing music but my sight-reading is horrible.” [most commonly from music students in beginning through advanced levels]
- “I am really good at sight-reading music but can’t memorize to save my life.” [most commonly from advanced students, accompanists, church pianists, chamber pianists and other professional musicians]
These myths are often spoken with the implication that we’re all either born as sight-readers or memorizers. The fact is, we’re all both. It’s all a matter of what we train ourselves to do. What might come as a surprise, however, is that these two statements are not two myths. They are one myth.
It’s important to realize how critical of a role hard work plays in developing any skill, whether it be soccer, chess or music. But it simply isn’t truthful to ignore the role of talent. Many people don’t acknowledge this role nearly as much as it should be, even sometimes subscribing to the myth that there is no such thing as talent. I have noticed that this talent myth is promoted more in the field of music than in other fields, and I believe this is because music is so highly personal – and valuable – to people. For many, it’s easier to admit that they are no good at math (a nerdy discipline that some feel is of little use in their lives) than it is to admit that one probably won’t ever play music at a highly proficient level (a coveted discipline that almost everyone would love to do well in).