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Missed Lesson Policy

I will do my best to accommodate all missed lessons for any reason. I will schedule extra lessons to make up the time during the week, a double lesson if time allows, even in special circumstances (and if I am available) I will do a make up lesson on the weekend or during the school holidays.

However, I do require at least 6 hours notice for any missed lesson. Any lesson missed that does not have at least 6 hours notice will not be made up.

The only time I will credit a missed lesson over to the next term is in the extremely rare case when I have had to cancel a lesson last-minute at the end of term.

Ted Ed video – How playing an instrument benefits your brain

Playing music is an end in itself, regardless of the level of ability attained. The joy of playing music, whether performing, playing with others or just playing for yourself is so uplifting – it calls to the part of us that needs to express emotion.

There is joy too, in the work of figuring out a new piece, or refining your technique, that gives us the satisfaction of meeting a challenge.

As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to encourage us all to take up an instrument, here is a 5 minute Ted Ed video on how learning an instrument benefits our brains.

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“Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout, it engages practically every area of the brain. Disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions, allowing us to apply that strength to other activities.”

“Music has been found to increase the volume and activity of the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres, allowing messages to get across the brain faster, and through more diverse routes.”

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“Musicians often have higher levels of “executive functions”, a category of interlinked tasks that includes planning, strategizing, and attention to detail, and requires simultaneous analysis of both cognitive and emotional aspects.”

“Musicians exhibit enhanced memory function.”

Click here to watch the video: Ted Ed – How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain

Free Flashcards

Every beginning student needs a set of flashcards. Preferably several sets.

There are heaps of free flashcards that you can download from the internet. Print them off and paste them onto some backing card. Take one set into your teacher and she will write the note names on the back for you. Keep one set plain for playing memory.

Opus Music Worksheets have several sets – the treble and bass clefs, as well as the general music markings!

Pianimation has a huge collection of free flashcards – this is a great classroom teacher resource as well!!

Practise/Practice?

This is one that I always get caught on.

Practise is a verb. 

Please practise every day.

I am practising regularly.

But I practised today already!

I have been practising for four hours.

The orchestra practises on Tuesdays.

Practice is a noun. 

Practice makes perfect.

Please do your piano practice.

With practice, you will improve.

Try using your scales as a warm-up practice.

Using Audacity

I really love tinkering around with music software – it takes me forever (computers and I don’t get along) but I’m always happy playing around with all the different things I can do!

Every music teacher should be familiar with audacity. It’s a free program that can take a while to learn to use but once you’ve go the hang of it it becomes simple to turn your ideas into musical reality.

I generally use this program to change the pitch of backing tracks so it suits the voices of my students, and have also used it to speed up or slow down music if my students are doing a dance number.

You can also record straight into audacity – this is how I created the backing track for Sailing For Adventure. I found this problematic as there was about a half-second delay between what I was hearing and what I was laying down. I tried to compensate by playing slightly in front of the beat but this drove me insane and impacted the recording – if you listen closely you can hear a few of the tracks wobble in and out of time. If you have any suggestions to help with this problem I’d love to hear as I want to start another recording project soon.

Right now I’m changing the backing track of The Dock Of The Bay up two tones to suit the voice of one of my students. I’ll walk you through the process:

1 – Download the backing track you want to work with from iTunes.

2 – Locate the file in your iTunes folder and copy and paste into a separate audacity folder. I just like to keep it all together so I don’t get confused with what I’m working with.

3 – Convert the file to WAV form. I use Zamzar which is a free online file converter. It sends a link to your e-mail where you can download the converted file. I haven’t signed up for an account with them because I abhor trying to remember all my log-ins and passwords and I do not want to add more clutter to my online footprint, but apparently doing so can increase your download speed. I find that it takes 5-10 minutes to convert and download a song.

4 – Open audacity.

5 – Import the WAV file into audacity: File/Import/Audio

6 – Change the pitch: Effect/change pitch. A box will come up and you can choose to select how many semitones you want to change the pitch by, or you can choose what hertz to play at. I’m not too sure what a hertz is so I moved the piece up by two semitones. I find that when I’ve done this the quality becomes a little muffled. Not too many people will notice but this a glitch I would like to get around if anyone knows what else I could do.
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7 – Now I want to turn it from an audacity project to an audio file I can put onto a CD. Select File/Export and it will pop up with a box where you can choose the location to save to and type in the name of the file.

Because this particular backing track is difficult to sing to I want to add a piano track playing the melody. Because this is just for practice the quality does not have to be amazing so rather than faffing about trying to plug my keyboard directly into the computer I’ll just record straight in using the laptop’s microphone (which is terrible).

8 – Put the laptop on the keyboard and press the round record button. Play the piano along with the backing track. Press stop at the end.

9 – Delete the original track (the one that you put up two semitones) and you are left with the audio of you playing the melody line. The laptop microphone will also have picked up and recorded the backing track.

10 – Export this file.

11 – Close audacity. Save the project if you like, but with something as simple as this I don’t bother. I’ve converted the original file to WAV form which is the time-consuming part. If I need to change the pitch again I’ll pop in the original WAV file. Indeed, due to the quality distortions, it’s always best to go back to the original recording if you can.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into audacity – have a go at your own project!!

**If you are an audacity God, please comment below if you think I can improve this process in any way!

Ode To Joy

This is a fantastic piece of music that never seems to get old. Which is fortunate for me because I teach it to nearly every student at least once.

Whenever you are learning an arrangement of a piece of music, it is always nice to listen to the original work. Youtube is a great resource for doing this, so enjoy these different renditions of Beethoven’s Ode To Joy!

**Always ask for parental permission or supervision when using youtube!! 

And even the muppets!