Activities and Performances

Video clips from piano lessons show how we "play" some of the activities presented in Music Moves for Piano.


Music Moves lessons are activity centered. Regardless of level or age, students learn from modeling and 'doing.' 'Doing' is essential to learning and is a contrast to coaching. Students' responses to activities are not perfect; mistakes occur as part of the learning process. Activities may be for mixed age groups and levels or for two or three students learning at the same level. One-on-one lessons may include many activities also. Activities include: tonal and rhythm pattern instruction, ensemble playing, vocal improvisations and harmonizations, keyboard improvisations and harmonizations, listening, reading, writing, singing, chanting, body movement, using notation software, and more.

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A fundamental principle in Music Moves is showing students how to take something and change it. This is the reasoning behind the core repertoire from the rich heritage of folk songs. Short songs, playable by young, beginning hands, provide material for making arrangements. Projects and directions for how to make arrangements/variations of folk tunes include: 1) Changing keyality (transposing) 2) Changing tonality 3) Changing meter 4) Creating an accompaniment 5) Making a melodic variation 6) Making a rhythmic variation 7) Making a harmonic variation 8) Changing tempo or dynamics 9) Creating a medley 10) Creating a new idea using the rhythm patterns and form from a song After students learn a piece as composed, they may make changes to it. This is not for pieces that will be adjudicated. Some students like to recreate, or rearrange, part of a piece. Making arrangements via weekly projects develops accompanying skill for group singing of familiar songs in a variety of settings.

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Ensemble Performances

Ensemble performance develops listening skill and performing skill. From the beginning of lessons, Music Moves students play in ensemble with the teacher or with another student. Duet performances may be a composed piece or completely improvised. One way students can play in ensemble is for one student to play macrobeats, another student to play microbeats, and a third student to improvise. The teacher may assign parts, rhythm pattern, and meter, or students may decide. To make a longer piece, students may create a new melody with the rhythm pattern or change parts, keeping the macrobeat constant, in a Round Robin format. Students may chant the macrobeats and/or microbeats while changing place, to keep a consistent tempo. Students are in charge when creating the ensemble improvisation and learn by doing it together without teacher assistance.

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Improvisation activities are an integral part of Music Moves lessons. Students use everything they learn in 'throw away' improvisation activities. Continuous improvisation provides security in performance and reinforces learning. Young children benefit from mixed level groupings. They become acculturated to patterns, singing, chanting, and moving. Learning is by osmosis and is internalized in a way that is essential before students begin formal instruction. Improvisation projects are included on the Unit Pages of Music Moves student books. Improvisation activities increase in complexity and include: improvising on a rhythm pattern in the context of a meter, improvising on a folk song, moving while listening to a performance, singing improvised songs in small ensembles, singing and playing, and so forth.

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Video clips from friends and a few former students are in this playlist. Will Chiles, Jerred Williamson, Susan LaBarr, Lori Coscia, Louis Claussen, Andrew Schneider, Inge Chiles, Adam Henry, Katie Kring, Katie Killingsworth Crum, and Jody Killingsworth were all such a joy to have as piano students. I love that they are using music in creative ways.

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Original Composition

Compositions are an outgrowth of improvisation and arrangement activities and projects. Students in Music Moves lessons improvise and arrange continually. One activity that is popular is composing music, using guidelines, to an original story of five or six lines. Each line, then is illustrated in sound and in drawings. Some students will sing the story lines. Others will read the story lines. Creating a composition that is remembered or notated is self-rewarding. Students are encouraged to share compositions that are in progress or fully completed for recitals. A notebook is kept of compositions that are notated in Finale by the students.

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Acculturation activities are fundamental for beginning piano students of any age, including transfer students, and are incorporated into Keyboard Games activities. The Keyboard Games Teachers book is full of ideas for a variety of activities. The pieces in the Keyboard Games books provide a foundation for the beginning pianist. These pieces: 1) Develop coordinated movement, beginning with the large motor movement of the forearm and using the 3rd finger for arm balance behind each piano key. 2) Provide familiarity with the whole keyboard, black and white keys. 3) Introduce duple and triple meters. 4) Introduce a variety of dynamics and tempo differences. 5) Acclimate the student to placement on the keyboard for a piece. 6) Show the student which fingers and hands to use to start the piece and perform the piece. 7) Provide the student with different hand usage: playing together, crossing hands, moving hands, one hand alone, for example. 8) Provide examples for students to use for improvisation. 9) Encourage ensemble performance and creating new duet parts. 10) Stress the development of coordinated playing skills such as: moving in and out from white keys to black keys; moving slightly on a repeated key; using the arm to take the hand/fingers to a new place; playing with a beautiful tone; playing without stretching or reaching or keybedding; breathing; audiating tempo and form before beginning to play; feeling the forearm/hand in one piece with awareness of how the wrist is used; learning how to create a hand shape for playing.

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Rhythm Activities

Many rhythm activities ensure a focus on understanding rhythm and meter in both listening and performance. Student are asked to: 1) Learn the rhythm patterns from a solo before playing or reading it. 2) Read rhythm patterns from the RHYTHM AND TONAL PATTERN BOOK for others to echo. All reading is from notation without syllables. As students progress, they read this notation using rhythm syllables. 3) Use flowing body movement when chanting rhythm patterns. Avoid pulsating movements such as clapping or marching.

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Solo Performances

Solo performances happen during lessons, for informal recitals, for formal recitals, and competitions. Students become comfortable performing without notation, a natural result of the audiation-based learning style of Music Moves.

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Teaching Demonstrations

Teaching demonstrations by myself and others. Activities time, in the Teachers Lesson Plans, can move quickly and be separated into adjacent weeks, depending on the time available. Children in the Activities video clips are age 5-8. Part of the objective is acculturation while listening, singing, moving, and chanting. As students reach the age of 9 and older, they may lead the Activities Time. Other video clips are by professional MLT teachers. Thankful and helpful to watch them teach and present.

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Technical Activities

Building coordinated movement skill is built into Music Moves pieces. This includes: moving in and out from white and black keys, moving slightly on a repeated key, using forearm movement, working on hand shape away from and at the keyboard, avoiding reaching-stretching-twisting-keybedding, use of the forearm, hand/fingers, and wrist. Coordinated movement develops gradually and should be addressed at lessons in a positive manner. As students progress technically and get older, coordinated skills become internalized. Rote solos and reading solos can be selected to individualize technical growth and development.

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Tonal Activities

Lesson time activities center around tonic and dominant in major and minor tonalities. Chord roots are used for accurate hearing. (Exception to chord roots is the dominant sound where students like to use 'TI' or 'SI' in place of 'SO' and 'MI.') After students hear the tonic-dominant changes, the harmonic vocabulary increases and students begin to improvise accompaniments. A variety of accompaniment patterns are presented in the Student Books. Listening and singing are fundamental for tonal audiation.

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09 June 201830 July 2018

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