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Showing posts from March, 2010

It Might Get Loud

One of the best films about music I've ever seen. The three profiled musicians - Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2), and Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs) - complement each other excellently. Page is the sage: content in his older age, distributing his wisdom freely. The Edge is a gentle soul continually questing for new insights. And Jack White is the eager, earnest youngster yearning for acceptance from his two elders. The pacing of the film is great. It's a blast to learn more about the backgrounds (musical & otherwise) of the three guitarists. "It Might Get Loud" is definitely worthy viewing for anyone who loves music and its makers.

Motivating Students to Practice

I came across an excellent article written by pianist & teacher Jennifer Thomas regarding that essential element in musical progression: practice. Here is an excerpt: I recently asked a group of parents what was the one thing they needed help with regarding their children’s music lessons, as well as something that the teacher could be working on as well.  The answer:  Motivating children to practice. I’ve had this discussion with my own students’ parents many times.  Some parents really push their kids, and some have little to no involvement at all.  What are they doing wrong? What are they doing right? These are things they ask me.  I personally do not think that there is one right answer because every person is unique.  For example, I was a very self-motivated child and never had to be told to practice.  I just did it, and excelled at it. However, I know that some of my students don’t progress with this type of method in the home and practicing does not happen. It can be true of the…

Had my piano tuned today...

...and now it’s back to sounding its best. I last had it tuned in October. The winter chill wreaked havoc on the instrument, throwing it wildly out of tune, especially in the middle register.
If you are an active pianist, student, or teacher it is essential that you tune your piano at least once yearly. This may strike some readers as excessive, but it is not! Regular piano tunings will increase the longevity of your instrument. Also, annual service on your piano will keep maintenance costs lower. The longer a piano waits between tunings, the greater the work required to restore the instrument to its best functioning. More work = more cost. Make the sensible decision.
The piano tuner I call upon here in the CA bay area is Linda Kay. She provides excellent service and reasonable rates. You can click on her name for her contact information.

Good News, accompanied by musings

The Good News: all 12 of my students who participated in the Certificate of Merit program this year passed their theory tests! I am encouraged by this success.
I have had several conversations recently in which students or parents have told me that the CM Theory Test is no big deal - it's the Performance component they're worried about. I can understand this, but each element is essential to the growth of a musician. I do not wish to instruct people who then hide their musical talent away - what a waste! Performing is vital, a challenge worth meeting.
The performance portion is always trickier compared to the theory test. Where a written test is cut and dry, performances have so many variables. It is undeniably difficult to travel to an unfamiliar music studio with a strange sounding/looking/feeling piano and perform your best. But I do think it's good training for life, to gain confidence presenting a performance of quality to a discerning audience.
I find it extremely easy …

CM Theory Test Correcting @ Chabot College

This is an all-day endeavor. And I do get tired. And I am usually the only male in the room. If you answered these clues Jeopardy-style with, "What is Jesse correcting Certificate of Merit theory tests at Chabot College", then you are a perceptive soul. The Music Teachers Association of CA (MTAC) requires all of its active members to work a minimum of one full day each year to help run the Certificate of Merit program. The jobs range widely from studio host to theory room monitor to registration desk, and sundry others. This year is my 3rd year as an active MTAC member. My first year I helped run the registration desk. Both this year and last I worked among the theory test correcting ranks. The theory test correcting room is set up with a row of long tables. Teachers sit on each side of these tables all day long, rubbing elbows. Here's what we do: we have red pencils. We hold the red pencils in our hands. We mark answers if they are wrong. Fatigue sets in after a couple ho…

March 2010 Teaching Schedule

-- My teaching schedule for the month of March will be uninterrupted. Monday & Tuesday students: we will have 5 meetings this month - plan accordingly. -- The Certificate of Merit evaluations will be held on the weekends of March 6-7 and March 13-14. The CM performance evaluations will be conducted on both weekends, while the theory testing will be conducted only on the second weekend: March 13-14 at Chabot College in Hayward. Contact me if you have any questions.
-- I will be performing with the Moreau Catholic High School choirs on the evening of Thursday, March 25. The concert starts at 7pm.
Have a happy day, Jesse