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Reflections for the week starting 16 January 2023

I think the group lesson format works rather well. It needs a proper hour to do it justice though. Or am I trying to do too much as usual? By the end of 45 mins, I haven’t covered the repertoire as I was focusing on getting students to perform technical exercises 3 and 1, and then teaching them exercise 2 by rote (MTB introductory grade). However, this week is only the third lesson of the term. Logically we can move on to the pieces after that. The time used to listen to and learn the technical studies will be used for the pieces instead. So in that sense, perhaps 45 mins is okay. However, there was no time to practise the sight reading this week.

I suppose a technical study especially in the earlier stages should be considered as a piece in its own right. Take for example MTB introductory exercise 3, some of the students found it extremely difficult to play with their left hand, chords and playing notes in parallel motion in both hands. That technical exercise in itself is worth at least a week of work for them. I suppose why not as wouldn’t someone spend months or even years at say Chopin etudes, Debussy etudes, etc?

I started using a magnetic whiteboard with circular magnets to teach students how to read by directions. Prior to this I was using used tealight candle holders and sheets of paper and getting students to move the holders up and down. The magnets and whiteboard seem to make it more fun, I think due to the colours of the magnets.

What are the non-negotiables to be covered each lesson? Aural, reading rhythms and notes aka sight reading (played with others which makes it pseudo ensemble playing) for sure as they are covered in exams. Ideally I would love to include improvising and playing by ear into each lesson as they are skills which will take time to develop and build. So the question is how to do it?

Hmmm, for the MBT listening skills exercises, instead of just singing back notes and melodies, I get the students to play it on the piano/their instrument after they have sung their responses? And I could layer in improvising after they have played their response by ear. Oh wow, how on earth am I going to teach this fabulous idea! (I hear my students and parents groan at yet another “fun” game of mine).

To be fair, doesn’t play by ear fall under the subject heading aural?

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