Archive for the 'NCMTA' Category

Sep 4th 2013 A Return to Lessons

Brunner Studios in Mint Hill, NC, will begin the fall semester on September 10.  Hopefully everyone has had time to get those school schedules settled and is now ready to either resume or begin music lessons.  Brunner Studios offers piano, voice, oboe, theory, and music history lessons.  Tutoring for AP Music History is also available.  We will be having recitals and performance opportunities throughout the year. 

Please call  or email and ask about scheduling a trial lesson to decide if Brunner Studios is the right musical home for you or your student.

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Aug 22nd 2013 Curriculum Questions

As students are heading back to school here in Charlotte, NC, and all over the country, we should ask ourselves; are we teaching the way students learn in today’s environment.  Honestly with the competition between extra curricular activities we as teachers need to be up to date on the latest methods and learning styles.  Are we incorporating the newest technology in our lessons?  Are we excited about teaching?

What are questions that we should ask ourselves as teachers and what same questions should parents be asking?

1.  What curriculum do you use?  And part two of this question.  Why do you use this curriculum?

As as teacher, do you use the same material because it is always what you’ve used, or because you believe it is the most relevant to today’s students?  Do you use the best correlation with local festivals?  Do you try to expose students to a wide variety of music and print styles? 

2.  Are your students active in the community?  Festivals, talent shows, recitals, playing at nursing homes. 

3.  Do the students use technology to help keep them interested during the challenging parts of the curriculum?  Online apps or flashcards?  Notation software?  Youtube performances?  Are you utilizing these resources?

4.  Are you following a curriculum of any kind that can aid a parent in understanding the rate of progress for the student?

5.  Are the students learning about areas outside of music that relate to music?  Roman numerals, world history, different cultures that have influenced nationalistic music?

Many times I think as teachers we can get in a rut.  Even with a tried and true curriculum, there are opportunities for evaluation and introspection.  As parents are calling and emailing, do you seem excited about the coming year or are you feeling the grind of hearing those same pieces again?  It is up to us as educators to try to instill excitement for music and knowledge in our new and returning students.

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Aug 13th 2013 A Break, A Sabbatical, A Vacation, A Return

I’ve been either in school or teaching full time since the fall of 2000.  That is a long time!  The month of August is a notoriously slow month on the lesson front.  This year, I decided to do something different.  The studio is closed for the entire month of August and the first week of September.  What about the students?  Most were vacationing at least part of the month, and all were glad not to have to negotiate the first few weeks of school with an after school activity. 

 

I’m using this time to think about my methodology and where I want the studio to go in the next year.  What’s been working and what needs a revamp? 

 

The most useful thing that I’ve done this year is to have started using either a candle or incense on lesson days in the room off the studio.  This combined with a quite minute.  The quality of lessons has improved dramatically.  So many of my students come directly from school or other activities.  The students just aren’t as focused on that 30 or 45 minutes as they should be.  As the student enters the studio we talk briefly about how the day went and get the books arranged at the piano.  Then I ask the student to close their eyes and think about “how you practiced, what did you improve upon, and what you want to show me in your lesson.”  Just a minute of silence for most of the students allows them to reset and leave the rest of the day at the door.  I feel as a teacher that I’m getting a more accurate read on what the students are accomplishing during the week.

 

As we come back in the fall, I hope to have more students signing up for The Music Development Program exams.  Previously known as RACE and the Carnegie Hall Achievement Program.  This is a program that I believe in strongly.  Whether the student takes the exams or just uses the principles laid out in the curriculum, my students are on a stronger and more through track than ever.  Having an internationally recognized standard makes it so easy to know how a student is truly progressing in the literature.  If you would like to find out more about this program, please let me know.

 

As always, Brunner Studio is scheduling lessons.  Just because the studio is on break doesn’t mean that my email and phone don’t work!  Please call or email if you would like to know more about piano, voice or oboe lessons for this fall.  I can’t wait to hear from you.

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Feb 18th 2013 Last Lesson Before A Festival

Today, I just want to pose a question to help teachers evaluate what they are doing to prepare for festivals.  What do you do in the last lesson before a festival?  Do you do run throughs, mock judging, spot work, pick out new pieces?  How do you use those last few minutes to prepare for an event that you have spent months getting ready for?

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Jan 18th 2013 NFMC Scholarship Paper Work

Well the paperwork has landed for the NFMC Scholarship Piano Festival.  It’s been sorted and organized and the schedule made out.  It was relatively painless on my part.  Once the system a system is in place it makes everything so much easier. 

All of the teachers and students work quite hard preparing for these events.  The chairmen of these events will only keep doing these jobs if it goes as smoothly as possible.  How can we work together to make everyone’s experience the best it can be.

1.  Teachers, check the rule book for instructions about special time request.  Some events are very specific as to when you can do this.  For most events, if the request isn’t turned in with the initial paperwork it probably is too late. 

2.  Teacher and Parents- check the calendar before signing up for a festival to see if there are any conflicting events.  It always makes me upset for the student to hear that they have prepared a difficult piece only to have to withdraw the week of a performance due to a scheduling conflict. 

3.  Teachers- WRITE NEATLY!!!!!  Excuse me, did I scream there?  Sorry.  Please take the time to write legibly so that the chair can read the student’s name and get the spelling correct.  The same goes for the title of the works to be performed. 

4.  Chairmen- Have a organizational system set up before the paperwork begins arriving.  Sort it as you go. 

5.  Chairmen- Learn to use Excel or a similar program.  The sorting capabilities will save you lots of time and effort.

Good luck!

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Jan 7th 2013 Intermediate Madness

Last week was the first week back from Christmas break for about half of my students.  There were highs and lows.  Trying to get everyone to focus was challenging since it had been the first day back at school.  The kids were all excited to tell me how their break went and to let me know that they had practiced.  I told everyone that practice was optional over the break.  I’m happy they (or their parents) kept working. 

 

It seems that many of these students are hitting the early intermediate music at the same time.  It makes me a little nervous.  It is wonderful that they are working so hard and have reach this level so quickly.  The challenge is caused by that same dedication.  Most of these kids still want to complete pieces in a single week.  Their music has just gotten to the point that it just isn’t feasible for the most part.  Trying to explain that they haven’t done anything wrong, but it is going to take more time doesn’t always go over very well.  All they hear is that they didn’t get a sticker that week.  The next thing I hear is that piano is hard, and they aren’t having fun.  Trying to find the correct balance is a challenge.  Learning to appreciate longer term goals is just part of growing up.  Practicing dedication even when things get difficult and it doesn’t seem fun at the moment is part of growing up.  Coaxing these students through these challenging levels is hard work for everyone.  I just hope the growing pains aren’t too bad!

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Jan 2nd 2013 Lessons Resume Jan. 2, 2013

Just a reminder that lessons at Brunner Studios will resume on Jan. 2, 2013.  I look forward to the chance to continue on a musical journey with my students.  Festival registration for NFMC and NCMTA ends next week.  More students than ever will be participating. 

Brunner Studios is currently accepting new students for piano, voice and oboe lessons.  Please check the contact page for how you can reach us to schedule your trial lesson.

Off to teach some lessons!

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Dec 3rd 2012 That Was A Great Recital

It’s been a few weeks since I managed to sit down and blog.  First there was the recital, then Thanksgiving, and a few days away with friends. 

Let’s start with the recital.  The students all did a great job.  Even the ones that I worried about all week.  Never let it be said that I don’t have faith that a kid can pull it together when it counts.  All the practice paid off. 

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We were missing a few student but everyone played 2 or 3 pieces so it was a very nice recital.

When I arrived at Miller Piano to make sure everything was set up a little something caught my eye.  The conversation with Steve went a little like this:

“Is that a Baldwin Artist Series Piano?”-  me

“Why yes it is.”- him

“Let me go call my husband.”- me

ring ring-  “Are you going to be upset if I buy a grand piano today?”-  me

“Go for it.”-  husband

to Steve  “I’ll take it.”-  me

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Say hello to my new piano.  It is a Baldwin Artist series built in 1975.  The sound is glorious.

Happy Birthday to me is all I can say.

The students are enjoying it and already commenting on how much better prepared they will be for festivals and recitals since they will have a chance to practice on a grand.  Lessons the first week with the piano were quite fun and I am having a wonderful time playing all my favorite Christmas tunes.

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Nov 5th 2012 Holiday Mayhem

I’ve been bragging on my students significantly the past few weeks.  It pretty much came back to haunt me last week.  Holiday weeks are always hard for most of my students.  They get so hyped up about whatever exciting is going on that they just can’t/don’t focus like they need to.  I’m pretty sure they all put in their practice time, but the lack of focus during that time and during their lessons was obvious.  With the recital so close this was a bad time to lose a week.  It’s rare that I end up saying that lesson was bad to the student or parent but it ended up repeated endlessly last week.

So as we head into the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas how do other teachers keep the disruptions to a minimum?  Festival season is just around the corner and we don’t want to lose too much preparation time. 

I’ve found the most effective check point is to have the parents listen to the students practice more often during times of distraction.  Even if you don’t read music or play an instrument you can hear if progress is being made or if it sounds sloppy or even if there are wrong notes.  You don’t need to listen to the entire practice session but a quick drop in will keep them honest.  If you aren’t home when a student practices have them record their final run through of each piece at the end of their daily practice and then compare it to the previous day.  Does it sound better? 

Everyone has an unfocused lesson once in a while, but if that lesson is preceded by a week of unfocused practice then it goes from unfocused to ill-prepared.  Let’s try to keep ourselves in check during the upcoming mayhem of the holiday season and to continue to progress in our musical education.

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Oct 10th 2012 What A Problem To Have

I am teaching a wonderful group of students piano lessons right now.  In fact, they are so great they aren’t giving me much material to write about on how to run a studio.  What a problem to have!  We are learning Halloween music and Christmas music started leaving the studio this week. 

I am so proud of my younger students.  I have 3 students who just started lessons last year and are about to move from 30 minute to 45 minute lessons.  These kids are really practicing and excelling in their art. 

More students are participating in the National Achievement Program and one will be playing in a Piano Sonata competition later this month. 

This group of students is working hard!

No Comments » Posted by heather / Acheivement Program and Charlotte NC Piano Lessons and Charlotte Piano Students and NCMTA and NFMC and Oboe Lessons Charlotte NC and Piano Practice and Recitals and Theory and Voice Lesson Charlotte NC

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