Aug 14th 2014 Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Perfect Octave. I keep telling my students to pick songs they know to help recognize intervals.

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Aug 6th 2014 A Different Kind of Music

Music comes in all different forms. How about a babbling brook?

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Jun 11th 2014 Piano Recital Plans

We are trying something new for the summer recital. Students will be playing 4-5 pieces that they have learned throughout the year. I thought it would be interesting for the audience to see how the students have progressed this year in terms of level of difficulty. It is also taking pressure off the students during the last few weeks of school and the start of summer vacation. I can’t wait to see how the audience responds.

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May 28th 2014 Summer Lessons

This just a reminder that summer lessons begin next week. If you are a new student looking to start lessons you might select our 6 week lesson plan. Pick 6 weeks out of June and July for a 30 minute lesson each week. You will receive 2 books appropriate for your musical level. The cost is only $175. You will then be eligible to be among the first to pick a fall lesson time. Summer lessons are not just for a child interested in piano lessons. Summer piano lessons are for teens and adults as well.
Brunner Studios is also offering tutoring for students wishing to get a head start on their AP classes and exams.
We are happy to welcome students in the area for the summer. College students who wish to maintain their skills in a less formal environment and have coaching on pieces that you are carrying over for next semester are very welcome.
Contact Brunner Studios in the Charlotte area to fulfill your piano lesson needs for the summer of 2014. Scheduling for fall lesson times will begin in August.

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May 25th 2014 Memorial Day

Music can impact just about anything. This weekend is Memorial Day here in the United States. We are supposed to be taking time to remember those who have given their lives in war. As I was trying to come up with a post, I remember hearing an article about Paul Wittgenstein.
Paul Wittgenstein was born into a well-to-do family that embraced the arts in Vienna, Austria. Before WWI, the family household was visited by the likes of Brahms, Mahler, and Strauss. While Paul was on active duty in WWI, he was shot and subsequently had his right arm amputated. He then began calling on well-known composers to write literature for the left hand. Perhaps the best known piece to come of this was Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand. With many of the works, they were commissions with the stipulation that Wittgenstein held exclusive performing rights until his death. Wittgenstein eventually emigrated to the United States during WWI and continued a performing and teaching career.
Do a little research on pianists who made careers and only had use of one hand. It’s a fascinating read.

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May 14th 2014 Play Something Fun

As we move into summer here in Charlotte, NC. My piano student’s lessons become a little less structured. Students are in and out during summer vacation. For that matter, I’m out of town some as well. It is a great chance to play something fun. I’ve been asking my students what they want to play. Music from a movie, a tv show, a difficult classical piece they’ve heard. It’s a nice opportunity to let the student have a little more say in the repertoire choices.
Summer piano lessons can be exciting even if the student is not in lessons every week. Ask your students or ask your teacher, what should we play this summer?

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Apr 20th 2014 Spring Recital

Scheduling recitals is a pain the neck. There I said it. Don’t get me wrong I love recitals. Students showing off what they’ve learned. Parents and grandparents sitting with their fingers crossed. The fact that the teachers get way more butterflies than the students do. It’s all part of music lessons.
However, trying to find an appropriate time for a recital is awful. For a small studio having just a few students unable to attend puts a serious hurt on the event. Trying to find a location that is affordable and convenient can also be a challenge. Finding the balance between scheduling too far in advance and giving the students adequate time to prepare can be difficult.
There are a few things that I try to work with when looking at the calendar. We don’t do December or May recitals unless the world is coming to an end. It’s just not fair to anyone. The students are stressed and distracted by school and the approaching holidays. Parents are busy running kids here, there and yon. I try to ask for dance and sports schedules. If everyone has Nutcracker rehearsals then there is no sense in adding anything else to those Saturdays. My objective is for a recital to be an important event. Not just another event to cram into the day.
I am still trying to figure out a date for a spring recital. It looks like it will be more of an early summer event. It also helps if the teacher is in town to attend!

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Feb 25th 2014 SUPERIOR!!

They did it. All of Brunner Studios students participating in the NFMC festival on Feb. 22 at Queens University in Charlotte received a Superior rating. I am very proud of everyone.

Looking through the comments gives me a good sense of how everyone did. Even when the judges made comments about a memory slip or a tempo issue, there was always a following note about a good recovery. That is just as important as playing perfectly. Good job!

I felt everyone was more prepared than last year. That is even with the missed lessons due to snow and illness. You guys are impressive. Thank you!

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Feb 20th 2014 Mental Preparedness

Students from all over Charlotte, NC will be participating in the National Federation of Music Clubs festival on Feb. 22. We pick pieces we can learn successfully. We memorize. We polish. What is left? The students need to mentally prepare for the event.
I had a student in a lesson tonight who just hasn’t mentally prepared very much. Her pieces are fairly well prepared and she’s participated in this event before. In the lesson she just unravelled from the start. It was totally a mental game. She came in saying she was nervous and it showed. What are we doing to remedy this situation?
In lessons this week, we are having mock festival. The kids come in and play one scale. Then they pick which piece they want to begin with and play their first festival piece cold. I score them as if I were their judge that day. They then move straight into the second piece with no comments from me in between. After finishing their performance, we go over my written comment. Then we keep the comments sheet to compare to what their judges will say this weekend. Our goal is to try and not have any of the same negative feedback. If I said work on dynamics, then hopefully they will work extra hard on that between now and Saturday and upgrade their level of playing.
I’m having students have their parents record their performances and practice at home. Due to the snow last week, students were even sending me video for some long distance help. The added pressure of having it ‘on tape’ can help bring the flaws to the surface and simulate the environment of the event.
Then there’s the ever not popular stern lecture. You know the one. Buckle down and do your best. Don’t just throw away months worth of work. Fight for a good performance. Don’t let mistakes snowball. Once a mistake has been made it’s done. You can’t undo it, but don’t let it rattle you.
Being mentally prepared is just as important as having learned the music. So put those game faces on and go own your performances. Good luck!

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Nov 4th 2013 Bad Bowing is Contagious

There are still a few things that make me want to roll my eyes and giggle as a teacher.  Simply because I’ve been guilty of doing the same things.  Bowing well it’s a wasteland of poor etiquette.  I remember my teachers telling me over and over that I needed to give a good bow.  That I was telling the audience thank you for listening to me play the piano. 

Last Saturday I took my students to a local assisted living facility.  This was a very informal event but a chance to hone our skills before the big winter recital in a few week.   Before we began, I reminded the students to bow after each piece.  Then one of my more bowing conscientious students gave us a demonstration of what a proper bow looks like.  Off we went to the performance.

The first round of pieces was somewhat dubiously played but perfectly bowed.  The second round started and the playing was better but the bowing was headed down hill rapidly.  After about 4 half-hearted bows, a student made a break for it with only a head nod.  I had to interrupt between students and remind them that I expected correct and polite bows.  Then we were back on track.

It seems like if just one student slacks off in the bowing department it sets off a chain reaction.  We will be practicing a little bit more before the winter recital. 

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