Sight Reading Rhythms

Now that festival season is coming to a close, I hope that I can get my students back on track with their technical exercises and rhythm drills. 

We all know the importance of good counting.  We also know that some students have a natural ability for rhythm and other do not.  Last summer while teaching Piano Artistry Camp at the Charlotte Academy of Music, I discovered that some students who I thought had excellent natural rhythm were really just hard workers. 

At camp, each student had a binder with rhythm drills.  We took turns clapping and counting rhythms.  I had thought that since the students were playing advanced music that they would be able to sight read intermediate rhythms correctly.  Bad assumption on my part.  We went all the was back to elementary level rhythms before they could successful clap and count the rhythms correctly on first sight.  So while the students could correctly learn the more difficult rhythms during the week between lessons, they were struggling on the sight reading front.

My solution to this was to give every student successive sheets of rhythm drills and sight read rhythms each week in their lessons.  The rhythms that they struggled with they practiced over the week at home.  The ones that were sight read correctly got a star sticker.

A good source of counting work sheets is

I would like to review the Rhythm Clapback/Singback series by Boris Berlin and Andrew Markow that is published through Frederick Harris Music.

I have a few of the Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests books and have found those to be useful as well. 

Playing correct rhythms is just as important as playing correct notes.  Our students deserve a strong foundation in this area.

NFMC Scholarship Festival 2011

Congrats to my students who participated in the NFMC Scholarship Festival on 2/12/2011.  Everyone performed admirably and received high marks.  To be more specific all of my students scored Superior or Excellent.

The scholarship festival is judged much more strictly than the non-scholarship festival.  A Superior is a marking from 95-100 and an Excellent is marked from 90-94.  Each student receives a score from each of the 2 judges and those scores are averaged.  No rounding is allowed.  So if a student has a 95/94 split then the score is an Excellent.  The competition this year was tough.  There were some extremely talented high school students participating.

I would like to call special attention to 3 of my students.  Minali is a senior this year and participated in the Musically Advanced I category where she received a Superior rating.  Hannah and Lauren both added the Concerto division in addition to their solo playing.  Hannah and Lauren both received Superiors for their efforts.

Thank you to all my students for all your hard work.  Now back to practicing for NCMTA on March 5.

Related to Piano

For a chance of pace, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite things that loosely relate to piano. 

First up is Schubert.  Isn’t he cute?   He’s also more than a little dirty in these pictures.  Schubert is half Shih Tzu and half Bichon.  He a little over 2 years old.  Unlike his name sake, he really doesn’t like piano music.  He does like to sleep on the sofa with his Poppy. 

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Schubert doesn’t like wool.  Which poses a problem when I am knitting things like this:

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You would think that sweet pup was part cat.  He is forever taking the yarn and running off with it.  I knitted this really cool gift bag while I sat around listening to piano students at the UNCG High School Piano day last weekend. 

So Schubert is my piano dog and I knit while waiting on students.  See this blog is closely related to music. 

UNCG High School Piano and Organ Day

I know I’ve been slack on blogging.  There was a major computer issue last week and then I was sick, but I’m back and there is good news.


Today I took 2 of my students to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for their High School Piano and Organ Day.

The day started with a recital by the UNCG faculty that would be serving as clinicians for the day’s master classes.  Then the students were broke in 5 different groups where they participated in a master class setting.  After a lunch break, the students returned for an afternoon class.  Concluding the day was a honors recital.  Both students were selected to participate in the honors recital.


I am very proud of my students.  They performed admirably and gave up yet another Saturday for their art.  Only 2 more festivals and a few more recitals to go this season!