When most people hear the word diva they think of a strong, big-voiced female singer who is always demanding of those around her.
But, have you ever heard of a Piano Diva?
The first time I saw this phrase was in Erica Sipes' blog Beyond the Notes. She posted a great reflection on why one might need to be a piano diva now and again.
In this post, she offers the following definition:
"A pianist who demands that attention be paid to his or her needs,
especially without regard to anyone else's needs or feelings."
I have to admit, she really got me thinking about my own inner diva as a pianist, an organist, a congregational leader, and a choir director.
Because most of my performances are as an accompanist or congregation leader, I try to be a low maintenance performer. For the most part my flexibility has worked out well for me, but sometimes I feel like I'm viewed as a machine instead of a musician.
The piano for your wedding hasn't been tuned in 3 years? - No problem.
One of the black keys is broken off? - No worries, I'll work around it. (eep, all my pieces have 3 or more accidentals!)
You need me to sight transpose because last night you went to a concert, screamed your brains out, and can't reach the high F today? - Umm, okay. (*eyeroll* crap)
You want me to play this one piece on the piano at the alter, go to the organ upstairs at the back of the sanctuary during the prayer to play the next hymn then come right back to the piano for your candle lighting ceremony? - Sure, I could use a good workout.
Yes, these are all true stories...and that last question is exactly how I worded it to a bride, though my response to her excited "yes!" wasn't quite as cheeky. (I don't think she realized how unreasonable her request was.)
Fortunately, I haven't reached my breaking point, but who knows where that line is...
Do you have any stories of unreasonable requests on your talents? Have you ever had your inner piano diva emerge? Where's your line?
I wrote this cute little bunny song for one of my beginner piano students who started learning the staff a few weeks before our recital.
I've found that giving young students a prereading piece after they have started reading on the grand staff can be demoralizing, but it's quite difficult to find recital worthy music that has only two notes (and isn't a total snooze!).
This student loves to explore high and low sounds on the piano and she also loves bunnies.
So I give you "Bunny Hop"!
This piece has rests and octave leaps that can be taught by rote while your student reads the rest of the piece with their new found note reading skills.
I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine!
This song is free on my Teacher Pay Teachers store for a limited time.
4 Ways to Use an iPad in Your Piano Lessons This Summer (with App Recommendations!)
How do you use the iPad during piano lessons? I use it as reinforcement for new concepts/skills or as a kind of reward.
Having an iPad has given me so many more options as a piano teacher. This summer I'm trying to use it to the fullest. As mentioned in my bingo post, summer is different for all of us.
And if summer is different, why shouldn't piano lessons be different?
In their first lesson of the summer we discuss their summer goals & wishes. Over the years I've found that my students' summer needs seem to fit 4 paths:
Some of my students, particularly the younger ones, need a little extra help with note and rhythm reading as well as ear training. Since summer is a great time to break away from their books and give them something new, why not use technology?
We're using apps like Ningenius, Treble Cat, Bass Cat, Note Rush, Tune Train, Blob Chorus, & NoteWorks.
2. No time to practice:
If you thought the beginning and end of the school year was busy, wait until you hear the summer schedule for some of my students:
They start at a full day camp at 7am, followed by sports (game or practice), then its home for dinner, promptly followed by bedtime. Lather, rinse, repeat - all summer long.
Now I know they get a break from running around over the weekend, but sometimes that's the only time the whole family is together. While I don't have kids of my own, I know I would rather spend time doing things as a family than making them sit at the piano alone.
For these students my goal is to keep them playing so they can retain as much as possible. Then in the fall we can pick right up again as if no time passed.
I primarily use Piano Maestro by JoyTunes for these students, but will also throw in a few board games to mix it up. If you haven't heard of Piano Maestro, I highly recommend you check it out!
3. Need a break, but still want to play & take lessons:
This year is different for many of my students who usually fall in the previous category. because social distancing requirements have made most camps shut down. Since they're not in camp all day, they're not as busy and theoretically have more time to practice.
But...not being busy doesn't mean a break isn't needed and sometimes not being required to practice is more motivating than pushing the same way we do during the year.
For these students I use any app that keeps them at the piano and engaging in music and music making.
Some favorites are Note Squish (which, sadly, I believe is no longer available), Flashnote Derby, and Rhythm Cat.
Several are taking this summer to focus on their sight-reading skills (their idea not mine #teacherwin!) We use ALL of the note reading apps listed above for their in-lesson sight reading and I send them home with a "Home Challenge" in Piano Maestro or different book to sight read each week.
Beyond that we have been using flashcard apps to hone their note reading and board games to keep other concepts fresh.
Many of these apps used to only be available on Apple devices, but now many of them are also available on Android and Amazon devices making them even more more accessible!
There are so many new apps coming out all the time, sometimes it feels difficult to keep up. The nice thing is you never have to do the same thing twice...unless you really want to :)
What are some of your favorite music learning apps?