In part four of the exam focus series, I’m talking with Abe Cytrynowski about technical work & general knowledge.
Abe is passionate about scales. Yes, you read that correctly! Often, scales can make both student and teacher eyes glaze over. Scales are done on autopilot, the muscle memory takes over and students are barely aware of what they’re playing.
In order to break out of this scale rut, we need to do something other than ask our students to play their G major scale again. Abe asks his students to play scales in so many different ways, that they have no choice but to engage with their technical work.
Take a listen to today’s podcast and revitalise your teaching of general knowledge and technical work.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How to make general knowledge an integrated part of your teaching
- Why general knowledge is an invaluable part of your teaching
- How to turn off “scales autopilot” and get students engaged with their technical work
- How to make scales fun and interesting for you and your students
Today’s freebie download:
Items mentioned in this podcast:
- How to Blitz! General Knowledge
- Pictorial Patterns for Keyboard Scales and Chords by Margaret Brandman
- Scalecard Facebook page
- Decide Now app
Some of Abe’s Scale Tricks:
Grab the free download above for reference!
Here are just a few of the ideas:
- Play with one finger
- Playing in rhythms
- Using accents in different places
- Playing in blocks or “clusters”
- Different articulations in each hand
- Different dynamics for each hand
- Playing with eye’s closed
- Crossed hands
- Asking questions about the scale before they begin
Today’s sponsor: ABRSM
The exam board ABRSM have created a range of useful digital learning tools which help make music practice more engaging.
Whether you’re looking to slow down recordings on your tablet, encourage your students to practice for aural tests more effectively, or help them learn to write melodies, ABRSM have a collection of mobile and web apps which you’re sure to find useful for you and your students.
- You may have heard of Speedshifter? It slows down any recording you may have on your tablet without altering the pitch.
- The award-winning Aural Trainer which I previously mentioned is now available for Grades 1 to 5 and Grades 6 to 8.
- Melody Writer is a free online tool and develops musical theory knowledge and understanding.
- And if your students are learning to play the ABRSM exam pieces, Piano Practice Partner and Violin Practice Partner, are fantastic tools designed to make their practice sessions more fun and engaging.
Check them out today – you can find more information about all of them at www.abrsm.org/apps
Thank You for Tuning In!
There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen mine.
Being a full-time teacher myself, I know how busy teachers are and how much time, effort and passion we put into our students. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do in our time off is listen to more piano teaching stuff! So, well done for using this time for self-improvement.
Whether you’re at the gym, on the bike or in the car, I know that you and your students will get lots out of what you learn in the long run. Just make sure you try out some of the ideas before they get lost in the business of your next lessons.
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Is general knowledge & technical work a part of your regular teaching?
Do you manage to include these aspects of music in every lesson? Or do they get crammed just before an exam? Did any of Abe’s ideas inspire you to try something new?
So …. any way to get some of the Blitz Books to the U.S., without raiding my 401k for shipping costs? 🙂 Tim — can you stuff some in your suitcase and bring them to NCKP in 2017?
Hey Anna – just chatted to Sam about this. She says: “they will be available from musicroom.com from Sep/Oct this year, which may help her out!!!” If not, she’ll put them in her bag too!!
Great! I’ll make a note to check on them next month. Also, happy to hear that Sam is planning to attend NCKP next year.
Great podcast Tim. And good to hear someone else as nerdish as me and technical work! For some reason I’ve always found technique to be so important in my own music experience. Your cheat sheet is excellent. I spend a great deal of time getting kids to practice scales with backing tracks at medium, fast then slow speeds.
I do this because they usually play their scales most accurately when they play them slowly and your brain remembers the last thing you do, so playing things slowly last is the best way to integrate good memory. I have a selection of playlists for scales that the students can use at home, they are Medium, Fast then Slow, played RH, LH then hands together. So by the time they’ve finished the set they’ve played each scale 9 times!
Here’s an example of a playlist that I use: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLX0ISScVHjHr2_SaHxkf4re0C6z2lUGgV
All the backing tracks are available at http://www.forteschoolofmusic.bandcamp.com
Thanks again Tim and Abe.