2016-2017: “A Musical Year”

Friday, September 16, 2016 by Lisa Barwell | Sightreading

Week Four

It’s the fourth week into the semester and we’re starting to settle into a routine.  Students (well, most of them) are filling in their weekly practice logs that are on their assignment sheets, they are enjoying their binders, and we’re looking forward to recitals and other events.

One of the special things that many students did this week was choosing music for the October recital and Federation Festival.  Festival isn’t until February, but we like to plan ahead to allow plenty of time for everyone to memorize their music.  We like to avoid last minute stress!

Students who participate in Federation Festival are required to have a flashdrive that clips into their binder.  I was able to take several of these flashdrives this week and put a recording of their Festival solo onto it.  I loved using my new digital piano to record the solos!

Several students also started to learn how to play lead sheets.  We are using this fun book from the Teach Piano Today’s Book Club.

Not all students could do the above activities so we had fun playing theory games.  Some reviewed note values and tried to not wake the dinosaur with “Slumbersaurus”; some found and labeled all the 2 and 3 black key groups and continued practicing that with “Rock On!”; and some solidified their knowledge of pentascales using “Pentapillars”!



However, as fun as all of these other activities were, the highlight of most students’ week was sightreading!  Last year, we met Sheldon T. Squirrel and did one page a week as a sight-reading exercise.  They were eagerly anticipating meeting Maxwell A. Skunk this year and were all so sad that we only did one page this week.  Our goal for sightreading is to get it right the first time so students have to study the exercise before playing.  After they finish, we say “two stars and a wish.”  The stars are two things they did well (correct notes, good rhythm, etc.) and the wish is something they wish they did but will try to remember to do next time (dynamics, hold the half note, etc.).


It was a full week!  I’m looking forward to hearing the progress they’ve made on their recital pieces and lead sheets next week.  Fall is always an exciting time in the studio!