-- The first Masterclass, a great success!
-- October 26th Masterclass Agenda.
-- Scales and Technique Practice: Why and how to stay on top of them.
-- Student Progress Reports and Performance Assessments!
The First MASTERCLASS
September's masterclass was a great success! We spent the first half of the morning "Walking" (listening) through the most famous piano work written by Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition. We learned that the work was inspired by an art exhibit of a late friend of Mussorgsky's and studied how each "picture" in the music depicted one of the paintings by the late artist. We were inspired by the greatness of the composition and enjoyed some interesting discussion around the piece! Afterwards, we had a short lesson on the three types of minor scales and had an opportunity to see and hear them played. Finally, we had fun sightreading an arrangement of Jingle Bells for 4 hands (there were 4 of us, so each of us just played one hand). Donuts were thoroughly enjoyed by all!
This month, we will have our masterclass on October 26th from 10:00 AM to Noon. I would like all students to perform on this masterclass. We'll be learning how to listen to each other and what to listen for as each student will be able to give and receive thoughtful feedback after the performances. Additionally, we'll continue our exploration of technical and theory skills and I have a special activity planned around discovering the musical "Ornament". We'll be exploring the origins of trills, mordents and auxiliary notes (grace notes) and even creating and listening to our own ornamentation on a few simple melodies.
Scales and Technique Practice
At this point, all students have begun to practice a scale or two and more will be added little by little throughout study at Katherine's School. Scales are an important part of musical study for several reasons. 1) Aural Training: the more you learn various scales, the better you can hear the difference between major and minor keys and modes. This means you will have a better idea of what to listen for in your daily practice of music and will catch your own errors more readily or be able to emphasize purposeful deviances from the expected by the composer. 2) Physical Training: the more you learn the scales, in various speeds and lengths of octaves, the easier new music will be to learn. Scales and slightly varied forms of scales are what make up the music we play. 3) Music Theory training: Scales form the basis of music theory. Major triads are found by playing the first, third and fifth degrees of a major scale. In fact, a different triad can be formed using each and every step of any scale. It is patterns of those triads that form the chord progressions upon which we compose music. Scales hold the answer to all melodic and harmonic questions in music. Just as knowledge of Latin can illuminate meanings in areas of life you never thought to consider, the learning of scales uncovers the reasons, the meaning behind the notes we play! Please be diligent in continuing to practice the scales and chords you are assigned throughout the year.
Student Progress Reports And Performance Assessments
In the spirit of professionalism and with the aspiration to continually improve the educational value of music lessons at Katherine's School of music, I am going to begin providing progress reports to each student every 9 weeks as well as administering performance assessments at mid- and end- year points. Progress reports are simply a form that will serve to communicate to the parent and the student areas of strength and weakness while Performance Assessments will be a time when scales, technical skills and prepared music will be performed by the student outside of the regular lesson format. These are intended to serve as a motivation point for completion of skills and music that are in progress.
Progress Reports will come out the weeks of November 12th, January 27th, April 7th and June 16th. Performance assessments will occur on the following Saturdays: February 1st and June 14th. I will hand out a blank copy of the progress report form in the next couple of weeks so that you know what to expect when these are distributed on November 12th. Adults will receive them during their lesson and elementary/school-age students will receive them in the postal mail. As these new items become part of the regular ebb and flow of lessons, I anticipate that they will be a welcome and positive time of renewal and motivation for musical study.