Master Classes, Studio, Video of the Month

A Fun-filled February Master Class

This year, it seems like January and February are going by much more quickly than they usually do and Family Day weekend was here before we knew it!  To give my students the Monday off to enjoy some extra time with their families, I offered a February Master Class this week in lieu of regular lessons.  Sometimes for my master classes, I will have an all encompassing theme, but this time around I wanted to keep it simple and so had three main components:

1. Performance Opportunity:  Each student had the chance to perform a piece that they’d been working on since the New Year.  Knowing this would be coming gave them a little motivation to keep practicing on those short, dark winter days!  While each student played, I used a sheet that I had found on to keep the rest of the students focused and particpating…an adjudication sheet.  Each student had a sheet to use to help them give some specific and guided positive feedback at the end of each performance.  I was so proud of the feedback they gave and the wonderful ways they encouraged and bolstered in each performer!  What a great bunch of students I am blessed to have!


2. Specific Skill Development:  Then I wanted to focus on one specific skill and it was RHYTHM, of course!  I want my students to be strong in rhythm and to love it, so I pulled out the boomwhackers (because we LOVE them) and did a little Pinterest surfing to come up with some fun Boowhacker ensembles.

feb class 3 feb class feb class 4

3. Composer Biography: February always includes a composing focus in my studio, especially for the MYC group lessons, and learning about the masters of composition is so important as well as the period and style of music they were a part of creating.  This time our focus was Beethoven, his life and music.  We learned that though he had a challenging childhood and went deaf as a young adult, he still found joy in his music and was able to create that beautiful melody we know as “Ode to Joy” in his 9th symphony.  We enjoyed watching the Piano Guys put a fun new spin on this:

Before we knew our time was up and it was time to head home!

Video of the Month

Video of the Month ~ June 2014

Well, here we are: June! Can you believe it! And here is our last Video of the Month for our 2013/14 year. How fun it has been to share these incredible videos over the past year with my students. They’ve enjoyed them, been inspired by them and developed a deeper appreciation for many different styles of music because of them.

Our last one is a very fun one. As musicians, I think we live for drama, intrigue and mystery….I know my students do, so I thought this would be a great fit! I love how the Mission Impossible Theme is merged with Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C. I played this particular Sonata for my grade 8 Royal Conservatory exam, by the way….good memories, good memories….but I digress…Anyway, they merged the MI theme with the Sonata however, they did what only the piano guys seem to be able to do: sped it up, transposed it to a minor, changed the time signature to 5/4 and made it a villain theme. Strangely enough, I kind of think Mozart would approve!

So here it is, our June Video of the Month, our last one of the year and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to have the most amazing summer yet! See you in September!

PS….if you want to hear the original version of the Piano Sonata, take a listen to this….this is more like what I actually played for my exam 🙂

Uncategorized, Video of the Month

Video of the Month ~ April 2014

I am very excited to share with you the April video of the month. One thing that makes this video of the month so very exciting is that it was filmed in Brazil in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro…one of the seven wonders of the world! The Piano Guys can now check off two of the seven wonders from their filming bucket list!

As breathtaking as the scenery is, the music is even more so….at least that’s my opinion. They have taken the beautiful theme, “Gabriel’s Oboe”, from the movie The Mission and fused it with the hymn, “How Great Thou Art”. They fuse together absolutely beautifully, both musically and thematically. I first saw the movie “The Mission” when I was an RA in university (do they still have those now or am I absolutely ancient?) and I was incredibly moved by both the music of the movie and it’s theme of laying down one’s life to save others. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend. The movie was filmed at Iguazu Falls, and so is a good portion of this video.

Considering both the musical theme and scenery, I thought this would make a great April video of the month as Easter approaches. As you listen to this beautiful music, here is a little excerpt from The Piano Guys webpage regarding this video:

“As we played these pieces in front of the Christ Statue and Iguazu Falls we felt an overwhelming sense of wonder, peace, and joy.

This music video is not meant to exclude anyone that does not believe in God. We hope that it instead promotes spiritual feelings that can be felt by all – gratitude for a beautiful Earth, for life, and for joy.

A wise man once said, “If we thought of life as a gift, we might not demand nearly as much from it. And if we lived more graciously, giving of ourselves more freely to the well-being of others, many of our personal concerns would disappear, and life would become easier for all.”

We respect all beliefs and opinions, but we hope that in the comments everyone can set aside religious differences and instead focus on building each other up – through gratitude, inspiration, kindness and mutual respect.

Thank you so much for watching! We are grateful for you!”

Enjoy our April Video of the Month! (PS The Piano Guys are in Italy right now! Hmmmm, I wonder where they could be filming next??? 😉 Maybe the Colosseum??)

Uncategorized, Video of the Month

February Video of the Month

We’ve been having a lot of fun this year with our Video of the Month Club!  And to celebrate our “halfway through the year” mark, I thought something extra fun would be in order!  February’s Video of the Month is the result of a request that has been voiced numerous times by two of my students, Harris and Theo!   They’ve been asking me to share it since November.  It is by The Piano Guys (of course!) and apparently inspired by Steve’s 6 year old son, Eli, whose “enthusiasm for Star Wars, light sabers, and watching his daddy wield one while playing cello fueled the project continually”.  It’s been one of their biggest productions so far with 24 hours of filming and over 1000 hours of editing.

We will be listening to and viewing this video in our classes and lessons all week long, using this “cheat sheet” for a more active listening experience:

1. Rhythm and Meter–does the music move quickly, slowly or in between? Can you feel the beat?

2. Melody–does the melody line contain many notes or just a few? Are they mostly stepping like a scale or jumping all over?

3. Harmony–is there more than one “voice” or melody line?

4. Color and Texture–different instruments create different color or texture…how many instruments are used in this piece, how do they provide different color and texture?

These four ways to better listening were found in this article: