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Miracle or Monster?

Don't you love the picture?! I look like I am some sort of mad scientist who shrunk a group of musicians and put them in a box.  

Nikolai played in a concert at Toneheim Folkehøgskole earlier this week. Toneheim is a folk university in Norway, students often are in the Folkehøgskole system for a gap year while they decided what to do. 

Last year the school was closed in March, so Nikolai went back. I haven't seen him in person in over a year. He may or may not come home this summer. I only plan as far as coffee in the morning these days. They were very fortunate this year, their school is small enough and everyone lives on campus. They have been in one great big musical bubble. And, because of COVID, their concerts are live-streamed, recorded, and saved.

The first time I live-streamed a recital was around 10 years ago when I was still in Saudi. One of my good friends was in the United States undergoing chemotherapy. She couldn't make it to her...

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Latency- what it is and why it matters

Latency- what it is and why it matters

Did you ever watch the old Star Trek and hear Captain Kirk say, “Beam me up, Scotty.” Then there was a poor pixilated image of who ever was being transported to the ship from whatever planet they happened to be on.

Have you ever thought about what happens when you connect remotely to a student? Your computer opens a port which sends audio files and video files which have a ton of data. That data gets taken apart and sent through the air (wifi) under the sea (those gigantic cables which connect North America to Europe for internet purposes) through satellites (orbiting the earth and beaming things from one country to another)

When I think about all of the things that have to go right for a connection to happen, my mind is totally blown.

There is a lag between devices when signals get sent. Simply put, it takes time for a signal to travel around the world. Often it gets broken up when it leaves your device and reassembled when...

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Daylight Savings- saving you a headache :-)

Daylight Savings- saving you a headache :-)

A quick note on daylight savings.

It's coming quicker than you think. In the US it's March 14th this year (2021)

My students are in Australia, the Middle East, Europe, Canada and the United States. to the rescue again.

It is always good to check. Here’s what I learned this year:

  • Most of the US and Canada changed clocks on the 14th of March 2021one hour forward

  • Most of Europe changes on the 28th of March 2021 one hour forward

  • Much of the Middle East doesn’t change at all

  • Some of Australia changes on the 4th of April one hour back.

Google Calendar, and most of the others will automatically recalibrate your schedule. It’s easy to get this messed up (or should I say, easy for me)

Easy for your students to forget as well. They may not be in your time zone.

As you teach more online, and get students from different parts of the world, learning about time zones is...

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Building a graphic library, one 7th at a time (Major and Minor 7th chords)


Playing around with the major octave scale lead me to a much deeper understanding of Major 7th Chords. 

Take aways from this-

Using a progress bar can give your students a nudge. It is easier to hit a target when you can see it in front of you.

Getting students to play all of the keys on the piano regularly, even before they understand how to read the notes makes it easier for students to make progress.

Graphic libraries can boost your online teaching.

When you create graphics to share with your students, minimize the stuff on the page. 

Happy Teaching!


The full graphic library for the Major 7th chords is an added bonus to the 4 Note and Octave scale graphic library here


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Playing around with the F Major Scale


Rethinking how to teach scales. 

This is the second iteration of teaching a full octave scale.

This is for getting the sounds in your ear and the geometry of the scale in the hands.

After going full circle with the full octave scales you (or a student of yours) should have a really solid idea of the difference between half steps and whole steps. 

(A whole step is two keys with a key in between, and a half step is two adjacent keys.)- 

Another takeaway from the videos is the tonic-dominant relationship. While I am not actually saying what they are, I am introducing the vocabulary. This is priming a student for future learning. 

At this point, I don't care if they know scale degrees or their names. I also am not focusing on reading the notes on a staff. The point is to play the scales all over the piano, and not just in one location. 

These are not one hand scales. As a two handed exercise, it is great for getting connections between both halves of the...

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4 note scales


Do you teach 4 note scales? They are often called tetrachords, but I am moving away from the term to make playing and understanding them easier for students.

This summer has been the summer of deconstructing how I teach. I want to make it easier for my students to learn what I am teaching, and I want to increase the efficiency of online teaching.

Once again, I'm  Chicken-and-egging-it to have students learn scales and key signatures. 

For teaching root position triads, it is helpful to have a student learn 5 note scales. 

However, for full octave scales and 7th chords, using the 4 note scales is more useful. And, teaching the 4 octave scales by going around the circle of 5ths backwards seems to be an effective way of reinforcing the relationships between the keys.

All of this seems really complicated in words, but the graphic library for the 4 note scales I'm working on makes it easy for a student to do in a lesson. 

Every online lesson I am now...

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