Pitfalls and Solutions for Teaching Piano

This morning, I was reviewing a piano course for children. There are dozens of these available. They are series of books that include one for piano lessons, one for music theory, and then supplemental song books, often dedicated to holidays or themes. The pages are colorful, sometimes with cartoon-like characters that serve as friendly guides … Continue reading Pitfalls and Solutions for Teaching Piano

Why Teaching Pitches Is So Difficult and What To Do About It

I am one who easily looses things. Where did I put that sweater? I can’t find my water bottle. I need that wrench to fix the shower but I don’t know where it is. This is more of my life than I care to admit, unless I employ one priceless strategy. Always put things away … Continue reading Why Teaching Pitches Is So Difficult and What To Do About It

Toccata Blocks: A Tool To Help Teach Rhythm

No matter what method you use to teach music, be it Kodaly, Orff, or any other, when it comes to music reading there are certain aspects of our music notational system that are counter-intuitive and confusing to students who are just beginning. One of those difficulties is often the irrelevance of how the notes are … Continue reading Toccata Blocks: A Tool To Help Teach Rhythm

The difference between rhythm syllables and note kinds

If I point to a flute and ask you what I'm pointing to, how many of you would tell me that it was a toot toot? Hopefully, no one would. Instead, you would tell me that I was pointing to a flute. We all understand that the instrument is called a flute, and that the … Continue reading The difference between rhythm syllables and note kinds

Strengths and Weaknesses of Orff Schulwerk

Today I will discuss the advantage and disadvantages of the Orff Schulwerk Approach to music education. At the outset, I should mention that no single method of teaching music is sufficient for meeting the needs of all children, or for teaching all aspects of music. Each method bring valuable perspectives into the music classroom, and … Continue reading Strengths and Weaknesses of Orff Schulwerk

The Problem With Using Math to Teach Rhythm

As I write this, I'm looking at a page from a popular band method book. There is one of those boxes at the top of the page that directs students' attention to an important concept or new learning. There is a pair of eighth notes followed by an equals sign followed by a quarter note. … Continue reading The Problem With Using Math to Teach Rhythm

Some Thought on Teaching Rhythm

For those of us who received most of our musical training within the context of classical music, we sometimes forget that music is not primarily a written art, like the literary masterworks of Shakespeare or Milton, but an auditory art. While this may seem obvious, it is not so obvious to those who observe or … Continue reading Some Thought on Teaching Rhythm

Why Do Instrumental Music Students Have So Much Trouble With Rhythm?

When I was a band director, I often wondered why it was that drum students so often had so much trouble with rhythm. For the most part, they didn't have to learn how to read pitches, they had no fingerings to learn, no embouchure to form. All they had to do was hold a stick … Continue reading Why Do Instrumental Music Students Have So Much Trouble With Rhythm?

Rhythmic Structure of Music: It’s More Than Syllable and Counting Systems

I have observed among students and colleagues alike that there is a good deal of confusion when it comes to rhythm in music. Students are frequently confused about what rhythm is, and teachers are often confused about how to teach it. From the teacher's point of view, much of the confusion seems to come from … Continue reading Rhythmic Structure of Music: It’s More Than Syllable and Counting Systems