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Add New Skills This Year to Your Curriculum - Dr. Carol Ann Barry

With the waning days of summer, comes the realization that soon all schools will reopen and the regular fall schedule of private lessons will commence.  Considering how important skills are to the overall development of your pianists, now is a great time to plan for success. The longer I have taught, the more I am convinced that the trick to developing young talent is to develop a strong foundation.  This involves many skills–technique, sight reading, theory, and transposition to name a few. Keeping all of these skills moving at the same time can be challenging even in one hour lesson structures. Consider rotating these skills weekly so that students can keep all the skills moving forward.  For example, sight reading and theory can be alternated weekly with technique being maintained on a weekly basis. Perhaps a transposition can be included once every month or 6 weeks. In this way, students will develop the many skills necessary for fine playing over time. Consistency is key and the small steps taken on a weekly basis this year in the development of skills and repertoire will pay many dividends for your students and encourage robust progress this year!

The list of possibilities is endless.  Do you have students who would love to compose?  Consider a two hour workshop one weekend to get them going on a project you can then monitor during future lessons.  Improvisation is another area students could explore.  Again, a little planning for an introductory lesson on improvising and perhaps a short assignment that would allow them quick success on a simple pattern could open a whole world to explore.

Transposition is another vital area.  It’s easy to select five or six pieces from early elementary through mid intermediate level which would cover much of your studio.  Make a copy of the appropriate piece for each of your students.  Et voila–you have an assignment the entire studio can use to do a transposition during the month of September.  What a kick-off!

Another idea is to plan one skill assignment per month.  September could be transposition, October could be improvisation, etc.  Something new every four to six weeks.  Even if you get three skills going once between September and Thanksgiving your students will have explored so many new skills and at least have a concept of what that particular skill entails.

Happy planning!  Enjoy the final month (or less!) of summer vacation.