Category Archives: Classroom Music

Faber and Alfred Supplemental Materials Top the List at Gist

As a music educator for over 17 years, including running my own piano studio, I have often been up to my shoulders in music books. But, until recently, I never realized how many options there were for supplemental piano materials (outside of traditional method books).

We recently conducted a Materials Questionnaire among our piano teachers, both local and in-house, and were quite surprised at the results. This was especially true when it came to supplemental piano books and supplemental series.

One of the supplemental series that was highly rated – and is a personal favorite of mine – is Alfred’s Famous and Fun Collection. For each level, the series contains genres like pop, rock, classics, Christmas music, Jewish songs, and duets.

These colorful books give students a little extra enthusiasm to practice. Many of the books include songs that students have previously heard and the arrangements are entertaining and easy to learn. As an added bonus, the duet parts fit well with each piece and are fun to play. These books work nicely for both young students and adults.

Another popular supplemental series for both young students and adults is the Faber Pre-Time through Big-Time collection. Like the Famous and Fun books, the Faber series also includes books focused on pop, favorites, classics, jazz and blues, rock, hymns, Christmas music, and ragtime/marches.

These books are delightful as supplemental materials, especially if a student is already playing in the Faber Piano Adventures series. The books include a wide variety of songs with simple and enjoyable arrangements. For more variety, Faber also has the Faber Studio Collection which includes pieces from all the genres for each level.

Are you interested in more traditional supplemental material? A few classical books that topped the list were Hanon, Melodious Masterpieces, Classics for the Developing Pianist, Journey Through the Classics, specific composers like Bach and Debussy, and specific compositions such as sonatinas and inventions.

Whatever your supplemental materials preference, there is lots to choose from. And remember, if we don’t have it in the store, we can order it for you. You can also go to Gist’s website and Order Piano Takeout.

Best of luck in your material exploration!

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New App Makes Roland Digital Pianos Even Better

Roland Piano Partner 2 App

Roland’s FREE “Piano Partner” app is available now for iOS and Android devices.  Click photo for details.

Last weekend, Roland introduced the highly-anticipated sequel to their wildly popular “Piano Partner” app:  Piano Partner 2… and we couldn’t love it more.

Unlike the original Piano Partner, Piano Partner 2 is available for BOTH iOS devices (like the iPad) and Android devices.  Also, unlike the previous app, Piano Partner 2 connects to the piano wirelessly via Bluetooth (instead of the quirky and less reliable WIFI technology featured in the previous app).  These two upgrades alone would be praise-worthy, but the biggest news is what the new app does!  Like Piano Partner, Piano Partner 2 allows compatible Roland Digital Piano Owners to change the sounds on their piano or play on-board songs with a simple pp2-rhythmstouch of the tablet screen.  Users can adjust the playback speed, mute one or both hands, and play along with metronome or customized accompaniment.  Also like the previous app, Piano Partner 2 includes a powerful flashcards game that challenges the player with either note recognition or ear training skills at a variety of experience levels.  NEW to Piano Partner 2, however, is the Rhythms feature.  With Rhythms, Piano Partner 2 users can build their piano skills with intelligent accompaniments that follow the chords you play.

…and the best part?  Piano Partner 2 is FREE.

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Students who learn on a Roland digital piano learn up to 60% faster than students who learn on traditional pianos.

Piano takes on the 21st century with apps!

There’s an app for that!?! Learning how to play any instrument, especially piano, has changed a lot in recent years. Gone are the days where the only way to learn your notes was to use your rubber-banded flash cards, and learning to count with the monotonous click-click of your metronome was the only way to master new rhythms! Yup, there are apps for that – actually TONS of apps!

Let’s face it, kids these days (and some of us adults) love using our electronics. An iPad or tablet is often a requirement for kids to use in school. Therefore, it is not a huge leap to find that you can do so much musical learning in a fun and innovative way on your own wireless device. And another popular way to get information? You got it, social media! We have started a most excellent board on our Pinterest page for you to easily find some of the greatest apps to use with your piano, especially Roland pianos. You’ll find a few listed below, but keep checking out our Roland Piano Apps board as we add new apps all the time!

Rhythm CatRhythm Cat – Perfect for iOS and Android device, this app helps beginning piano students learn from day one! Students learn to count and develop their listening skills without even realizing they are actually doing the work!

 

 

Piano MaestroPiano Maestro – A personal favorite, Piano Maestro is a great resource for any piano student. From learning “classical” pieces, to One Direction, students have the opportunity to improve their rhythm skills and piano technique while learning and performing songs with fun musical accompaniments. It’s like playing with a band! Better yet, it’s free and can be used with any digital AND acoustic piano.

Sheet Music ReaderSheet Music Reader – You can be one of the “cool kids” and ditch the pile of books that you carry around with missing covers and torn pages. Now you can carry your music in your trusty iOS device with this great app. Scan your music and save to Sheet Music Reader, or purchase new music. You have a lot of options! You can even mark up the music as much as you want. Need to write in that pesky F# accidental? No problem. But what about turning pages? With your Roland HP-600 series piano (or later), connect your iPad via Bluetooth (yes, you read that correctly….Bluetooth!) to the piano and turn the pages with the push of a pedal. If you’re an Android user, check out the similar MobileSheets Pro app.digital-pianos-with-bluetooth

But wait, there’s more! Go visit our Pinterest page to find more great apps to use on your piano learning adventure (Yes, there is even a app for the very popular Piano Adventures series that is perfect for using with your Roland piano). Follow the Roland Piano Apps board to make sure you don’t miss out!

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Summer Piano Camps at Gist Piano Academy!

During the past year, we opened the Gist Piano Academy (GPA) in Lexington and  we have had the pleasure of seeing many students come in every day for piano lessons. It’s been great to see so many kids and adults learning about piano and music!

While summer is the time to start to kick back and relax, it’s also the time to experience and learn all sorts of new things that you maybe don’t have the opportunity to do during the school year!

At GPA, we will be offering four different classes for both beginning and experienced piano students at the beginning of this summer. Taught by GPA instructor, Dr. Victoria Tsangari, students will have the opportunity to learn everything from playing their first notes on the piano to composing and premiering their first composition.

Before joining the faculty at Gist Piano Academy, Dr. Tsangari taught at the University of Iowa.

Dr. Tsangari teaches this student to play his first song on the piano!

Dr. Tsangari teaches this student to play his first song on the piano!

and served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Piano and Theory at Kentucky State University, where she taught studio and group piano, music theory and aural skills. In addition, she has 14 years of experience teaching private piano lessons to children and adults in the US and in Europe. Dr. Tsangari’s goals are to help students develop their technique and musicianship to their full potential, to help them grow as independent musicians and to fuel their love for music so they continue to play and to support music throughout their lives.

Piano Camp is for students who have studied piano for at least one year with an instructor. Piano Camp will strengthen students’ musical skills and renew their excitement for music making through fun activities and games. Activities will include duet and ensemble performance using a Roland keyboard lab, music theory, improvisation, ear training, sight-reading, and music history. The class will culminate in a recital at Gist Piano Center.

Piano Camp for Beginners is for anyone interested in learning the piano. Now’s your chance! This two-week class provides students who have not studied music previously with an introduction to making music at the piano. Students get their first taste of solo and ensemble playing using our Roland keyboard lab, and learn about music notation, music theory, ear training, and improvisation through fun activities and games. At the end of the beginning piano camp, students will make their piano debut during a performance at Gist!

Composition and Improvisation for Piano is another opportunity for those who have already studied piano for a year to enhance their musical skills by composing and learning to improvise! The first week in this two-week course will unlock students’ creativity with improvisation games, the introduction of various pedagogical tools, and guided composition sketches. The second week will be devoted to developing one or more compositions from start to finish, from inspiration to publication and premiere!

Sight Reading for piano students who want to improve their sight-reading ability and have fun doing it! Sight-reading is one of the most important skills for developing musicians to acquire. Not only it can help them learn their music faster, it can eventually lead to musical independence and improved overall musicianship.

Sound like fun to you? Download the  Summer Piano Camps information form here.  Contact Gist at (859) 854-2492 or email me at hhamilton@gistpianocenter.com for more details. Hurry! Space is limited and the deadline to register is May 18th!

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It’s Never Too Late to Learn to Play Piano!

When thinking about beginning piano lessons you may envision an elementary aged child plunking out Hot Cross Buns. In all actuality, however, more adults are beginning – and returning to – piano lessons than ever before!

Gist Piano Academy, located at Gist Piano Center at Harrodsburg Rd and Man O’War in Lexington, is offering two new group piano classes for adult students in Gist’s new Roland digital piano lab:

  • Piano Fun for Adult Beginners (no prerequisite required!)
    • Tuesdays, 10:15-11:15am, first class Tuesday, March 5, 2013piano fun for adult
  • I Used to Play Piano (for those who regret quitting!)
    • Thursdays, 2:30-3:30pm, first class Thursday, March 7, 2013

 

Piano Fun for Adult Beginners is a group piano class that serves as an introduction to the piano. By the end of the course, students will be able to read music from the grand staff, identify and interpret basic rhythmic notation, demonstrate beginning piano technique, and play simple pieces hands separately and together.

 

 

I Used to Play Piano is a course designed for adults who have had piano instruction at some point in their lives, can read music (even if they are a bit rusty) and who wish to brush away the cobwebs and further advance the skills they developed in the past.

I Used To Play Piano

I Used To Play Piano

 

Classes take place in a group piano lab, which provides a relaxed learning environment. The group piano conferencing system enables students to hear only their individual piano and the instructor’s piano (and not the other students in the class). So if there is concern about others hearing a wrong note or two, then worry no more!

If you are interested in experiencing the way a group piano lab works with a conferencing system, visit Gist Piano Academy’s Open House on Tuesday, February 26th, from 2:30-3:30pm or call (859) 254-8492 to schedule an individual appointment for a tour of the piano lab.

 

 

Bringing a wealth of music teaching experience to Gist Piano Academy, Dr. Richerson teaches group piano and individual piano lessons at Gist Piano Academy.  In addition to teaching courses at Louisiana State University, Florida State University, and the University of South Carolina, Dr. Richerson also has over twelve years of experience teaching private piano and group classes to students of all ages and levels.

Gist Piano Academy instructor, Dr. Nan Richerson

Gist Piano Academy instructor, Dr. Nan Richerson

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