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Math + Music = Elementary Fraction Success

By far, one of the most difficult concepts in elementary mathematics is fractions...and it is all our fault. One of the major misconceptions among many education systems was that early exposure to fractions would help students learn them. This meant attempting to introduce fractions before students could even multiply or divide. You have no idea the trauma this has had among decades of students. Education systems created self-induced math anxiety.   For years I had to address what I can only describe as fraction PTSD. I had talented Algebra students immediately clam up if the problem had a fraction. Now as a teacher I of course did my job and we spent time trying to get ourselves comfortable with fractions but in the back of my mind I knew I was using valuable class time to address an issue that simply shouldn't even rear it's ugly head in Algebra. But every year it was there. Students were crying, parents were crying, and teachers were crying over the fraction... read more

The Everyday Importance of Music #1.

#1.  Medical research proves that music practice can sharpen the brain and not just for music!       http://www.good.is/posts/music-practice-can-sharpen-the-brain     You've GOT to love that music!  :)   Cyn

Mastering the Practice Room

Often for music students the practice room can be a place of transcendent accomplishment as well as massive frustration. I have practice until my fingers bled, until I got exactly what I wanted, only to come back the next day and feel as if none of that work had showed up. I have also had breakthrough moments where everything seemed to fall into place, music and the world suddenly made sense as if my eyes had been opened and I was seeing in color for the first time. The truth about the practice room is this: Practice takes practice. The practice room (especially for those looking to go into music education) is like a scientist's lab. You have to be critical of not just what you're doing (did I play that note too loud? How is the clarity of my articulation?) but also WHY you you are doing it. You have to analyze why you are in the practice room, what are your goals and how are you going to reach them? It's exactly what a school teacher does to plan their lessons and that's... read more

Holistic Tutoring

One of the more frustrating things about tutoring is when students or their parents want to treat tutoring like a quick fix. In other words, sometimes they want to meet the night before a test and cram for said test in hopes of getting a better grade. On the surface, this problem might work, but it treats the symptoms rather than the root of the problem. If you're going to take the time to invest in a tutor, then here are a couple of suggestions. First, try to catch the problem early. If you (or your child) is struggling in a subject, get help right away. Don't wait until you (or your child) feels that overwhelming feeling that comes when one is completely lost in information. The sooner a tutor can get involved, the better the tutor can help a student to stay on track. Work with your tutor to adopt a thorough approach to the subject. It is not enough to learn the facts of a subject, but also to learn the reasons behind those facts. If you want to do well in a subject,... read more

Advice to my younger self- the student

IF I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice on how to be a better student, be more successful in school, life, etc, I would definitely tell myself that being involved in everything comes at a cost. It is better to find a few things that you like to do, do them well and often, than feeling stressed because there is so much on your plate at one time. Being a 'Jack of all Trades' it is natural for me to dip my toes in different waters- all at the same time, but that does not mean that I can give 100% to any of them at that time. While I was able to get good grades (A- average) while in school, I was impressed by how much better I did- and felt about my work- the few times that I scaled back on my activities. Another piece of advice that I wish that I could bestow upon my younger self would be to learn how to speak up in a group setting when someone is not fulfilling their part of an agreement. Now, this said, the best way to do this would be in a tactful... read more

On Memorization

Throughout the course of my own education, and now as a semi-educator myself, I have picked up various handy ways to assist with memorization. The first and probably best "memory assistant" is music. It doesn't have to be good, or really even "musical." But putting whatever you're trying to memorize to music is vastly helpful! In high school, I memorized the presidents of the United States (in chronological order) by putting them to a song. I can still sing it to this day. I can also recite the alphabet backwards by simply putting a tune to it. The best thing to do is write out the words to your song, then sing it repeatedly - taking away a few of the written words each time. You (or whoever you're helping) won't forget it! Similarly, rhymes are very helpful too! Remember the old favorite "i before e, except after c, or when sounding like 'ay,' as in neighbor or weigh"? I'll bet you do... because it rhymes! Lastly, mnemonic devices... read more

The Subtleties of Language

For the brief time that I was enrolled in a postgraduate TESOL program, I was fortunate enough to have enrolled in one of the most fascinating classes I’ve ever taken: linguistics. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, Google says that linguistics is the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of morphology, syntax, phonetics, and semantics (I couldn’t have said it better myself). Up until that first class, I had no idea that such a wonderful study existed. You see, I’ve always been drawn to the very science of linguistics, even without ever having known what it was that I was drawn to. I remember being very young (Kindergarten or first grade) when the idea of language was explained to me—and it rocked my little world. It was my mom who told me that the words we were saying to each other were part of a language, and that not everyone understood the things we said. I vividly remember that point in time to this day because of just how radically... read more

Student Achievement from Asia

While I was teaching on faculty in Asia at a University Conservatory my student Stephanie worked with me for one semester and passed her upper divisional piano jury playing among other things a Debussy Etude. This conservatory jury was stricter than most, the faculty enjoyed giving scores in the 60s. While chapel organist and teaching piano I also taught in the theory department at the university and coached.

Piano Student

This photo is of my student Sara. When she came to study with me at Indiana University she was a linguistics major. After studying with me a short time and working on classical repertoire I got her accepted into a multi-competition winner's piano performance studio at IU.

Student Achievement

This photo from the Louisiana INTERNATIONAL Piano Competition 2005 is of my student Yuri. A few years AFTER this competition and after she had won a prize in International Chopin competition, she studied with me and took 2nd prize in the difficult IU Concerto Competition (I played Chopin Concerto #1 on the 2nd piano). After studying with me she was also invited to an international festival and was accepted into a European conservatory.

Leslie's All Things Relating to Teaching

Hey! Thanks for checking out my page and blog. I have more than twenty years experience as a college instructor, taught ESL to high school students, SAT and ACT prep in English. I enjoy teaching -- especially when that light bulb goes on and the student "gets it." I have two books which are published. One a photography book with a bit of history thrown in about the Grand Mesa--the world's largest flat top mountain. The other is the first in series of murder mysteries. I have been told from former students that I am demanding while being the funnest teacher ever. If you're willing to work hard, I'm the person to help you achieve your goals in all things relating to English, photography or piano. Good luck in your endeavors!

The Gift of Education

On June 2, 1989, my life changed forever. A brand new world was brought to my attention. I moved into the main land of the United States. I am Puerto Rican, meaning natural born American, but was raised on the island of Puerto Rico. Don't get me wrong, I have always been more fourtunate than most people with my condition. You see, I have a condition called Spina Bifida. I guess it would make more sense if I explain myself. Normally, during the first month of a pregnancy, the two sides of the spine (or backbone) join together to cover the spinal cord, spinal nerves and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord). Spina bifida refers to any birth defect involving incomplete closure of the spine. Myelomeningocele is the most common type of Spina Bifida. It is a neural tube defect in which the bones of the spine do not completely form, resulting in an incomplete spinal canal. This causes the spinal cord and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord) to stick out... read more

coming out of the comfort zone

As a teenager growing up in the late 70's and early 80's, I had the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest guitarists of that era. I would put on my favorite albums and try to play the song note for note and I would even attempt the solo of that song as well. Randy Rhoads was my guitar hero and still is to this day. He died in a plane cash in 1982 at the young age of 25. When I heard "Crazy Train" for the very first time I was blown away. The raking of the strings to the monstrous guitar riff intro, incredible. I wanted to be the next Randy Rhoads. Practicing for hours just trying to learn his style I knew that someday I would be able to play like that. Randy recorded 2 albums with Ozzy "Blizzard of Ozz" and "Diary of a Madman". In those days there wasn't "Youtube" or the internet for that matter. I would go to the local music store to try to find music books. What I did learn from this was how to take a chance. Learning an instrument... read more

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