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Hey there! Learning a new language is daunting. True! But it doesn't have to be that way all the time. I try to incorporate fun exercises in my lesson plans. So here are 5 ways that the student can learn and have a good time!   1. Poetry   I have many works of poetry in French from all the classics! Students can learn the pace of the language as well as work on their pronunciation, all while learning about the great French masters of language.   2. Novels   Whether you are a Twilight or a Harry Potter fan, I have books in French, where more advanced students can read a chapter and analyze its contents.    3. Music   The French are known for more than just the romantic accordion. France has a legacy of rock, pop, hip hop, jazz, and rap. Listening to music is an enjoyable way for students of all ages to learn to listen and improve their aural skills.    4. Short, Easy Exercises   When... read more

As children, we were surrounded by a word-rich environment full of sounds. Sometimes we heard the voices of our parents, the radio, or TV; other times we heard the cadences of song, where rhythm and instruments met sounds and syllables. As a language learner, it can help to think of yourself as an infant again, creating a word-rich environment for yourself that includes songs.   I encourage language students to listen to songs because:   1) It's fun. You've got to be motivated to learn!   2) You learn slang words because the language comes from a real-world source, not a textbook-manufactured source.   3) You will implicitly learn about the source culture as you absorb the meaning of the song and who the artist is.   4) It's a great way to learn new vocabulary, which you can often deduce from context clues.   5) And perhaps the best reason: you will learn how to differentiate between the various sounds (phonemes)... read more

Hello! I wanted to share something with everybody which seems obvious to me, but I'm not sure everyone is on the same page. Have you ever had a terribly boring school teacher? I bet you have because we all have at some point! It doesn’t mean that these teachers are all uneducated in their subject, (although they might be…) it just means that either: A. They aren’t involved enough in their field to have passion for it or B. They don’t know how to transmit that passion to students effectively To be able to have fun or at least gain respect, understanding, or interest in a subject - the subject must be presented in an interesting way. It seems obvious when you put it that simply, but some or most teachers don’t care enough to even pretend to be excited, passionate or involved in their field. This makes learning from these teachers very difficult, especially if the students are self-sufficient learners. ——That is where... read more

I've been through a long journey with music, and have changed my style and genre focus according to what is fun for me. Music is my profession and my passion, so if I'm not absolutely loving it, why bother?   Here are my tips that make my tutoring fun!   1. ASK QUESTIONS! What does my student want to learn? What musicians do they admire? Who do they want to sound like? What songs do they want to cover? Why do they love music so much? This lesson isn't about me, it's about the student. I'm here to help them along on their journey, and give them the skills and reinforcement they need to get there!   2. BE SILLY! Music is personal, and I have experienced musician's shyness myself from time to time. By letting my students know that lesson time is the time to learn, be silly, be yourself, and make mistakes, they can let go of needing to feel "perfect" and just focus on improving! Music isn't about perfection, it's about expression.   3... read more

This is the question we are asked since childhood. When I finally figured out I wanted to learn about music, the answer was simple- everything! However, I soon learned that music is a deep and multifaceted subject, and had to focus on a few things in order to reach any level of mastery. So before you go into a lesson, ask yourself: What genres of music do you enjoy the most? Which would you like to learn to play? What are your weak points, things you'd like to work on? Who do you admire as a musician, composer, performer? Do you want to learn music theory? Songwriting? How to sing jazz? Or maybe you're looking to explore the piano as an instrument. The answers may come easily, or if they don't, ask your new tutor for advice. If you have a clear picture of what you'd like to learn, or a performance or goal you are preparing for, the lesson will have a much more productive direction. Sometimes having no answers is just fine- it gives you a broader palette of topics to explore... read more

Balancing piano students' scope and sequence is essential to a well-rounded musician. Of course, the first step is hand position, note-reading, and identifying rhythms. With young students, much can be learned by rote (copy-cat exercises with the teacher). By 8 or 9, note-reading is primary for the student to sense advancement. Most piano methods out there will do this: Alfred, Bastien, John Thompson are my favorites.   The second step is to develop techniques. Learning scales in 5-finger patterns, octaves, then double octaves, first major and then minor. Hanon and Czerny I have used. Hanon is geared for younger ones. These can also be taught by rote. Either way, memorization to disconnect the student from paper and connect them to what their fingers and hands are doing is key.   The third step, done at the same time as technique, is applying that technique to actual repertoire. There are many compositions which are simple: Bach, Mozart, and Beethovan, so... read more

Hello everyone! Hola a todos!   Learning a second language like  Spanish or ESOL can be boring and frustrating sometimes. You just get sick of reading your textbook or completing worksheets that your teacher gives you. But believe it or not...there are several ways to make learning a second language fun no matter what age you are! You're probably thinking right now..."how?" I'll tell you how. First, think of something that you like to do in your free time like listening to music, watching a movie or reading. Say if you really enjoy listening to music...look up one of your favorite genres and see what pops up for Spanish or English music in that genre. For example, Spanish pop/rock - the Colombian artist Juanes will pop up. Check out some of his songs on youtube. Once you find a song that you like, look up the Spanish lyrics online, print them out and then try your best at translating them into English. See if you can figure out what the song means because... read more

One of my guitar students majored in Drama in college.  As I progress with her lessons, it is increasingly apparent that many approaches to playing music have a lot to do with what she knows as an actor.  One example would be that, much like how any script contains lines more expressive or, arguably, more representative of the plot's importance, musical compositions beg that certain notes, phrases, or harmonic motion be brought to the fore.  Much of the responsibility of both the actor and musician, then, is to study how lines and music may contain human emotion.  Not only that; the artist must make an evaluation of how the work means to create a sense of discourse and then, of course, adhere to those rhetorical conclusions.  I would be happy to discuss this and many other ideas over email and, hopefully, in private lessons.  Thanks!

Chances are you’re excited about school being out for summer…I couldn’t agree more! School gets so busy towards the end of the year. Testing, sporting events, concerts and other happenings can all take a toll on your child's practice routine. Once the dust settles from the end of school year festivities, kids with a less full calendar of things to do all too often become bored and need some ideas about how to best spend their time.   If you, or your child, are interested in maintaining or increasing music performance skills from the last day of school through the first day of school the most effective approach is through facilitating time spent on task. Of course, continuing music lessons is a great start! Your child’s private music teacher is the best resource for keeping your son/daughter motivated throughout the summer months. S/he should also be able to recommend outside performance opportunities to support your child’s efforts while introducing them to other students... read more

Summer vacation is right around the corner, and that means plenty of time to focus on a talent, skill, hobby, etc.   Instead of using the summer time to sit at the pool, try devoting just a little bit of time each day to studying music, which will keep your mind fresh and help you remember everything you learned this past school year!

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 crisis... read more

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 how I learned... read more

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

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 manner-... read more

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

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

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.

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