synco-pa-tion (CSI 2016)

Ayumi, Jess and I are finding a million little tips and tricks this week! 

A quote of yesterday (oldie but goodie): 

A good cellist practices until they get it right. A great cellists practices until they can’t get it wrong. 

And a little video on how to practice syncopation: ​


mozart had to start somewhere (a.k.a. rhythm composition in lessons)

File May 18, 9 30 14 AMIt is known that starting music at an early age can bring about some powerful things in a person’s life (thank you mom!) and Mozart is one of those examples of a student who grew up in a musical house and this complex thing of learning an instrument became a game and pastime for him and his father. Now, we aren’t trying to create “prodigies” here, but even simple musical games played during a person’s childhood can form some powerful connections.

So let’s get down to what is really important – rhythm. Instead of trying to approach things academically with a three year-old, I find it best to approach it from a composition game angle. With this I use two powerful tools: composition card
and a drum beat app.

File May 18, 9 30 38 AMThe lovely pianist who runs the website pianimation has created fantastic tools for rhythmic composition (and you can find her explanation of them here.) Each 4/4 measure is the size of half of a sheet of regular 8.5×11 paper, so it makes composing measures easy for kids! I have a few different sizes of colored paper that represent the types of measures I am asking them to create to give them a road map to then be creative. I love this as it is not just drilling flashcards or etudes, but giving the student autonomy over their learning.

This alone is great for learning rhythms, but in order to get that internal pulse going I have added the use of my favorite drum app called Drum Beats +. By adding a fun beat at the tempo the student can handle we can explore and create lots of music that fuels their internal pulse. Music is the only subject that if you don’t come up with the right answer at the right time then you are wrong – adding drum beats shows students this and propels them forward.

The magic combination of composition cards and a drum track has been trans-formative for my studio. And anytime I can use a funk beat to get my point across, then I’m happy 🙂

Download the rhythm composition HERE!iTunesArtwork

Clothesline Rhythms

All my littles are working on rhythm reading (and doing a fabulous job, I might add.) To make this visually more appealing I found a wonderful site called that has wonderful theory and piano ideas. The one I have used in my studio has been the clothesline rhythm cards, where one 4/4 measure is the size of an 8.5×11 sheet of paper.

I have some students that have taken to it, and others that prefer to make it into a work of art before actually reading them!  Here they are for download to use at home!