There is a wonderful new resource that Elizabeth Gutierrez has put on her blog, freely available to anyone who wants to take advantage of it.
It is a Piano Play-Along on her website Piano Camp for Piano Teachers. This wonderful resource will help us be better teachers by virtually working together on the same music. If you have heard of an internet “sew-along”or “quilt-along,” well, this is the same thing, but for pianists. There are videos of children demonstrating on the piano, and lots of explanations and helpful hints to help your students play with artistry. I am very impressed at how well-done it is. It is like a high quality piano pedagogy class!
The music we are going to work on is Kabalevsky’s 24 Pieces for Children Op. 39. This is a collection of quality short pieces at the late elementary to early immediate level.
Now don’t dismiss this because you don’t like contemporary music or you think you don’t like Kabalevsky! Students love to play his music and can relate to it. I think every composer who writes for children at will say that Kabalevsky is an influence. And even if you don’t plan to give your students his music in the future, learning the secrets to playing it well will help with everything else your students play.
How many times have I heard students play the notes and steady beat correctly, and even some p’s and f’s, but the piece just isn’t there yet. It’s not polished; it’s not what the composer wants. But the teacher is not sure how to get the student to take it to the next level.
I always tell my students that learning classical music correctly is like what good jazz dancers do. The ones who study classical ballet are such better jazz dancers. They have more finesse and are technically better than the students who only study jazz and tap. The same is true of learning classical music. Not only that, but Kabalevsky’s music makes sense and it is easy to understand. Every little piece teaches something, but it is still fun to play because of the way the music fits under the hands.
Because of copyright restrictions we don’t see too much of Kabalevsky in our method books, so this is a great way to learn about this wonderful master composer. You can take the ideas and apply them to your recital pieces or your method book music.
Even though I am really busy now, I went to my local music store and picked up a copy of the book and I’m going to be playing along. The fact that it is being offered as a free resource is just an amazing opportunity for teachers and even amateurs who want to learn more about how to play with artistry. On top of that, Hal Leonard has generously donated a prize that will go to some lucky participant.
If you want to get your students excited about Kabalevsky’s music, go to YouTube and let them listen to Kabalevsky’s Gallop, such as this version. It’s short and fast, you can move and dance around to it, and it is something that no child can resist.
Elizabeth is truly a teacher’s teacher, and all you need to participate is the music and a piano! For a while this summer, let’s forget about policy sheets, tuition, how to get kids to practice, and just focus on playing the piano.
[Disclaimer: this review is my personal opinion and I was not compensated or solicited in any way. I am posting it because it is an excellent resource for pianists.]