Besides preparing to perform at the MTAC Palo Alto Student Recital on October 23, 2022, my 9th grader student CB also has put the final touches on the recording of a graduation Album to share with the world. His album includes the jazzy "Downtown Beat", the impressive "Journey into the Night" and the classical favorite of Mozart Sonata K545. Here is wonderful feast of his Junior Graduation Album.
I encourage students to create graduation albums as mementos of their piano study journeys and progress milestones. This summer sees some of my students graduating and moving on to new schools. The ones going on to middle school and high school are working on their graduation albums.
Our adult alumni (2013-2019) Mark Wang will be finishing up his master piano degree and holding his Graduate Recital on Saturday, April 9th, 7:30 pm in the Concert Hall at San Jose State University. Two years ago he took a sabbatical from his software engineer profession and auditioned into a piano graduate school program. What an accomplishment! I am really touched that he programmed the Chopin Nocturne in C minor op 48 in his recital. He studied this nocturne with me back in 2013. Below is his recital program. We are all so proud of Mark! Congratulations!
With vaccination being available to the young, students started to come back to in-person lessons. Suddenly my pre-teens and teens students came in with big hands and long fingers now! They are learning new technique and adjust back to playing on the studio piano.
During the weekly lessons, students were learning regular repertoire and also Valentine related pieces. At our performance group class, some chose to perform the special occasion piece and some improvised pieces too. With the remaining class time, they practiced Lap Clap Tap rhythmic exercises, and sightread the Lap Clap Tap Celtic duet Linvara Lane by composer Andrew Doe. Here is the performance as featured here on studio youtube channel by our siblings pair TZM.
It would not feel like New Year without playing Auld Lang Syne. This year I created a couple of versions for my beginner students. The melody lines are often divided to be played where one hand hands plays part of it and hands the rest to the hand. Sometimes there is hand-crossing as well. It lands itself to a great opportunity to reinforce the legato playing, and gesturing.
For the Intermediate students they got to sightread a pop-inspired version from composer Andrea Dow. For those who could play the melody by ear, it turned into a lesson on ear training, harmony and comping.
Holiday music can be great teaching material.
We had a very special holiday performance group class. Not only was it the first in-person group class since shelter-in-place in March 2020, joining our performers, were our alumni who just started college this Fall. After the students performed their regular repertoire and holiday music, two of the alumni graced us with a piece from a video game theme song, and an improvised piano cover. They all participated in a cup rhythm game to the music of Nutcracker's Trepak. We had a little party afterwards having hot Coco and cookies, and they went home with goodies and gifts from me. It is always wonderful to see former students and know that they continue to make music and play piano into their adult lives.
With Thanksgiving coming up, at the performance class, students performed the pieces they learned, and also their own Thanksgiving composition. I provided a worksheet and tips on starting on the composition project. It was interesting that several of them favored the word "Turkey" in their composition titles and the lively nature of the turkey. I encourage students to also perform a piece from their Active Repertoire List. This gives them a chance to review old pieces learned, and to find fresh ideas about the music.
More new students have joined the studio since August.
At our October group classes, students performed Halloween music in addition to their regular repertoire. There were music composed by students, improvised from a lead sheet and learned from scores. Despite having the group class over Zoom, students really prepared themselves and continued to make progress. We also did ear training on discerning major and minor mode, and reviewed the primary triads for a minor scale. They were given a composition assignment to create a piece with a minor scale for the weekend.
With more variants of COVID scare, it is still not comfortable holding in-person group classes. Students have settled into school life, in and piano learning is in full swing. We manage to continue holding our performance group classes via Zoom. It gives students a goal to work toward each month, and continue to sharpen their performance skill. I requested that each prepared an improvised version of Happy Birthday to play for the September babies.
Welcome to the Fall! One of my 9th grader piano students, TM, has made a summer project to create a "junior recital" celebrating his piano study finishing middle school. He prepared an excellent and lovely selection of repertoire including well known music, such as Beauty and the Beast, Under the sea and more. Here is TM's Junior Album performance on the studio youtube channel. He plans to create a senior album when he graduates from high school. Please stay tuned!
This year we still could not have in-person recital. We did a pre-recorded video recital presented as a Google slide show. Families were happy with this format more than the YouTube playlist. Not only did my students performed their well prepared repertoire, they each performed their own "Days in a Farm" theme compositions. I was amazed at their creative ideas and applications of forms. Some wrote in Bach Invention style, some in classical German dance style and some in pop style as well. Bravo to my students for another year of fruitful learning.
COVID-19 shows now sign of relenting and online lessons continue. During the December 2020 break, I gave an assignment to my students to write a song expressing their feelings about the whole experience of COVID-19. It was amazing to listen to their songs and lyrics. They performed them at our January 2021 group class.
One of my high school seniors Colleen Leacock with all the heavy school work, worked on it bit by bit over several months, and created a wonderful video for her song "Scrambled As an Egg". It is about her trying to process some of the scary, depressing issues facing the world (and also eggs). Both the vocal and piano accompaniment are her own performance. It's a very expressive song. The words are insightful and the music catchy. I was really blown away when I first heard it!
It has been quite a challenge to have our monthly performance group classes online over Zoom. I changed the format to be more like workshops. I found an online spin wheel so we could have quiz shows on Composer of the Month, I also arranged music so all my students have a piece to perform by the Composers. Bach, Clementi, Bartok are among the few. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas we played special music. In January 2021 they performed their compositions expressing feelings toward the COVID-19 experience. In February 2021, they performed love songs from various movies such as Casablanca, Romeo and Juliet , Love Story, Legend of 2000, Les Paraplues de Cherbourg, Hungry eyes and even "Song for my Brother" from a Kdrama. Right now, they are preparing for the Spring recital in May. Life continues, and so does piano playing. I am so proud of my students for facing the odds bravely!
Despite being online, we held our Spring studio recital on YouTube where our students performed the repertoire they have polished and their Arctic/Antarctic Theme compositions pre-recorded. As a bonus feature, I included their premier performance video clips when their first started at my studio from years ago. It was amazing seeing how much they've grown.
~~~~~ also in May 2020 ~~~~~~
Congratulations to Colleen Leacock! Colleen's "Lullaby of the Northern Lights" won the first place winner in the Older Division (11 and up) at the Piano Explorer 2020 composition contest. Her work is published in the July/August 2020 issue of the magazine, and she also receives a cash reward from the magazine publisher.
Here is a video recording of "Lullaby of the Northern Lights" performed by Colleen.
Shelter in place began and all lessons went online! We adapt quickly and held private and performance group classes via Zoom. It was amazing how much our students continue to practice and make progress. We spend more time composing and improvising.
Two of my high school piano students submitted their compositions to 2020 MTAC Composers Today for evaluations. Devin's "Prelude in A" and Colleen's "Lift - Theme and Variations" both received 5- (highest score is 5+) for their works and the great honor of being invited to perform at the MTAC conference in July 2020 which unfortunately was canceled due to shelter-in-place. Congratulations!
It was quite an incredible experience preparing for auditions and sending one of our studio's adult piano students of nearly 6 years, to further his study of piano at a graduate school. Congratulations to Mark Wong for being accepted to the San Jose State University graduate piano program in Fall 2019. Here are some of his concerto performance recorded during lessons and recitals:
Two of my high school piano students composed Sonatina and submitted to 2019 MTAC Composers Today for evaluations. Devin's "Sonatina in G minor" and Colleen's "Sonatina in Bb Major" received 4+ and 5 (highest score is 5+) respectively for their works and the great honor of being invited to perform at the MTAC conference in July 2019. Congratulations!
Student Composition Project 2019
In January 2019, all students in the studio wrote a "pet" themed composition and performed their compositions at the Studio Spring Recital in May, 2019. We kicked off the project at the January group class. Students started out jotting down ideas with drawing pictures, writing descriptions, and moved on to creating a motif. Each week they added some more to their compositions.
Students also learned to use notation software such as Noteflight, Musescore, or Finale to notate their music. The composition was completed by March for those who wished to enter the Piano Explorer composition contest, or completed by our April group performance class. Bravo to all our composers! They amazed the audience during recital, and won great comments and praises.
Colleen's "The Adventures of Fintan the Dog" is the 3rd place winner in the Older Division (11 and up) at this year's (2019) contest. Her work will be published later this year in the magazine, and she will receive a cash reward from the magazine publisher. Congratulations!
Here you can see a copy of the some of the compositions that I was granted permission to publicize. The composers featured in this collect range from age 7 to 15. View the Pet Theme compositions!