Preparation for class. The preparation time for the master classes took much longer than expected. It took me approximately four hours to be ready for each class. Each student’s need in their piano study was seriously considered; therefore, each class was different even though we had more than one class for every level.
However, when observing the students’ smiles, laughter, interactions, and enthusiasm for learning music, I felt it was totally worth the necessary time and energy to prepare for the master classes. When students told me “I can’t believe the lesson is over, it was so much fun,” I knew we had had another successful piano class.
What we did in the master classes. Generally speaking, each class was divided into five or six periods:
This was the time to reinforce rhythm reading. We worked on patterns that students frequently encountered problems with during their practice. Some complex rhythmic patterns that students would learn in the future were introduced in the master class. Counting beats and playing rhythms correctly can be difficult for many students. However, it can easily become a fun activity when students practice in a group.
During theory time, we reviewed theory concepts learned in the past and also introduced new theory concepts that would appear in the students’ future repertoire.
The purpose of sight-reading practice was to develop the students’ skills in note identification. Ensemble normally occurred during this period, during which students were required to play a new composition without prior practice. The selected ensemble pieces also included the rhythmic patterns and theory concepts that we practiced and discussed in the earlier parts of class.
“Musicians who sight-read frequently enjoy huge artistic and profession advantages.” –Gerald Klickstein, April 23, 2011
This training enables musicians to connect music theory with the sounds they hear. The more we train our ear to recognize this connection, the better we are at playing music, because we come to understand what we play and are able to anticipate musical structures.
5) Game Time:
This was the students’ favorite period! Each month there was a different game for students to play. We used game time to review all of the materials covered in that particular master class. Game time gave me a chance to see that students comprehended the materials completely.
Each month students performed their best/favorite piece in class. This setting gave more performance opportunities to play in front of audiences. The more you perform, the better a performance you will bring to the stage.
With the combination of weekly-individualized lessons and a monthly master class, students have enjoyed their learning process more and made better progress. I look forward to see all students in our next master class, which is a week after Thanksgiving and the last master class in this fall semester. We will be playing a very fun game called “Ski Maniac Mountain.” I wish you a happy and beautiful Thanksgiving!