The Great Composer Battle…

Hi everyone,

At the start of the year, students were selected into teams named after some of the greatest composers of all time (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Clara Schumann, Frédéric Chopin and Ludwig van Beethoven). Every month up until August there will be a new challenge to complete, and the team that wins the most challenges overall will be invited to come along on a ‘mystery musical field trip’ during September (more details to follow next term!).Composer Battle - April

The first challenge took place in March, with each team vying to learn the most amount of bars by the end of the month (a piece of music is made up of many ‘bars’, with beginner pieces lasting around 4, and more advanced pieces entering into the hundreds!). Team Ludwig took out 1st place with a total of 340 bars learnt, followed by Team Amadeus in 2nd place (321 bars), Team Frédéric in 3rd place (286 bars) and Team Clara in 4th place (196 bars). Pretty impressive work, and I look forward to seeing the results from next month!

Happy playing,

Camille

Spring Recital 2016…

Hi everyone,

As usual, this term has been a busy one, culminating with the annual Spring Recital in the Adam Concert Room at the New Zealand School of Music. This year, each performer received a certificate after their performance, featuring the many beautiful comments audience members wrote on the ‘compliment cards’.

A few examples:

“I had a smile on my face all the way through your performance…”

“Great focus – you brought the song to life!”

“You played with lots of confidence, and made the piano sing.”

spring-recital-2017

I was so proud of everyone who gave it a go – performing in front of an audience is not an easy thing to do, however it is such a confidence booster once everything is said and done! Can’t wait until next year – it is really great seeing how students progress from year to year (and how much bigger they grow too!).

Happy playing,

Camille

Piano Pirates Practice Incentive…

Hi everyone,

This term the studio has been taken over by a hoard of marauding pirates! Eager to collect gold medallions from the various island destinations (Rhythm Volcano, Listening Lagoon, Imagination Island…), students are completing a list of musical challenges and then collecting their bounty. Who will become our first pirate captain, by completing the map?

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Even though I aim for each student to have as much intrinsic motivation as possible to learn the piano (by playing songs they enjoy and creating a supportive learning environment), sometimes a bit of old-fashioned competition can really get the ball rolling! Also, the different challenge categories ensure that all students get a broad musical training (so not only developing playing skills, but also learning how to listen and play with others, how to be creative at the piano, and an appreciation for lots of different sorts of music!). So far I have seen some great work going on, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the term will bring!

Happy playing,

Camille

Movie Music Composition Competition…

Hi everyone,

At the studio this term students have been working on their own ‘Movie Music’ compositions. The idea was to develop a theme or background soundtrack to go along with their favourite movie (and it turns out that Harry Potter fever is still alive and well!).

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Once again, I was blown away by the creativity and attention to detail displayed by everyone, however I did have to pick three winners:

Ages 5 – 7: Sophia Hargreaves with her composition ‘The Faraway Tree’

Ages 8 – 10: Eva Stein with her Harry Potter themed ‘Ron and Romilda’

Ages 11 and above: Caroline Kay with her own unique idea, ‘Take It Away’

Congratulations to everybody who entered!

Happy playing,

Camille

What is the best age to start piano lessons?

Hi everyone,

One of the most common questions I get asked is: “what is the best age to start piano lessons?” Luckily I have found this infographic which sums up my answer perfectly! It really does depend on the child so it is hard to give a definite answer, but if you go through the points below I think you would get a pretty good idea if your child was ready to start lessons.

Infographic - Best Age To Start Piano

Happy playing,

Camille

Curious Keys Spring Concert 2015…

Hi everyone,

Every year, to celebrate the start of some warmer weather and much-needed sunshine, I hold a Spring Concert with my students. This year we were again lucky enough to get the Adam Concert Room at the New Zealand School of Music, which has a beautiful Steinway concert grand piano. After many weeks of practice and preparation, the day finally arrived and everybody played so well!

Curious Keys Concert Photo 2015

There are many reasons why I hold concerts such as these for my students: a tangible goal to work towards, a chance to acknowledge all the hours of practice that goes into learning the piano, an opportunity to see other kids playing and realise what is possible…and I hope that they get an extra boost of confidence in their own playing and a sense of achievement that will stay with them for life!

Happy playing,

Camille

The best music apps for iPad…

Hi everyone,

Just thought that I would share with you a few of my favourite (mostly free!) iPad apps, from amongst an ever-growing list! These days there is literally an app for everything, and although there are some truly terrible ones, there are also some really awesome ones.

Having iPad time is a fun way to reinforce some of the things we may have covered in the lesson – and it is amazing how sometimes something you have tried to explain for weeks is grasped in an instant with the help of technology!

  1. My Note Games: This app is great for teaching beginners how to read music and follow along on the page. My favourite part is that it can actually listen to you play the piano, and gives the player a gold coin for playing the correct notes!MyNoteGames
  2. Rhythm Cat: This one is a great app for learning rhythm and recognising note values. It starts off with a simple one-note-per-beat pattern and then gradually gets harder and faster.Rhythm Cat
  3. Flashnote Derby: Another great one for learning note names, but this time you are the star of a horse race, and with each correct note your horse gets faster and faster.FlashnoteDerby
  4. Dragon Scales: Kids are really drawn to this one, must be something about slaying dragons! At the start of the game, you choose which scales you want to practice, and then it is a battle to slay the dragon (by playing the scale correctly, of course) before he burns you to a crisp.Dragon Scales
  5. Musictionary: On a more practical note, there are many great apps to help support learning in other ways (such as tuners and metronomes), and also this musical dictionary (hence the name, musictionary…). Handy to have at your fingertips, especially for more advanced students!Musictionary

Happy playing,

Camille

Composition Challenge…

Hi everyone,

This term I have been running a ‘Composition Challenge’ with my younger students, and I have to say that it has been a roaring success! I am always amazed at the imaginative abilities displayed by all my students, and seeing work like this being created from nothing is a real privilege. See for yourself below!

 

Madi - Colour

Blake - Colour

 

Hopefully a bit of inspiration for any other budding composers out there!

Happy playing,

Camille