Let’s Play Music Third Year Graduation Recital

The third year of Let’s Play Music is very fun and very full—jam packed with learning to play scales and chords in different keys, learning to improvise and transpose, learning to count music properly in different time signatures, and the coup de gras—composing an original piece to play at the recital.

Students begin thinking of ideas for the composition in January when Orange Roots semester begins.

Let's Play Music logo

We talk about inspiration and what they, the student, gets excited about.  We talk about how music can tell a story, just like a book can, and how music follows patterns, just like books do.  We explore different sounds on the piano, e.g “What would it sound like if it was raining outside?” “What does an elephant walking sound like on the piano?”

In mid-February we are ready to begin putting notes down on the manuscript paper. Students (and parents) often feel apprehensive about beginning a composition. But, after meeting one-on-one with the teacher to begin their composition, they leave their lesson feeling excited about going home and adding to what they just wrote.

beginning composition

Students spend the next few weeks making changes and adding new ideas to their composition. Once again, there is a lesson, one-on-one with the teacher, at the end of March where students will put the finishing touches on their masterpiece.

final composition

Then they begin practicing for the recital.  Parents are often surprised that a student will need to practice something they wrote themselves.  Let’s Play Music students are often able to write and play music that is beyond their ability to read music, so practice is necessary.

The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recitalLet's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

The recital is truly a time of celebration! Each student has progressed at their own pace, but we celebrate where they are right now!

Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

Parents are an integral part of the Let’s Play Music program.  This program is successful because of dedicated parents who come to class with their child and follow up with practice time at home.  Sometimes practicing is not fun and life gets in the way, but LPM parents are truly the best! Why? Because they have committed to helping their child through this wonderful program and have given them the gift of music. At the recital we always take time to honor the parents and their contribution to the child.

Let's Play Music at The MAC MeridianLet's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

Let’s Play Music graduates are ready to enter private lessons and be successful. They have been given the tools for a strong musical foundation and been taught successful practice techniques.  They have learned to intelligently listen to classical music and recognize classical form. Their ears, eyes, fingers, and voices have been trained to help them decipher and play difficult music passages.  But, most of all, they have learned that they can do hard things, and for this, we celebrate!

IMG_5094 Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

Let’s Play Music Recital for First and Second Year Students

Every year at recital time, parents ask, “What do the kids do for the recital?” It’s a valid question—after all, Let’s Play Music is not like traditional piano lessons, so what would that recital look like?

ShrugEmoticon-

Recitals for first and second year students have two goals:

  1. Demonstrate how much we have learned over the past year, and show how we have learned it.
  2. Celebrate each student and their progress.

celebrate

With those two goals in mind, this is what a Let’s Play Music recital looks like for first and second year students—

As a teacher, I pick 8-10 songs for each first year and second year that demonstrate a wide range of the skills the students have been working on. Some of the songs will have bell accompaniment, some will have autoharp accompaniment, and some will have piano accompaniment. The first-year students have been practicing playing 2 out of those 3 instruments, so they will help accompany the group on bells and autoharp. The second-year students have been learning to accompany while playing piano, so they will help with the piano accompaniment.

Bell assignments and keyboard assignments are done as a group, which is always a relief to these young children.

IMG_5008 IMG_5007 Let's Play Music recital at The MAC MeridianRecital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian

 

We will also demonstrate one of our puppet shows—how could we not?! They are “Sol-fun”!

This year the first-year students demonstrated “Magic Lamp,” which is actually “Aragonaise” from Georges Bizet Carmen.

Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian IMG_5012

The second-year students were excited to show how much they love Johannes Brahms “Hungarian Dance No. 5”

Let's Play Music recital at The MAC MeridianLet's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian

At the end, we celebrate each child and their progress.  Let’s Play Music is all about teaching a strong musical foundation and skills that a child can apply to any instrument. We are not a performing group, and we don’t spend a lot of time in class perfecting the recital pieces.  Still, the students have so much fun showing off their stuff and it is a great night for all of us!

Let's Play Music recital 2017 Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music Recital at The MAC Meridian 2017 Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recital Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music Recital at The MAC Meridian The MAC Music and Art Center Recital 2017

When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything!

The MAC Meridian lets play music logo

Sound Beginnings Instrument Day

Instrument Day! is always a favorite day in the Sound Beginnings class!

Sound Beginnings is a parent and child music class for young children–2-4 year olds.

sound beginnings logo

 

This semester’s class was named “White Horses”

white horses logo

and many of the games, songs, and activities centered around horses.  The final class each semester of Sound Beginnings is called Instrument Day.  This is a super fun day when students can bring their parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends to participate in class with them.

Sound Beginnings Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian Music and Art Center

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Each family bring instruments from home—some are professional string or brass instruments, some are children’s toys, and some are homemade.  Whatever the children bring, they are excited to share with the class.  We always make a rhythm instrument to take home and this year it was the jingle glove!

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

 

Just find a child’s size glove and hot glue jingle bells on the fingertips for a super fun and easy instrument.  Of course the parents are the ones doing the gluing, but the children are the ones picking out the color of the glove and the jingles.

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

At The MAC we love to see the joy on the children’s faces as they explore music and share it with their families. Thanks MAC families!

Join us for the next round of classes beginning January 9! Register HERE

Get Out of the Way-Performance Anxiety

“Get out of the way!”

I was shocked to hear those words coming from someone who had always been supportive of me.

I was never one to get overly nervous when performing.  I had confidence in myself, and a lot of pride to go along with it.

Until one particular time in my life…

When I was in college I transferred from ASU to UNLV-Reno.  Not because I particularly liked Reno, but because one of the biggest bigwig harp instructors in the United  States was teaching there and she asked me to come study with her. Not going to pass that opportunity up-no way.  Studying with Suzanne Balderston was AMAZING! She passed away a few years ago, but what she taught me will be with me forever.

Music majors are required to do lots of things they receive little or no credit for.  One of those things is to perform in a certain number of concerts through the semester.  Often, colleges and universities have regularly scheduled performance opportunities for students, and your instructor will sign you up to perform at the event.  Many music professors and students attend these performances, so when you are performing, you are doing so in front of people who are very educated as to what you are doing-a little (lot) intimidating.

Ms. Balderston signed me and another harpist up for one of these performances and we were playing a duet:

Sixth French Suite by Johann Sebastian Bach.  I was assigned to be Harp 1, which meant I was playing the higher part and my hands felt like there were above my ears when I was playing, and I had running 16th notes, played at a very fast tempo.  We had only had the music for about 3 weeks and I did not feel prepared to perform. No matter how much I practiced, I was never able to feel confident about my part.

The day of the performance arrived and I had a sinking feeling.  The kind of feeling that sits in the bottom of your stomach and let’s you know just how much you are dreading what’s coming, but you have no power to stop it. I didn’t let that feeling down-I royally bombed, and I felt bad.  Really bad.  Ms. Balderston was not able to be there to see the royal stinkiness, and for that I was grateful, but rest assured, she was filled in by the faculty members who witnessed my humiliation.  When I saw her later that afternoon I thought she would give me a hug and tell me I would do better next time-we had that kind of close relationship.

Nope.

The first words out of her mouth, “HOW DARE YOU!”  I was speechless…

She continued, “How dare you come between God, the composer, and the audience!” Still speechless…

“Do you believe in God?” she asked.  I nodded.

“Well God inspired these composers to create this music-how dare you let your pride get in the way of that inspiration. GET OUT OF THE WAY.”

I thought a long time about it then and in the years since.  As a musician I have had to determine why I perform and what I want to communicate through the pieces I choose to learn, practice, and share with others. If I truly believe God has inspired the music I choose, then who am I to get in the way of communicating that to His children?

I wish I could say in the years since this happened that I have not had any more performance bombs, but that would not be true.  Those bombs have all happened when I let my pride get in the way of the music. Now every time I perform, I over prepare.  I ask God and contemplate what He wants me to say through the music, then I

Get Out of the Way.