Monthly newsletter for the piano students of Beverley McKiver
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Piano Keys
Newsletter from Beverley McKiver's Piano Teaching Studio
Volume 1.3 March 2016
This is Viola. Sometimes Viola comes to lessons to listen and be a supportive audience for the students.

Some student pianists thrive on having an audience, while others never want to play in front of other people. What's your goal for playing piano - playing for personal enjoyment, playing for family and friends or dazzling on a concert stage?

Performing can generate many benefits. Having a performance date can provide motivation to practice; performing in front of others can build confidence that can extend to other areas of life; performing a piece that you've polished can bring personal satisfaction and pride; and listeners can derive much pleasure from listening to performers. 

At the studio, you won't be asked to perform if you really don't want to, but there are a few ways that we can simulate or create a performance environment.
  • Viola is a non-judgmental listener who loves music. She will happily sit in on a practice session or lesson! Sometimes she brings along some of her friends too.
  • Videotaping or sound recordings can be done on a cell phone or sound recorder for later viewing or sharing with relatives. A music video!
  • Group lessons, where everyone shares what they are working on in a spirit of fun and friendship.
  • Concerts or open-mic nights for family and friends. There's one being planned on April 1st at Knox Edwards United Church. I'll provide more details soon.
  • Entertaining at a senior citizens' residence.
  • Competitive festivals such as the Ottawa Kiwanis Music Festival.
  • Preparing for a Royal Conservatory exam. This is a national program that promotes excellence in music education.
Ask me about any of these opportunities, or perhaps you have suggestions for more!

News and Fanfares

(A fanfare is a flourish of trumpets or other similar instruments,
used for military or ceremonial purposes, or music that conveys this impression.)
Recent Highlights:
  • I attended a workshop at the Steinway Gallery presented by the Royal Conservatory of Music to introduce the new Celebration Series 2015 edition for piano. The workshop was given by Gaven Quinn, Regional Representative for Eastern Ontario and Quebec. Before the workshop began, Gaven played selections from each of the levels of the Celebration Series on a magnificent Steinway grand piano. He discussed excerpts of pieces from each of the levels and demonstrated how the new curriculum is integrated across all elements. He reviewed the examination requirements and updates for the audience of music teachers and advanced students.
  • I am impressed with the online tools that the Royal Conservatory of Music is offering for teachers and students. I'm particularly excited about iSCORE, a web-based practice and communication tool. "It is designed to help students to set goals, create new work, edit and share their work and respond to feedback from teachers, peers and parents. It also makes it easier for teachers to communicate with their students and help their students become independent learners. It includes a text annotation tool and links to recording and notation software." This tool has great potential to share information outside of the lesson time, for example, links to music videos or enrichment activities. I'll be sharing more about this tool once I've familiarized myself with it.
Notes from the Studio
Performing for an Audience

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that many people experience "stage fright" or "performance anxiety". This is common in most forms of performance, whether writing a test, public speaking, sports competitions or music performance. As musicians, most of us will face an audience at some point.

I've studied public speaking at Toastmasters International for many years because I had a crippling fear of speaking in front of an audience. As a youngster at the piano and veteran of many music festivals and examinations, I was able to control my nervousness because my back was to the audience. I was able to pretend that the audience wasn't there. As a performer, I'm often in a supporting role as an accompanist, or playing background music at a wedding or social function, where the focus isn't totally on me. I will confess that I have experienced that "deer in the headlights" feeling many times as a soloist. I find that the advice given to Toastmasters to control butterflies is valuable in a performance situation. Here are five public speaking tips that I believe apply equally to musical performers:
  1. Preparation. If you're not familiar with your repertoire, or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase.
  2. Relax. That's easier said than done, but you may find that techniques such as deep breaths and stretching can reduce your stress.
  3. Visualize your performance. Imagine yourself beginning confidently, nailing those tricky passages and giving a stellar performance.
  4. Harness your nervous energy and use it to bring excitement and enthusiasm to your performance.
  5. Gain experience. Experience builds confidence.
The Bulletproof Musician is an excellent resource by Dr. Noa Kageyama for musicians who want to "learn how to beat performance anxiety and perform your very best on stage." A good starting point to explore the website is his article "What Every Musician Ought to Know About Stage Fright".

You may have already decided that performing is not for you and you prefer to keep your piano playing out of sight and out of hearing. I ask you to consider sharing your music with at least one person. Chances are, they want you to succeed and would be honoured to witness your musical growth.

Next month: Sight Reading
March Composers' Birthdays
Do you share a birthday with one of these composers?

( 3/01/1810 - 10/17/1849 )    CHOPIN, Frederic
( 3/02/1824 -  5/12/1884 )    SMETANA, Bedřich Friedrich
( 3/02/1900 -  4/03/1950 )    WEILL, Kurt
( 3/04/1678 -  7/28/1741 )    VIVALDI, Antonio Lucio
( 3/05/1887 - 11/17/1959 )    VILLA-LOBOS, Heitor
( 3/07/1875 - 12/28/1937 )    RAVEL, Joseph Maurice
( 3/08/1714 - 12/14/1788 )    BACH, Carl Philipp Emanuel
( 3/09/1910 -  1/23/1981 )    BARBER, Samuel
( 3/10/1844 -  9/20/1908 )    SARASATE, Pablo Martin Meliton de
( 3/14/1681 -  6/25/1767 )    TELEMANN, Georg Philipp
( 3/14/1804 -  9/25/1849 )    STRAUSS, Johann I
( 3/15/1835 - 12/28/1916 )    STRAUSS, Eduard
( 3/18/1844 -  6/21/1908 )    RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, Nikolai
( 3/21/1685 -  7/28/1750 )    BACH, Johann Sebastian
( 3/21/1839 -  3/28/1881 )    MUSSORGSKY, Modest Petrovich
( 3/22/1948                   )    LLOYD WEBBER, Andrew
( 3/25/1881 -  9/25/1945 )    BARTOK, Bela
( 3/31/1732 -  5/31/1809 )    HAYDN, Franz Joseph

Copyright © 2016 Beverley McKiver, All rights reserved.

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