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Piano Keys
Newsletter from Beverley McKiver's Piano Teaching Studio
Volume 1.4 June 2016
It's been awhile since I've sent a newsletter. It's been a busy time with university exams, essays and a Royal Conservatory music theory exam (more about that later).

Since most of you are taking a break for the summer, I thought it would be a good opportunity to keep in touch.

Some of my students are close to completing their first books and preparing to move on to new piano challenges. I'm so proud of you and your diligent work and steady achievement. It's been truly an honour to travel with everyone on their musical journeys. Every person has different goals and musical interests and it's been refreshing for me to look at music in a new way to help you as much as I can.

Throughout the year, I have been exploring new teaching tools. The younger set has been enjoying musical games from Teach Piano Today, a exciting Canadian team of piano teachers on the West Coast. I have recently become a Spotify fan. With a free account, you can explore music to your heart's content. Many of the books we are using in your piano studies contain excerpts from famous compositions. I am putting together a play list so that you can hear the pieces in their entirety and get some insight into the composer, time period and context that the piece was written in. I will share more about this in a future newsletter. This is my summer downtime project, along with exploring other new teaching resources. Students who wish to practice over the summertime will be receiving a packet of zany activities from Teach Piano Today to help keep their minds and fingers nimble. These exercises are guaranteed to keep you guessing and literally hopping!

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:
  • Welcome to new student John!
  • Dana and Layla wowed the crowd at Knox Edwards United Church's Open Mic Night on April 1st. We are planning another Open Mic Night in the fall.
Summertime Music Fun:

Here are just a few of the musical events coming to Ottawa this summer.
Notes from the Studio
A Letter to 14 Year-Old Me

I promised to write about sight reading in this issue, but I'm going to write about music theory instead. I recently wrote the Advanced Theory Rudiments exam as my first official step in working towards the Grade 10 Royal Conservatory of Music Certificate. Advanced Theory Rudiments is a two-hour written exam testing the student's knowledge of scales, rhythm, musical analysis and other terminology. I wrote this exam (or its equivalent) when I was around 14 years old (a very long time ago). Preparing for and writing the exam had me reflecting about what the study of music has done for me in my life. If I had a chance to go back and talk to my 14 year-old self, here is what I would say:

Dear 14 Year-Old Me:

I saw you at the RCM Advanced Rudiments exam today. You may have noticed me. I was a little out of place in a room full of youthful energy. I was the lady old enough to be your grandmother, with a few streaks of grey hair and wearing sensible shoes. I probably looked a little tense just like you, as I waited for the exam to begin. You might be surprised to learn that you caught a glimpse of yourself 40 years (give or take a few) in the future. Hey, we made it this far!

First of all, a high five to you for writing this exam! I had forgotten what a lot of work it was to study and prepare. You'll be happy to know that after more than 40 years, the knowledge was still in my head, but I still had to study hard. Thank you for doing such a good job the first time around. Thank your teacher too. She did well to get you through the material and cover all the concepts.

I'm sorry that you thought that theory was a necessary evil to get out of the way just to get your Grade 8 piano diploma, because it served me well in many ways outside of music. Preparing for these exams when I was your age taught me good study habits, attention to detail, ability to solve mathematical puzzles, and time management. Those are all skills you will need in college, university and the working world. You might not have seen the point of learning about diminished sevenths or modal scales. Take it from me - later on in your musical path, especially when you start taking an interest in jazz, you will wish you had paid even more attention!

I never did write a string quartet after I learned how to write a score just for this exam, but you never know when two violinists, a violist and a cellist might show up at your door begging you to write music for them. Spoiler alert: there will be a violist in your future ( Too bad you haven't heard about the internet yet!

You and I will always have music in our lives. Even though your musical studies will get interrupted, it's never too late to go back and learn more. Keep on playing and exploring music. You will never be bored or lonely and music will sustain and nourish your soul. I'm really happy that you wrote this exam and I am sure you will do well.


Future Me

Next Newsletter: Sight Reading
April/May/June Composers' Birthdays
Do you share a birthday with one of these composers?

( 4/01/1873 -   3/28/1943 )    RACHMANINOV, Sergei Vasilievitch
( 4/27/1891 -   3/05/1953 )    PROKOFIEFF, Serge Sergeyevich
( 4/29/1899 -   5/24/1974 )    ELLINGTON, Edward Kennedy "Duke"

( 5/02/1660 - 10/22/1725 )    SCARLATTI, Alessandro
( 5/07/1833 -   4/03/1897 )    BRAHMS, Johannes
( 5/07/1840 - 11/06/1893 )    TCHAIKOVSKY, Piotr Ilyich
( 5/08/1829 - 12/18/1869 )    GOTTSCHALK, Louis Moreau
( 5/12/1842 -   8/13/1912 )    MASSENET, Jules-Emile-Frederic
( 5/12/1845 - 11/04/1924 )    FAURE, Gabriel-Urbain
( 5/13/1842 - 11/22/1900 )    SULLIVAN, Sir Arthur Seymour
( 5/15/1567 - 11/29/1643 )    MONTEVERDI, Claudio Giovanni Antonio
( 5/17/1866 -   7/01/1925 )    SATIE, Erik Alfred-Leslie
( 5/22/1813 -   2/13/1883 )    WAGNER, Wilhelm Richard
( 5/29/1860 -   5/18/1909 )    ALBENIZ, Isaac
( 5/29/1897 - 11/29/1957 )    KORNGOLD, Erich Wolfgang
( 6/01/1804 -   2/15/1857 )    GLINKA, Mikhail Ivanovich
( 6/02/1857 -   2/23/1934 )    ELGAR, Sir Edward William

( 6/06/1903 -   5/01/1978 )    KHACHATURIAN, Aram Il'yich
( 6/08/1671 -   1/17/1750 )    ALBINONI, Tomaso
( 6/08/1810 -   7/29/1856 )    SCHUMANN, Robert Alexander
( 6/11/1864 -   9/08/1949 )    STRAUSS, Richard
( 6/15/1843 -   9/04/1907 )    GRIEG, Edvard Hagerup
( 6/17/1818 - 10/18/1893 )    GOUNOD, Charles François
( 6/17/1882 -   4/06/1971 )    STRAVINSKY, Igor
( 6/20/1819 - 10/05/1880 )    OFFENBACH, Jacques
( 6/21/1732 -   1/26/1795 )    BACH, Johann Christoph Friedrich
( 6/28/1902 - 12/30/1979 )    RODGERS, Richard

Copyright © 2016 Beverley McKiver, All rights reserved.

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