Read about the July Professional Development Challenge HERE. You can read the Week 1 wrap-up post HERE. Feel free to join in!
Two weeks down, and the professional development challenge is almost half-way done! So far I have stayed on track with my challenges for each day.
Here is my wrap-up for week 2:
Practice a piece from your library you have never played before.
- Done! Technically I sight-read—but that counts, right? I attended a presentation by Dennis Alexander back in March about his two new books of nocturnes, and my copies have been sitting on a shelf neglected. So I pulled out book 2 and started playing. I only intended to play a couple of them, but they were so fun I played the entire book! I really enjoyed them—I can definitely hear the influence of Chopin and John Field, but they have that special “Dennis Alexander” touch (for example, there was a nocturne in 5/8). These would be great for a student that has played a few of the easier Chopin pieces but isn’t quite ready for a Chopin nocturne yet.
- Done! Last week’s analysis of Burgmuller’s “Arabesque” (along with the discovery that all the melodic material consisted of just a few five-finger scales) made the transposition easier than I expected. I transposed the piece to every white minor key. (Maybe one day I will be brave enough to try the black key minors! Ha ha!)
Play all 12 minor scales, cadences, and arpeggios.
- Done! Like the major scales last week, the minor scales came back to me quickly, too! Although I would like to devote a bit of practice to playing my 3 and 4 octave arpeggios more quickly and accurately—something to keep in mind for future practice sessions.
Sight-read 3 new pieces you want to teach this year.
- Done! I sight-read a few pieces by Randall Hartsell, a fellow North Carolina composer. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hartsell twice now, and he is not only a wonderful composer, but also just a genuinely nice person.
- I sight-read pieces from his “Composer’s Choice” collection—lovely pieces that sound contemporary and sophisticated but are not overly difficult and fall under the hands well. I have a student that I think this collection would be perfect for this fall!
Update your studio policy sheet.
- Done! I had already updated my policy sheet recently since I implemented a couple of changes that will take effect in August (a tuition increase and a switch to a semester-based schedule). So this task didn’t take too long--although I would still like to draw up a calendar for next semester once I have my fall recital date pinned down (I can’t believe it is time to start thinking about a fall recital date—eek!)
Listen to a Beethoven sonata you have never performed before.
- Done! I performed several Beethoven sonatas in high school and college, but they were all earlier works. So I decided to look up one of his later sonatas—the Op. 90. YouTube came to the rescue with several performances by world class pianists to choose from. (I wish YouTube had been around when I was a kid!) I chose to listen to Alfred Brendel’s recording because I always enjoy his performances of Beethoven. It is a lovely sonata—listening to the recording I am sure I have heard it performed before. Maybe I should try reading through the first movement for fun?
List 3 new things you want to try with your students this year.
- Done! Here are three ideas I would like to try this year—however, I would love to hear ideas from other teachers too!
- Create assignment booklets for my students. I have always written my students’ assignments in a blank spiral notebook, but sometimes I feel like I am scrambling to write things down at the end of their lessons. On my to-do list for next week is to create weekly assignment sheets for the upcoming semester. I think this will help me to stay organized, as well as give my students space to check off their assignments as they practice.
- Plan a “living composer project” for this year. I want to do a better job at introducing my students to new music by living composers. There is so much great music out there, and thanks to the Internet it is really easy to find information about composers living and working today—and in many cases they are available to contact through Facebook or their websites. I think this is something my students would really enjoy.
- Plan a student composer showcase. Many of my students have been composing their own pieces, and I think it would be really fun to plan an event where everyone can share their original compositions. I am thinking either a casual “piano party” or maybe recording everyone’s music and posting it on YouTube or creating CDs.
So that's Week 2! Any prep work you are doing for the fall semester? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!