Here's what I've been up to in February:
I started keeping a reading journal this month, which means I'll actually be able to look back and see what I read! My favorite reads this month were:
- Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. I finally finished this book, and it is one of my new favorites. I kept having to remind myself that I didn't have to copy down all the parts that I loved, because I own the book. I'm so used to borrowing library books that when I finally get my own, it's a treat to be able to underline! For a better idea of the content, see this post.
- Unseduced and Unshaken by Rosalie de Rosset. Though I am not usually a fan of Christian non-fiction aimed at women, this book was terrific. I found a recommendation in World magazine and reserved it at the library. I'm so glad I did! I can't stop talking about this book; everyone I talk to has probably heard about it at this point, and I need to order it so I can re-read it and write in it. Rosset challenges young women to live lives of intentionality and dignity, using classic examples such as Jane Eyre throughout the book.
- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. This book made me laugh out loud too many times to count, it is witty, whimsical and charming. Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy called this "the book I can't stop recommending", and ever since I found out Emily of New Moon is one of her favorite books, I've trusted her book recommendations!
I've been taking a bit of break from TV lately, but I did watch an episode of the Mentalist and quite a few episodes of Elementary. And my favorite hotel-room entertainment was episodes of Big Bang Theory. It's just too funny.
The more I listen to Jillian Edwards, the more I like her. You can download a free EP on Noisetrade here. She's an odd addition to my mix of Mumford & Sons, SHEL, Josh Garrels, etc, but I love the variety!
I've also trying to listen to more classical music this month. My favorite so far is Itzhak Perlman playing Ennio Morricon's Love Theme, but Camille Saint-Saën's Carnival of the Animals is a close second. I've also been listening to Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade and Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.
DIY painted votives: http://www.oncewed.com/43918/wedding-blog/diy-painted-votives/
Advice from a seven-year-old over at Modern Mrs. Darcy
Christian Song Parody Writing at Stuff Christians Like
Missing Steps to Learning to Read Music at Color In My Piano
and my favorite: a lovely new poem at my sister's blog, Cosmos in Chaos.
My favorite new teaching resource is www.fundandlearnmusic.com, they have terrific worksheets for young students.
I also discovered yesterday that Joy at Color In My Piano has a series of Music Theory Review tests that I'm going to have to start using!
I've been experimenting with teaching some of my young students to sing with methods inspired by the Kodály method. I'll have more on that in a week or so, but I'm amazed at how it is helping.
I also saw a suggestion on Susan Paradis's blog for using a ball to help with rhythm. You have the student bounce the ball while vocalizing the rhythm. I tried this yesterday and learned two lessons: one) you need a good ball that bounces well, a flat volleyball or flat basketball will not bounce so well. two) IT WORKS! I have a student that had difficulty with a syncopated section in one of her pieces and I had her vocalize it with ta's and ti's while bouncing the ball. When she returned to the piano, her rhythm had improved! I'm definitely going to find a better ball and keep trying this method of helping students with rhythm.
My other favorite teaching tool
week was talking to my students about gravity, hand position, posture, and
loose muscles. I start out by asking them what gravity is, and when they
answer, I talk to them about using gravity on our side. My favorite illustration
to use with my young students is to compare gravity to a dragon. "Imagine
if you went on an adventure," I tell them, "and you brought along
your neighbor's pet dragon. If you had to fight the dragon the whole way, it
wouldn't be a very fun trip, but if you could use the dragon on your side, then
the trip would be awesome! We want to use gravity on our side, and that is why
our hand position is so important!"
Then I talk to them about where their arm begins (at the shoulder blade, which is attached to the spine). I love having them stand up and swing their arms to feel the muscles in their back moving around as they move their arms. Then I have them bend and relax their elbows while they swing their arms, and finally, I have them wiggle their fingers. Then they do it all at the same time. I do it with them, and we always end up laughing by the end, but they understand how they need to stay relaxed and sit up straight in order to get the full power of all those muscles, their arm weight, and gravity. It also helps them relax, laugh a little bit, and lightens the mood of the lesson. It's fun for me too!
My newest addition to the studio is the clock I finally bought for the piano. I've been searching for one for a while, but neither Target nor Pier One had any good table clocks. I found one this week, and I love not having to check the time on my phone!