Rhythm & Notes:
Creative Ways to Learn to Read Music (including The Cup Song!)
People of all ages can be great musicians without learning to read music. Musically gifted people are especially challenged to read music because they don't need to, for a long while anyway. They naturally have a great ear and memory, and can imitate pitch and rhythm and dynamics once they hear it, so why bother? Reading music is a lot of work when it doesn't seem necessary. Even when faking it, looking at the musical score, they see patterns of notes rising and falling and get a general sense of how the music goes. That, plus listening to the person next to them who can read music, helps them get by until they finally know it themselves.
But as they progress as performers, these gifted people soon realize that their lack of reading skills hinders them, all too often putting them at a disadvantage with others who are equally gifted but have the advantage of knowing how to read music. The music readers get it much faster and more accurately, plus they know how to read others' parts and how it all fits together.
I've never heard any musician, even the greatest of jazz musicians say, "Gee, I regret spending time learning to read music." To the contrary!
So I intend to use every creative way to help students learn to read music. The musical notation system is actually very logical and makes a lot of sense once you get it. Rhythm breaks down into fractions. Pitches move up and down at various intervals. Using the singly helpful visual of the piano keyboard, students will understand sharps and flats and half steps and scales and the whole world of "What key are we in," and, "Can we sing it in Db instead?" and what all that means (and how it relates to solfege). I liken each key to a separate house with only certain family members in it; stories work.
We will learn to read rhythm using the famous Cup Song, and we'll use cups and other percussive instruments to tap out rhythms together from large rhythm charts. Rhythm is the hardest to learn to read, but once you know how to figure it out, you're golden! This is by far the most fun part of the course -- loud but fun!
My first degree is in education. I love the challenge of teaching because every student is so different and processes differently. I understand various learning styles and hope to reach all my students in a way that connects with them and that honors how they most naturally process. Creative and fun movements and group participation are an ideal way to learn to read music, especially for those who are shy or prefer to hide their ignorance a bit. In a group, they can learn without as much pressure as one-on-one learning entails. My hope and intention is that your child will learn to read music AND have fun while doing it!
Amy Barker is an experienced piano teacher and pianist. She studied piano at the University of Michigan, and has played piano as a soloist and accompanist all her life, while engaged in a number of other professions. Her bachelor's degree is in education from Oakland University, Michigan.
Amy moved to Tucson from Texas in May 2018 to live near her aging parents. Her son, a video editor, and daughter-in-law also live in Tucson.
In the previous ten years, Amy enjoyed a thriving piano teaching studio in College Station, Texas, played as a church accompanist, and was a solo pianist at restaurants and Texas A&M events, to include playing for President & Mrs. George H. Bush at the George H. Bush Library.
Prior to living in Texas, Amy was a campus pastor and assistant professor in the Bible department at Bethel College, Kansas, after graduating from seminary. Though her passion for biblical theology remains, she finds that music best communicates the heights and depths of human experience, and provides such joy in our worship and praise of God.
Since moving to Tucson, Amy has accompanied an active vocal studio, the church choir of Catalina Foothills Church, the Southern Arizona Women's Chorus and this year's Summer Chorus, and she regularly plays for several retirement homes. In addition to teaching piano students in her private studio, Amy teaches piano to students at Quest for Education and Arts.
Amy has a love for musical theater and those drawn to it, and she looks forward to both teaching and accompanying at CYT Tucson.
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