This fall I had the privilege of starting a few beginning piano students. With one of my older beginners, I was struck with the realization of how many terms the student was learning in the first few weeks. We have been working through Faber’s Older Beginner Book 1, which is pretty heavy with terms in the first few lessons.
So I started making a list of terms for this student to keep in his studio binder and to review in practice sessions and lessons. Of course, the simple act of making a list made me think how valuable a list of terms is for all students. So out came the white board and the quest for terms began. I wrote down quite a few of the foundational terms and students have been adding to the board when we run across a term that is not yet on the board.
(Do you see the piano dog? The students insisted on having our dog Sadie listed on the board. 🙂 )
Other students have the benefit of seeing these terms when they come for their lessons. Usually I will ask a student to find and identify three terms they already know, then I will ask them to point out a term they do not know the meaning of. We will discuss the meaning and write the term on that week’s assignment page.
Then at the next lesson, I will see the term written on the assignment page (a reminder to me of what terms we discussed last week) and ask the student for a definition or a demonstration of the meaning of the term.
My plan is to categorize the terms by dynamics, touches, tempos, notation, moods, etc. in the next few weeks. We will likely do this by erasing the board and placing the terms into color-coded columns.
A side benefit: I am always looking for ways to create community in the studio – for the Monday student to see what the Thursday student is doing. The white board is an easy visual for students to see what other students are finding and discussing in their music.