April 2013
Teachers' Guide

 

April Student Page
Past Issues
Past Teacher's Guides

Schumann – Music for intermediate Students
The first part of Album for the Young, Op. 68 is the best way to introduce students to the works of Robert Schumann. Four of the most popular pieces are described in the April issue: Soldier's March, The Wild Rider, The Happy Farmer, and First Loss. Others that are also very good include Melody, Humming Song, Little Piece (Bagatelle), and The Reaper's Song. The more difficult pieces in the album are suitable for older, more advanced students.

Editions of Schumann's pieces for students
At the Piano with Robert and Clara Schumann, Edited by Maurice Hinson, Alfred
Schumann, Album for the Young, Op. 68, Scenes from Childhood, Op. 15, Schirmer's Library of Musical Classics
Schumann, Album for the Young, Op. 68, An Alfred Masterwork CD Edition, edited by Willard Palmer, includes 2CDs, Alfred
Schumann, Album for the Young, Op. 68, edited by Gary Busch, FJH Classic Editions.
Clara Schumann, Piano Music, Dover

Books about the Schumanns
For serious students or teachers wanting to expand their knowledge of Schumann's life and work, here are some recommended biographical volumes:
Robert Schumann: The Life and Work of a Romantic Composer by Martin Geck, 2012
Robert Schuamnn: Life and Death of a Musician by John Worthen, 2010
Robert Schumann: Herald of a "New Poetic Age" by John Daverio, 1997
Clara Schumann: A Romantic Biography by John Burk, 2011
Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman by Nancy Reich, 2001

For elementary students:
Her Piano Sang: A Story About Clara Schumann by Barbara Allman, 2002 (grades 3-6)
Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso by Suzanna Reich, 1999 (grades 5-8)

For those would like an insight to Schumann's writing style as a music critic: Schumann on Music: A Selection from the Writings, 2011

Beginners' Corner

Interval practice
Intervals are the building blocks of music. When pianists can easily recognize sizes of intervals on the staff, sightreading becomes easier. Intervals also make up chords; they are important in theory and analysis, and become very useful in playing by ear. You don't have to wait until students get older to start practicing interval recognition. Even the youngest pianists can easily count the number of letter names between two pitches. You don't have to talk about qualities of intervals (major, minor, perfect, augmented, diminished) until students get older and can easily count half steps. Ear training can always accompany theoretical exercises.

As an exercise, ask your students to name the size of each interval in a piece they are playing. Then pick out a few and try singing them with the student. This may take good 5 minutes of lesson time, but will become faster with practice. Lots of listening, singing, and repetition are the key.

Pedal Exercises
Young students don't often use the pedals, but they are always curious about them. It is great to give them an introduction to pedal usage before their music calls for its use. In the issue we have printed a scale exercise and a chord exercise, both to be used to practice releasing and pressing the pedal smoothly. You can also use simple 5-finger patterns or even just repeated pitches to practice clean and accurate pedal changes. Ear is always the guide when it comes to pedal; students may benefit from hearing a few examples of incorrect pedaling to hear the difference

Answers to April Puzzles
Cover: Piano player with poor playing posture, piano with extra pedals, r is backwards in date, drummer holding a snake, backwards violinist, cello with no endpin, end of trombone is missing behind player's head, marching band musician has blue shoes, keyboard at bottom has two groups of 3 black keys.

Quiz (page 15): 1.b 2. d 3. treble, bass, alto, tenor 4. c 5. various answers

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