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Music books used for harp lessons and piano lessons at Harp on the Hill Studio

Ways I Use Videos during Lessons

Cadenza Practice App has many advantages over a conventional notebook


That being said, my #1 top reason for replacing students' paper notebooks with the Cadenza Practice App, is the ease with which I can now make and attach videos to specific lesson plans, where they stay archived for future reference.


No matter how detailed one's notes, there are many times when a video is far superior. 




Here are a few of the most common ways I use videos in my lesson plans and assignments:   



1.  To model correct position and movement


For beginning students, and even for advanced students learning new techniques, video demonstrations (that students can refer to throughout the practice week) are an invaluable tool.  It’s particularly beneficial to take comparison videos—that is, to take a video of a student's initial position, and then compare and contrast it to the corrected position.  In this way, students see not only the proper position/movement, but also the adjustment that is necessary for them to achieve that position/movement.



2.  To introduce technical exercises


I prefer that students learn technical exercises away from notation, so that their sole focus is on the body and on the sound produced.  The way the exercise is practiced (with proper position/relaxed technique/efficient movement) is at least as important as the particular notes of the exercise.  And video demonstration (narrated with clear instructions) captures all this in a way that written instructions cannot.


For slightly more advanced students, it is common for me to "improvise" (or have the student "improvise") technique exercises out of specific musical passages that might be giving the student trouble. 


3.  For students to self-assess their playing


During a lesson, I am available in my role as teacher to assess all aspects of a student's playing, and to give them constructive feedback.  But the ultimate goal is for students to learn to self-assess. 


For this reason, I sometimes videotape students, and play it back to them.  I might ask them to listen (was their rhythm even?) or look (are their unused fingers properly relaxed?). 


Videos allow students, with practice, to see or hear for themselves what needs correction or improvement.     


4.  To teach theory 


An important aspect of my pedagogical practice as I have developed it over the years is to make the learning of theory interesting, fun, and above all, useful.   For me, this means learning theory first and foremost at the instrument, and relating it from the very beginning to pieces of music.  And because we are learning theory at the instrument, rather than on paper, video becomes an invaluable tool. 

5.  To model repertoire in its finished form


For beginner students, who are just becoming acquainted with ideas of musical phrasing, dynamics, tempo shifts etc., providing a model of these things is essential.  Students are often amazed at how different a piece can sound when played by their teacher even when she is playing all the same notes and note values that they are. 


For more advanced students, who sometimes work on the same piece of music over extended periods, and have gotten used to hearing it in their default practice mode, providing alternate models of musicality can be invaluable in helping them reimagine their interpretation.


6.  To work out improvisations/arrangements 


Working on non-classical repertoire (Celtic, folk, pop, etc.) is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to put theory knowledge to work (or even to learn it in the first place.)  Once our melody is learnt, the student and I will work out a left hand (LH) accompaniment or possibly several different LH accompaniment patterns.  After that, we might create a little introduction, an interlude between verses, or maybe even a musical variation on the melody.  We use video to record our improvisations/arrangements so that the student can remember them and practice them at home. 



7.  To prepare for performances 


As we work towards a performance, I often ask students to record themselves once a day.  These recordings serve multiple functions.  Firstly, sitting down to do a single-take recording puts some pressure on, and thus serves as a practice performance.  Secondly, as mentioned in an earlier point, these video recordings provide a tool for self-assessment.  In this case, they can let the observant student know what aspect they should focus on for the next day's practice. 


8.  To create an archive of a student's development


In the long-run, recordings provide a meaningful archive of a student's development.  Sometimes showing students a glimpse of their former selves can show them how far they’ve already come.  It gives them a sense of pride, and can motivate them to keep practicing during a bumpy period.

Discover what lies behind the doors that a practical at-the-instrument theory knowledge unlocks...

Think.  Play.  Feel.  These 3 concepts, interwoven together, define my pedagogic approach.  But it is with the last word—feel—that I believe we open a door from which there is no turning back. 

I teach these non-Classical styles—not only because students love them—but also because I see them as a perfect creative tool for exploring theory from a slightly different vantage point ...

Learn how and why I use the Cadenza Practice App in my studio...

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