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Commandment 2) THOU SHALT KNOW AND LOVE THY BEAT. Chapter 2

Commandment 2) THOU SHALT KNOW AND LOVE THY BEAT.

The most important thing in music is rhythm, the most important thing to rhythm is the beat, and the most important thing to the beat is its steadiness.

I can play a familiar melody such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, and make it completely unrecognizable by radically changing the rhythm. However, it is still easily recognizable if it is played in a serial tone row, (maintaining the melodic shape while using large leaps and wild chromaticism) but keep the original rhythmic patterns.

There are two components to a secure sense of rhythm. First you must KNOW where in the score the beat falls. The beat can be any note value assigned as the primary rhythmic motive function. You must understand where in the score these beats occur.

The next part is the “Loving”. You must have a physical sense of the beat. There is no guessing allowed in the beat. Clap your hands, stomp your feet, jump up and down, tap a foot, tap a toe, count out loud; do something to physically feel the presence of the beat or pulse.

Now put these together. Know where you belong in the score as these beats you feel come by. No matter what, you must be where you belong! If your playing is controlled by a steady, known beat, with a thorough understanding as to where you belong in the score with the beat, you will have a secure rhythm. Failure will make your playing rhythmically unintelligible.

One of the things which intervallic music reading teaches us is the correlation between the arrangement of notes on the pages and physical act of reproducing the music on the piano. The movements we make in the act of playing are choreographed directly from the score, as the notes go up the page, we play higher on the keyboard and the shapes of chords are expressed by various and uniform hand shapes. There is a parallel understanding available to us in regards to rhythm.

Musical notation indicates proportional values; two of these equal one of those and three of these equal one of those. The most fundamental aspect of good rhythm is maintaining a steady pulse. The note value assigned to that pulse is irrelevant, the only thing which matters is deciding which note value will be assigned the pulse and keeping that pulse steady. The next step would be to understand which rhythmic signs are equal to two (or three) of our pulse and which signs are half the value.

As in note reading, the ability to name the notes has nothing to do with the ability to play the notes; naming is simply for the convenience of communication between people and with ourselves, the mastery of beat numbering and subdivision syllables will never yield effective rhythm. You can say all the right numbers and syllables, but if you speak them without any reference to the beat or pulse, this knowledge will not give you the correct rhythm. And again the numbers and syllables simply provide a means of identification and labeling and nothing else.

Learning to maintain a steady pulse is something which best begins with some type of larger motor gesture than we experience with simple finger movements. Finger movements are poor pulse keepers for many reasons but primarily it is often a different finger moving for each pulse which weakens the relationship between the movement and the pulse. I have often told my students I really didn’t care what they did, tap their foot, jump up and down, shout… just do something very noticeable. You have to feel the pulse to be aware of its steadiness. I understand, taping ones foot can be unsightly in a performance setting, but it is a very effective method for having a physical action, separate from playing, to keep a steady pulse. As the student matures the foot taping will diminish anyways, learning to feel a steady pulse is just too important not to find something for the student to do.

One of the advantages of foot taping is the built in subdivision. The top of the movement represents the half subdivision.

The most complex musical notations (with the exception of some very modern scores) can usually be broken down to simple 2:1 and 3:1 relationships. Even in the presence of 128th notes; they also have a simple 2:1 relationship to 64th notes. If you assigned the pulse to the 4 beamed 64th notes, the 5 beamed 128th notes take on the same rhythmic simplicity as quarter and eighth notes. As comfort and tempos increases it is a simple matter to move the pulse to the next values, the proportional relationships remain the same.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of rhythm is the meter, sometimes strangely called the “time signature”. The typical explanation for the meaning of the two number will often go like this: “X is the number of beats in a measure and Y gets the beat.” That is pretty worthless! Yes, this information may be partly true, but it doesn’t tell us what those two numbers mean. A more succinct and accurate was of express this information would be to say: ” There are X number of Y’s in a measure.” A perfect example of why the first expression is inaccurate can be found in most compound meters notated in 3/8, 6/8 and 9/8. We most commonly count these meters with the dotted quarter receiving the beat which is a value not present in the first explanation, though it seems to imply there should be.

But neither of these explanations tells us what it means. We should think back to the very origins of music. The original musical instrument was the human voice and we had metered poetry set to simple melodies. The most effective settings were those which fit best with the alternating patterns of accented and unaccented syllables and whose cadences matched the punctuation of the poetry. The meter reflects this poetic patterning. Each meter is made up of accented and unaccented beats, which when text is present, and well set, is reflected in the organization of each measure of music.

So back to our original idea. You must know and love your beat. You must know in the musical score the location of your beat. We can add to this in time the relative importance of that beat to all others based upon the meter of the music. And Love is a feeling, so you must feel your beat; it has to have a physical reality to you.



Another 15 Ways to Promote your Studio

Another 15 Ways to Promote your Studio

1) Create a niche market. Most people specialize in beginners and then everybody else. How about specializing in duets? I have noticed a significant increase in two piano and piano duo playing in the past few years. Piano ensemble work has a lot of challenges for the performer and teacher. Having been a member of a two piano team for many years I know the value of a third pair of ears.

2) Develop a logo. The purpose of a logo is to create a visual reminder of you. The Nike “swish” has become universally recognized as the symbol for Nike. The best logos are very simple but need to be present everywhere you are present from your business card to your recital programs.

3) T-shirts or sweatshirts with your name and logo on them for your students. Here is a great walking advertisement for your studio!

4) Articles in the local newspaper. Small, local newspapers will often run 300 – 500 word articles about local businesses. The best part is that it doesn’t cost anything. You need to contact the local paper’s editorial depart to see what their procedures are for submitting an article.

5) Develop a school music presentation. Back in the days when I would go on a tour I had developed a program around Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition which I would play at elementary schools in the cities I was playing in. Various pictures were displayed on a screen while I played and gave a running commentary for the children.

6) Offer lessons at places people gather. Your local YMCA is one place not normally associated with music lessons, but they are often looking for other types of programs for their members. I know of two YMCA’s which offered music lessons as part of their programs at one time.

7) Offer music programs designed for young children at after school care facilities and early educational centers such as Montessori schools.

8) Offer lessons at a senior center or a retirement center.

9) Sponsor a team. While Jimmy maybe interested in baseball, his sister Suzy may want to play the piano. It is not just your team who will know about your studio, but the parents of every team they play and the parents whose children are playing before and after your team’s games.

10) Display banners at local sports arenas. My son played years of hockey and I sat with parents of school aged children in many different ice rinks and saw a lot of local businesses’ banners hanging all around the arena. Why not yours? You might be surprised how inexpensive this is to do.

11) Reprint any ads or articles about your studio and pass them out to everybody. Yes, most will be thrown away, but some will be read and maybe passed on to others.

12) Join a civic organization. Become the go to music person for the local Rotary Club or Kiwanis clubs.

13) Offer gift certificates for lessons. This would be a great Christmas present for someone. Put together a package of a month or two of lessons and a book. You will get paid in advance and may gain a new student by the time the gift certificate is used up.

14) Use testimonials in your marketing. A couple of testimonials from either the parents or the children of only a couple dozen words can become a significant marketing tool.

15) Write a newsletter. This is a great way to keep everybody informed about important dates, you can include policy reminders and even more important include informational articles. Always leave your readers a little smarter for having read your newsletter. Give them something of value each time they pick it up and they are much more likely to pick it up again and maybe even share it with someone else.

Andrew Remillard
ANRPiano.com
Andrew@anrpiano.com

 

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15 More Ways to Promote Your Music Studio

1) Take your students to nursing homes to entertain the residents. Remember, the staff often has children or grand children who may be looking for a teacher.
2) Buy an ad in a play bill with a local arts organization.
3) Tell your students that you would happy to teach their friends.
4) Teach one or two days at a music school. You gain a lot of exposure by being part of a larger musical educational setting.
5) Distribute pens with your name on them.
6) Put an ad in the local newspaper. Believe it or not, the local papers are still read and their classified ads are usually available on line so you gain by the additional exposure.
7) Teach a secondary instrument or a different genre of music.
8) Write a blog. This takes time but after you have written extensively you begin to be viewed as an expert and gain a lot of credibility in the community.
9) Give a recital of your own.
10) Promote your students everywhere you go. Don’t brag about how good they are, but do tell of their accomplishments. Take pictures of their performances and put them up in your studio and post them on line (with their permission of course.)
11) Get to know the area elementary and secondary music teachers. Get on their lists of area teachers.
12) Accompany solo and ensemble contests.
13) Participate in an ensemble.
14) Do a fund raising concert for your favorite charity.
15) Promote, Promote, and then Promote some more everywhere you go.

Andrew Remillard
President
ANRPiano.com



Finding New Students

Recently I have had the opportunity to help several teachers develop marketing material in an attempt to attract new students. A common error they all made was to start their efforts from the perspective of why they were such good and qualified teachers. They wanted to list all of their professional qualifications and certifications. One even wanted to list all of the orchestras she had played with. I hated to break it to them but, for most of their prospective students, these things were completely irrelevant.

We all get satisfaction from receiving recognition from our peers and peer organizations, however the average person doesn’t know these groups exist, what their various alphabet soup designations mean, or most importantly, care about any of it.

Instead of starting with your qualifications, start with your student’s/customer’s needs. It doesn’t matter that you received the highest whatever in anything. If you do not meet the needs of your students they will find someone who will meet their needs in a teacher.

Professional marketers will break the needs of the consumer into several categories: convenience, price, and quality are usually the top three. The consumer will balance their relative needs in these three areas. If their highest priority is price, then they will be willing to sacrifice some convenience in exchange for a lower price. If their priority is convenience then they may be will to pay more even if the quality is lower.

The other critical consideration you must make when trying to attract students is the fact that there are more available customers at the lower end (beginning players) of the spectrum of demand in the areas of price and quality than at the higher end of these categories. If you want only those willing to pay the highest price and demand only the most qualified instructors, you will have a very small group of potential students. Sam Walton figured this out decades ago. The great majority of people want a low price and great convenience more than the highest quality.

So as you design your marketing material, think of what your prospective students might actually want in a teacher and offer that to them.

Andrew Remillard
President
ANRPiano.com



15 Ways to Promote Your Piano Studio

  1. Make or update your business cards and distribute them every place you can.
  2. Develop a simple website and be sure that it is easily searched for on the web.
  3. Put your name in other online music teacher directories.
  4. Put up ads on grocery store bulletin boards.
  5. Take lots of gigs.
  6. Get to know a lot of teachers in your area. They may refer people to you if their studio is full.
  7. Get to know homeschooling groups. You can schedule lessons during the day time and have your evenings free.
  8. Be a part of various musical organizations like MTNA or the local music club.
  9. Be in touch with music teachers at your local schools.
  10. Get a sign for your lawn or your car advertising your music studio.
  11. Your word of mouth – spread the word at your church, job, or at your child’s soccer game that you are looking for more students.
  12. Make a brochure about your piano studio.
  13. Tell everyone on Facebook.
  14. Whenever you email your current students, tell them you have openings for their friends.
  15. Create a YouTube video about your studio.

Special thanks to Sarah Flanagan.

Andrew Remillard
President
ANRPiano.com