Thoughts From Students

I’ve been accumulating another stirring edition of Studio Whiteboard Thought Vomit. This time, I asked students to share something they learned in their thirty minutes with me, musical or not. I promise I didn’t make all this up. I’d have to have a certifiable number of personalities to create all these different styles of handwriting, after all. Here’s what they came up with:

that it is, kind sir. That it is.
that it is, kind sir. That it is.
"up there" in range AND in life.
“up there” in range AND in life.

photo 2

One of my youngish pianists was having trouble seeing that these two notes were on the same line. So I called them fraternal twins because they’re the same but slightly different. She came up with the name.

photo 1
just make it up until you get back on track: sage advice for the real world, as well.

Crash memory = how to memorize a song in thirty minutes. I discuss how our brains work and then laugh at the psychological term “chunking” because….ew. It just sounds so gross. Yet it’s so dang effective. And she likes wicked (hence the Elphelba emoji).

enough said.
enough said.

6/8 is my FAVORITE time signature. I never really got how it could possibly be a compound duple type of thing until I understood how the math worked. From that day forth, I walked, wrote, slept, and ate in 6/8 time. I’m doing it now, in fact (I’m DO-ing it NOW, in FACT).

one more, with feeling!
once more, with feeling!

photo 1 This one deserves a bit of an explanation:

The Cursor bit: sometimes I have students “play teacher” and let them point to the notes and move with them as I play, cursor-style. You’d be surprised how telling this is, pretty much blowing everything you thought you knew about a student’s music literacy out of the water.

The Swiss Cheese bit: I describe the whole “raise your eyebrows or die” feeling as creating more holes inside your head, a la swiss cheese. More holes = more spaces for sound to resonate. Works every time.

The Burping bit: I let out a monster of a belch while one of my singers was here, sneak-attack style. Well, not totally. I felt it coming, and in the split second before I burped, I said “ohmygodI’mgonnabur—-” and then belched, so it was like one uninterrupted thought. Caught my student (and me) totally off guard and she thought it was hilarious. So she wrote about it by saying “Robin burps really loud,” and then I corrected her grammar to reflect a more accurate usage of the adverb “loudly.” Gotta educate those kids somehow.

it's hard to step outside your comfort zone
it’s hard to step outside your comfort zone

This came from a girl who struggles with learning music she doesn’t know. I balance by picking something she may have heard, but with which she isn’t entirely familiar and alternate that with music she doesn’t know at all. It’s become a running joke with a darker undercurrent, because it’s hard to make yourself vulnerable.

And finally, there’s this 12?-year old male singer I have whose voice dropped overnight, who is a pretty quiet one that I sense may be overshadowed by his older sister, who at six years with me, is officially my longest-running student (and likely has another 2-3 years of lessons left before going to college). These siblings are totally different, and sometimes I feel like I don’t reach the younger brother as much because he’s generally more introverted. He wrote this:

sniff sniff
sniff sniff

…and then ran out the door without saying anything.


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