Small Steps for Big Results in Music Lessons!

Give your practice a focus!

A few weeks ago, one of my young students came in for his class, and with just a foot in the door, started to tell me about the recital he played this past weekend. His mom explained the situation further, it was in fact a private recital for her but the lights were dimmed and bows were taken. In this child’s mind the scenario was official from preparation to performance. 

August Composer of the Month

August Composer of the Month


On August 22, 1862, Victorine Debussy gave birth to her first child in an old, rented three-floor house in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a Parisian working class suburb. The baby boy was named Claude, the son of a seamstress and the owner of a crockery shop located on the home’s ground floor. Victorine went on to give birth to four more children, Adèle, Emmanuel, Alfred, and Eugène-Octave.

July 2019 Student of the Month - Nigama Yaratapalli

Santa Clara Guitar Lessons, Santa Clara Music Lessons,

Congratulations to CCM’s July 2019 Student of the Month, Nigama. We love seeing students work hard to complete our practice challenges, and Nigama recently received her trophy for practicing every day for 100-days in a row! Nigama takes guitar lessons with Teacher Nia at CCM’s Santa Clara location.

Student of the Month - Nigama Yaratapalli

Q: What is your name?
A: Nigama Yaratapalli
Q: How old are you?
A: I am 6 years old

Q: Who is your teacher?
A: Miss Nia
Q: What advice would you give to a guitar student just starting out at CCM?
A: Practice on posture. It will get difficult to adjust later.
Q: What piece are you looking forward to playing someday?
A: Its a small world afterall.
Q: What is your favorite thing about playing the guitar?
A: Playing the strings feels good
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Dal rice
Q: Do you have a pet?
A: No
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Fire woman
Q: What is your most memorable experience at CCM?
A: First medal for 50 days of practice

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Parent Spotlight - Sadhana Chevireddy

Q: Regarding the guitar, what are you most proud of your children accomplishing?
A: We took 100 days practice challenge which I was not sure Nigama would be able to do, but she did it with lot of conviction. I am surprised and felt proud as a parent. I wish she continues the spirit throughout her musical journey.
Q: What advice would you give a new parent starting in the program?
A: Making a 5 year old sit for practice every day is a herculean task. Every single day used to be
a test for my patience. Still it is and I believe it is the case for most kids. But do not lose hope or patience. Just keep up with the practice even it is for 5 minutes. It should become a part of your child's daily routine.
Q: Why did you decide to give your child a musical upbringing?
A: Being trained in vocal music myself from a small age, I have always enjoyed it and it has been my soothing medium whenever I am stressed. Also in this technology driven world, music can be a good career alternative in the future, where there will be a dearth of good musicians. So, music can be a good profession that gives you money and peace at the same time!

June 2019 Composer of the Month - Edvard Grieg

Santa Clara music lessons, Redwood City Music Lessons

In June, we celebrate the life of Edvard Grieg, Norway’s most famous composer and one of its national treasures. Regarded as one of the leading composers of the Romantic era, Grieg is most famous for the development of Norwegian folk music within his compositions, for bringing a custom sound to Norway’s music, and for sharing that music with a global audience. This is particularly notable considering that Norway wasn’t truly a free country during Grieg’s time (having been under Danish rule and then forced into a union with Sweden). Grieg saw the need for Norway to craft its identity, and he helped carve its musical personality.

Grieg’s compositions are heard everywhere--even today, you’ll hear Grieg’s songs in concert halls, commercials, and even cartoons. You’ll probably recognize some of his tunes from your favorite animated features, and today you can learn not only the names of those famous songs but more about the man behind the music itself.

Early life

Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway on June 15, 1843. His father Alexander was a merchant and town councilman; his mother, Gesine Judithe Hagerup, was a music teacher and politician’s daughter. Grieg’s began taking piano lessons from his mother when he was six years old, and he continued to study music formally.

He attended Tanks Upper Secondary School and went on to attend the Leipzig Conservatory upon encouragement from Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, whom he met when he was fifteen years old. While at Leipzig, Grieg attended concerts and recitals and concentrated his studies on the piano; however, he did not enjoy the prescribed course of study for the degree program.

When he was seventeen, his body was subjected to two life-threatening lung diseases (pleurisy and tuberculosis); these illnesses would have a permanent and adverse impact on his health, including the destruction of his left lung and deformity of the thoracic spine. In spite of his health issues, Grieg forged ahead in his pursuit of a life rich in music, culture, and meaning.

Grieg’s career in music

Grieg debuted as a concert pianist in Karlshamn, Sweden, in 1861, and completed his studies at Leipzig the following year. He moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in 1863 and spent time learning from Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak, the writer behind Norway’s national anthem. In Nordraak, Grieg found inspiration and patriotism, and used that as a means to fuel and convey the stories and scenes from his motherland into his music.

Grieg lived and worked in Copenhagen for three more years, eventually marrying his cousin Nina Hagerup. The couple became parents to a daughter, Alexandra, and it was after Alexandra’s birth that Grieg composed his first major work, Piano Concerto in A Minor. Sadly, Alexandra died from meningitis in 1869.

Notable career moments

The late 1860s brought Grieg personal success and tragedies; however, it was during this time period that his career as a composer began to flourish. Without even having met him, Franz Liszt wrote a testimony on Grieg’s behalf for the Norwegian Ministry of Education so that Grieg could receive a travel grant to Rome. Grieg made the trip to Italy twice to meet with Liszt, who wanted to perform Grieg’s Violin Sonata No. 1 and the Piano Concerto.

Word caught on about the Scandinavian composer, and Henrik Ibsen requested that Grieg compose the music for the premiere of his play, Peer Gynt. These songs are among the most famous of Grieg’s work. The music is replete with imagery of Norway’s mountains, angry trolls, and a happy ending, straight from the lore of the fjords.

In addition to his work with Ibsen, Grieg continued to compose for lyric poets and other writers, including von Goethe, Hans Christian Anderson, and Rudyard Kipling.

Later in life

Grieg received two honorary doctorate degrees (one from the University of Cambridge and the other from the University of Oxford). Grieg served as Music Director of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. Grieg remains Bergen’s most celebrated citizen: countless statues bear his image and numerous buildings share his name. The Edvard Grieg Museum is housed at his former home, Troldhaugen--Grieg wrote Wedding Day at Troldhaugen to celebrate his and Nina’s anniversary at their home.

In his later years, Grieg battled numerous respiratory infections and other health issues stemming from his teenage illnesses. He died in a Bergen hospital on September 4, 1907, from heart failure.

Signature pieces:

Listen to some of Grieg’s compositions hear--you may very well be acquainted with these tunes and didn’t know that Grieg was the man behind the music!

From Peer Gynt: Morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR8DJkIY6Yk

From Peer Gynt: In The Hall of The Mountain King: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC7-29kM0SA

Piano Concerto in A Minor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1Yoyz6_Los

David Russell playing Grieg Lyric Pieces on guitar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI0UXrBWuHU

If you or your child are interested in taking music lessons at CCM’s Santa Clara location or Redwood City location, please contact us to sign up for a free 15-minute introductory lesson. We offer piano lessons, guitar lessons, violin lessons, and more. Start your musical journey today, and be on your way to becoming a better musician!

6 Ways To Help Your Child Practice At Home

 
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Whether you have a musical background or not, there are a few key ideas that can help your child practice at home.

  1. Be aware of what your child needs to practice

When you know what your child is working on and what their homework is (so to speak), you’re better equipped to help. Ask the music teacher what your child needs to focus on this week: was a new topic or skill covered in lessons? Does your student need to review something from a few weeks ago? Its always a great idea to either sit in on the lesson to see how things are going or to at least drop in for the last couple minutes to check in.

2. Create an inviting practice space

You don’t have to have an entire room in your house dedicated as a music room--most of us don’t have that kind of square footage! What can work is if you have an inviting place for your child to practice their music. Nobody will feel like playing the piano if there’s no lamp nearby or if the bench is currently holding stacks of magazines. Tidy up the place where your family keeps instruments and outfit that space with plenty of light, pencils and erasers, and a music stand (if needed). Offer a cubby or storage bin for keeping practice books and sheet music, too.  Most of all, be sure to keep this space free of distractions (like the Xbox or siblings) during practice time.

3. Show your child how to structure practice time.

“I don’t know what to practice!” is the battle cry of many children who either honestly can’t remember what they’re supposed to do at home or kids who just don’t want to practice. Combat this common complaint head-on by asking your music teacher for suggestions on how to structure a practice session. Typically, students will need to do a warm-up (which could be a song or some scales), review specific techniques or musical selections from the previous lesson, and work on something new. At the end of the practice session, encourage your child to play whatever they want whether that’s a favorite song they’ve played a hundred times or inventing something new just for the fun of it. It’s always best to end on a positive note!  

Your direct involvement with practice sessions depends on your child’s age and maturity level, but always having a to-do list from your teacher will help keep the goals on track!

4. Practice regularly

In order to do anything well, you need to practice. Whether you aim for three practice sessions in between lessons or ask your child to provide you with “some dinner music” while you’re getting the meal ready, find a sense of regularity that can work with your family’s schedule.  Remember to encourage the good things you hear coming out of the practice room!

5. Don’t make this a chore

Don’t withhold other “fun” activities like playing outside, bringing out the Legos, or sitting down with the Xbox “until you’ve practiced.” This makes the other activities look like they contain all of the fun when playing music is supposed to be a fun activity itself! If you treat other activities like rewards, your child will feel more angst towards music practice.  

6. Practice Rewards

We have some great practice point systems and rewards at CCM to help motivate our students! Please talk to our teachers and our staff about these options. They have helped so many kids get motivated!

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You want your child to enjoy their lessons, and a large part of that comes from finding the right teacher. If your child has fun at their lessons and feels like they’re making progress, they’ll be more motivated to practice at home. Our music school can match you with the right teacher for your child’s learning style. Not already a piano, guitar, violin, cello, piano or voice student at CCM? Contact us today to see how we can help your child have fun making music!

Preparing for your Recital Performance

Recital Preparation 

In our last blog post on practice tips, we discussed the importance of consistent practice and listening to music. If you didn’t have a chance to read it, you should check it out here! “Making the Most of Your Music Lessons”

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
—Benjamin Franklin.

Preparation is the most crucial part of having a successful performance. This is of course true whether you are going to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or an advanced Concerto.