On March 25th, KDF Music Connections will be presenting its first recital of our students. My students are diligently practicing their recital selections, and I am preparing them for the daunting task of performing for an audience.
I have been leading students through this process for 35 years. There is one common theme at every recital. The students get so upset at the wrong notes that happen during a performance. Making errors is the norm! Nerves will get the best of us, and mistakes happen, often in places where a student never makes a mistake. The student believes the performance was a disaster.
On the other hand, the audience is listening to the overall performance, not every individual note. Often, a listener is unaware that a performer has made a mistake.
I have taken many students to the puzzle at KDF Music Connections. I ask them to find the flawed puzzle piece. It has yet to be found, even by musicians! I have to show the student the mistake. Performing is the same! No one hears the little flaws but the performer. The audience indulges in the overall sound and beauty of the music. Keep that in mind as you prepare for your next performance.
Next month's blog
For my birthday two years ago, a long-time friend gifted me this puzzle. Looking at it, I knew
that it would be difficult, but I took on the challenge. I was determined to finish it so I could
hang it up at KDF Music Connections. I worked on the puzzle a little at a time because it
genuinely stressed my brain! After about three months of work, I was nearing the end, and it was
finally getting more manageable. I devoted one day to finishing the puzzle, and one piece was
I was so upset. My goal was to glue it together and then frame it. How could I do that with a
piece missing when one of my best personal qualities is finding a solution to a problem? I
purchased the same puzzle on Amazon and would find the missing piece! A fantastic idea until
my husband said, "The puzzle may be cut differently than yours?" I told him that he was crazy.
Why would a company do that? The replacement puzzle arrived a few days later, and I quickly
discovered that the puzzle was indeed cut differently!
So, disappointment settled in again until I came up with another solution. I would find a piece
with the same shape as the missing piece. I thought there would be several possibilities in this
1000-piece puzzle but believe it or now, there was only one piece that was the exact shape
needed. Of course, it did not match the picture on the puzzle, but it fit!
"What does this have to do with music?" you asked. Well, tune in next month for the musical
moral of the story!
This past September, I had the incredible experience of seeing Elton
John in concert. Elton burst onto the music scene when I was a teenager, and I played his songs
endlessly on my record player. It probably drove my parents crazy!
After seeing the movie about his life, "Rocketman" and reading his autobiography "Me," I
learned how crazy and messed up Elton's life became with his surging fame. It was incredible to
see him in concert, back-up by other "mature" musicians. They are still outrageous talents, but one could clearly see how much they loved their music. It gave me goosebumps all night long!
I was also blown away by the concert attendees' age range, all enjoying the musical experience.
It reminded me of the importance of music in this world and humbled me that I am a part of
music education. Few students will reach the success and fame of Elton John, but music can
make a tremendous impact on anyone's life. Music can be a lifeboat in our crazy world.
The teachers at KDF Music Connections understand what I am talking about and are
passionate about what they do. We teach many different instruments at various levels. We
especially love to start the musical journey of the "day one" beginner. Also, know that there is
always time to learn an instrument. Give us a call at 833-253-3232 to get more information.
Happy holidays to all our students, past, present, and future!
How can this innocent device cause so much angst?
I get two different reactions when working on the metronome with my students.
Before I say anything, this student will ask me, "Can I use the metronome, please!”
These students are friends with the metronome!
When I ask this student to pull out their metronome, all I get is “UGH!” or a heavy sigh.
These students are fighting against the foe!
Why the two reactions?
Some students naturally sync with a metronome, but that is not the norm. The majority of
students need to practice playing with the metronome. The student has to hone this skill
through time and tenacity, and I guarantee this endeavor will produce excellent fruit in your
music playing. Don’t ever give up!
Next month’s blog
Metronome – Part 3
Practical Ways to Make the Metronome Your Friend
I have been playing music for just over a half a century now, and the metronome has changed radically.
When I began to learn my first instrument, this was the most commonly used and possibly, the only
metronome available, my beautiful Seth Thomas. It was a wind-up device that worked much like a clock. I
bent the bar that the weight slides on, and that metronome could not keep a steady beat. It became a
Soon after, I began to use my first electronic metronome made by Franz. Oh, fantastic, it kept a steady beat, and I used it most at music school. I had to carry instruments, music, and that cumbersome metronome to practice rooms at college. It probably met its demise after being dropped for the umpteenth time.
When I began my teaching career, digital metronomes were starting to come on the market. This Seiko
brand was my first purchase, and I loved it instantly! It was small and easy to transport. I could set it up for different time signatures, and the metronome divided the beat into small pieces. This was revolutionary after practicing with a metronome that could only click on the beat. Oh, yes! It had a clock and an alarm, too! The only drawback is that the digital bleeping sound annoyed many of my students.
I have used several different digital metronomes with great success. Then my students started to pull up
metronome apps on their phones. At first, these apps were terrible, and I said, "No, that is not happening!" and I would pull out the digital device.
As technology will do, the metronome apps quickly improved, and now this is the only type of metronome I use. Pictured is the Click Metronome, an iPhone app I use most of the time. My students have had increased success using this metronome as it adds a visual and an audio clue to the clicking of the beat. There are many types of apps available. One student had one that spoke the beats. Search the numerous metronome apps out there and find one that works for you!
Next month’s blog
Metronome – Part 2 - Friend or Foe?
Kay Darby Finch has been teaching music since moving to Southern Maryland in 1985. Her passion is working one-on-one with students of all ages. In addition to private teaching, Kay has led several church music ministries and owned a St. Mary’s County music store with her late husband, Harry Darby.