music relevancy

Call Me Maybe

Confession: I dance to this song when it comes on the radio. Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" is catchy, easy to learn, and upbeat.  What I learned about the hit single this week is that kids love it.

Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, But here's my number, So call me maybe.

I took on a new student for my summer term this year (despite that fact that I'm moving) mostly because the parent's wanted their 9-year-old daughter to have a few trial lessons to see if she would be interested in pursuing the piano sometime in the future.  In planning a course of action, we decided a combined approach of learning a few familiar pieces by rote and reinforcing her rhythm and tonal reading skills would be best.  In four short lessons, we were able to work through a few chapters of The Music Tree: Part I and learn a few pieces solely by ear.

Yesterday was her last lesson.  She came in smiling and her mom said she had been picking out several new songs by ear this week and was loving really learning how to play the piano.  I used this as a jumping off point for our lesson.  "What songs have you been teaching yourself this week?" I asked.  She named a few songs I didn't recognize and then, nonchalantly, "Call Me Maybe."  "You know 'Call Me Maybe'?  Let's hear it," I said.

She hesitated at first with where to begin but with a little help, by repeating after me line-by-line, she could play the entire chorus within minutes.  A big grin flashed across her face as she began to connect what she was playing to what she knew in her head.

This is meeting a student at his/her level.  This is connecting musical study with their everyday music.  This is their familiar music.

I think sometimes I get so caught up in "teaching from the book" that I forget to draw connections to music of the everyday.  Ask your students what kind of music they listen to and you'll hear everything from "Lady Gaga" and "Justin Bieber" to "Aerosmith" and "Chicago" to "country."  Everyone comes from a different background and it is so important to teach the relevancy of music.  Music is all around us in all styles and forms.  Draw connections.  Give relevant examples.  Don't just teach songs from a book.  Teach music.