Recently, I learned that Piano Maestro (today’s hottest app for piano teachers) functions as a sheet music shopping mall!? Unbeknownst to me, two of my young maestros eagerly used the app to browse and select new music. Once they downloaded the app on their iPad at home, they immediately visited each “department,” discovered their favorite pieces and returned to lessons with urgent requests to learn them.
Only a beginner, one of the family members named Grant was determined to play “Going Undercover” by Daniel McFarlane. As he is in Alfred’s Premier Piano Course Book 1A, this piece is obviously out of his league according to my sound pedagogical upbringing. However, being a realist, I knew that allowing Grant to begin this piece would ignite those practice jets. Using the practice features of Piano Maestro in tandem with my lesson instruction would offer unquestionable support for progress. I couldn’t resist and immediately allowed him permission to begin “Going Undercover” found in McFarlane’s Supersonics Piano Digital A book. I placed my digital sheet music order at Supersonicspiano.com, and printed the score for Grant. (Someday paper will be a thing of the past thanks to the iPad and my favorite score-reading app forScore. Stay tuned for more info about that below.)
Make it Simple
When broken down, the piece is really quite manageable. The descending pattern is similar to a C-5-finger pattern with the flat 3rd creating the sound that immediately appealed to Grant. As Grant and I have encountered 8th notes in previous project pieces, it took just a second for him to recognize that there were two groups of four 8th notes in each bar.
We added words to keep track of each package of four 8ths. “Undercover” has four syllables and fit well with the four 8th notes.
With my colored tape—I’m always looking for an excuse to use it—we color-coded the patterns. The first pattern and all matching patterns were covered with pink tape and different patterns were assigned green, yellow and orange.
The left hand begins on Cow C—the studio-wide name for the C below middle C. Because the pattern included a black key for a spicy sound, Grant eagerly caught on to the fingering. To help him feel the length of whole notes and half notes, Grant and I sung the lyrics while he played the left hand bass line.
Make it Easy
After this initial preparation, Grant was assigned to learn and master the first line, hands together with the help of a Post-it note. Marked with an Easy Button Stamp, I isolated the first package of four 8th notes. Limiting his line of sight helped him concentrate on the task at hand. Cutting challenges in to manageable, bite-sized pieces that promise success and ultimately progress will become evident in future videos–stay tuned!
Learn How to Go Digital
If your students enjoy shopping within the Piano Maestro growing library like mine do and find the music by Daniel McFarlane and other composers’ in the app irresistible, it means you may want to purchase the hardcopy or digital editions of the selections. Included in the video below are the steps to make sure these digital editions and catchy backing tracks find a safe place on your iPad. In addition you’ll learn how to annotate sheet music in forScore, unzip zip folders with File App and even slowdown backing tracks with AnyTune. You’ll want to watch this more than once.
Need Help with your iPad Piano Studio?
1) Never heard of Piano Maestro and have an iPad? It’s time you download this incredible app. It’s free for verified teachers and their students! Click here.
2) Find ongoing support and make fast friends with Daniel McFarlane at his Supersonics Piano Discussion Group on Facebook by clicking here.
3) Speaking of Facebook, here are a couple of other groups you’ll want to join ASAP. I can’t think of a faster way to find tech support, advice and tips than these two groups: