Fun with Music at Any Age

Last Night we (the Utah Valley Symphony) had our concert with Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guys at the Scera Outdoor Theatre. Talk about FUN!!! It was great.

First, I have a story to share, even though it’s not about one of my flute students. Earlier yesterday afternoon I was teaching one of my younger piano students about how any finger could play middle C; it isn’t always played with your thumb. I told him that you could even play it with your toe or your nose. It didn’t matter; that key would still be C. So he immediately tried to play the piano with his toe and his nose, of course. Then while he played the 8 measure Middle C March from Faber’s Primer Level of Piano Adventures, he tried to use his toe to play the last measure.

I often do silly things like this with with my younger students. But last night I realized that I also need to have more fun with my older students. How does this relate to Jon Schmidt and our concert? Read on.

In the middle of the show, Jon Schmidt was playing a short set of songs by himself. At one point he laid on the bench upside down, facing the sky, and crossed his hands and played the piano backwards, like stories of Mozart that you may have heard. Then at another point he played Heart and Soul, the only song anyone knows how to play besides Chopsticks and the song that is forbidden in my house. Why is it forbidden? Because when I was in college, that’s the only song everyone could play on the piano and I heard it over and over and over again. Anyway, as Jon played, he slipped his shoe off and used his toe to play the melody of Heart and Soul and played the last note with his nose. The timing of this happening on the day as I was doing that very same thing with a student a couple of hours before, was awesome.

There are performers and then there are entertainers. Another example from our show is that at the end of playing Charlie Brown with the symphony, he turned around and sat on the piano keys for the last note as he threw his hands in the air. And did you happen to notice how he is sitting in this picture to the right? No question about it; Jon is an entertainer. Such a fun night!!

While I recognize that not all venues and settings are conducive to this type of entertaining, there’s a time and a place. Last night under the stars, was definitely the time and the place.

Through the afternoon dress rehearsal and the concert, I kept thinking about how I could have more fun and spread that excitement to my flute and piano students more effectively. I’ll need more time to ponder this. For now, here are a few thoughts.

Every day at home should be a time and a place for having fun with music. Listen to music you love, play music you love, or work toward being able to play the music you love. Make your practicing more of a game. Reward yourself for playing the correct notes of a small section 5 or 10 times in a row without messing up. M&M’s are a great reward. However, as a flute player, you’ll need to save those M&M’s to eat later after you’re done with your practicing. Okay, so I guess you don’t really need the M&M’s. Just enjoy the satisfaction of doing a job well done. That’s the point of practicing so that you can get to a level to be able to play for your own enjoyment and to lift others and spread happiness wherever you go.

Backstage with Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guys

Have fun with music. No matter your age.

Side Note: It’s easy to find The Piano Guys on YouTube. They are also performing this Sunday with the world renowned Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, Utah for the Choir’s weekly broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word at 9:30 a.m. Even though it’s a formal setting, instead of an outdoor concert, I’m sure it will be enjoyable. The Piano Guys (and the Tabernacle Choir – for that matter) are inspiring. Every time I watch and listen to either of them, I can’t help but feel their tremendous love and passion for music.

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