The infinite benefits of Um Cha and Um Cha Cha
A few Sundays ago I attended the event, Casio workshop for Piano Teachers in Waterloo. It was great to share some of my teaching ideas and techniques with the group and demonstrate how I use these with my book, ‘Fun, Games and Party Pieces‘.
I was demonstrating how to teach chords right from the beginning, and using ‘um cha’ and ‘um cha cha’ to accompany all the pieces they are learning. This is fun and rewarding for the student, as they are making a big sound and they are on a level musically with the teacher. They are also internalising the harmonic structure and pulse of the pieces they are playing. This is happening naturally through the practical experience of playing rather than an intellectual exercise. The handout I made for the workshop detailing the steps I use to teach chords to beginners can be downloaded here.
Casio Piano Teacher workshop handout – Using harmony right from the start
I had fun showing the teachers how to do this with the chord diagrams for the tunes in Fun, Games and Party Pieces. Here’s a volunteer playing Um Cha using the chord diagram to ‘Mix it Up’, and me with two volunteers playing a trio version of ‘Three Tunes in Three’.
I played through some of my duets with the piano teachers which is always good fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed being in the audience for the rest of the day. Highlights for me were as follows:-
- Composer Heather Hammond demonstrating the circle of 5ths in a minor key and then breaking out into a rousing rendition of ‘I will Survive’.
- Hearing the sound of a grand piano being played in Notre Dame cathedral from a small digital piano.
- Physiotherapist Drusilla Redman asking the audience to describe the feeling of performance nerves, and then getting us to recall how it feels when you fall in love. Light-headedness, sweaty palms, racing heart… ‘Did you like the feeling?’ She asked. The response was a definite ‘Yes’. So what happens to you when you fall in love is the same stuff that’s going on when you have performance anxiety. The difference is how we view it. What a useful and liberating comparison!
A big thanks to Lorraine Liyanage from SE22 Piano School for organising this great day.