Piano teacher Leila Viss isn’t only about Bach, Beethoveen and Chopin. For her, it’s also about easing her students into using the iPad application “Piano Maestro.”
Viss, a piano performance and pedagogy graduate of University of Denver, first set up a studio in her home after she graduated in 1990. Ever since, she’s blossomed into a teacher who incorporates a different kind of approach in her lessons.
It all began with her mentor, Elaine Emeigh, who’s a piano teacher in Littleton.
“I wanted to continue her legacy, so I started having labs during my private lessons,” Viss said.
The Centennial resident’s students are now urged to stay for an extra 30 minutes after each lesson to spend time doing something on the computer — whether it be reviewing concepts, studying piano history or reinforcing lessons, she said.
“When I graduated, the Internet was just coming around. Now I have my own website, blog, and my whole idea of how I communicate has completely changed. It was a hassle over the years using technology; you were booting up the computer, putting in a CD-ROM, and then when the iPad came along, it made everything so much easier,” Viss said.
Her book, “The iPad Piano Studios, Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps,” came out in 2013 and reflects her appetite for using apps to practice note names, inspire creativity and compose with her students. Viss considers herself to be a writer and also contributes to the Clavier Companion, a nationally known premiere piano magazine.
The owners of private applications company, JoyTunes, contacted Viss after reading her blog a year ago.
With more than 4 million users, the company’s apps are a hit, Viss said.
“Joytunes is changing the face of music education by transforming the way people learn music, enabling anyone to play a musical instrument,” JoyTunes head of brand Nadia Hitman said. “By combining music methodologies with the latest in gaming features and instant feedback, the learning process is significantly shortened for millions of children, adults and teachers already using the apps.”
Hitman said all of their applications recently became free for teachers and their students, and many of the apps are still available for purchase to anyone.
“Speaking on their (JoyTunes’) behalf, and mobile technology — Piano Maestro is unbelievably amazing,” Viss said. “You set it up on the piano (doesn’t have to be digital) and choose from like 2,000 songs in the library. You press play and the student follows along with the piano. After that, you get evaluated and receive immediate feedback. You can get up to three gold stars.
• 1284 ~ The Pied Piper exacted his revenge upon the German town of Hamelin this day. The townspeople had promised to pay the piper a large fee if he could rid their town the nasty rats running all over the place. He had played his trusty pipe and the rats had followed him out of town and into the River Weser. But once the rodents were eliminated, the local folks decided not to pay after all. The piper was not pleased and repaid the townspeople by playing his pipe for the children of Hamelin, just like he had done for the rats. And just like the rats, the children followed him out of town.
• 1933 ~ Claudio Abbado, Italian conductor
More information about Abbado
• 1933 ~ The Kraft Music Hall debuted. It turned out to be one of radio’s longest- running hits. The first program presented Paul Whiteman and his orchestra. SingerAl Jolson became the host of the show shortly thereafter. Several years later, crooner Bing Crosby was named the host. The Kraft Music Hall continued on NBC radio until 1949 and then on TV for many more years; the first year as Milton Berle Starring in the Kraft Music Hall, then Kraft Music Hall Presents: The Dave King Show followed by Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall for four seasons. From 1967 on, The Kraft Music Hall featured a different host.
• 1934 ~ Dave Grusin, Composer of film scores
• 1934 ~ Luis Felipe Pires, Composer
• 1940 ~ Billy Davis, Jr., Singer with The 5th Dimension
• 1942 ~ Larry Taylor, Musician, bass with Canned Heat
• 1943 ~ John Allen Strang, Composer
• 1943 ~ Georgie Fame (Clive Powell), Singer
• 1945 ~ Barry Schrader, Composer
• 1945 ~ Erno Rapee, Composer, died at the age of 54
• 1956 ~ Clifford Brown, American jazz trumpeter, died at the age of 25
• 1964 ~ A Hard Day’s Night was released by United Artists Records. The album featured all original material by The Beatles and became the top album in the country by July 25, 1964.
• 1965 ~ Mr. Tambourine Man, by The Byrds, reached the number one spot on the pop music charts. The song was considered by many to be the first folk-rock hit. The tune was written by Bob Dylan, as were two other hits for the group: All I Really Wantto Do and My Back Pages. The group of James Roger McGinn, David Crosby, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Mike Clarke charted seven hits. The Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.
• 1966 ~ “Time for Singing” closed at Broadway Theater New York City after 41 performances
• 1971 ~ Inia Te Wiata, opera singer, died
• 1971 ~ Juan Manen, Composer, died at the age of 88
• 1971 ~ “Man of La Mancha” closed at ANTA Washington Square Theater New York City after 2329 performances
• 1972 ~ David Lichine (Lichtenstein), Russian/American choreographer, died at the age of 61
• 1973 ~ Arnold Richardson, Composer, died at the age of 59
• 1973 ~ London production of “Grease” premiered
• 1977 ~ Lou Reizner, Rock vocalist/producer, died at the age of 43
• 1977 ~ Elvis Presley sang the last performance of his career, in Indianapolis. He died two months later.
• 1981 ~ Peter Kreuder, German composer, died
• 1982 ~ André Tchaikowsy, Pianist and composer, died
• 1983 ~ Walter O’Keefe, Songwriter and TV host, died at the age of 82
• 1983 ~ “Show Boat” closed at Uris Theater New York City after 73 performances
• 2001 ~ French soprano Gina Cigna, famed for singing Puccini’s “Turandot”, died at the age of 101. Born in Paris in 1900, Cigna made her stage debut at Milan’s La Scala opera house at age 27 under the name Ginette Sens. Her breakthrough came two years later when she performed in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” at La Scala under her own name. Arturo Toscanini, the conductor, was particularly fond of Cigna’s expressive voice, which received widespread acclaim. An auto accident ended Cigna’s performing career in 1947. Until 1965, she coached opera singers in Milan, Siena and Canada.