Author Archives: Melinda Demeter

Is this the end of my piano journey?

Looking back at my piano learning journey, words cannot describe how thankful I am. I never thought I’d have a chance to experience what it feels like to play even the most simple song on the piano, let alone read sheet music. Me, who sang in the school choir without being able to read the notes, I was able to acquire some basic knowledge. I feel truly blessed. I feel I got a gift that will stay with me till the end.

After three months, if I ask myself what is it that I am proud of, the first thing that comes to my mind is that I did not get stressed out when hitting road blocks in the learning process. Not knowing anything about this instrument probably helped, because my plan was very vague. I didn’t really know how to make a plan, neither did I have a vision where I would like to see myself at the end of the first three months, because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I took one step at a time and enjoyed the journey.

Throughout this learning project, there were a number of people who shaped my learning. I connected on Twitter, through blog posts and comments, as well as Zoom discussions where my peers offered ideas and support. Catherine Ready was truly inspirational. Although I tried to “copy” her, I failed big time. But I absolutely loved listening to her play jazz piano. It was always like a breath of fresh air. Daina Seymour inspired me with her perseverance and great music practice sheets she shared from Denise Gagne. Dean Vendramin also played an important role modelling podcasting. But the list could go on and on with my peers offering professional and emotional help throughout my journey that made this experience truly valuable.

With so many MOOCS available, I was able to find a wide variety of resources. I found this process very time consuming, and overwhelming not knowing what to look for, until I started taking face-to-face piano lessons. Although some of the online resources claim to be free, this is many times valid only for the trial period. Since I invested in my piano lessons, I chose to look for free online materials. One of the biggest sources of learning through social media, was YouTube. I found several quality resources that I organized in Wakelet. These tutorials and podcasts played an important role in my “real learning” by offering valuable, high quality information for free.

It was interesting to observe myself learn a completely new skill while trying to find the most effective and enjoyable path. I am thankful for my Prof. Alec Couros who opened up the world of possibilities and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. I feel blessed to find such a supportive network in my peers. The person who was my true guide throughout my piano learning journey is my amazing piano teacher, Trevor Flemings, whom I would like to introduce to you in my last podcast of A New Beginning in the World of Music.

Thank you for being part of my journey! I cannot wait to share some of my dream songs with you in the near future. I will probably start with Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Stay tuned!

Summary of Learning – EC&I 831

I started out the semester using hashtag to describe myself without really knowing what it meant.

It certainly is a wonderful feeling to look back and compare myself with the person I was three months ago. I feel this class opened up my world. It helped me overcome my fear and be more active on social media. I still feel that keeping up with Twitter is very time consuming and overwhelming. There are so many valuable ideas and conversations if only there were enough hours in a day to be able to read and participate in all of them.

The most challenging part of this class was to share my podcasts on Twitter. Thankfully it turned out to be a rewarding experience. I figured out how to use Anchor all by myself and was able to record the major steps of my piano learning journey. Although being a support staff often makes it hard to incorporate things I learn as part of my classes, this time I was able to create a shorter podcast for grade 7/8 students incorporating an informative, persuasive and entertaining recording as part of their lesson on the author’s purpose. The students thought it was pretty cool. Talking about students, we never know who we are going to touch through our work. One day one of my students stopped me in the hallway asking if I was a YouTuber. I said not exactly but I do have YouTube videos such as my Summary of Learning from my EC&I 834 class. This student of mine stopped me in the hallway two days later with a huge smile on his face saying “Ms. Demeter! I subscribed to your channel”. I cannot believe that he came across my video without me ever mentioning it to anyone. I’m glad though that he checked it out and found it valuable.

Since this class gave me the opportunity to experiment with both, learning a new skill through face-to-face interaction and online resources, I came to the conclusion that I don’t really prefer one over the other. I feel they both have advantages and disadvantages and they can complement each other if a significant amount of time is invested in them. I also feel that building a relationship with my piano teacher during my face-to-face classes were extremely valuable in order to have guidance, and keep me on the right track when having no sense of direction.

I am thankful for the opportunity to listen to Dr. Roberts’ (2019) presentation on Open Educational Resources, as well as the follow up discussion lead by my colleague, Dean Vendramin in his podcast.

My biggest take away this semester is that I not only learnt about Open Educational Resources but also had a chance to immerse myself by practicing building relationships through social media, co-designing learning pathways while building my personal learning network through reflection and sharing. Having the opportunity to follow my peers’ learning journeys and reflections, as well as becoming familiar with the incredible work of a number of social activists, helped me realize how important the online world is when it comes to making great ideas flourish and staying connected.

As part of my Summary of Learning Podcast – EC&I 831, I decided to invite a very special friend of mine, Brandi Ottenbreit to be my guest. Brandi, being a piano player, a Mom of three amazing children who also has teaching experience seemed to be my perfect guest to discuss social media and open educational resources in our personal and professional lives.

I would like to thank my Prof. Dr. Alec Couros for his support and his engaging, high quality online sessions as well as my colleagues for providing me with great ideas and encouraging me throughout the semester. Without you I wouldn’t have been able to do this. I would like to invite you to meet a true gem, Brandi Ottenbreit, through my Summary of Learning Podcast.

Thank you!

Social Media Activism

Not being familiar with the term Social Media Activism, hearing the word “activism” immediately brought back pleasant and not so pleasant memories. Just as Catherine mentioned, the term activism is often identified with protests, marches and fighting for change that was very much present in my life growing up. Hearing the story of a few great social activists, helped me see the value of social activism. As Curtis described “By people joining in on social media for a cause, brings awareness to issues that may otherwise be dismissed”. Several intentional actions, formal or non-formal movements with the goal of bringing social change prove that social activism can be effective.

Marley Dias experiencing the lack of diversity in her grade 5 classroom starts a campaign looking for books about black girls. With the donations she has received, thanks to her online campaign, her collection reached 1000 books. Her promoting diversity led to the JetBlue’s Soar with Reading Initiative targeting the ‘book deserts’ neighbourhoods in New York by setting up six free vending machines where books are available all summer for borrowing.

Martha Payne, the ten year old school girl from Scotland by starting a blog about her daily lunches served at the school cafeteria, was not only able to reform the school cafeteria meals with the help of the support she was getting from all over the world, but through the Mary’s Meal Charity, she also helped build a kitchen in Malawi where 14000 people are being fed.

In the #CHHS Lets Talk, Brett Rothery raises awareness of mental health as well as the ‘Sit with us’ app. designed by the 16 years-old Natalie Hampton as a result of sitting alone her entire 7th grade in the school cafeteria are wonderful examples of using social media as a tool to make a difference.

No Strings is educating children in the form of a puppet show. The main reason for these wonderful puppeteers getting together was to open up new ways of thinking and help children deal with critical problems, such as staying away from landmines in Afghanistan. Today there is a wide variety of topic addressed in the form of puppet shows translated into different languages, demonstrating kids that there is hope.

Craftivist Sarah Corbett led a gentle protest with hand-embroidered hankies helping the retail employees working for M&S get higher wages, by reaching the goal of receiving the “Living Wage” accreditation.

As we see through the above mentioned social activists’ actions, they all met their goal of bringing social justice. In my view, having online conversations can be more productive since it gives a chance to reach people from all over the world. Although the online world has the power to provide support, the success doesn’t always come without a price. Social activists often face controversies and negativity that can escalate to higher levels, such as loosing a job.

When it comes to our responsibility as educators, I feel it is important to model to our students how to be digital citizens, by becoming personally responsible, participatory, as well as justice oriented citizens. We also have to teach them that freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences. In order for them to become successful up-standers, it is crucial to teach them to take action in their community, as well as do research and build knowledge. I think it is important to teach students about the existence of negativity in the online world, such as doxing, as well as ways to deal with it if that ever becomes the case.


This week my piano teacher and I decided to look at songs and he suggested to try learning “Edelweiss”. Although it seems to be a challenging piece, I am going to give it a try. My wish list of songs keeps growing, and I hope that soon I do get to accomplish some of them.

Being a support staff, I often find it hard to implement the things I am learning in my Ed. Tech classes. I just started co-teaching with classroom teachers at the beginning of the school year, and right now we are working on a unit on Newspaper writing in a grade 7/8 classroom. While looking at the text features and the purpose of writing, I decided to do a recording with examples of entertaining-, persuasive-, and informative texts. The topic of these recordings is the same as my learning project. All recordings are based on piano learning. I also created the script so our beginner English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners can follow the text easier. Listening to a recording without seeing the person, not being able to read off their lips, makes it quite hard to understand all the details. Beside the listening and reading activities, as part of the unit, the students will also be discussing and writing their own newspaper articles. Incorporating the four domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing are key when it comes to language learning. I am excited about the opportunity to co-teach with my colleague and I am looking forward to creating new, engaging ways when it comes to supporting our EAL students.

In this week’s podcast, I mainly focused on ways I can implement what I had learnt through my learning project into my teaching. I also tried to play with the idea of spicing up my podcast a bit, so I included a story that I often listen to in the Philosophy of Piano podcast focusing on the importance of state of mind and believing in the power of inner voice. This is especially helpful for me when I am thinking of my final project, the Summary of Learning.

For the Summary of Learning, I am planning to interview my piano teacher on the topics of piano learning and playing using social media and face-to-face interactions, open educational resources and open educational practices. I am preparing myself for this BIG step ahead of me with Buddha’s inspirational words.

Thank you for being part of my journey! 🙂

How OEP is affecting me as a teacher and student

I often wonder where I would be, regarding my English language knowledge, if I had access to Open Educational Resources (OER) growing up. If I think back, most of my schooling in Romania, with extrinsic motivation playing a big role, always focusing on the grades, was mainly based on “surface learning” (Roberts, 2019). Comparing my previous experiences with my EC&I 831 class, I clearly understand the difference between “surface learning” and “deep learning” described by Dr. Roberts (2019) with the latter based on intrinsic motivation. In the learner centred environment of EC&I 831, I am given the opportunity to learn something that I am truly passionate about, leading to “knowledge-creation” through a high level of intrinsic motivation.

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about Open Educational Practices (OEP) through the eyes of both, a university student as well as a teacher. Through my piano learning project, I am experiencing the four stages of Open Learning Design Intervention (OLDI) described by Dr. Roberts (2019) which helps me better understand the steps of my own learning and the value behind each step.

I didn’t have any doubts regarding my learning project since I felt I was part of a safe learning space with my supportive professor, Dr. Alec Couros and peers by my side. I also felt that the abundant world of OER is hard to use for a number of reasons. For me personally, the hardest part was to find high-quality, user friendly resources. It is challenging to decide if the resources are quality materials or not, especially when the topic, or skill is completely new. To overcome this barrier, I decided to find a piano teacher for co-designing and scaffolding purposes along my piano learning journey. Building and sharing my experiences and knowledge in the form of a podcast and on Twitter made me feel quite vulnerable. Overcoming the strange feeling of being outside of my comfort zone and recording every step while taking risks and making mistakes, literally in front of the world, help me see my own growth within my learning path. After overcoming the fear of being judged, sharing also brought me the gift of interactions, positive feedback, collaborations, and connections leading to learning from one another. Reflecting on the “multiple people, spaces, perspectives, experiences and nodes of learning” (Roberts, 2019) combined with an open mind and willingness to learn helped me build a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

At the end of the day, as a support staff, I find it quite challenging to incorporate OER and OEP. Beside the major drawback, which is lack of time in my case, Dr. Verena Roberts discussed in the podcast hosted by Dean Vendramin that we need to have open readiness as well. Having no digital literacy skills can make the OEP quite hard to happen. Lori Thibault also names a number of drawbacks in her blogpost, such as finding reliable, age-appropriate resources, having limited access to devices, programs, applications, low internet speed, lack of technological training and adequate amount of preparation time. At this time, I am focusing on building a safe space for my students as well as expanding the learning environment beyond the classroom walls by finding, creating, remixing and sharing my learning experiences through social media, blogging, and podcasting.

Time signature and intervals

Keeping my head up and moving forward with my slow and steady pace, I did make a bit of a progress and learnt a few new concepts this past week.

I had a chance to learn about these interesting numbers that one would see at the start of a line when looking at a music sheet. These symbols are called time signatures that tell how many beats are in a measure. I was mainly focusing on 3/4 and 4/4. In a 3/4 measure you’d count 1, 2, 3 and in a 4/4 measure you’d count 1, 2, 3, 4 with a major accent on 1 and a fairly minor accent on 3 in the 4/4 measure.

Although there are other time signatures in piano, such as 2/4 and 6/8, at this point I am only ready to demonstrate the 3/4 and 4/4 measures in my weekly podcast through the “Theme by Mozart” and “Party Time” songs.

Another new concept I became familiar with is the interval. Interval is the space between two notes used to create different feelings. Intervals are called 2nd (C to D), 3rd (C to E), 4th (C to F), 5th (C to G), 6th (C to A), 7th (C to B), the octave (C to C) depending on how many spaces are between the keys. There are two kinds of intervals, when the keys are played separately it is called melodic interval, and when played simultaneously, it is called harmonic interval.

Since I am only focusing on the white keys at this point, I am planning to learn more about intervals as well as continue to work on finger independence through various finger exercises. This is going to be my goal probably for the next year. Lol

I am also planning to speed up my sight reading through BAGE Mad Minutes that I learnt about from Daina Seymour’s blog. I am also determined to play the 2 octave with parallel hands. After three weeks, I am at the point where I am getting mad with this thing. How is it possible that I can play it with separate hands, but cannot put it together? I hope I will have some good news for you by the end of next week.

Thank you for being part of my journey, keeping me strong with your kind words and encouragement and sharing wonderful ideas that help me move forward. As a sign of my appreciation I’d like to end this blog with a piano joke:

Thanks for reading my blog! Stay tuned 🙂

the messy middle

Looking back at my week’s piano progress, I feel I’ve arrived to the period often described as “the messy middle”.

Yes, when I started to finally see progress, since I got to a point where I was able to play three pages from my piano book, I thought this was the time to set a goal. After I spent a fair amount of time thinking, I figured out which song I’d like to learn by the end of my EC&I 831 ed tech class. I chose an Ellie Goulding song “How long will I love you”. I first heard this song in the movie “About Time”. I felt a strong connection between the movie and my piano learning, so I printed the music sheets and shared my idea with my piano teacher.

And listening to the song, you probably already know what my piano teacher’s response was. He said it is doable, but not by this December, but next April. I know, I did not set a reasonable goal, but how could one set a reasonable goal when there is not enough knowledge in the respective area? Then I reached out and asked for my colleagues’ advice regarding choosing a beginner level song.

Thanks to my supportive colleagues, I came across “Heart and Soul” which seems to be doable.

You’re probably asking that after working on the parallel motion of the five scale and practicing the octave and three songs, how did I get to the point where I started feeling discouraged and dissatisfied? As I started learning more complex concepts, I realized that my fingers not only fly, but I am also struggling with finger independence. My fingers just won’t move separately. A friend of mine came up with a brilliant idea of getting finger extensions Hmmmmm…..

Instead, my goal is to focus on finger independence and finger dexterity by doing various finger exercises which means I am literally back at square one.

Beside building finger independence while working on the five scale and octave, as well as practicing my new Mozart song, I am constantly reminding myself not to compare myself with other piano players, stay positive and enjoy the journey. Please listen to my podcast to get a feel of what I am really going through.

Thank you! Until next time…

the power of sharing

Diving into the world of technology for the first time, I felt terribly scared. I was so stressed out from this overwhelming world that I literally felt dizzy. I got through my first ed. tech class (EC&I 834) with my head barely above water, since up till last January, I was doing things in a way I was comfortable with. All of a sudden everything, I mean everything became brand new to me. I had a hard time following the classes because I had to google almost every term. But with the help of my Prof. Alec Couros and my colleagues’ support, I was able to get through it and I learnt an enormous amount. So, I let things rest till September, when my second class (EC&I 831) started. Today, I feel a lot more comfortable and I got to a point where I am enjoying what I’m doing. I absolutely love the idea of the learning project and I get to experience on my own skin, how interest and engagement can help you get over your own barriers.

Even though I started sharing my piano learning journey in the form of a podcast embedded in my blog, I felt awkward when I had to share it on Twitter. Putting myself out there makes me feel terribly vulnerable. I also grew up in a world where it was not cool to talk about your own self or the things you did. So, I literally had to force myself to post and share through blogging and Twitter. I was hesitant regarding the value of sharing for quite a long time. But the fact that I was learning something new every time I read my colleagues’ blogs and tweets, and attending George Couros‘ sessions as part of the RTConvention2019, help me see each and every day the benefits of sharing. Beside providing a rich medium with support in ALL areas, it also builds human connections giving the feeling that you have people around you whom you can count on. The biggest question is, as Dean Shareski puts it in Sharing – the moral imperative, do we take the time to share meaningful and valuable information to teach beyond, not only the students in the classroom?

Today, I feel very thankful for people sharing. George Couros showed us the unique way Sophie’s dad chose to capture her childhood. Emailing his daughter the most memorable events of her life, made me want to go back in time to be able to do something similar for my own children. Thanks to sharing, I know about this amazing idea and I guess it is not too late yet, having an eight and ten year old. I also feel that if I share this with other people, they might still have a better chance to surprise their children or grandchildren with such a precious gift. What an amazing way to capture memories and emotions.

Kaia and Room 10 is another great example for expanding interactions among people from different parts of the world with different cultural background. Starting out in Jakarta with a dad sharing pictures taken by his daughter arranged into an iMovie, led to sharing stories worldwide.

Dean Shareski shares another remarkable story closer to home. This is a wonderful event that took place in an elementary school in Alberta, where the principal, George Couros gave his students and staff the opportunity to share one thing they were passionate about during Identity Day. Being an English as an Additional Language teacher, I see the true value of this event, giving each and every member of the school the gift of feeling unique and important. During the RTConvention 2019, George Couros also demonstrated examples of very simple ways of sharing, such as giving ideas regarding teaching different concepts, as well as communicating with parents in a fun and easy way using Twitter to share the highlights of the day or week instead of writing long newsletters.

Looking at people share, I also feel it is a form of kindness. Providing resources, advice, tools, or just simple entertainment help people move towards a growth mindset.

Alan Levine’s Amazing stories of openness also prove the power of stories and sharing by providing valuable information and support. Scrolling down the abundance of the amazing stories, I was very excited to come across my Prof. Alec Couros’ work, The Networked Teacher Diagram.

Experiencing the amazing value of sharing, I do feel that it is our ethical responsibility to take part and embrace the culture of sharing, since “the benefits of a shared idea can be golden to someone” (Dean Shareski, 2010).

<a href="http://<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="" title="Networked Teacher Diagram – Update"><img src="" width="500" height="375" alt="Networked Teacher Diagram – Update"></a><script async src="//" charset="utf-8">http://<a data-flickr-embed=”true” href=”” title=”Networked Teacher Diagram – Update”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”Networked Teacher Diagram – Update”></a><script async src=”//” charset=”utf-8″></script>

If you see power in sharing, could you describe it in one word what SHARING brings to your life?

Thank you for reading my blog!

Challenges and little successes

I made it through the first three weeks of my learning journey, and as I look back, I can definitely see progress. I started my learning project without knowing ANYTHING about pianos and today, I have already two songs that I can play. It is a very rewarding experience and I am cherishing every moment of it. This doesn’t mean that I am not facing any challenges, though.

In episode 4 of my podcast I share how I ended up buying an 88 note Yamaha keyboard. Having easy access to a piano definitely makes a difference, since I can practice whenever I feel like it, over and over again. But making this purchase was quite overwhelming.—Shopping-for-the-right-keyboard-e7rcvr

After getting my own keyboard, I started experimenting with the sustain pedal.

Since the keyboard has only one pedal, I feel quite lucky, only having to learn how to use one pedal. Modern pianos have three pedals.

In episode 5 of my podcast, I shared the five finger scales that I finally managed playing with a parallel motion. It took a lot of practicing with separate hands, till I managed to put both hands together. What I really need to work on is avoiding the “flying fingers”. When I shared my challeneges with my friend, she told me about the way her 6 year old son was taught. His teacher recommended holding his hands as he was holding a hamburger. Currently I am trying to constantly remind myself of holding my fingers correctly as well as the correct posture: sitting up with straight back, relaxed shoulders, as well as having the proper distance between the piano and the bench. They seem to be little things, but they do play an important role when it comes to playing this unique instrument.

My teacher encouraged me to try playing the five finger scale both legato and staccato. The staccato I find quite hard since it requires bouncy arms, which can cause difficulty when trying to find the right notes.

I also learnt about music dynamics and I found playing forte, mezzo forte, and piano a lot more manageable. All the above described skills I tied together and demonstrated by playing the song Backpacking in episode 5.—Challenges-and-little-successes-e7s9g9

In episode 6, I had a chance to face more challenges by taking the five finger scale to the next level and learn how to play the octave. The difficulty of the octave is that there are finger crossovers included. In order to “avoid breaking the finger” it is important to move the hand slightly at the same time of the crossover. At this point, I am trying to master it doing it with one hand at a time, so I can do the parallel motion. I am also working on a new song, called Alouette where the focus is on timing since there are quarter notes, half notes, whole notes and dotted half notes.

Although I am still far away from mastering the songs: Backpacking and Alouette, please check out my progress in my weekly podcasts.—Octave-and-timing-e7sb3l

Thank you for all your support!

Melinda 🙂

New Beginning in the World of Music

My EC&I 831 Ed. Tech class, just as the previous class I took (EC&I 834), has been given me a chance to learn about technology as well as myself. After my Prof. Alec Couros introduced the option of a learning project, I knew this was the time to finally accomplish my childhood dream and learn how to play the piano.

Growing up, I was given the option of playing the violin or nothing and I chose NOTHING. I had a violin in the house and I didn’t even want to try it. When I listen to Hungarian folk music, it breaks my heart that I missed out on this opportunity.

But I am very thankful for the opportunity to learn how to play the piano and I decided to share the challenges and successes of my journey in a podcast, a completely new medium to me. Beside feeling lost in the field of music, I also have to become familiar with podcasting. After several retakes, I finally decided to share my introductory episode with one of my friends to get some feedback. It has been challenging since, as Michael Wesch described in An anthropological introduction to YouTube, it feels like “talking to the unknown, an invisible community”, which makes me feel awkward and terribly vulnerable.

So here I am at the beginning of my journey not knowing ANYTHING about how to play the piano and if you know a little about notes and mnemonics used to remember the place of various notes, you will agree with me.

After I went for my first face-to-face piano lesson, I realized that this is actually not a song my son was given, but mnemonics that help to find the notes easily on the piano.

I can already feel that this journey will be quite the ride full of mixed emotions. Hopefully beside feeling embarrassed and vulnerable, I will enjoy the feeling of accomplishment as well.

Talking about embarrassment, after the first two weeks, I felt I needed guidance since there was no structure, nor a plan in my head. I was jumping from YouTube tutorial to YouTube tutorial without knowing what to look for. So, I went for my first piano lesson and during the lesson my teacher, Trevor Flemings was explaining the basics of piano and he was talking about the “treble clef” without writing the word on the board. As a non-native English speaker, I kept thinking why is this symbol called “trouble clef“??? I could not wrap my head around this concept. So I went home and Googled it, when I finally figured out the correct term. A couple days later my friend and I met for a visit, and I told her how awful I felt that I literally had to Google these new terms, since I was not familiar with them. Then she asked me, don’t you know the Meghan Trainor song about the “bass” and the “treble”? That’s when I realized how many things I miss out on because of English not being my first language…

The first three weeks, probably the hardest part of this learning project, I documented in three podcasts with the help of Anchor.Fm. I find this tool very user friendly providing a number of tutorials that help with getting started. In my first, second and third podcasts, I tried to share more about my experiences to give a better understanding of why I chose to learn how to play the piano and some of the resources I came across. I found a few web sites and tutorials quite helpful. Such as Treble Clef and Bass Clef – Lecture and Notes

I also downloaded the Simply Piano App. I quite like this interactive app and it has a few free tutorials. Pianote has a number of easy to follow very effective YouTube tutorials as well. They also have lesson plans as part of the membership. I came across a number of great and not so great tutorials. I find it very time consuming to find the right ones. The Philosophy of Piano podcast actually played a huge role in not loosing my interest. It served as a great example for podcasting as well as focusing on myself on this journey. The most useful tool getting started was the Regina Public Library‘s instrument borrowing program, since it gave me the opportunity to take the very first steps of my journey by having a 61 note Yamaha keyboard in my house for three weeks.

Thank you for being part of my journey! In case you come across some great resources please send them my way. Coming soon with more updates 🙂