Review and Hack of Yamaha LC4 Music Lab System

Recently Fresno City College upgraded their piano lab and we finally had what every group piano teacher has been waiting for–the ability to walk up and down the rows of their students, and be able to remotely change which student you are listening to! Yamaha’s LC4 Music Lab system with the Wi-Fi kit allows you to do just that. There was no previous lab system at my school so I was thrilled to be able to acquire a new system, especially one with remote capability. However, in my opinion, there is just one shortfall. There is no teacher microphone on the wireless headset. Fortunately I have found a work-a-round that makes the system perfect!

In speaking with Yamaha Product Manager, Ben Harrison at the NAMM Show, Yamaha considered the option to include a pair of wireless headphones with a microphone, but they felt that the cost was too great, and the latency with the wireless system was also a factor. They also figured that if you were speaking to a student while standing right next to them, that they would be able to hear you. My experience has been that the students say “I can’t hear you” and they take off their headphones. The reality for me has been that an additional $411 fixed the problem. For institutions of higher education, this is doable. For a private teacher’s lab, maybe not so much. In future posts, I hope to discus other lab system options for private teachers and their studios.

I wanted to see the system work how I thought it could. I was willing to give it a try, and had institutional funding that needed to be spent before the end of the fiscal year. So I called up Vern Crews at Sweetwater. I don’t understand all the ins and outs of the system. I know just enough to be dangerous, and Vern was great to be patient with me and figure out what I was after! I wanted a wireless microphone system that would allow me to wear a body pack mic that would feed through the system into the student headphones. His concern was the potential for hum and feedback. After discussing it with his colleagues, they came up with a configuration that they thought might work. I got the parts and hooked them up, and it did!

I ended up ordering products similar to the following:


I plugged the male 1/4″ plug into the back of the wireless mic receiver, and the other end into the in jack on the direct box. The direct box has a mic jack on the other end that the Hosa cable plugs into. The other end of the Hosa cable is an 1/8″ jack that plugs into the microphone jack of the teacher box. Initially I ordered the clip-on lavalier mic. However, I found that I had to have my chin to my chest so the mic was right in front of my mouth for students to be able to hear me. So I returned it for a headset lavalier.

Just a couple of other pointers with the iPad:
One other thing that I have noticed is that you must change the Auto lock settings on the iPad for the screen timeout. If you don’t, when you hit the home button to wake the iPad, the selected student piano will be deselected, and you won’t be able to hear the student. You will have to reselect the student piano on the LC4 app to continue hearing and speaking with the student. To do this, go to Settings, General, Auto Lock, and change the screen timeout option to a longer time. Also, David Love recommended this iPad case. It has worked out great for me. I love it because I can hold the ipad by using the holes in the back of the case.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions, or need more clarification.

Teaching the Counting of Rhythm

One of the biggest challenges that I have had in my teaching, is the teaching of rhythm. Students are challenged with an abundance of numbers. They have a right hand finger number. They have a left hand finger number. Then they have a rhythmic beat number. They also have a number for how long they must hold notes. All of these numbers overwhelm many students. Dr. Carol Aicher, one of my professors at the Manhattan School of Music, taught me a great way to teach rhythm that she was taught by her teacher, Vera Wills. While doing some research, I found the originator of this rhythm system. Hazel Cobb came out with the book, Rhythm with Rhyme and Reason: Counting Made “Easy as Pie” in 1947. She wrote an article, Rhythm –Easy as Pie, in Clavier magazine in 1963. One of Dr. Aicher’s big sayings was “From known to unknown.” What do children learn as a toddler? Words.

There are many counting systems out there. In college coursework I was introduced to different systems such as metric counting, the McHose counting system, and other Kodály based systems. These systems are addressed in pedagogy textbooks such as The Well Tempered Keyboard Teacher as well as Beth Gigante Klingenstein’s book.

The beauty of Hazel Cobb’s system, is that it uses familiar words that will be remembered by the student. From known to unknown. The purpose of her system is to help students see and feel rhythmic patterns. Each note is represented by a syllable. Using Ap-ple to count eighth notes, and pie to count quarter notes really has resonated with my students.

Any reluctance I have seen with my students is the result of having to learn a new system. I had an adult student in one of my college classes. She was easily thirty years older than many of the students. She had musical experience, mainly as a vocalist. She wanted to take the class for fun to get better at playing the piano. She resisted this counting system that I was teaching the rest of the class. I noticed, but didn’t want to make an issue of it. As the semester went on, I noticed that I eventually won her over without saying anything. At the end of the semester, she came to me and said, “You know I have to tell you I resisted your counting system at the beginning. But I now use it to figure out my counting both for piano and for my vocal music.”

I use the counting system myself when I practice. Here is a list of the words that I use with my students. Some are different than Hazel Cobb’s, and some are the same. Carol Aicher suggested to use words that are evenly syllabic. I hope you find these useful. In a future post, I will show how to use these rhythm words with a rhythm worksheet.


I know there are a lot of piano pedagogy blogs. Some of my favorite blogs include those by Leila Viss, Diane Hidy, Wendy Stevens, and Jennifer Foxx. I also recently met Tim Topham at the MTNA Conference in San Antonio and was introduced to his podcast. I feel my background and my experiences offer a unique perspective in the world of piano pedagogy. I have taught group piano at the college level for over ten years. I have taught individual lessons in my studio for over fifteen years. I have recently started teaching group piano as part of my studio teaching, including Recreational Music Making (R.M.M.) lessons. I feel very fortunate to have experienced what I have, and want to share my knowledge with others. I also want to learn from others, through what they share here on this blog. So I hope to hear from you soon!




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