2017 Retreat | Piano Method Mining: Uncovering Nuggets of Wisdom From Method Books.

Hi there!

Today, I just wanted to share a little bit more regarding the retreat for piano teachers I’m planning in August 17-19, 2017.

The topic our retreat will be centered around is: Piano Method Mining: Uncovering Nuggets of Wisdom From Method Books.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE looking through piano method books — both old and new — to see what wisdom I can gain from each approach.

Just look at the beautiful color art of these two old piano methods! I can’t help but drool. ;)

This is the corner of my studio where all my piano method books live.

During the retreat, you’ll have the opportunity to share your own insights as we pore through a variety of piano method books published through the decades. We will all benefit from collective wisdom through combining our knowledge and experiences. I can’t wait!

Here’s the full description of the event:

Retreat at Piano Manor is a three-day experience for piano teachers to getaway in order to connect, ask questions, share, and become better teachers for our students. Together, we will explore the wisdom from piano methods beginning with early treatises and concluding with piano methods published in the 21st century. You will share your insights and teaching experiences with the rest of the group, and work with fellow attendees to review certain method books in-depth. While at “Piano Manor,” you’ll also enjoy relaxing downtime and deliciously healthy food planned by my foodie friend, Amy Chaplin of PianoPantry.com.

At the end of the three days, you will have knowledge of the range of available piano method books, both old and new, and how to choose among them to match your students’ needs and desires. You’ll be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to try new method books of your choice, to increase your range of options and keep your teaching fresh. You will know when and how to supplement a method as needed, so your students develop musical skills without undue effort. Using this knowledge and skill set, you can create custom-tailored curriculums designed to nurture happily progressing students in your studio. Retreat at Piano Manor will leave you feeling inspired and connected, with newly formed friendships and fresh ideas for your teaching.

If you are interested in attending the retreat, read more here and then please be sure to join this special email list. The registration information will be sent out within the next week or so.

If you can’t attend the retreat, don’t worry: I’ll be sharing highlights in weeks ahead — of both the preparation process as well as the actual retreat activities. Watch here on the blog as well as my facebook page for updates!

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Game: Which Rhythm Pattern Do You Hear?

Today, I thought I’d share about a quick and fun rhythm game I’ve been using lately with some of my younger students.

Game: Which Rhythm Pattern Do You Hear?

  1. Choose two animal erasers.
  2. The teacher creates two rhythm patterns using these free cards, laying out each one by an animal eraser.
  3. The teacher chants one of the two rhythm patterns and asks the student: Which animal’s rhythm pattern did you hear?
  4. Repeat with new rhythm patterns.
  5. If the student is ready for it, next try having the teacher and the student switch roles.

I like this activity because it keeps the focus on the SOUND of the rhythm patterns and because the only notation-related skill that is required is recognition. When switching roles, of course, the student is then required to create and perform notated rhythm patterns.

If you use Irina Gorin’s method book or if you want to keep things simpler, you can use Othello chips instead of rhythm value cards.

And if you are working with a small group of students, here is an idea for variating the game:

  1. Each student notates a rhythm pattern, with an animal eraser sitting near it.
  2. Whoever is “it” randomly chooses a pattern and chants it for the group.
  3. The rest of the students identify which animal’s pattern was heard.

Have fun!

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Rhythm Activities with Othello Chips

Since attending Irina Gorin’s summer workshop for piano teachers in 2015, her “Tales of a Musical Journey” has become one of my favorite piano method books to use with beginners.

In her book, she uses black circles and white circles to represent simple rhythms in duple meter. (Duple meter is MLT’s term for when the macrobeat [big beats] contains two microbeats [little beats].)

Here is an example of Irina teaching with the black and white circles.

It’s easy to cut black and white circles out of paper, but I’ve also been using Othello chips. They are perfect for this because they are black on one side and white on the other. I found a used Othello game at a thrift shop for $2 a couple of years ago, and have been using the chips for rhythm games on the floor with my beginner students.

20141226_133514 NIKON Othello 2 wm-1

These chips can be used in any rhythm game where you might normally use rhythm value cards. Here are a few quick examples:

  • The teacher notates two simple rhythm patterns (4 macrobeats in length), chants one of the patterns, and asks the student to identify which pattern they heard.
  • Notate simple rhythm patterns and chant them together.
  • Chant simple rhythms (perhaps using simple poetry) and notate them together.

The Othello chips also work great with a cloth staff/keyboard, which means the rhythms could be notated on the staff. There are many of fun uses for these chips! Let me know in the comments below if you have other ideas.

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Announcing: Piano Teacher Retreat, August 17-19, 2017

Hello, friends!

I’m very excited to invite you to attend a retreat for piano teachers taking place at my home studio this summer.

Retreat at Piano Manor is a three-day getaway for piano teachers to connect, recharge, share, and learn from each another. During this unique experience, you will have opportunity to contribute and benefit from collective wisdom during group discussions, projects, and even relaxing downtime. While at “Piano Manor,” you’ll also enjoy deliciously healthy food planned by my foodie friend, Amy Chaplin of PianoPantry.com. Retreat at Piano Manor will leave you feeling inspired and connected, with newly formed friendships and fresh ideas for your teaching.

Our topic of focus is Piano Method Mining: Uncovering Nuggets of Wisdom From Method Books. I’ll be sharing more details very soon about what we will do during our group retreat experience.

Retreat at Piano Manor is happening August 17-19, 2017, at my home studio in northwest Ohio. I hope you’ll consider being a part of this!

More details are available at: pianoteacherretreat.com. The full schedule and registration will be posted soon. In the meantime, be sure to join the email list to receive details in your inbox as they become available. 

Thanks for reading!

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Printable: Student Ideas for Studio T-Shirt Design

It’s almost time for me to order this year’s studio T-shirts! This year, instead of coming up with the design idea myself, I decided to ask my students for their ideas. So, recently I set up this station in my studio:

On the printable you see in the photo, students can draw their own T-shirt idea and then vote for any/all of the ideas that appeal to them the most.

I am excited to see the ideas coming in!

You are welcome to use this printable if you’d like. Download it below or by visiting the Printables > Other Resources page under “Studio T-Shirt Design Idea Printable.”

  Studio T-Shirt Design Idea Printable (229.8 KiB, 152 hits)

(See my past years’ studio T-shirt designs here.)

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Craft Project: Sheet Music Shade for a Hanging Light Bulb Fixture

The new space I’ve moved into had two rooms with bare bulbs as the light fixtures…up until recently. :)

I had seen several ideas on Pinterest for making your own light fixture shades using old sheet music, so I decided to try my hand at prettying up those bare, hanging light bulbs.

I’m happy with how it turned out. :)

Here’s how I made mine: Read More »

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Setting Up A New Studio Space

This post is a long time coming. I haven’t been as active on my blog so far this year as I usually am, but I’m excited to finally have gotten these photos ready to share.

Earlier this year, I moved into a new space. I was looking for something that would allow for a more convenient layout for my studio being in my own home, and we found this wonderful old house to rent. Location-wise, it is still near my Perrysburg students, but it is actually closer for some of my original students in Bowling Green, which is where we first lived when my husband and I moved to Ohio.

I love old houses!

Read More »

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Group Class Ventures with Music Learning Theory (MLT)

Since taking the Piano Certification Course through the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (GIML) last August, I have been slowly but surely working towards integrating Music Learning Theory (MLT) principles into my teaching approach.

Much of this integration is subtle at this point and yet, it is having a definite impact on my students.

I’ve also had the opportunity to experiment more directly with an MLT-based teaching approach in a couple of new group music classes I’ve been offering over the past few months.

The first opportunity arose when one of my piano parents asked if I might consider doing some kind of group music class with her two piano students as well as three of her other children who take lessons in guitar, flute, and violin. She was interested in her kids receiving additional help with rhythm, theory, and more, to support their private lessons. I told her more about the GIML training I received and how I felt it would be ideal for her kids and that I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to experiment more with this approach. So, now I’m teaching a weekly 30-minute group music class (not geared towards piano playing) with 5 siblings between the ages of 7 and 12. Afterwards, I give the two piano students their private lessons.

The second opportunity arose when a local violin teacher reached out to me asking about lessons for her 4-year-old son. Ultimately, we settled on having a weekly 30-minute group class with her son as well as her two other young children. The five of us are exploring music together using the Music Play early childhood music curriculum as the basis.

So far with both classes, I’ve been loosely following the lesson plan outline that Marilyn Lowe suggests in her Keyboard Games (KG) books (see image below). I’m pulling songs and rhythm chants from her KG books, Music Play, and the ECMC Songs and Chants Without Words, Book One.

Read More »

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2017 Blogiversary Sale Ends Friday

Just a friendly notice:

Friday, March 31, 2017 is the last day of this year’s Blogiversary sale. If you use the promo code 2017SALE when you check out, you will receive 20% off all items in my shop.

Perhaps you’ll find something fun in my shop for your lessons or for your summer camps. Thanks for your support!

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“Play is the highest form of research.”

–Albert Einstein

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MTNA 2017 (5): Wednesday, March 22

[Click here to go back to Day 4.]

8:00am The More the Merrier: Creating Collaborative Experiences for Students of All Ages, by Sarah Alexander, Whitney Hawker, and Spring Seals. 

Sarah, Whitney, and Spring presented an informative session about simple ways to incorporate collaborative experiences into the piano lesson experience, from using duets for sight-reading or improvisation to hiring a guitarist, bassist, and drummer for a pop recital experience.

Check Whitney and Spring’s blog here: 4-D Piano Teacher blog. Read More »

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MTNA 2017 (4): Tuesday, March 21

[Click here to go back to Day 3.]

8:00am Showcase: Willis Music Company: Happy Birthday Mr. Gillock!

The Willis Piano Music showcase session celebrated the music of composer William Gillock and highlighted some new publications. One of the books I found interesting was the Accent on Two Pianos for 2 pianos, 4 hands, by William Gillock.  Read More »

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