Forum Q&A: Christmas Gifts for Piano Students

I hope all you USA-ers enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!  I know I did.  :)

It has been awhile since we did a Forum Q&A post (how did that happen?!).  Last time, we discussed how to help students who are frustrated by the mistakes they make, large or small.  You can read all the responses by clicking here.

Today, I’d like to hear about Christmas gifts for piano students!

Do you give your students a gift at Christmas?  If so, what are you giving this year?  What have you given in previous years?

Please share in the comment section below this post!

PG
Joy Morin is a piano teacher in Perrysburg, Ohio (United States) who enjoys keeping her teaching fresh with new ideas and resources. ColorInMyPiano.com serves as a journal of her adventures in piano teaching as well as a place to exchange ideas and resources.

Joy has blogged 928 posts here.

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41 Comments

  1. Posted 27 November 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Two years ago, I ordered personalized ornaments from Ornaments With Love for all my students. They loved them!

  2. Posted 27 November 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Last year, I gave students a Symphony chocolate bar and a glass ornament that I filled with bits of old sheet music (see photo here). Most years, I give a little goodie bag with stickers, pencils, candy, etc.

    This year, I’ve decided to make and decorate sugar cookies with my music cookie cutters! I’ll probably give each student 2 or 3 in a little bag.

  3. Rebecca
    Posted 27 November 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Last year I made a mix CD of various types of piano music for my students, since some of them are pretty young and have no concept of the scope of music out there!

    This year I think that I’ll try making practice pouches (idea from here: http://88pianokeys.me/2012/10/09/practice-pouch-turn-practice-into-progress/).

  4. Posted 27 November 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I mail my students a Christmas/Holiday card. Most like the chance to actually get “real” mail. I usually put something in with the card – stickers, gel window clings, a small ornament. Whatever fits in the envelope and can be mailed.

  5. Posted 27 November 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I used to go to great lengths making my students personalized gifts for Christmas. But my feelings were often hurt when the students didn’t seem to appreciate the time and effort I had put into making their gifts. Now I allow students to choose something out of a bowl of candy at their last lesson before holiday break. Students get much more excited by the candy bowl than anything I could have made for them.

    • Cassie Lawrence
      Posted 27 November 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Julie, kids can often seem ungrateful (any some really are), but you’d be surprised at how many of them may have taken your gifts to heart. I remember the personal gifts I got from teachers growing up. I probably didn’t show my thankfulness (and now as an adult, I wish I had), but I definitely appreciated the time & effort and remember those special teachers. :)

  6. Jennifer Creekmore
    Posted 27 November 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I usually give a CD of Christmas music to most of my younger students. I am always shocked at how many students do not know the tune/words to many common carols. As they get older I switch and give them CDs of some of the most popular classical music that everyone should know. I find the CDs through the year at pretty good prices. The dollar tree has been known to carry some $1 CDs of classical and Christmas music. I also find clearance CDs on websites etc. I usually add a decorative pencil or some candy with the wrapped CD. Imbibe these out at our annual Christmas recital.

  7. Laura Larson
    Posted 27 November 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I recorded a CD of “My Favorite Piano Miniatures” which included many of the pieces my students are learning. I recorded it on my Clavinova and made my own insert so it was fairly cheap-just a lot of hours spent making it. Unfortunately, I don’t own any decent recording equipment so I couldn’t record on my Fazioli. The range of expression obviously wasn’t as good on the Clavinova, but it turned out nicely nonetheless.

  8. Posted 27 November 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Um… no.
    But I accept gifts from them! :)

  9. Posted 27 November 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    My students each get a tree ornament from me. At our December recital I have a small Christmas tree on the refreshment table. After everyone has performed, they each get to choose an ornament from the tree. (They draw numbers to determine the order they go in, so it’s not a mad dash all at once). I find the ornaments at thrift stores and on clearance after Christmas each year, so the expense is very little. I have no trouble finding ornaments for under a dollar each. The students love choosing an ornament, and the parents tell me that their kids enjoy putting their “piano” ornaments on their tree at home every year.

  10. Posted 27 November 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Julie. I would also go to great lengths to handmake a gift, but could see the students weren’t that impressed. This year Target had silver double-eighth note ornaments for $1. I copied some music onto blue snowflake paper and cut to cover the opening between the beams, got some blue bells from Michael’s and glued onto the head of one of the notes. Viola. Not a whole lot of trouble but a little different from what can be bought. I do always write on the back who it’s from and the year. Just maybe one day they’ll pull it out and remember…

  11. Patty Mack
    Posted 27 November 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Each student will receive a pack of cheery stationary notes, 5 personalized with their names return address labels, a pen, a packet of hot chocolate, a Christmas card, an eighth note sugar cookie and all packaged in a brown bag that is rubber stamped with Christmas pictures and personalized with the student’s name and the bag tied with a festive bow!

  12. Posted 27 November 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I was able to fit in a composition unit this session so for Christmas I’ve spiral bound all the students’ compositions and an illustration that they made into a book with everyone’s work included. I had a cover art competition and the winner will be unveiled at our piano party next week. It was inexpensive and easy to do at home. I’m giving each student a copy with a little bag of reindeer noses (malted milk balls for Dasher, Dancer….) and one sour cherry drop for Rudolph. This year everyone celebrates Christmas so the reindeer candy was an easy choice.

  13. Posted 27 November 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Every year I give my students a candy cane at their last lesson. I buy fruit-flavoured ones, as not all kids seem to like peppermint. This year I’m also thinking of printing out fun, free sheet music for each student – something unique for each one that I think they will enjoy sight-reading/learning over the Christmas holidays. I’ll roll it up, tie a colourful ribbon around it and attach a candy cane.

  14. Posted 27 November 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Something from the kitchen – homemade cookies, fudge or peppermint bark. I pick up nice containers at the thrift store. Tasty, thoughtful, and earth-friendly.

  15. Melissa
    Posted 27 November 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I only have a few students, so I am making them a little treat and giving their parents a “coupon” for a free lesson. They can redeem it any month in 2013.

  16. Jennifer Creekmore
    Posted 27 November 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Loving all these ideas!

  17. Posted 27 November 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Such great ideas! Last year I made ornaments for my students with music charms on them. This year, I ordered minature harmonicas on key chains from Groth Music. They come in all different colors – so cute! I know my students will love them!

  18. Rhonda
    Posted 27 November 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I have a special holiday party for my students. They take turns playing their Christmas songs while we work on fun music activities, games, etc. We decorate cookies, make themed ornaments/crafts and just enjoy time together. I usually send them home with something personalized (t-shirt, music bag, etc.) along with the goodies from the party.

  19. Dana
    Posted 27 November 2012 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    I usually make small ornaments for my students and for the singers in the church choir I direct – my favorite (and probably the cheapest to make) was a pipe cleaner bent into a G clef, with a jingle bell at the end – they were a big hit!

    https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/2256_138044600320_6585_n.jpg

  20. Jane
    Posted 27 November 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    My gift is much like Rhonda’s. The party is my “present” to them, and my continuing students look forward to it every year. We play and sing carols, make a music-related ornament, play musical bingo, or other games, have lots of goodies and just enjoy our time together. Last year, we had so many parents join us, that my little house was packed! I send them home with a goodie bag, pencils, candy canes, etc. and fun is had by all!

  21. Jeanine
    Posted 28 November 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I also like to give my students personlized gifts. I am a huge “peanuts” fan so they often have something to do with music or snoopy. I am a christian so i also like to give a christian witness in my gift. I have given choclate advent calendars, piano christmas ornaments, Dvd’s. whatever I can find that I think will bless them and let them know how highly I regard them. It is OK that many don’t fully appreciate the gift. The joy is in the giving. Thank you all for your wonderful ideas. They are getting me thinking. I still dont’ know what to give this year. The budget is tight.

  22. Kathy
    Posted 28 November 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I am giving each student a picture frame…..plain wooden frame ($1 at Michaels) which I decoupaged old sheet music on. I took a picture of each student over the last few weeks and will insert it into the frame. Then the last few minutes of their lesson before Christmas break, I always have a little ‘party’….punch and homemade cookies. They look forward to that one.on.one time …. and the cookies!

  23. Posted 28 November 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I used to give small music books or sheet music, but actually changed a couple of years ago so that those kinds of prizes are in my treasure box for them to earn by completing their weekly challenges. I think it becomes more valuable to them when they “earn” it rather than getting it as a gift. And I don’t ever give out food to my students, since food allergies are a big issue in our house and have been for some of my students as well. School teachers don’t usually give Christmas gifts to their students, so why should I?

  24. Elizabeth
    Posted 28 November 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    I do give my students gifts and I have students who take piano lessons from me because of the fun parties, incentive themes, and prizes I give out. It has actually become a problem so I am scaling things back this year quite a bit. This year we will perform our pieces at a Senior Citizen Center and I will not provide any refreshments. I will send them home with a piano ornament and a candy cane and hopefully a warm heart!

  25. Kristina
    Posted 28 November 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic ideas! Thank you all!

  26. Posted 28 November 2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    My teacher used to give out the same 3 things each year: a pencil (“to make us smart”), an orange (“to make us healthy”) and some kind of treat, I seem to remember chocolate oranges or popcorn (“to make us happy”).

  27. Posted 30 November 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing all your ideas, everyone!

  28. Liz H
    Posted 30 November 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    My students are each getting a Holiday Smencil, with a studio label on the plastic tube. Part gift and part advertising. :)

  29. Mary Cumming
    Posted 30 November 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Such wonderful ideas… my head is spinning! Hope I can remember some for next year. This year I did “Pianolympics” as an incentive program for completing homework or songs and kept track of their progress on a paper keyboard on the wall in the studio. Each student will go home with their own paper keyboard with all the stars that they earned, and a bronze, silver or gold medal, depending on how well they did in pianolympics. Also I’ll give each of them fudge. Usually our last lesson is a fun lesson when we just play a lot of Christmas carols – some as duets. They all seem to look forward to the fudge… I make it dairy and nut free to accomodate allergies.

  30. Posted 1 December 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    In Australia it is the end of the school year in December. So I put on a Year End/Christmas Concert with a party afterwards where all the pupils get to meet one another. Prizes are given to those who have earned them during the year for attendance; practice; and the termly competitions. Here I agree with Vicki…something “earned” appears to be more valued.

  31. Posted 1 December 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I give my piano students (all 94 of them) a set of personalized pencils from For Teachers Only. At 89 cents a pack, they’re affordable and kids love anything that has their name on it. They are also getting a small bell ornament from Oriental Trading Company and a mini eraser from Michael’s–after we use that one and another for playing the keyboard race. I love buying in bulk from Costco–so when they had Cracker Jack boxes cheap, I bought enough for all of my students. And, the students I teach in Lutheran schools each composed their own songs for the fall recital (they set their favorite Bible passages to music), so I comb bound all the compositions and will gift them with music, too.

  32. Carole Tidwell
    Posted 2 December 2012 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    One year I found after Valentines Day those BIG Hershey Kisses in the box, for 99 cents each. I checked the expiration date, and saved them for Christmas. They loved them. I have also bought the BIG candy canes or/sticks at the Dollar Tree. Last year I found big candy canes at Walmart after Christmas for 25 cents each, and that’s what they got last year. This year I had Chocolate Penguins/Bears from Walmart that I got after Christmas last year for $.25 each. I had more students this year, so had to go pay 99 cents for additional ones, but it was great! I have also given music note key chains, chocolate music notes ordered from local candy store, music cups filled with candy, etc. .

  33. ROCIO
    Posted 2 December 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I still remember a little hand writing card that my lovely music teacher give to everyone in class personally, beautiful! (sorry for my english) Baci! :-*

  34. Becky Barber
    Posted 2 December 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    My teacher used to let us choose one of those plastic classical composer heads for Christmas. As my studio has grown it has become too pricey so now I let them “win” one after completing a piece by that composer. This year I will probably give homemade sugar cookies with my music cutters. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas I am tucking away!

  35. Posted 4 December 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    My piano teacher growing up always gave us a music ornament. After taking lessons all those years, I had a nice collection for my first tree! I’ve continued that tradition with myself and buy a musical ornament every year. Some of my students have added to my collection. My students are not exposed to “good” music and rarely hear anyone play well. So I give them a CD every year either Christmas music or classical piano. If you hunt religiously, you can find a good CD for $2-5 dollars each. Dollar Tree is good to have CDs for a $1. We have a Christmas group lesson where I make a goody to eat and sing Christmas carols (religious/secular/silly) of their choosing off a lyrics page I’ve printed. I present their CDs at the Christmas recital. I’ve had several come to me and ask if they can learn one of those pieces on their CD. That warms my heart!

  36. Posted 5 December 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    This year since I have a pirate theme in my studio this year, I am giving them a little stuffed pirate bear with a canvas bag that they are decorating this week at Christmas camp, and will fill with gold chocolate coins.

  37. Posted 6 December 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I have 6 adult pupils and 10 child pupils. I’m trying to keep the cost of presents down a bit this year, so I’m just giving the adults a Christmas card with a photo of themselves at our recent concert. Six of the children are coming to a party on the second last day of the term as a reward for their effort in this term’s incentive competition. I’m going to give all the children a present of a Christmas card, a photo of their concert performance, a music pencil, some stickers and a notebook with music stickers on the front.

  38. Lindsay Johnson
    Posted 8 December 2012 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    I know I am a little behind on my reading of this blog but I found a great gift that people can look into for next year. I have a diabetic student so I have been looking for non food things that everyone would think was awesome (my students range from 5 – 60). I found Christmas Puzzle Erasers on Oriental Trading Co. I gave them this week as our recital is this weekend and I am traveling for the holidays. Everyone of my students (and their parents) thought it was different and fun – not to mention thankful it wasn’t sugar.

  39. Heidi
    Posted 8 December 2012 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    I see someone else commented today yet, so I don’t feel so bad! I’m making marble magnets for my students. They do take some time, but turn out so cute! Each set of five is different and the images are chosen specially for each student. One little girl gets Hello Kitty, an older boy gets music theme, etc. I also made a card for each family, music themed of course! Last year I gave candy canes, but would really like to stop the sugar! Thanks, everyone, for all the great ideas!

  40. Rachel
    Posted 9 December 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Wow, this is fantastic! I’m a little late, posting, too, but have little baggies with their names on them hanging above my piano to surprise them this week. So far they have a holiday pencil, eraser, and a bookmark that lists a few fun piano-related reading and music books. They will be working on Treble Clef Candy Canes (pinterest) this week to add to their bags, next week we will use our pinching skills to place sprinkles on those every-so-popular 8th note cookies! And for my beginner group class I am also creating a DVD of their performances to keep.

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