General, Music Camps, Music History

2013 Music History Camp

As I mentioned in a post last week, I held a Music History Camp last week with five of my private students.  Each day, we studied an era of music history (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern) and also focused on a composer from that period.

To study the eras, I decided to write a printable booklet for each era.  Below is a sneak peek at how they turned out.  I think they could be very useful both for music camps as well as for private students.   These booklets are going to make their way to the Shop very soon, accompanied by a set of corresponding worksheets and a timeline showing other events occurring in history during these eras. Photo - collage

Continue reading “2013 Music History Camp”

Music History

SightRead Plusgiveaway winner & New Lapbooks

Just a quick post today, to announce the randomly chosen winner of the giveaway for the Sight Read Plus app for iPad….

Congrats goes to Lori!  Lori, I will be sending you an email with your promo code very soon.

By the way, two new lapbooks have been added to the ColorInMyPiano shop — Handel & Mussorgsky!

Studying Handel provides the opportunity to discuss popular Baroque forms such as the concerto grosso and the oratorio, and to learn the stories behind a couple of his famous works: Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.  I used this lapbook at my Music History Camp this week.  Listening to those two pieces and learning the stories behind them was a hit with my students!

Handel both

Studying Mussorgsky provided the opportunity to learn about the group of Russian composers known as “The Mighty Five” and their Nationalist tendencies.  We also studied Mussorgsky’s well known work Pictures at an Exhibition, composed in honor of Mussorgsky’s artist/architect friend who died rather suddenly.  Included in the Mussorgsky lapbook is an optional worksheet activity to use while listening to Pictures at an Exhibition.

Mussorgsky both

In case you are curious, the next composer added will be Prokofiev.  After that, who knows…maybe Clementi or Tchaikovsky?  🙂

Music Camps, Music History

2013 Music History Camp

My students and I are in the middle of Music History camp this week and having a blast!  This year, I’m teaching 5 girls between the ages of 5 and 8.

Yesterday, we studied Handel (using my lapbook curriculum) and the Baroque Era.  Today was Haydn and the Classical Era.  We have two more days of camp to go, when we’ll be covering the Romantic Era and the Modern Era.  Wish me luck!  It is a lot to cover in just four 2-hour classes, but I am pleased with the information my students are absorbing so far.  This camp will serve as a good first introduction to the stylistic periods of Western music!


Music History

New Composer Lapbook: Amy Beach

I’m proud to announce that the first woman composer lapbook has been added to the Color In My Piano shop: Amy Beach!

Beach both

Studying Amy Beach gave us the opportunity to discuss the challenges of being a woman composer, especially during Beach’s day.  Among other things, we learned about the MacDowell Colony and how Beach’s perfect pitch allowed her to write down bird calls in musical notation.

The Color In My Piano Shop now has 16 different composer lapbooks to choose from!  Check them out here.

Music History

New Composer Lapbooks: Chopin & Haydn

Two brand new composer lapbooks have just been added to the ColorInMyPiano shop!

Meet Chopin!

Chopin both

Studying Chopin was the perfect opportunity to discuss various types of character pieces and listen to a variety of Chopin’s wonderful oeuvre for piano.  We also talked a bit about Chopin’s background as a Polish composer and his life in Paris, contributing as a musician during salon performances.

And here’s Haydn:

haydn both

When studying Haydn, my homeschool students learned about the popular music forms of the Classical Era (sonata, symphony, string quartet, concerto) and discussed the various places Haydn was employed as Kapellmeister (the Esterhazy palace, in particular).  My students loved hearing about Haydn’s poor and lowly childhood and how his hard work and determination enabled him to become a great composer!  I’m definitely going to use Haydn for the Classical composer for my summer camp this year.

You can view a full list of all the composer lapbooks now available here.

In case you are curious about what is next, I am excited to be currently working on a woman composer.  🙂  After that, I plan to choose another Baroque composer.

Music Camps, Music History

Planning A Music History Camp Using My Lapbook Curriculum

It’s March, and I have already had a couple of my piano students inquire whether I will be doing summer music camps again this year.  The answer is YES, I have started thinking about them.  🙂

One of the camps from last year that I will definitely be repeating this summer is Music History Blast From The Past.  I plan to use the same format as last year, but I will be focusing on different composers.

In case you are considering the possibility of offering a summer music camp or two, I thought I would share more about how I planned my music history camp last year.

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Group Classes, Music History

More Details About My Homeschool Music History Class

DSC_20121005_173751I have been receiving TONS of questions about my homeschool Music History Classes lately, so I decided to write a post that explains more about how I started and currently run the class.

You may recall that my husband and I moved from Michigan to Ohio about a year-and-a-half ago.  Starting up a new studio from scratch takes time, and there is a business strategy that says: “Diversify your income.”  I had been wanting to reach out to the home-school community for awhile already (Fun fact: did you know I was home-schooled for 5 years of my education growing up?).  🙂  When I saw Sheryl Welles’s idea (see her blog here) about having a Music Appreciation/Music History class for home-schoolers, I decided I wanted to try to start one, too!

After some online research, I discovered that the home-schooling families in my area have a Yahoo group where they chat and stay in touch about upcoming events.  I joined the Yahoo group and posted some information about the classes I want to start.  I received only one reply, from a family with three children.  Those three children were the entire class for quite awhile, and eventually two more joined.

I decided to hold each class for 50 minutes, so that I could have 10 minutes to put everything away afterwards and still have time to start a private lesson at the next hour if I wanted to.

At first, I taught short lessons about a new composer every week, but soon realized that this was not enough time to give the composer justice — and the students were not absorbing the information well enough.  When I would review information from previous weeks, they would get the composers mixed up.  That is when I decided to format my curriculum into lapbooks.   Using the lapbooks, we cover a new composer every three weeks.  (My music history curriculum “Great Composers & Their Music” is currently available for purchase in my Shop at $10 per composer.)

We generally spend about 20-25 minutes each class working on the lapbooks while I read the biography and play musical excerpts by the composer.  The rest of the class time is spent doing a variety of activities.  I plan worksheets or games that cover rhythm, aural, or theory concepts that are appropriate to the students’ current music knowledge.  I write weekly lesson plans, so that I can easily look back and plan ahead.

As you already know, I often create my own games and worksheets and share them here on my blog.  🙂  But I do often use materials created by other teachers, too.  The two resources I have been using the most recently are and  If you don’t already know about these two websites, you should definitely check them out now!

If you have other questions about my homeschool music class, please leave a comment below this post!

Music History

4 New Lapbooks Added to the Shop

I just got caught up with posting some new composer lapbooks to the Color In My Piano shop!

As you may recall, I teach a Music History Class for homeschoolers each week.  I started creating my own music history curriculum after I was unable to find anything quite like I was looking for.  I ended up using the lapbooking format for my curriculum, because it is a visual, interactive way to learn historical facts and information.  It has been quite a success so far!  I am constantly impressed with how much information my students are able to absorb each week.

I call my curriculum The Great Composers & Their Music.  Each $10 pdf download includes all the pages you will need to print for each student to create their own lapbook, as well as a printable biography booklet, and a few pages of extra information for the teacher.  The license for this curriculum allows you to print as many pages as you like, as long as you are using the materials with your own students.

The curriculum is a pretty flexible.  I teach each composer over three class periods, spending about 20-30 minutes out of the class on the lapbook.  (We do other activities during the rest of the class time.)  If you wish to use these lapbooks for a one-time class, you can probably cover the whole lesson in 60 minutes (or maybe 45 minutes if your students are junior high or older).  A lot of it depends on how much time you devote to listening to excerpts of the composer’s music (a link to a YouTube playlist is provided).

Here is a peek at the 4 newest composers that have been added to the Color In My Piano shop!  Continue reading “4 New Lapbooks Added to the Shop”

Group Classes, Music Camps, Music History

4 New Composer Lapbooks

Over the past week, I have added four new Great Composers & Their Music lapbook studies to the Color In My Piano shop!

The first one is John Cage.  I mentioned this lapbook before, when I blogged about my October Piano Party.  I think this composer study was my favorite one to teach so far!  It was so fun to teach students about Cage’s ingenuity as a composer.  As an extension, we explored the room to find “found instruments,” and experimented with prepared piano.  (No, I didn’t bring screws or bolts anywhere near my piano…but we did try laying pieces of felt and tinfoil on the strings/dampers to see what sounds we could create!).

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Group Classes, Music History

My October Piano Party

Last week, I blogged a little about my first “Piano Party” — the first of hopefully many more group classes I hold for my students!  On Friday, I held our 2nd Piano Party for October.

I was so glad to observe my students greeting each other by name as they arrived.  They recognized each other from the camps I held this past summer and from the previous piano party.  Piano study can seem like such a solitary endeavor, but having group classes can help make it less so (which can be very motivating for some students).  I am so pleased to see one of my goals for group classes already being met!

Anyway, let me tell you about how our group class went on Friday:

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Music History

Introducing…Mozart and Bach Lapbook & Biography Set (GIVEAWAY)

Introducing the addition of a new series of resources to the Color In My Piano shop…

Remember the lapbooks that I blogged about from my recent music history camp?  I finally have Bach and Mozart listed in the shop!  I’ve been using these composer studies with my weekly homeschool music history class too.

Each composer study costs $10 and includes teacher pages, the biography booklet (picture above on the right), and the pages for assembling the lapbook.  Here’s what the inside of the Mozart lapbook looks like:  Continue reading “Introducing…Mozart and Bach Lapbook & Biography Set (GIVEAWAY)”