Games, Performances, seasonal / holiday

Christmas Recital/Party Success! – Games

Well, my students’ Christmas party/recital was a success!   What a great way to finish off the year.

The recital took place in my home.  Whenever my college music history textbooks mentioned Schubertiads, I used to dream about the idea of having informal music performance parties in my home.  Since my studio is still small, I thought having our Christmas recital in my home would be so fun!  About 25 people attended, which is probably close the max that I can fit.  Next year I’ll have to find another location, or hold the party with just the students.  But it was nice and cozy this year!

We kicked off the party with the recital portion, and then we played three music games:

  1. Christmas Carol Rhythm Matchups — This game from Jennifer Fink’s Pianimation blog was a great hit with students!  Students worked together in a huddle on the floor to match the rhythms to the Christmas song lyrics.  They were able to successfully complete all three levels of difficulty!  Even the youngest beginners were able to match a few.  I ended up with three students who played “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” during the recital because I have so many little beginners right now.  They were definitely able to help match that pair!  :)
  2. Make Me A Rhythm! game — This is a game I found on a forum and shared about a few weeks ago.  This game wasn’t a total success, I’ll admit.  My students were very, very shy about asking other students to be note values as they composed a rhythm.  After all, this is the first time they’ve met each other.  Next time I use this game, I’ll use it with a smaller group (maybe in a setting where students are present without their parents), or with a group of people who know each other better.  It wasn’t a total flop though.  It’s a great game for visual learners.  The “composer” had to think about how many beats they had left in their measure.  Once each rhythm was composed, we clapped it together to see how the composers’ rhythm sounded.  It was fun, it just went slowly since students took a long time to choose.
  3. Music Bingo — I LOVE Susan Paradis’ version of Music Bingo.  You won’t find a nicer version of Music Bingo anywhere!   I’ve used Susan’s version of Music Bingo in previous years for other events (see some photos here).  Both the students and parents really enjoyed playing this game!
I’m putting together a slideshow of some photo highlights from the recital, which I hope to share with you later this week!  Stay tuned.

 

Announcements, Performances, seasonal / holiday

Studio Christmas Party Update – Food!

My apologies for being MIA from the blog the last few weeks!  At the beginning of the semester, I put up posters around the music building of the university in my town for freelancing as a collaborative pianist.  A few music majors contacted me rather last minute to ask if I’d accompany them for their end-of-the-semester juries as well as a concerto competition.  Learning their music and scheduling rehearsals has kept me very busy the last few weeks!  But I’m grateful for the extra money, especially after finishing all my Christmas shopping.  :)  Anyway, I’m back now!  Juries are today, and this week will be much less hectic than the previous few weeks.

Now I’m focusing on the last stages of planning for my Studio Christmas Party on Saturday.  A couple of parents have volunteered to bring goodies, so I just need to make a few things.  I found some great food ideas on Pinterest.  (I love Pinterest! Are any of you on Pinterest?  Feel free to follow me, and I’ll be sure to follow you back!)  Continue reading “Studio Christmas Party Update – Food!”

Rhythm, seasonal / holiday, Teaching Piano

Christmas Rhythm Learning Moments

As I’m sure is currently the case with many of you, my students are working on Christmas pieces along with their usual assignments.  As usual, a few of them have encountered rhythmic “simplifications” in their arrangements (Away in a Manger and Go Tell it on the Mountain come to mind).  After pointing it out the difference between what they played and what is on the page, together we made the executive decision to play the rhythm as it is normally heard.  We also took a moment to discover what is the actual rhythmic notation of the tune and then marked it in the score above the staff.  For a more complete discussion of this issue, check out this Forum Q&A post regarding rhythmic simplification in arrangements.

A few of my students in particular are really thriving on these Christmas pieces!  Once again, I am reminded of the value of learning familiar tunes.  I find that it gives students an extra boost in learning their pieces, since they can depend more on their ear for pitches/rhythms rather than their eyes.  This means they will learn the pieces quickly and more accurately.  I also find that playing familiar tunes is a huge motivator for students.  They love to be able to play tunes they know!

Hurrah for Christmas music!  :)

For a listing of free Christmas music arrangements on the internet, check out this post

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks | CC 2.0

Performances, seasonal / holiday

Christmas Events

I finally started my Christmas shopping this past weekend, and this morning I sightread some Christmas duets with a piano teacher friend of mine. :) Now I’m really starting to feel in the Christmas spirit!

This December, I’m planning a studio Christmas Party for my students. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I am excited about it. My goal is to plan some music games, make some desserts with cheese and crackers, and hold an informal recital portion too. Each student will play one or two Christmas pieces for each other. I’m hoping to include some piano duets too, and I will probably play a Christmas arrangement myself at the end. Another idea I had was to have each student research the history of their carol and verbally introduce their piece.

I’m so excited for the Christmas season!

Photo Credit: allison.hare | CC 2.0

Resources, seasonal / holiday

11 Sheet Music Craft Ideas

After posting about the sheet music ornament star last week, I was inspired to dig around the web for other music-related crafts!  There are tons of ways to recycle old sheet music (which you can often find at thrift stores, garage sales, auctions, and antique stores).  Here’s a sampling of what I found!  All links lead back to the original bloggers’/crafters’ websites.  Click the photos to view them larger.

1.   Sheet Music Garland | This fun garland is fast and easy, made by cutting out sheet music circles and sewing them together.  It’s perfect for decorating a music room, fireplace mantel, or Christmas tree.

>

2.   Sheet Music Light Switch Plates | Cover your plain light switch plates with sheet music to give the room a little zing!

<

3.   Advent Calendar Cones | These sheet music cones can be used to stash Advent calendar goodies.

>

4.   Sheet Music Wreath | Hang this beauty on your door or above your piano.  Another example is shown here.  Also try mini ornament wreaths like the one as shown on this blog.

< Continue reading “11 Sheet Music Craft Ideas”

Resources, seasonal / holiday

Link: Sheet Music Christmas Ornament Craft

Someone on the “piano-teachers” Yahoo group forum brought this to my attention – the Better Homes and Gardens magazine’s website has instructions for a craft for making a sheet music Christmas ornament (picture on right).  It looks like a wonderful way to make your Christmas tree a little more musical!

The star pattern allows you to choose from three different sized stars. The instructions for making this ornament suggest photocopying sheet music, which of course is not legal.  I would instead suggest visiting imslp.org and printing off some sheet music that is in the public domain (or use some Christmas music linked to in this post).  On the pattern, the solid lines indicate “mountain folds” (fold comes out toward you) and the dashed lines indicated “valley folds.”  Once the folding is complete, punch a small hole and tie a small loop using gold thread to complete the ornament.

Click here to view the full instructions on the Better Homes and Gardens website.

repertoire / methods, Resources, seasonal / holiday

List of Free Christmas Music Arrangements on the Web

Christmas is on the way, whether you are ready or not!  My students are already starting to ask about Christmas music, so I’m doing some digging on the web to find places to print easy Christmas arrangements for free.

I also have a lending library of Christmas books that I’ve built over the years (mostly used books I find at garage sales and thrift shops), but printing music is great because they can keep it if they like.  When students wish to own their own Christmas books, I’m happy to get them for them — but I’m just as happy to give them printed arrangements from online because they only get used a few weeks out of the year.

Here are a few places I’ve found Christmas pdfs of sheet music for piano: Continue reading “List of Free Christmas Music Arrangements on the Web”

Announcements

Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year

I hope you all have been enjoying the Christmas season!  My husband and I have been happy to be staying with and spending time with family and friends for the past few weeks.  We are finally back home, which feels great.  We plan to do plenty of relaxing in order to get rejuvenated before the next busy semester begins January 11.  I plan to take at least another week off from blogging.

I hope you all have had a blessed Christmas season, full of music and happiness. See you in 2010!

Printables, Sheet Music

Added: 4 New easy Christmas Arrangements

<div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" about="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gtmcknight/81830779/"><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gtmcknight/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I know, I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’m already talking about Christmas!  But since I’ve been updating my Printables page recently anyway, I went ahead and put up some easy Christmas piano arrangments too:

(See Printables > Sheet Music)  These arrangements are suitable for beginner students who are comfortable reading on the staff and playing in the key of C.

Printing Christmas sheet music off the internet is a great alternative to asking students to buy Christmas books — after all, they only get used for about a month or two out of the whole year.  Be sure to visit Susan Paradis’ site as well, if you are looking for more Christmas arrangements (click here for a listing of Holiday Music.)  Hers are much more attractive than mine, I must admit.  I need to learn how to do more with graphics.  =]

Have you found other sites where you’ve found Christmas arrangements for students?  Please share!

Group Classes, Performances

International Day of Collaborative Music: January 22, 2011

Doesn’t seem like there’s a holiday for every day?  You know, we all hear about days like Chocolate Day (July 7).  And don’t tell me you missed National Creamsicle Day (August 14).  It’s true.  You really can find a holiday for every day.  (Check out this website, for starters).  It’s getting kind of ridiculous. 

But here’s a really good one that piano teachers can take advantage of:  International Day of Collaborative Music, January 22, 2011.  I know it’s a ways off, but reading about it in American Piano Teacher (August/September issue, page 24, where MTNA annouces the Year of Collaborative Music — a yearlong celebration of collaborate music making, to take place from March 2010 to March 2011.) caused me to start brainstorming…

The Year of Collaborative Music and the International Day of Collaborative Music could be the perfect excuse to pair up students and assign some duet music and have some good old-fashioned fun.  Assigning them their parts before they go off on Christmas Break could be the perfect way to allow them to have a break from their regular pieces and provide an incentive to do some practicing over the break.  Then when January 22, 2011 rolls around, it’s time for the celebration!  The students could try out/perform their duets in an informal setting and enjoy fellowship, food, and most importantly, good music.  This could make for quite a fun group lesson for the month of January. 

Alas, January 2011 is still afar off.  The planning of all the details can wait until Summer 2010.  But hey, it’s something fun to plan towards.   But in the meantime — Happy Bad Poetry Day to you!  And should you have forgotten, tomorrow is Snuffleupagus’s Birthday (from Sesame Street).  Don’t forget to celebrate