To follow up on the Forum Q&A post about gifts for students, here are some photos of the Christmas cookies I gave out to my students this year:
This weekend, my students and I are preparing to play Christmas pieces at a local church’s “Come To The Stable” event. I reserved an hour on Thursday and Saturday when we are going to play (I will fill whatever time my students don’t use). Our music will serve as the background music as people come and go (open-house style) to admire a beautiful display of nativity sets.
In preparation, I’ve been practicing all my favorite Christmas arrangements – and learning a few new ones, too. I discovered a wonderful free arrangement of “Joy To The World” on James Koerts’ website — take a listen below, and then click here and scroll down to download it yourself!
I can’t believe it is December already! This year, I decided to design my own music-themed Christmas photo card to send out to my family and give to my piano students. My husband and I have started a tradition of taking a photo of ourselves with our cats (donned in their mini Santa hats) each year. 🙂
The best part about designing your own photo card template is that they are much cheaper to print. I paid the normal rate for printing 4×6 photos at my local store (rather than paying extra to use the templates provided in the machines at photo centers).
If you would like to use this template too, you are welcome to it! Due to the size of this file (15MB), I have added it to DropBox and you can download it here. You will need access to a program like Photoshop (Photoshop Elements or Lightroom is fine) to edit the text and insert your own photo. Here are the directions:
- Open the file in Photoshop.
- Select the text layer, and change the words to your family members’ names.
- Select the layer called “Put your photo here!” Open a photo of your family, and then drag and drop it to replace the current image.
- Go to File > Save As. Change the file format to jpeg, title the file whatever you wish, and save it to your desktop.
- Print the photo using your favorite online service, or put the file on a flashdrive to take to your local store.
I hope your holiday plans are going well!
Here’s what I gave my students for Christmas this year:
A Symphony chocolate bar, and a personalized glass ornament.
I found the glass ornaments at a craft store (Hobby Lobby). On each ornament, I wrote the student’s name and “2011” on the ornament using a paint pen. I put colorful confetti and pieces of old sheet music inside each ornament. I thought they turned out cute!
For my adult students, I bought music dictionaries. The A to Z of Foreign Musical Terms is my favorite music dictionary. I don’t mind spending a little extra on the adult students to get something they would really use and appreciate. 🙂
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:
- 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! 🙂
- 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.
- 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!
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!”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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”
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!