Music Camps, Music History

2017 Music History Camp

Last week, I held my Music History Blast From The Past camp. We had a blast! 😉

As in previous years, I used my own composer lapbook curriculum for this camp (available here). I know some of you will be very pleased to hear that I have created lapbooks for FOUR brand new composers this year, which will be added to the shop later this summer. Stay tuned!

Snack break is always a hit during camp. 😉

Fun with Scrabble tiles during break.

The four composers we studied this year are Domenico Scarlatti, Muzio Clementi, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. I am always amazed at the amount of information my students retain from this lapbook format. The pictures and the interaction with the information makes the history come alive.  Continue reading “2017 Music History Camp”

Music Camps, Music History

2016 Music History Camp

This week, I held the second of two summer music camps for my students. I always hold a music history camp each year, and we call it “Music History Blast From The Past.”

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Here is the description for the camp:

Music History Blast From The Past
July 11-14, M-Th from 10am-noon
Back by popular demand! This camp gives students a glimpse into the lives of four great classical composers. As we study each composer’s childhood and career, students will learn about the music, fashion, art, and architecture of the time. Every year, students are fascinated to find that they can relate to the life stories of composers who lived hundreds of years ago. In the long run, having this broader context of music history enriches later years of piano study, especially when playing classical piano literature. Each day, students will take home a crafted scrapbook page about that day’s composer. For students ages 5-14. Previous musical background preferable, but not necessary.

Seven of my students registered for this camp this year, plus I had a high school student volunteer as my helper.

For this camp, I always use my Great Composers and Their Music lapbooking curriculum. Each day of camp, we study a music style period (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern) as well as a particular composer from that time period. This year, we learned about Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and Prokofiev.

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As I informed my students on the first day of our camp, the goal of the week is to be able to listen to an unfamiliar piece of classical music and identify the style period (or, at least, take a good guess). This is the same goal that my college professor had for us during the first semester of music history class. Younger students can do it too!

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Here, my students are cutting and assembling their lapbook about Bach. Meanwhile, they are listening as I tell the story of Bach’s life and music.

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We also discussed the general characteristics of the music from each style period. I used material from my Eras of Music History Kit for this. 

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Each day, we had a listening quiz game where we listen to pieces from a YouTube playlist with the goal of identifying the style period we hear. My students got pretty good at this by the end of the week. 

We had a great week!

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To read more about the general lesson plan I use for this camp, click here. 

Composition, Music Camps

2016 Composition Summer Camp: Day 4/4

[Click to view Day 1, Day 2, or Day 3.]

On our final day of camp, students reviewed the drafts of their composition that I had updated and printed from Finale the previous evening. We made small tweaks and reprinted as needed.

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Students took turns using the piano and keyboard to practice their compositions, so that they could perform them for the group.

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A group selfie taken during our snack break.

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Then, it was time to share our compositions.

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It was fun to hear each student’s piece.

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There were a number of other games and activities we used throughout the week, but I mostly wanted to highlight the process of guiding all ten of my students to complete a composition by the end of the week. It wasn’t easy!

What helped was to create daily goals and clearly communicate those goals along the way. I was proud of how the students rose to meet the challenge.

Here are a few of the resulting compositions.

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I used guiding questions to help the students figure out how to dictate the rhythm and properly notate their compositions.

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I made very little critique of the student compositions. The goal for this four-day camp was to experience the process of expressing something through the piano and writing it down. Honing of their compositional skills can occur during later opportunities! I have no doubt that this group of students will be composing more pieces down the road, sooner rather than later, at which time we can spend more time on refinement during their private lessons.

All in all, I couldn’t be happier with how the week went and with the resulting compositions!

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Composition, Music Camps

2016 Composition Summer Camp: Day 3/4

[Click to view Day 1 or Day 2.]

The goal for Day 3 was to have our compositions basically finished by the end of the day. With that in mind, we spent time discussing form (AB, ABA, through-composed, etc.) as well as various aspects of proper music notation.

My cat, Coda, loves to help my students with their compositions.

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It is exciting to see our compositions taking form!

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Halfway through each day, we enjoyed a snack outside on the patio. On this particular day, one of my students brought in a birthday snack to share: homemade ice cream sandwiches!

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Composing is hard work. 😉

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That evening, I updated each student’s composition in Finale and printed nearly-completed drafts for students to work from the following day.

[Click here for Day 4.]

Composition, Music Camps

2016 Composition Summer Camp: Day 2/4

[Click here for Day 1.]

On Day 2 of our composing camp, our goal was to get a good amount of our pieces composed and written down by the end of the day.

We used the piano or keyboard to improvise until we found music we liked.

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Then, we started writing it down on staff paper.

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I had two stations arranged: my piano and my keyboard with headphones.

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Students worked at the table and then took turns using the piano/keyboard.

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I went from student to student, helping them as needed.

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Hard at work, yet having fun!

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It’s exciting to see the compositions taking form.

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That evening, I took it upon myself to enter each student’s composition so far into Finale. I printed these drafts out for students to work from the following day.

[Click here for Day 3.]

Composition, Music Camps

2016 Composition Summer Camp: Day 1/4

As mentioned previously, this week is the week: it’s composition camp for my students and me!

So, You Want To Be A Composer?
June 13-16, M-Th from 10am-noon
Throughout this camp, students will experience the joy of creation while composing their own music: from the energy of the initial creative urge, following the path of their personal inspiration, then settling it all into a captured vision. By the end of the week, each student will take home an illustrated copy of their composition, printed using professional music notation software. In addition to individual work, students will get to take part in group-based improvisation and composition throughout the week. For students ages 5-14. No previous musical background necessary.

As it turned out, ten students — all current piano students of mine — registered for this camp.

On the first day of camp, our goal was for each student to (1) chose a subject for their musical composition and (2) draw an illustration.

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It is so fun to see what each student chooses and how they choose depict the subject matter through their drawing.

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Later in the day, each student took a turn improvising at the piano inspired by his/her drawing. This allowed us explore and experience the process of expressing through sound.

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The rest of the group provided feedback about how the improvisation made them feel or what the music reminded them of.

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This is good preparation for Day 2, when we will start formulating the structure of our compositions and writing them down on staff paper.

That evening, I scanned each student’s illustration so that it would be ready to digitally insert into Finale software later in the week.

Stay turned for more photos of our camp week! [Click here for Day 2.]

Music Camps, Studio Business

Free: Editable Form for Summer Lesson and Music Camps Selection

Today, I thought I’d share the form I have been handing out to my students for the past couple of years in order to present summertime camp/lesson options.

The top of the handout presents the music camp descriptions and dates/times.

summer camp descriptions

At the bottom, there is a form where students can make their selection regarding the summer camps and lessons. I provide my students with a few package options to choose from, while expecting them to continue making the normal tuition payments each month. This gives us both the flexibility and consistency we need for summertime.

summer option selection

Feel free to download this editable Microsoft Word file: “Summer Lesson and Camp Selection form” via the link at the bottom of this post or on the Printables > Studio Business page.

  Summer Lesson and Camp Selection form (143.4 KiB, 3,144 hits)

Music Camps, Music History

2015 Music History Camp

Summertime means…time for music camp!

Last week, I held my first music camp of the year: our annual Music History Blast From The Past camp using my composer lapbook curriculum. This year, I was able to re-use a few of the composers that we studied at camp three years ago, but I did create a new lapbook for Vivaldi.

Each day, we studied a period of music history and a composer from that time period.

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What kid doesn’t enjoy arts and crafts + music?! 🙂

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The four composers we studied this year were Antonio Vivaldi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Amy Beach, and John Cage.

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Here is a photo of this year’s camp T-shirt design. 🙂 I ordered my shirts from

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It was a fun week!

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Interested in holding your own music history camp using these composer lapbooks? Here is a blog post describing how to do just that!

Stay tuned — tomorrow I will share more about the new lapbooks now available in my digital shop: Vivaldi and Prokofiev.

Music Camps

Offering Summer Music Camps for Piano Students

Are you thinking about holding any camps/workshops this summer?  Here are some great reasons to consider holding camps:

  • It allows you to reinforce concepts or cover topics that are difficult to cover during private lessons.  E.g., music history, rhythm, improvisation, composition.
  • It is a great way to build camaraderie among your students.
  • It allows you to have a different/lighter teaching schedule during the summer if you desire.
  • It creates the possibility of increasing your income during the summer months.

Here is what I do during the summer months.  This is pasted directly from my Studio Policies:

Summer Months: During the summer months (June _ through August _), private students are expected to continue taking lessons; however, they have two options: 

  1. 5 lessons scheduled as convenient for the student and teacher, plus all two 4-day summer camps (one each in June, July, and August).  Each camp meets from 10-noon Monday through Thursday.  Summer camps themes vary each year, but may include Musical Olympics, Music History Blast From The Past, Music of the World, etc.  
  2. Or, students may continue weekly lessons (10 in total) as normal.  Students who choose this option may also participate in one or more summer camps for a nominal fee.   

Not only does the teacher feel strongly about the value of continuing the student’s musical education throughout the summer months, but the teacher’s livelihood depends upon a regular income throughout the summer months because the tuition rate has been determined based on a 12-month calendar.  For these reasons, if a student does not continue lessons through the summer, the student unfortunately cannot be guaranteed a spot in the schedule in the Fall especially if there is a waiting list.  

For either option, students are expected to continue paying the flat monthly tuition rate.  This system has worked very well for the past two years and I plan to do it again this summer (2014).

Things to consider as you are planning your camp:

  • How long do you wish for it to last?  Examples: 4 consecutive days for 2 hours each day; or 5 hours in one day; or 6 Tuesdays for 1 hour each day.
  • What is your ideal number of participants?  What is your minimum and maximum number of participants to make it worth your time?  Personally, my range is 4-10 but my ideal group size is 6 or 8.
  • Consider how much you’d like to get paid as a minimum hourly wage during the camp.  Also consider your time involved in all of the preparations beforehand.
  • Choose a theme/topic.  Consider what kind of curriculum you will use — will you write your own lesson plans or buy them?
  • Make a list of all of the materials you will need and total the expenses.  Examples: paper, printer ink, glue, scissors, food for snacktime (or you could ask students to pack their own snack/lunch), game materials, pencils, crayons, craft supplies, etc.
  • Price your camp so that you will be profitable even if you have the minimum number of participants sign up.   Research what it costs for students to attend other types of camps in your area.

Setting Tuition

Be sure to crunch the numbers for a different scenarios until you find a tuition rate that is profitable for your business but also reasonable for your students.  For example…

Scenario 1: Let’s suppose you charged $100/student for an 8-hour camp (4 days, meeting 2 hours each day).

  • If you have 4 students attend and the expenses totaled $100, you would make $300.  If you divide this by the 8 hours of contact time with the students, you are earning only $37.50/hour (not including prep time).  [As with all of your income, of course, you will lose between 20-30% of your income to pay self-employment taxes.]
  • If you have 6 students attend and the expenses totaled $100, you would make $500.  If you divide this by the 8 hours of contact time with the students, you are earning $62.50/hour (not including prep time).
  • If you have 10 students attend and the expenses totaled $100, you would make $900.  If you divide this by the 8 hours of contact time with the students, you are earning $112.50/hour (not including prep time).

Looking at these numbers, I would probably decide that this tuition rate is not profitable in the event that only 4 students register.  Therefore, I would either set my minimum number of students to 6 (which means risking that I might have to cancel the whole thing if I don’t get 6 registrants), or set a higher tuition rate.

This is just a scenario for how you might go about deciding what rate is right for you and your area.  I’m not trying to suggest a particular tuition rate, but rather show you how to think through the numbers.  đŸ™‚  Here is another scenario.

Scenario 2: Let’s suppose you charged $60/student for a 4-hour workshop (1 day).

  • If you have 4 students attend and the expenses totaled $75, you would make $165.  If you divide this by the 4 hours of contact time with the students, you are earning $41.25/hour (not including prep time).
  • If you have 8 students attend and the expenses totaled $75, you would make $405.  If you divide this by the 4 hours of contact time with the students, you are earning $101.25/hour (not including prep time).

As you can see, the success of your camp depends largely on how many students will register!

If you are thinking of holding a camp for the first time and are looking for an easy, complete curriculum, I would highly recommend holding a music history camp using my lapbook curriculum, “Great Composers and Their Music.”  Read more about Music History Camp here.  The curriculum is ready-to-go and students absorb SO much information when they learn through lapbooking.

Other camps I’ve offered in the past include So, You Want To Be A Composer?, Music of the World, and Musical Olympics.

Please share your thoughts about how to plan special camps/workshops in the comments.  I would love to hear from you!

Games, Music Camps, Printables

Musical Olympics Camp – Lesson Plan & Materials

I have finally completed the lesson plans for the Musical Olympics Camp!  This pdf is a FREE download from the Printables > Lesson Plans page.  Let me give another thank you to Sheryl Welles for her great game ideas, and for her permission to include descriptions of those games in the lesson plan.

This pdf also includes a few new printables I created for the Musical Olympics Camp.  I decided to make some of those new printables available for download on the Printables page too, since some of them may easily be used for activities besides the camp.  Here’s a list of all the printables:

Group Classes

Carpet Squares for Working With Groups

Many months ago, I bought a bunch of carpet square samples from a flooring store.  Even though I was still in grad school at the time and didn’t have any real use for them (yet), I had a plan for them.  And they were incredibly cheap.  đŸ™‚

During last week’s Piano Readiness Class, I got to try them out for the first time!  I put out three squares for my students and myself to sit on while doing activities on the floor.

Here’s what I liked about them:  Continue reading “Carpet Squares for Working With Groups”

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps

DIY: Ribbon Rings for Music & Movement Activities

I got the idea for this craft from Kara’s Creative Place blog (thanks for the brilliant idea, Kara!).  Ribbon Rings (Kara’s example is pictured at right) are a fun prop for movement activities with young students during group lessons, camps, or early childhood music classes.  Kids love fluttering the ribbons of these props while they do the motions to various songs.  You can buy similar ribbon rings at…..or you can make your own!

These ribbon rings are made using the (non-sticky) plastic tape that is found at most hardware stores near the Caution tape.  I did consider using satin ribbon, however, plastic tape is much, much cheaper.  And actually I was pleasantly surprised at the results of using plastic tape.  I like it much better.  Because it’s so light, it flutters in the air so much better than satin ribbon would.  Definitely give it a try before you invest in satin ribbon!   Continue reading “DIY: Ribbon Rings for Music & Movement Activities”