Forum Q&A's, Giveaways, improving as a teacher, Professional Development

Forum Q&A: Assignment Notebook/Pages for Students

Today’s post brings a new Forum Q&A topic, and another GIVEAWAY!

Our last Forum Q&A discussion was about perfectionism.  It’s never too late to add your thoughts to the comments, so feel free to hop over there and join in the conversation!  I plan to follow up with an article on perfectionism to discuss this topic further at some point, but haven’t gotten to it yet!  So many ideas, so little time…  🙂

Today’s new Q&A topic is about assignment notebooks.  I’m curious –

What is your method of writing down assignments for students?  Do you use a notebook (if so, any particular size/type?) or do you have a custom-made sheet you designed on the computer?  What kinds of things are usually included on a typical assignment? 

Today’s giveaway is a pair of decorative balls, decoupaged by hand with vintage sheet music: Continue reading “Forum Q&A: Assignment Notebook/Pages for Students”

Composition, Music Theory, Printables, Teaching Piano

Just Added: Music Staff Paper for Stickers of all Sizes

Guess what!  Tomorrow is Color In My Piano’s THREE YEAR anniversary!  Woohoo!  I’ve got a few fun posts and giveaways planned for later this week in honor of our anniversary.  But today, I thought I’d share this new printable:

Continue reading “Just Added: Music Staff Paper for Stickers of all Sizes”

Group Classes, Music Theory, Worksheets

Just Added: “Gallery of Music” Symbol Drawing Worksheets

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I have a free printable to share today…

This is a set of simple worksheets for having students learn to draw various music symbols.  The worksheets can be used singly or in groups, depending on what concepts your students are currently learning.  I would encourage students to use colorful crayons to draw the symbols.

Here are the symbols covered on each page:

  1. Quarter, half, dotted-quarter, and whole notes.
  2. Quarter, half, dotted-quarter, and whole rests.
  3. Single eighth note, beamed eighth notes, eighth rest, and dotted quarter note.
  4. Treble clef, bass clef, staff, and grand staff.
  5. Barline, double barline, repeat sign, and time signature.
  6. Forte, piano, mezzo forte, and mezzo piano.
  7. Sharp, flat, natural, quarter note with flat.
  8. Slur, tie, staccato, accent.

If you have suggestions for more symbols to include in additional worksheets, let me know!

To download this set of worksheets, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the G’s for “Gallery of Music – Symbol Drawing Worksheets.”

P.S.: I received an email yesterday from the MTNA Collegiate Chapter at Butler University, asking if I’d send a link to the survey they created about online marketing for piano teachers.  They are looking for responses to help them with a session they will be presenting at the MTNA National Conference in NYC next month.  Please take a minute of your time to help them out!   http://tinyurl.com/butlersurvey2012

P.S.S.: Today is the last day to sign up to attend the MTNA National Conference at the early registration discount!  Visit mtna.org to learn more.  Hope to see you in NYC!

improving as a teacher, Performances, Practice, Reading Notation, Teaching Piano

Teaching Tip: Achieving Fluency

Have you ever had a student play a piece with frequent hesitations throughout, even though you know they can play much better than that?  This phenomenon can occur with all ages/levels of students.  Why does this happen?  What is going on when this happens?  This article will examine possible causes of and solutions for a lack of fluency.

A lack of fluency could be caused by a number of things:

  1. A lack of the proper technique required for the executing the piece;
  2. A lack of familiarity of the notes of the piece;
  3. A tempo that is too fast for the student’s ability at that moment; or,
  4. A lack of mentally “chunking” the information on the page properly.  The analogy I use to refer to Number 4 is that the students feels like they are wearing horse blinders, or are mentally experiencing tunnel vision.

Continue reading “Teaching Tip: Achieving Fluency”

Announcements, improving as a teacher, Music Camps, Studio Business

My Summer Camp Plans for 2012!

I recently started to do some in-depth planning for the summer camps I plan to offer this summer!  My studio policies provide students with two options for the summer months (June-August):

  1. Students ages 6-12 may participate in a camp each month plus take 5 lessons scheduled approximately every other week around family vacations, or…
  2. Students may continue weekly lessons (10 total) as normal.  Students who choose to continue lessons as normal are welcome to sign up for 1, 2, or all 3 summer camps on top of their lessons if desired, at a special rate.

Because I have such a range of ages/levels in my studio, I decided to make my camps very flexible so that students of a wide range of musical backgrounds (even those with no music background) can attend camp.  When my studio is larger, I will probably design camps for certain ages/levels.  For this year, I think it’s best to be flexible.  I’m encouraging my students to invite their friends to attend camp and I’ll put posters around town too.  I’m hoping for a turnout of about 4-8 students attending each camp.

Below are the descriptions I came up with for each camp.  What do you think — do they sound like fun?!  🙂   Continue reading “My Summer Camp Plans for 2012!”

Forum Q&A's

Forum Q&A | Perfectionist Piano Students

Last week, our Forum Q&A discussion was about saying goodbye to piano students before moving away.  Today, I’d love to hear your thoughts about students who are perfectionists.  We’ve all had them!  Sometimes they are so hard on themselves when it comes to making mistakes that they stop having fun.  They may even stop making progress in their piano study as a result of their intense fear of making mistakes.

On the other hand, as a professor at my alma mater once said, music is one of the few professions where perfection is not only expected, but it is considered the norm.  We have to admit, our goal is perfection in a way.

And so, I think a balance is necessary.

What are your thoughts?  What can we do about students who become too hard on themselves?  How do you help the perfectionist student become “okay” with making mistakes?  How do we help students achieve a balance when it comes to reaching perfection?  

Announcements, improving as a teacher

Thoughts for the New Year

The new year always brings about a time of reflection for me.  I find myself thinking back over the past year and looking forward to the future, wondering what the new year might bring.

This year was a time of great change for my husband and me.  In May, I graduated with my Master of Music degree.  We also moved to a new state.  It has been an adjustment to be out-of-school.  I still keep myself just as busy as I was during grad school, but it’s a different kind of busy.  Instead of having a schedule where nearly every half-hour of my day was portioned out to a class, rehearsal, or other appointment, my schedule is suddently much more flexible.  Now I have the flexibility to choose when I complete the items on my “to-do” list.  And I have to time to work on various projects that I never would have had time to do during grad school. Continue reading “Thoughts for the New Year”

seasonal / holiday

Christmas Gift for Piano Students

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.  🙂

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.

 

Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Music Theory, Printables

Just Added: Musical Flashcard Sorting game

This is a simple game to play with groups of students that makes note-naming flashcards a bit more interesting.   It involves sorting the flashcards onto alphabet letter signs on the floor, as pictured on the right (the “A” flashcards would go in the blank space on the right side of the page).

The game is pretty flexible, because beforehand you can sort out exactly which flashcards you want to focus on with your students.  This also allows you to control how long you wish the game to continue.

You can also use different flashcards.  With my Homeschool Music Class this week, we used my Piano Key naming flashcards (they came with the MiniMusic set I purchased earlier this year).  With my Piano Readiness Class, we’ve been doing on-staff work so we used regular staff-note-naming flashcards (I use this set from Faber & Faber, but any flashcards will do).

Another tip with this game: if you are using the note-naming flashcards, arrange the musical alphabet signs on the floor in a column, so that A is at the bottom and G is at the top.  I recommend this because this arrangement resembles the staff, where the musical alphabet progresses vertically.  If you are using piano-key-naming flashcards, I would arrange the signs on the floor horizontally, just like the keyboard.

Download the pdf of the alphabet signs and detailed gameplay instructions by visiting the Printables > Games page.  Scroll down to the M’s for “Musical Flashcard Sorting game.”

  Musical Flashcard Sorting game (1.2 MiB, 11,964 hits)

Studio Business, Technology

Studio Marketing: Social Networking & More

I’ve been intending to write this post in the “Studio Marketing” series (perhaps the last one) for awhile now, but I was stalling in hopes of being able to include more information about the new Google+ social networking site……I’ll get to that in a moment.  Read on. 🙂

What can Social Networking do for YOU? 

I’ve discussed before about how important it is today to have a website for your business.  It’s important to have an online presence, period.  Utilizing social networking helps built rapport between you and your current & potential customers.  Marketing is promoting your business.  It’s about reaching people where they are.  And it’s about creating an image for your business that people want to identify themselves with.

The good news is that social networking is free.  Yes, you will have to invest a little time to set things up and update things now and then, but I think you will find it a very rewarding activity if you aren’t doing it already!  Continue reading “Studio Marketing: Social Networking & More”