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”
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!
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.”
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”
A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a reader asking advice regarding planning a studio recital for the first time. For the sake of others who might be in the same situation, I decided to create a whole post about this topic — read on.
Q: How do I decide what kind of music to have students play?
I would suggest buying separate sheet music rather than the usual pieces in their method books. There’s something special about having a separate sheet music for the recital. I even like to write on the sheet music something like: “Johnny’s 1st Recital – May 1, 2011.” It is an extra expense for students which I personally feel is worth it. Continue reading “Tips for a Successful First Studio Recital”
Have you held your spring recital yet? If you haven’t, here’s a new recital program template you are free to use if you like!
I currently have two recital templates on my Printables page and they are very popular downloads. This one is in color, although it still looks pretty good in black and white if you plan to print it that way.
To download: Visit the Printables > Other Resources page and scroll down to “Piano Recital Program Template #3.” I saved it as a “docx” this time, and I hope you all are still able to open it even if you don’t have the latest version of Microsoft Word. Please let me know if you run into problems.
If your spring recital has already occurred, how did it go? I’d love to hear all about it!
- I have finished all the requirements for my Master’s degree! HOORAY! =D
- Today we have a new GIVEAWAY! Here are the details:
Andrea & Trevor Dow from yesterday’s interview have kindly agreed to sponsor a giveaway of Episode 1 of The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo! This pdf is a $19.95 value and contains Early Elementary, Elementary, and Intermediate Level versions of the pieces, accompanied by a three page comic. Once you’ve purchased the pdf, you are free to print off as many copies as needed for use with your students! Read more about The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo piano music for boys by clicking here.
To enter to win, leave a comment on this post!
- Ask Andrea & Trevor a question you still have after reading yesterday’s interview.
- Tell us about how you would use The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo in your studio!
- Or, share any tips you have about keeping boy students motivated in their piano studies.
You may earn one additional entry in the giveaway by sharing the link to this giveaway on your blog or on your facebook page. Be sure to leave an additional comment on this post to let me know you’ve done this, so that you get your extra entry.
The winner will be chosen via random number generator. Enter before Thursday, May 19, 2011 @ midnight for your chance to win!
For last week’s Forum Q&A, I broached a few questions about memorization and many of you left comments regarding whether or not to require memorization for performances within your studio — but not many of you addressed my initial question about whether you consider the skill of memorization is essential to piano playing (i.e., do you think it is necessary/required for concert pianists to play by memory? Why or why not?). I discussed this topic further in yesterday’s post, which you can view here. As always, it’s never too late to add your thoughts to this ongoing discussion. =)
Today, however, marks the introduction of a new topic for discussion:
Many popular piano methods today include (as they should) arrangements of familiar tunes for students to learn. This is great, because many students LOVE learning how to play tunes they are familiar with! (Side note: click here to view a post regarding some thoughts on what makes a great piano method.) However, these arrangements sometimes present a problem:
Oftentimes in arrangements, the rhythm of the tune is altered and “simplified” in order to accomodate the rhythmic values that the student has/hasn’t learned yet. This is all fine and dandy, but as a teacher, what do you do when a student comes back the next week playing the rhythm “wrong”?
To give one example that frequently occurs with beginner students, I’ve heard many students return playing the rhythm of “Ode to Joy” with dotted-quarter-eighth rhythms instead of playing all quarter notes (despite the fact that we sightread it together with the rhythm as written). How do you handle this situation: do you “fix” the student’s rhythm to match what is on the page even though it goes against their intuition, or do you “let it go?”
I’m sure many of us piano teachers have been in this situation before! Share your experiences in the comments below.
A couple of weeks ago we discussed what to do when a student performance “bombs.” This week, we’ll return to the topic of recitals and talk about assigning repertoire:
When assignment recital repertoire to students, do you generally assign something challenging since they have a lot of time to work on it? Or do you assign something that is a little bit easy for them, so they can easily succeed at polishing and memorizing the piece? Or do you simply assign a piece that is right at their current level?
Share your thoughts below!
These week’s Forum Q&A was prompted by a comment by Kaylee on the facebook page. Kaylee asked for advice about teaching an adult student who is older than she is. If you have advice to offer, please visit the facebook page and leave a comment!
But for this Forum Q&A, we will focus on the general question about the differences between teaching adults versus children/teens:
What differences are there between teaching adult students and children/teens? What adjustments to your approach must be made when teaching adults? What method books or repertoire do you like to use with adults students?
Contribute your thoughts in the comments below!
Just added to the Printables > Other Resources page: Musical Dice!
This is one of the projects I was working on over Christmas break! I’m happy to now have it finished and posted. =)
Here’s what the PDF contains:
- Basic Accidentals (6-sided dice) | This die allows for three possible rolls: sharp, flat, and natural.
- Basic Intervals Unison-3rd (6-sided dice) | This die allows for three possible rolls: unison, second, and third.
- Intervals Unison-8va (8-sided dice) | This die allows for eight possible rolls: unison, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8va. Continue reading “Printable Musical Dice”