Performances, Printables

DIY Project: Recital Countdown!

Do you have any 4×6 photo frames lying around?  It’s time to put one to good use!

recital countdown background

This do-it-yourself project will help remind your students about upcoming studio events each time they come for their piano lesson.  🙂

Materials:

  1. 4×6 photo frame
  2. Printed background (download the free JPG file on the Printables > Other Resources page — scroll down to “Recital Countdown”).  When you print, be sure that the image is printing at the actual 100% size.
  3. Dry erase marker

  Recital Countdown (1.3 MiB, 4,732 hits)

Directions: Design a background (or print the one I’ve created), insert it into a 4×6 photo frame, write the event & countdown number on the glass with a dry erase marker, and place your new Recital Countdown on/near your piano!

Enjoy!  🙂

Announcements, Performances

My 2013 Spring Recital

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Easter weekend!

Saturday was my students’ Spring Recital!  Like last year, I held it at my local library.  My students all did such a nice job — they make me so proud!

DSC_20130330_154803In photo above you’ll see each student with a rose, which is a tradition I’ve kept up for the last few years.  It’s nice to give something at the end of the recital, and giving a rose is a nice, affordable gesture to congratulate them for their performance and hard work.

Do you have a recital tradition?  🙂

Announcements, Performances

Spring Recital Details

As I mentioned yesterday, our Spring Recital was Saturday!  Here’s how it went down:

  • It was held at the local library.  They have an atrium with a Steinway baby grand piano.  In the past, I’ve always held recitals at churches (and once at a school).  I look for churches with grand pianos that can be moved to the center of the sanctuary.  Being new in town, I haven’t yet discovered which churches have this kind of set-up (plus they have to be affordable).  Two of my students suggested using the library, so we did.  It costs $50 to rent and it’s a nice location with high ceilings and lots of natural light.  I was happy with it!
  • I always play something at my students’ recitals.  This year, I asked my friend, a violinist for whom I’m accompanying for her semester juries at my local university, to play her jury piece with me.  She was thrilled to be asked — but she needed to be first on the program so she could leave early for another event she had in the afternoon.  I wish I could let you hear the piece — but I forgot to start the video camera before we played the piece!  (I’m still kicking myself.)  Anyway, here’s Itzhak Perlman playing it.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKI9uoNfC18
  • After the violin piece, my students played.  I had 10 out of my 16 students play at the recital (the others are adult students, new 4-year-old students, or had a schedule conflict).  I knew it would be a short and sweet recital, but I still feel recitals are beneficial enough that it was worth doing anyway!
  • After playing, my students stood in the front for a group photo, and I gave them each a rose for their performance.  It’s a tradition I’ve been doing for a few years now, although my students in my new town, of course, have not experienced it yet.
  • Afterwards, we had a little reception with cupcakes, a Kit Kat piano (a la Pinterest), and cheese n’ crackers.

I don’t think I can share video of the recital since the pieces performed are under copyright, but I hope to share a photo slideshow soon!

Do you all have Spring Recitals coming up?  I like holding mine early in the Spring because May and June are such a busy months.

Ear Training, Early Childhood Music, Performances, Printables

Listening Sheet for Young Students

As I mentioned last week, during my recent Piano Party/recital rehearsal I gave a listening sheet to my young beginners to complete as they listened to their fellow students perform.  Here’s what it looked like:

I put each sheet in a plastic sheet protector and gave them a dry erase marker with a piece of felt so they could re-use the sheet for each piece they heard.  It worked pretty well — my students were very attentive and really liked telling me about what they circled between pieces!

This worksheet would also work well for private lessons or group classes with beginner students to use while listening to recordings — like Carnival of the Animals, or whatever.

I do wish the sheet protector cleaned off a little better.  The ones I used have kind of a matte surface…maybe I need to get some of the thicker, shiny ones?  Or try laminating?

Anyway, my students really enjoyed this listening sheet!  I found the clip art on some various public domain clip art sites.  You could easily design your own the same way.  Or if you’d like to download mine, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the L’s for “Listening Sheet for Young Students.”

P.S.:  As requested, I added a page to the Rhythm Value Cards pdf: three beamed eighth note cards for use in compound time signatures.  (Thanks for catching that, Bee!)

repertoire / methods, Reviews

Review: Daniel McFarlane’s Repertoire for Students

Australian composer Daniel McFarlane has composed a number of student-level repertoire books which are available on his website.  Daniel was kind enough to send me digital copies of his books so I could review them here.

In appearance, all of Daniel’s books have easy-to-read scores with no illustrations.  The titles of each piece are in fun fonts depending on the subject of each piece.

All of Daniel’s books can be purchased in hard copies or as digital copies (be careful that you’ve selected the right one when you check-out! The digital ones clearly say “Digital Edition” in the title, and allow for one print-out of the book).  The prices for the music of Daniel’s website are in Australian dollars.  Daniel assured me that when you check-out, the conversion to your currency would be made properly.  The current rate of AUD compared to USD is about 1:1.

Soundscapes Book 1

The pieces in Sounscapes Book 1 have a pop-ish and almost rock music sound to them, while retaining elements of classical music and good educational writing for students.  The pieces feature repetitive patterns and chord progressions, catchy tunes, lyrical RH melodies, syncopated rhythms, and repeated LH notes.

I would use this book with an early intermediate student (probably no younger than age 9) who has good technique and an excellent sense of rhythm.  It could also be a great option for teenagers or adult students at that level of playing.  The pieces are very appealing in sound and would be a great option for boy students.

As you read this review, open another window and listen to the pieces hereContinue reading “Review: Daniel McFarlane’s Repertoire for Students”

Games, Group Classes

Piano Party Success!

On Saturday, I held a Piano Party for my students.  It was basically a group lesson and rehearsal for our Spring Recital which is coming up in a few weeks.  Most of my students have never met each other, so this was a good opportunity for them to learn a little about each other and to share their pieces.  I’d like to hold group lessons more regularly now that I have enough students to do so…..so this was a good start!

Here’s what we did:

  • We started by introducing ourselves to each other.  Then I expressed how excited I was for them all to be here.  (My philosophy is that if you want your students to be excited about being there, than you’d better show some enthusiasm yourself too!)  🙂
  • Together, we completed the Performing at the Piano worksheet which discusses performance etiquette and more.  Continue reading “Piano Party Success!”
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.

 

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

Games, Interviews, Performances

Teacher Feature | Diane Heath

The new month brings us a new teacher feature!  Say hello to Diane, everyone!

Please tell us about your piano and/or teaching background.

I teach part-time, with a studio of 20 – 25 students, and am also a church musician in Washington, DC.  For over twenty years I’ve taught piano and organ, as well as K – 12 class-room music, and worked extensively with children and adults in church choirs.   Additionally, there was a stretch as a creative home-schooling mom, but now I’m the parent of a college student.   My education was at  Hartt School of Music,  Indiana University, and The Levine School where I earned a certificate in Piano Pedagogy.  I’ve been privileged to study with wonderful piano teachers, including Jeffrey Chappell and Alexander Farkas. Continue reading “Teacher Feature | Diane Heath”

improving as a teacher, Performances, Professional Development

Tips for a Successful First Studio Recital

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”