May News and Year End Dates

Hello, Everyone!

It seems like just yesterday we had our lovely April recital and now we are in the second week of May with only 5 weeks of lessons left!

Our recital went so well and I cannot thank everyone enough for the help you gave and the many ways you all contributed!  It was our earliest ever Spring recital this year (one week earlier than last year) and because I was away for all of Spring Break, it felt like a short time to get organized, but with your help I think it came off better than ever AND I think the early time ended up working out really well as it kind of pumped us all up and has given us extra enthusiasm and a renewed energy for the remaining weeks of lessons! Something that will be especially great for those doing Conservatory exams in June…and for those that aren’t doing exams there is a renewed enthusiasm for getting some extra pieces learned before June! Some students have challenged themselves with learning 30 pieces this year! Phew!

A couple of you have shared a picture of the recital, but I would just love to see more–pictures or video.  I was not able to get pictures or videos taken myself as I have in the past and I missed getting a picture of all the MYC grads.  So please feel free to share!!

YEAR END DATES AND FINAL MASTERCLASS
The kids have all been asking when the next master class is.  Normally I have done a master class as the very last class of the year because I am often away during the May long Weekend week.  However, this year I am not going to be away!  So, I am changing up the schedule just slightly this year.  We will have our last master class of the year during the week of May 24th, immediately following the long weekend.  Then we will have two more regular lessons/classes before finishing up for the year on June 9th.

I will send out the master class times for May 25, 26, 27 in the very next email…expect that in the next day or so.  And you will be able to indicate the time you wish your student to attend, but putting it in the subject line of your reply to that email.

PRACTICE CHALLENGE
Also starting next week will be our final practice challenge of the year.  It’s going to be a lot of fun and offer some more creative ways to look at your piano practice to keep the energy going right to the end of the year…when I issue this year’s Summer Practice Challenge!  A handout will be coming home with each student next week and the summer practice challenge will go home with them at the last lesson of the year, so be sure to continue checking those music bags regularly over the next few weeks!

In the meantime, have a lovely day!  Looks like we’ve got some sunshine again!

Then and Now: A Piano Celebration

April went by in a flurry of activity as we prepared for our annual Spring Recital.  As this was our 15th annual Spring Recital, we thought we would share a few “blasts from the past” and many of the students were excited to play their very first recital piece followed by their newly prepared piece from this year.  It was a special way to show just how much they’ve grown over the years.

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In addition to the lovely piano solos, we had fun ensembles using keyboards, rhythm instruments and even just using our hands and bodies to do a lap, tap, clap, snap rhythm…even the audience got to participate!

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Slipped into each program was a recital compliment exchange sheet that was inspired by fellow teaching colleagues, Swan Kiezebrink and Wendy Stevens (ComposeCreate.com).  Audience members were asked to listen to the solos and leave meaningful compliments for each performer.  This was embraced by most of the audience and in the end I had dozen of sheets of beautiful compliments to share with the students.  These compliment pages have now made a “Great Wall of Encouragement” in our studio for the students to read as they come to lessons this week.  I think they have all left the studio this week with an extra glow about them!

great wall of encouragement

We wrapped up our lovely evening with what every celebration must have:  cake!  A huge thank you to all of you for so generously bringing the supplies we needed for this!  The Elliott family provided cake, the Sedore family helped me blow up balloons, and you all brought plenty of juice and water and treats and napkins and plates.  It was a truly beautiful night and I could never have done it without your help!  The only downside was the few pictures and videos, I managed to get.  I would love it if you would share some of your photos and videos with us!

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March and April News

Time just seems to fly in our piano studio and we are already well into March!  Since the New Year we’ve had a lot of exciting things going on including a special evening field trip to Edmonton Opera’s production of Carmen,  composing, a Pajama Day master class session, a rise and shine practice incentive and now my wall has been filling up with students who were caught practicing without even being asked by the parent paparazzi!!

Just a quick reminder that we will soon be taking a bit of a break…Spring Break will be here shortly and our studio will be closed from March 20-April 2.  Enjoy a lovely break! I am looking forward to spending the two weeks on a mission trip with my daughter to Jamaica where I have been asked to share my love of piano teaching by running a few lessons for those who would not have the opportunity to learn!  Very excited!

We will resume lessons on April 3rd and begin a flurry of recital preparation for our April 29th annual Spring Recital!  I have a few exciting things planned for this year that I think will make for a special time.

Mark you calendars for both the Spring Break and the Recital!

Also coming soon:  The Piano Guys!!! Wednesday, May 18th, at the Jubilee Auditorium!  We are very excited for this!

Piano Pajama Day Master Classes

Happy Family Day!! I hope you have some time today to spend with your family!  Just a quick reminder that this week we will be having Piano Pajama Day Master Classes in lieu of regular lessons!  If you haven’t yet signed up, there is still lots of room on Thursday at 4:30pm as well as some room on Wednesday at 5pm!

Pajama’s are absolutely OPTIONAL but we have a lot of fun PJ party themed activities (including performances, improvising lullabies, ear training, sight reading and theory games!) as we kick off a fun morning practice challenge.  With Spring approaching and the days getting longer, I will be challenging students to do more of their piano practicing in the morning.  They will be challenged to collect 7 morning practices (a full week’s worth!) OR MORE over the next few weeks. Once they reach the 7 morning mark (not necessarily in a row!! Each week they come to lesson they can put a sticker on for each MORNING practice they did!), they will receive a LEVEL ONE morning practice super star certificate! :)  Let’s see who can get to level 3 by Spring Break!  Of course, they may continue to do after school or evening practices too, we still want those 5 practices a week….this is just a fun challenge that shows them the benefits of morning practice and how it frees up the  rest of the day!  And may develop a great habit for when soccer season arrives or warmer weather and more after school and evening activities begin!  Teaching colleague from BC, Andrea Dow, shares why she believes in morning piano practice!

“I was in Grade 11 (at exactly the same time I met my most massive time-stealer… Trevor) when I realized there was no way I was going to accomplish anything with my piano if I didn’t practice. And with homework, singing lessons, musical theatre, sports and… Trevor… it truly was impossible to get anything done after school or in the evenings.

So I did the one thing I absolutely hated to do; I got up earlier to practice piano. And it did wonders for my progress.

Why does morning practice work?

  • Studies have shown that sleep directly (and positively) affects the learning of a fine motor skill. We actually did an interview with Dr. Karen Debas on this topic.
  • No matter how many activities your students have scheduled after school, morning practice ensures their piano is never forgotten, crammed in or done haphazardly. Frenzied or rushed practice results in negativity towards the piano, practice fights with parents and other things we piano teachers would rather avoid.
  • The excuse of “no time” is completely eliminated. With a simple adjustment to the morning alarm, your piano students can have all the time they need.
  • The discipline of getting up early and practicing every day establishes habits that are pro-active and that will carry over into other areas of your students’ lives as well.
  • The likelihood of parental involvement in practice increases, as your students no longer practice alone while parents are at work, driving siblings to other activities etc.
  • As your students become teenagers, homework, jobs, friends and other extracurricular activities no longer pose a threat to their piano progress (none of those things happen in the morning!)
  •  The parental “guilt” from daily practice being repeatedly forgotten is eliminated, taking one more stressor away from busy families.
  • Starting a day off with music starts your students’ days with all of the wonderful benefits that music has been proven to provide such as mood improvement, stress-reduction, and mental alertness.

All of these factors combined means morning piano practice is one of the most powerful ways you can ensure that your piano students are practicing and progressing.”

February Newsletter

Hello, Everyone!

Well, here we are!  We made it through January! And a number of us ended it off with a night at the Opera on Thursday night!  What an experience that was!  If you missed it, Edmonton Opera has just announced next season’s line up and among it is Rossini’s La Cenerentala (Cinderella!!) and Puccini’s Turandot (a story of the kind -hearted Calaf who risks his life to melt the icy heart of Princess Turandot).  Hopefully one of them will have an evening education dress rehearsal again!
http://www.edmontonopera.com/season/2016-17

As we head into February, just a few things to bring to your attention:

1. CAUGHT PRACTICING!  We have 7 students up on our caught practicing wall so far!  Keep emailing those awesome pictures!

2. FEBRUARY MASTER CLASS:  The week following Family Day (February 16-18), there will once again be no regular lessons due to the holiday Monday.  Instead we will once again have special themed Master Classes.  February’s theme will be a Piano Pajama Party…because what could be better than wear your pajamas during the cold winter season! ;)  It will also lead perfectly into our brand new practice challenge that will be kicked off that week and run until Spring Break (How?  You’ll see!).  I will be sending out a Master Class sign up sheet separately in the next day or so!  As a heads up the Tuesday class will be 6pm, the Wednesday class at 5 and the Thursday class is TBD but likely 4:30 or 5.

3. SPRING BREAK:  February is a short month and I am sure Spring Break will be here before we know it.  The calendar on my website has been updated for you to check out but, in the meantime, I am letting you know that we will be having a 2 week Spring Break this year from March 21-April 3.  I have been invited on my daughter’s grade 11 class trip to Mandeville, Jamaica as a chaperone and have also been asked to run a music camp and piano clinic at the orphanage and church respectively while we are there.  In addition, we will be building some much needed extra room onto their buildings, teaching swimming lessons and doing soccer camps with the kids!  I’m looking forward to an exciting, rewarding and thoroughly exhausting time with the 14 teenagers and three other chaperones!  We will leave March 20th and return April 2.  Regular lessons will resume on April 4th.

4. RCM EXAMS:  For those of you doing theory or piano exams this May and June, the deadline to register is March 1st. I will be sending you more information including which centre to register for very soon!

5. SPRING RECITAL: Is officially MAY 6th!  Mark your calendars!!!

Happy New Year-January Newsletter 2016

Hello Everyone and Happy New Year!

After a wonderfully refreshing, albeit quickly passing, holiday, it is absolutely delightful to look forward to having your children back in my studio again starting this Monday, January 4th!

I wanted to take the time before we launch into the new year to thank each and every one of you for your efforts this past fall, culminating with our fantastic Christmas concert. Being a “piano parent” is a big commitment, and I feel so fortunate to be connected with families who see the immense value of music. Learning to play piano can be a life-changing experience and I’m humbled that you have chosen me to be a part of this exciting gift that you continue to give your children.

I’ve spent some of my holiday time planning an exciting second term of lessons and I thought I’d give you a “sneak peek” of just some of what’s to come! This term your children can look forward to:

  • Exciting and fun practice incentives, including a Caught Practicing Event
  • Fun new piano theory games.
  • A composing unit with a “Mail-A-Motive” composing activity.
  • A field trip to Edmonton Opera to see Carmen (those of you who signed up for this in November: watch for an email regarding ticket payment coming on Monday!)
  • A super-fun master class week coming up in February with a PJ party theme!
  • Our Spring Recital coming up in early May, chock full of solos, ensembles and more fun!

I also wanted to reach out to you to let you know that I very much understand the life of a piano parent. Please know that, while I spend most of my time motivating and assisting your children, I’m also here to support you as well! Working as a parent/child/teacher triangle is the optimal way to ensure your children’s success and enjoyment.

You are always welcome to ask for advice on making home practice work, for updates on your children’s progress or for any other musical assistance you may need.

We’re kicking off the “New Year” with a practice event designed to get your children excited and motivated right off the bat. Please watch for information coming home next week. I’m always so appreciative of your assistance and enthusiastic participation in these fun events!

Seeing your children grow, improve and learn to love music is truly the most rewarding part of my job. This past term I saw confidence, progress, creativity, pride, feelings of success and major accomplishments on a weekly basis. These are powerful memories your children are making, and these are invaluable skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. What a gift to your children… what a gift to yourselves to experience … and what a gift for me to be a part of!

See you in the studio!