Fun with the Practice Elves!

Well, all the practice elves found a home this week. Have you been having some fun with your elf yet or are you waiting until December 1st to officially start? Or maybe you feel like you don’t know where to begin and are looking for some ideas? Here are some of my suggestions for you:

You can move the elf from piece to piece each night and just have your child start there piano practice where the elf is. This will ensure there is a little variety each day in there practice. Wherever the elf is will be where their practice begins, then they would continue as they normally would

You can put the elf on a piece they’ve never seen before or played from their book and then they would have to begin their practice by sight-reading that piece.

The elf could be placed on a piece of music with special instructions to call a grandparent or aunt or uncle and play the piece over the phone for them. Or it could have special instructions for how many times to play the piece that day (ie “Play this piece 3 times at 7:45am and then again at 4pm) Or the elf could simply be encouraging saying something like, “You’re awesome!”
For a little help and creativity with these ideas, try printing off some speech bubbles:

If you think that the Christmas piece is the one piece in particular that needs the help then use the elf and the speech bubbles to assign a new and different way to practice it each day (ie 4 times slow like a turtle, play over phone for 3 friends, play it with your eyes closed once after 3 times through, etc, etc, etc)

So, have you named your elf and begun the fun…if so, I’d love to hear about it! Share you elf’s name and post any pictures of it’s shenanigans to our facebook page so we can all enjoy the fun and creativity!
practice elf fun

Wisdom for Your Wednesday

“Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds.” ~ Karl Paulnack

A little fun with Wordle

Today I am playing around with Wordle! It’s so neat! I was just saying to my husband the other day that I’d really like to learn how to make cool graphic facebook covers, advertisements, webpage graphics, etc when I heard about Wordle from Teach Piano Today. This worlde was created just using my webpage/blog url… can tell the focus of my webpage right now is the Christmas recital, can’t you! πŸ˜‰


Elf on the Shelf, Meet the Piano Practice Elf!

What an absolutely terrific week we have had! The days and weeks are flying by and I cannot believe this is the last week of November already! Not to mention we have just under three weeks left to our annual Christmas recital…or about 20 days left to practice!

I think our students have been doing a pretty outstanding job of practicing this year so far and I am so proud of the enthusiasm they shared over the Pennies for Practice idea that was presented last week! HOWEVER, I thought it might be nice to add a little something silly and fun, too! And so, we are going to incorporate the “Elf on the Shelf” idea at our studio and introduce a little Christmas magic into our daily piano practice. For those of you unfamiliar with the “Elf on the Shelf” idea, here it is in a nutshell: “The Elf on the Shelf is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.” For more info:

So here’s how we are going to take this idea and work it in to our piano practice, I have printed off and laminated little elves to send home with each student this week–one per student. PARENTS, here is what you need to do: Each night after your child has gone to bed, the Piano Practice Elf will need your help choosing a new page in their piano book on which to hide. The next day, your child will need to hunt for the elf in their book and then begin their practice with the piece or concept where the Elf was hiding. You can be as creative as you want and have the elf leave little messages of encouragement, special instructions (play this piece over the phone for Nana) or tell a silly piano or Christmas joke OR as simple as you want. PARENTS: This is an absolutely OPTIONAL practice idea, but in order for it to work and to be a success, it will require your help and participation. All I hope for is that this will simply be a way of incorporating some extra Christmas fun into our practicing and be a way for our students to look forward to each day of practice! I will be sending the elves home with the students this week. Feel free to name your elf together and incorporate him/her into your practice immediately OR coordinate his/her appearance with your own elf on the shelf OR wait until December 1st to begin….it really is up to you!! Remember, once you have decided on a name together, his magic begins!! πŸ˜‰ If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to email me! I would LOVE to hear what you name your Elf and about any of his antics, crazy or otherwise….you can even post pictures of his activities to our studio facebook page:

practice elf

Practicing for Pennies!

Tis the season for giving … and spreading kindness, love and cheer. And we hope to do a lot of that at our studio here through the music we are learning and preparing to share with you for the upcoming Christmas recital as well as throughout the holidays. But that’s not the only way we hope to share kindness and cheer this holiday season.

Last week, on November 13th, was World Kindness Day and my daughter remarked, “What? There’s actually a day designated to be kind to each other?” Yes, there actually is! And it got me to thinking that maybe it is meant to remind us that we should be spreading kindness each and every day…and why not start now! So, I am putting a challenge out to all my students to practice for pennies….and share with those less fortunate this Christmas.

I am going to pledge ONE PENNY PER PRACTICE MINUTE to each and every one of my students. All they need to do is track and log their practice minutes between now and their last lesson prior to the Christmas Recital. I would encourage my students to ask their parents or relatives to match my pledge of one penny per practice minute and see just how much money we can raise between now and our Christmas recital. Then during the week of the December master classes (the week after the recital) we will choose gifts and countries to give to from the Food for the Hungry gift catalogue.

So, what do you need to do? Practice! …of course… but also tally your practice minutes each day and then again at the end of the week. Bring me your final total to your lesson during the week of December 9-13th along with a record of any other people who have pledged as well and how much you’ve raised on your own. That way I can add up the total number of practice minutes and share that at the Christmas recital. If you let me know of other pledges you have then I can add that to the total raised. Then collect those funds (if applicable) and bring them in to the master classes during the week of December 16-18. I will be able to total it all and we can choose our gifts and countries.

So, let’s get practicing….after all, you only have until your last lesson before the Christmas recital to log those minutes! My challenge to you is to see if we can reach 10,000 minutes of practice as a student body between now and our Christmas Recital!

Remember: participation in this challenge is completely optional and it is up to you whether or not you want to keep track of practice minutes. It does NOT require extra practice time or extra pledges unless that is something you feel you want to do. I just thought it would be a nice way to use our time and our talents to help someone in need. πŸ™‚

Getting Ready for Christmas!

We are back at it again this week with a very exciting 5 weeks to go until Christmas is here (4 more weeks until our recital)!! Here are just a few quick updates for you and a look at the exciting things coming in the next couple of weeks:


I hope my students enjoyed this fall break and are feeling refreshed. Did you find time to work on those recital pieces? πŸ˜‰ I had a very productive week here going through recital programs of yesteryear and choosing some new ensemble pieces. I put a little something new on the practice tree, planned and prepared a couple of new little practice incentives AND I had a wonderful & refreshing time on Wednesday with local composer, Joyce Pinckney (many of you have played her pieces!), and some amazing and inspiring teachers. As I prepared for our recital, I also had a little giggle over the blog I wrote about the “Recital Disaster of 2010” (which I actually won an award for last year! πŸ˜‰ ).


Our 13th annual Christmas Recital will be on December 13, 2013 at 6:30pm at First Church of the Nazarene, 14320 94 street! Let the recital countdown begin: 26 more days left to practice!


EXCITING NEWS!!! I’ve just heard from Santa and our studio has been chosen to have some of his most experienced practice elves visit our students until December 25th. These elves will be reporting back to Santa each night as to who has been practicing…and who has not!!

Stay tuned for more details coming later this week! (This will be much like the “Elf on the Shelf” idea that has become so popular and the elves will be ready to go home with the students beginning next week! It is an optional activity but I hope you will have some fun with it)


World Kindness Day was this past week, November 13th, and I just saw the cutest short film that a dear friend of mine, Jason Vance, put together for it. In watching it, I was reminded that kindness and generosity is something that can be practiced each and every day. And so, I’d like to introduce “Practicing for Pennies” this Christmas season. I’d like to challenge each of my piano students to record their practice minutes each day and ask parents, grandparents or other family members to sponsor them at the rate of 1 penny/minute over the next 4 weeks. With the money raised we will choose together a gift from the Food for the Hungary Christmas catalogue. Students will need to log and keep track of their practice minutes in their homework books.