A Fun-filled February Master Class

This year, it seems like January and February are going by much more quickly than they usually do and Family Day weekend was here before we knew it!  To give my students the Monday off to enjoy some extra time with their families, I offered a February Master Class this week in lieu of regular lessons.  Sometimes for my master classes, I will have an all encompassing theme, but this time around I wanted to keep it simple and so had three main components:

1. Performance Opportunity:  Each student had the chance to perform a piece that they’d been working on since the New Year.  Knowing this would be coming gave them a little motivation to keep practicing on those short, dark winter days!  While each student played, I used a sheet that I had found on ComposeCreate.com to keep the rest of the students focused and particpating…an adjudication sheet.  Each student had a sheet to use to help them give some specific and guided positive feedback at the end of each performance.  I was so proud of the feedback they gave and the wonderful ways they encouraged and bolstered in each performer!  What a great bunch of students I am blessed to have!

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2. Specific Skill Development:  Then I wanted to focus on one specific skill and it was RHYTHM, of course!  I want my students to be strong in rhythm and to love it, so I pulled out the boomwhackers (because we LOVE them) and did a little Pinterest surfing to come up with some fun Boowhacker ensembles.

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3. Composer Biography: February always includes a composing focus in my studio, especially for the MYC group lessons, and learning about the masters of composition is so important as well as the period and style of music they were a part of creating.  This time our focus was Beethoven, his life and music.  We learned that though he had a challenging childhood and went deaf as a young adult, he still found joy in his music and was able to create that beautiful melody we know as “Ode to Joy” in his 9th symphony.  We enjoyed watching the Piano Guys put a fun new spin on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17GLE-16_3g

Before we knew our time was up and it was time to head home!

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Welcome, February!

Well! We made it through January and are on to a new month and already into our second half of the year.  In fact this week marks week 19 of our 34 lessons already.

I feel like January, though still kind of a long month, went by at a frenzied pace!  In fact, I planned to have a new practice incentive ready to go for February but just had no time!  So, I think I will plan to start up a new incentive after the Family Day week of Master Classes. One that can perhaps lead us right up and into our May recital once again.

So, what’s happening in these upcoming weeks?  Well, during the week following Family Day, we will have another Master Class session featuring fun with composers!  There will be no regular lessons from February 16-20, instead I will be sending out a sign up email next week for Master Classes.  I am in the middle of choosing the composer that will be featured (how to choose just one???) and some of their music to study and we will, of course, prepare a piece to play from what we’ve been currently working on.

I’ve been teaching piano lessons and music classes in Edmonton since 1998 now and I have always found January to end of March to be the most difficult months to get through with a high burnout for kids.  Maybe it’s all the cold snaps we get that just sap all energy and motivation right out of us.  Holding fun filled master classes during this family day week helps to break up that long stretch from January to Spring Break.  Also, this year, because Easter immediately follows Spring Break again, I have decided to try a TWO WEEK spring break.  I am hoping this will give a chance for some real rest and refreshment for the students before we begin our April focus of preparing for our May Recital.

Also, just a reminder that tax receipts were emailed out a couple of weeks ago.  Happy Tax Filing!

Well, bundle up today and stay warm and keep your eyes posted for the Master Class email next week!