Piano News November 2016 Edition

 

What a chilly November morning!!  I feel like a bit of a broken record when I say that October went by in a flash!  I expect the next several weeks will too!  Here are a few things to keep you updated:

DRESS UP WEEK

The boys of my Moonbeams 3 piano class requested that this week be “Dress Up Week” .  If you are not already sick of dressing up from a weekend of fun and yesterday (they assured me that they would definitely NOT be sick of dressing up!) then feel free to come to lessons in costume this week for a little bit of extra fun (Oct 31-Nov 4). 😊

PRACTICING

The students have been using the “What’s in my Musical Mind” posters to share with each other what they’ve been learning each week and how many days they’ve been practicing.  It’s a little bit of accountability and motivation rolled up in to one.  We will continue this both this week and next week before we roll out our new practice incentive after the Remembrance Day/Fall break.  Speaking of practicing, I came across this great article and just shared it on the Facebook page:

https://www.pianoinaflash.com/blog/child-doesnt-want-practice/

FALL BREAK

My children and several of my piano students have most or all of the week following Remembrance Day off, so there will be NO LESSONS November 11-18….instead, students will be encouraged to spend that extra time on the Christmas pieces they will be assigned both this week and next week in lesson….and I will be using that time to really start organizing and preparing for our big annual Christmas recital…which will be?? That’s right!

DECEMBER 16, 6:30pm ANNUAL CHRISTMAS RECITAL

Mark your calendars for our annual Christmas Recital on December 16th at 6:30pm in the main auditorium of First Church of the Nazarene, 14320 94 street.  Our theme is:  Christmas in Our Jammies….feel free to dress accordingly!  There will be photo ops AND photo props! 😉 We will begin preparations this week.  Expect fun ensembles, lovely piano solos and yummy treats!

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!

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!!!

Summer Practice Super Star!

Well, it is hard to believe that September is here already and we are soon to be back at the piano lessons and music making!  Over the summer, I challenged my students to make a short practice part of their daily routine as much as possible.  My one student, Elizabeth, set a goal for herself of 50 days of practice spread out through out the summer and she exceeded that goal!  I am so proud of her.  That is a very big achievement!  Having a goal and a plan is the key to success and in the pictures you can see that with the help of her mom, she put together a review and practice plan that helped her achieve that goal…and little sticker rewards along the way to help her track her progress! Well done, Elizabeth!!!
Elizabeth 1Elizabeh 3

Forcing my child to practice…and other true confessions

As I write this post, we are now plummeting through August and back to school/piano lessons is just around the corner. Way back in June, I challenged my students to “practice for their breakfast” this summer to ensure they got a little practice in each day. I’m wondering…how’s it been going?  Did that question just make you spit out your coffee and laugh hysterically?  I can relate.

It’s an age old struggle: Piano Practice.  Believe or not, even I struggle with this with my own children….more so with my son than my daughter now as she has approached the wise old age of 16 and realizes she really actually loves having the ability to play the piano and it has opened so many opportunities she might never have had.  My 12 year old son, on the other hand, has not come to this very wise discovery and so I soldier on nurturing the love of music in him (or as he calls it “forcing him to practice”). So, in full disclosure, it hasn’t gone quite as I had hoped this summer. There has been practice, but not as much as I would’ve liked to have seen…and not always with the most enthusiastic of attitudes.

So, if you’ve been struggling this summer (and possibly this past year) with piano practice and your child has either subtly or outright accused you forcing them to do music…this video is for you.  You are not alone. Hang in there. They really will thank you one day!