Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year! What will 2020 bring? What goals will you set? I am working on a few personal and professional goals and highly anticipate seeing what this year has in store. In the meantime, I’m excited to share a few things coming up in our studio!

  • Lessons and classes will resume Monday, January 6th! We will return to our regular schedule.
  • January and February will once again have a composing focus as we all work on creating our own music. In preparation for this, I’ve enrolled in this 10 day chord challenge that starts on Jan 5! It’s run by a colleague of mine who is a prolific composer and songwriter! It’s geared towards both piano teachers and intermediate level piano students and I think it would be an excellent way for us to start the new year! A great way to build upon those lifelong piano skills! The course is only $7 to enrol! I hope all my students who are a grade 4 level and up enrol and go through the challenge with me! https://elissamilne.simplero.com/page/133889
  • UKULELE is returning! We had so much fun during our Holiday Ukulele classes that I’ve decided to continue a once a month class for those who would like to continue adding new chords and songs to their repertoire. For those of you who wished they could be a part of that holiday class and would like to take part in the once a month class, I will be offering a one day “Crash Course in Ukulele Playing” on Saturday, January 18th at 10:30am. We will cover 3-4 chords, strumming basics, learn a couple songs and get up to speed enough to join the monthly ukulele circle! Cost will be $25. Must be between the ages of 8 – 108. 😉 Book now.
  • CALENDAR: this year our calendar has a couple anomalies! We have a leap year with an extra day in February AND we have local school districts split between two different Spring Break schedules! Because of this our studio will be doing a two week Spring Break from March 23 – April 5! This will allow everyone to be able to plan their break without worry of missing lessons.  Also the calendar page on the website has been updated showing which weeks are Spring Break, which weeks are master classes and when the projected last week of lessons will be in June!
  • And finally, booking for the Spring Recital is in the works…will likely be the weekend of May 9.

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Christmas Recital & Masterclasses

Christmas Recital & Masterclasses

December was a busy but beautiful month! We spent hours of practice time preparing for the recital. I personally spent an extra amount of time in daily practice as I was challenged by family members to do an advent calendar of piano music!  For each day of practice we all did, we added a link to a paper chain. You can see our Christmas Practice chain really filled out!
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Our recital went off with only one technical hitch and the audience enjoyed dozens of beautiful piano solos, several festive ensembles and a ukulele led carol sing!

We wrapped up 2019 with Christmas Master Classes the week after recital! It was a fun way to celebrate and bond!

We played a few rounds of Holiday Who Am I.

Then we reviewed note naming (key naming for the preschool class) with a Snowball Fight Game. Teams raced their way up the mountain to see which team would be the first to declare “snowball fight”!

We did a little improvising utilizing the “snowflake technique” a repeating pattern found in The Piano Guys video “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”.

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And we did a little solo playing.

3BC54074-3978-450D-B9F3-2CB534F2E38DWe wrapped up our class with popcorn and one more favourite Piano Guys video:

An Apple-icious Practice Incentive!

The days feel just a bit cooler and I’m seeing apples on trees everywhere!  I think this means that our September kickoff is just around the corner and piano lessons are almost back in session!

In preparation for this, I have been working away in the studio and one of the projects I’m super excited about is a practice challenge for my entire student body.  I wanted a challenge that would work for every student, from beginner to advanced.  One that would introduce the beginners to a daily practice routine and one that would help the experienced students return to that daily practice routine.  As it’s the start of the year, I also wanted something simple so as not to be overwhelming.

Several years ago Teach Piano Today put out a fun apple-themed practice challenge, but though all the work was done for me, I wanted something a little less involved for our kickoff…and the chance to have a little fun with Canva  and some simple graphic design was an added bonus.

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I’m really excited with how it turned out and if you’re a parent who would like a copy for your child at home or a teacher who would like to try it in your studio you can get it right here.

In keeping with the apple theme, I dug out my old “practice tree” and placed little apple name tags all over the tree with my student’s names.  Each week they complete one of the challenges, they will be able to place a sparkle apple sticker on their name.  This challenge will wrap up just in time for our Thanksgiving master classes and we will celebrate completing the challenges with an apple-y treat!

I can’t wait to show my students!

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Creating a Practice Nest!

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All last week on the Facebook book, I shared 5 tips courtesy of Teach Piano Today on how to create a special place for your child to practice….so they will want to practice over the summer!  If you missed the posts, or do not use Facebook, here they all are together for you!  Thank you so much to Andrea Dow of Teach Piano Today for compiling these wonderful ideas!

1. When choosing a location for your piano, select a space that is lived-in, welcoming, and well-lit. Keep it close to “the action” but not in the action. Your children will gravitate to the piano more often if it is in a central place in your home. Avoid bedrooms, basements and other “put away” places. Feeling shut-off from the family while practicing will inevitably lead to a reluctance to spend time on the piano.

While choosing an appropriate space, also consider the noise factor; not only from the piano, but also from your family’s day-to-day activities. Your children want to be close by, but not competing with noise from TV’s, dishwashers and washing machines.

2. Make the space warm and welcoming. Your children will be encouraged to spend upwards of 30 minutes every day in this space. Is it a happy place to be for this amount of time? Small adjustments to lighting and heating can make a world of difference. Seek out places with natural light and ensure it is a cheerful and welcoming space that will encourage your child to visit the piano often for their own enjoyment.

3. Ensure your children have all required materials at hand. Help your children put together a small basket or bin of everything they may need for home practice. Pens, pencils, highlighters, and post-it notes will give your children a sense of organization that will then spill over into their practice habits. Your children will also need adequate lighting to see their music, and a comfortable bench at the correct height to practice comfortably and correctly.

4. Make the “Practice Nest” a communal space.  Children of any age appreciate company while they practice. Having a chair, couch, beanbag chair or pillows nearby where family members will be inclined to sit, listen and enjoy the music immediately sets the tone for happy time on the piano. Encourage siblings to stop by and listen quietly, and allow yourself even just 10 minutes to sit and listen with undivided attention each time your children practice. A set-up that is conducive to including the family in home practice will encourage everyone involved to make piano practice an activity the entire family can be a part of.

5. Set the stage for organization. Ensure your children’s practice space is uncluttered and organized. Clear out old sheet music and books from the piano bench, use a magazine organizer to hold current and favorite materials, and minimize knickknacks and other distractions from the top of the piano. If you can, avoid having the piano room do “double-duty” for laundry, toys and other clutter. Having the books your children need at their fingertips reliably ensures that no time is spent searching for lost or crumpled music. Get into the habit of placing the piano books in their appropriate space immediately after each piano lesson so they are ready and waiting.

Plus one more! Adding small surprises to your children’s practice nest (fresh flowers, a hand-written note of encouragement, a small treat, a new sticker pad, a special pen etc.) helps to show that you value the time they are spending on the piano and that you appreciate their efforts and dedication. Preserving the “specialness” of their practice space encourages positive feelings towards their home music time.

 

Aren’t those just fabulous tips!!  Enjoy creating a special place for your child to enjoy their piano practice!

 

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!