February Piano News

Here we are almost one full week into February!  We made it through January and I have been quite impressed with both the practicing and the composing that has been going on!  Each and every student whether in the MYC program or private lessons has been creating their very own composition and it’s been delightful to see their enthusiasm as well as their astounding creativity.  We are going to wrap up our compositions over the next two weeks.
There’s not always a lot of news at this time of year but there are a couple of important upcoming dates to go over including another all studio master class session.
SUNRISE PRESCHOOL CLASS
First and foremost is an upcoming Sunrise class for preschoolers.  I will be starting a Sunrise music class for ages 2-4 this month on February 15th.  This class will run on Wednesdays from 11-11:45am until May.  If you know of anyone in that age group who would be interested, feel free to share.  I’ve created an event on the Facebook page that can be easily shared. There is still time to register! Sunrise kids will play a special part in our Spring Recital. 🙂
FAMILY DAY MASTER CLASS SESSION
We will be having another masterclass session immediately following the Family Day holiday weekend.  February 21-24 there will be NO regular lesson schedule, instead we will be having all studio master classes.  I’ll be sending out a sign up sheet similar the one I sent out in December shortly, this way you are able to see that you signed up….and also change times if needed all on your own.  The theme of this master class session will be “Creative Keys”  and focus on creativity through improvising and other fun AND it will be a chance for all the students to show each other their very creative compositions as those will be their solo pieces.  Keep your eye out for that sign up sheet!
SPRING RECITAL
I am still working on officially booking our Spring recital, but there is a very good chance is will be May 5th.  I will let you know as soon as it is official!  It will be in the same place as Christmas!
SPRING BREAK
It is still several weeks away, but there will be no lessons during March 24-April 2 for Spring Break.  The studio will be closed and I will be away.
Well, that is all for now!  Have a great day….and stay warm!!

Sunrise Classes 2017

The natural energy and music children ages 2-3 years old have within them is amazing.  You will often find them singing, moving to a rhythm or beat or dancing.  Sunrise is an exciting and innovative pre-school music & movement program with a flexible format that fits the level of development of these children perfectly. Teddy Bears help teach the children rhythms and puppet friends Buzz, Buddy and Mellow guide children on their music journey and instruction with singing, and ear training. This child-centred curriculum includes stories, songs, and games to ensure that all children feel and achieve a high level of engagement and success.

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The Sunrise preschool class is a fun introduction to the foundations of music and makes for a smooth transition to the Sunshine piano program at age 4.  Registration is now open for a new session starting February 15, 2017!  Classes will run weekly for 45 minutes from 11-11:45am on Wednesday mornings.  Registration includes a workbook, CD, finger puppet, rhythm instrument and backpack as well as the 10 lessons. Register now or email mmmusicstudio@hotmail.com for more details!

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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.”

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!

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!