Summer Reading for Piano Parents and Teachers!

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is read!  Well, I love to do that all year round, but I usually have a little bit of extra time in the summer so I like to create a summer reading list.

This year I began with a book I read last year, Coffee With Ray, and then followed up with it’s “sequel”, Lessons With Matt.  They were both such a fun and enjoyable read that I thought I’d share, especially as they are both so applicable to both piano teachers and piano parents.

Here are the two books I started with this summer, I highly recommend both!  They will inspire you and leave you feeling a bit refreshed whether you are a teacher or parents.  In fact my husband really enjoyed them as well.

Happy Summer Reading!

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July Piano Newsletter 2017

School’s out and sun’s out!  Some of you have already hit the road for summer holidays, some of you have been enjoying some exciting day camps and some of you may have just been enjoying some lazy days of summer (my son falls into this latter category!).  A special few of you actually spent some of this week with me doing a summer lesson and what fun we had!!  This year I decided to offer summer lessons in the form of a three lesson package OR a la carte, this week was our first installment and it was a beach theme.  We enjoyed it all, from beach themed games and music to a tasty beach themed treat!

beach day studio

For those of you who weren’t able to sign up for this week I’ll be sharing one of the games we played in case you’d like to print and use it at home over the summer to keep some concepts reviewed. It’s not too late to join the fun over the summer!  Our next summer lesson will be the week of July 18th and the theme for that week will be CAMPING!  There will be one more during the week of August 2nd and that theme will be ROADTRIP.  Email if you are interested in some piano lesson fun for your student and a little help and review/practice motivation over the summer.

No matter where you are or what you are doing, I hope music is a part of it!  Over the past several weeks on our Facebook page I have been sharing some resources and tips to help keep up that practicing over the summer.  Practicing the piano is a little bit like climbing a ladder, every time you practice you go up a rung, but when you don’t practice you end up going down a rung and long extended periods of practice can mean going down several rungs before lessons resume in the fall. Even the use of some great music apps can help the slip and slide!

For those of you who haven’t yet liked the Facebook page or are not on Facebook, here are some of the resources that have been shared over the past few weeks:

  1. A fun beach themed printable game from Teach Piano Today (instructions at the bottom of the post: beachdaycardpacks BeachDayGameBoard
  2. Some great apps to keep up the note naming skills:  Note Rush, Ningenius, Flashnote Derby  (name AND play the key—these can be used with your acoustic OR digital piano at home OR if you are on the road traveling you can use the little attached keyboard setting!)
  3. Creating an awesome practice nest that will help keep up that practice motivation over the summer: https://mmmusicstudio.com/2017/06/26/creating-a-practice-nest/

I can’t possibly share them all so if you like to keep up to date, like the Facebook page!  Enjoy and have a wonderful summer!!

 

Beach Day game instructions:

Single Player: Place your game marker on the “Start” circle and draw a card. Complete the task on the card.  If you complete it correctly, move forward the number of spaces shown on the card. If incorrect, move back two spaces and re-draw a new card. If you draw a “beach gear” card, keep it and put it to the side of the board.  If you land on an “Oops” circle then you lose one piece of your beach gear and the card is returned to the pile.  If you land on the “Shopping Spree” circle, you get to take back one piece of your lost beach gear. If you reach the finish with at least 3 pieces of beach gear you win and head to the beach! If you do not have 3, stay on the last space and continue to flip over and complete cards until you collect the 3 needed pieces of beach gear.  (single player ideas from teach piano today.)

Multi-player (Mrs. Miller’s version): Place game markers on the start circle and roll a dice to see who goes first.  Draw a card and complete the task on the card.  If completed correctly, move forward the number of spaces on the card.  If incorrect, turn goes to next player. If you draw a beach gear card, keep it and draw another card.  If you land on an oops return to the beginning! If you land on a shopping spring you can “shop” from another player.  If you make it to the end with the most beach gear, you win!

 

Creating a Practice Nest!

practice nest

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!

 

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!

Seeking enthusiastic, energetic and adventurous children…do you know one?

Each year, I open up registration for 6 beginner piano students (ages 4-7) and parents looking for piano lessons that are creative, inspiring and fun AND 6 preschoolers (ages 2-4) who want to explore music and rhythm instruments with expression and energy while learning all about the foundations of music.  If you have a child between the ages of 2 and 7, then you will find the perfect fit in one of these programs.  The Sunbeams 1 beginner piano class will take place on Mondays from 4:30-5:30pm and the preschool music class will take place on Thursdays at 12:45pm.  Contact mmmusicstudio@hotmail.com and join the excitement! Space is limited and classes fill quickly.

Achieving Excellence!

A huge congratulations to all my students who did The Royal Conservatory piano exams in June!!! EVERYONE received First Class Honors and their marks ranged from 84-88!  Outstanding dedication and practice effort, Everyone! I am just so proud!

Now go celebrate, you deserve it! 🎉