Year End Excitement 2018

It’s June! The last few months have flown by and we are wrapping up yet another wonderful year of Music making  with something very fun this week…but first, a bit of a recap:

May was a busy month preparing for our spring recital and we fine tuned our pieces in both private lessons and a  boot camp style master class rehearsal week. We had relay races that drilled bits of our pieces and then full run through both with and without distractions,

Then we celebrated with our first ever coffee shop style recital, a super fun experience!

 

This will be our final week of lessons until September and we are going out with a bang! In lieu of regular lessons this week we will have master classes with a very special theme inspired by my son’s birthday party: an escape room.

Bring the musical knowledge you’ve gained this year, your piano books and a sundae topping to share. I’ll provide the challenges and the ice cream to celebrate with at the end!

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Easter Master Classes ~ April 2018

We enjoyed another week of special all studiomaster class groups this week! I used the theme of Easter surprises throughout the class.

We opened with an ice breaker game. Each student pulled an Easter egg half out of a bag and then had to find their matching half. This also helped review their musical terms.

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Next we did a little ear training with mystery eggs. The mystery eggs each had a small household item in them that students had to guess without looking. Some were able to guess, some asked for help before opening the egg….some items really stumped the. But it was wonderful to watch them engage their ears listening for the pitch and timbre of the sound in the egg to help them identify it.

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Then we had SoloTime and each student played a piece they had practiced over Spring Break.

We did another mystery egg listening game but this time the mystery items were a treat to be enjoyed while watching a Piano Guys video.

Then we improvised as a group in 3/4 time .

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We finished up with one last game of interval identification “survivor style” with Scrambled Eggs! The older students paired up with the you get students…but the younger students caught on so quickly, I’m not sure they needed the help!

 

Piano Olympics 2018 Wrap Up

Well we wrapped up our Piano Olympics this week with some very special all studio masterclasses!

The students worked so hard on all the challenges these last 6 weeks and many completed above and beyond the 5 needed to receive gold!

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We began our master classes with a bit of Olympic Trivia as an icebreaker and I was so impressed with their knowledge!

Then it was on to SoloTime as each student prepared a piece to play for the class! I’m always so happy to see how eager they are to get up and play and how attentively they listen to each other!

After solotime we played several “minute to win it” style music theory games. Some were played in teams of two like Rhythm Sort and some were played in two large teams like Composer ABCs (sorting composers by alphabetical order) or rhythm dominoes.

Then then it was time to award medals.

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We finished up with Olympics torch popcorn and a short YouTube video of Mr Bean playing Chariots of Fire with the London Symphony Orchestra. 😊

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Christmas Master Classes 2017

Merry Christmas Everyone!! December 2017 will go down as one of my favourites I do believe! I’m still glowing from a wonderful Christmas Recital! Cookies, Carols and Christmas Lights was a hit and I’m so proud of my students! Beautiful solos, beautiful ensembles and I’m so appreciative of the 100% participation that both the students and audience gave at the end for our glow stick number, A Thousand Christmas Lights! It was so exciting to be able to put the live feed on Facebook for parents and grandparents who had been unable to make it that night.

The week following recital we had Christmas Master Classes. We enjoyed a large improvised ensemble of Carol of the Bells using keyboards, Piano and rhythm instruments! Each student was assigned a part and given a couple minutes to practice and then we threw it all together! I’m going to have to upload the video to YouTube and then post it here!

Then each student had a chance to play their Christmas piece for me to upload to YouTube so they could share it with family or friends easily!

We finished up with a few wild rounds of Notespeed:

some Christmas cracker fun:

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and some yummy treats leftover from our recital!

 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

 

November Piano News! 2017 Edition

November is still a few days away but next week is going to be a busy week, so I wanted to post this newsletter before the weekend as there are a couple things coming up in early November to watch for!  It is chock-full of information and I apologize for the length but November is FULL of some great musical opportunities as well as some very important dates with our studio schedule!

 

OCTOBER 31st  NO LESSONS

After some feedback from studio families, I have decided to cancel lessons on Halloween. Whether you celebrate it or not, it was decided that no one wants to be out driving that evening unless absolutely necessary.

CHRISTOPHER NORTON CONCERT, November 1st, 7:30pm

There has been a poster by the door and calendar and I have mentioned this by email before but it is now less than a week away!!

Christopher Norton – a very famous jazz composer  from England – is coming on November 1 and I have had the privilege of helping to organize his visit! He is leading teacher workshops in the morning and some of my older students are able to participate in workshops as well as a masterclass with him that afternoon.
And….just as exciting: on that same November 1 in the evening he is doing a CONCERT for ANYONE who would like to attend!  The cost is BY DONATION.  So whatever you think you can afford, that is the admission!  I feel this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Many of the students have played his compositions in the Royal Conservatory grades….or will very soon and to hear this caliber of musician at a very minimal cost is unheard of.
The concert will be at 7:30pm, and although I realize it may be late for some of my younger students, being that it is by donation basis, just pay for what you think you will attend.  If you think your child will only last half an hour, it would still be a half an hour of an amazing connection for them, both with pieces they may know, a composer they may have played pieces by, and even a composer that is STILL ALIVE!  And if they haven’t played pieces by him yet, they will eventually and those pieces will make such a connection with them when they can relate it to the concert
The details:
When:  Wednesday, November 1 at 7:30
Where:  St Thomas Anglican Church, 4A Raven Drive Sherwood Park
Cost:  By Donation

This is an exciting opportunity that I hope you can all enjoy!

WEDNESDAY STUDENTS:  Reminder! There will be no lessons for you on this day as I will be co-hosting this event all day!

NOVEMBER BREAK  NOVEMBER 9-15, No lessons
Over the last few years both Edmonton Public, Elk Island and some Sturgeon school boards have introduced a fall break in November.  I have tried over the last few years to honor this break as I think it’s a nice way for students to have a bit of a break in their routine before we gear up for our annual Christmas recital.  I am working right now to ensure that all students have their Christmas recital piece to be working on over the break, so be checking their lesson assignments over the next couple of weeks.  The breaks do very a bit between the school boards and last year I went with the EIPS schedule as both my children were in the district and we had some “Stay-cation” plans.  This year I will be going with the Edmonton Public dates which are:  Thursday November 9-Wednesday November 15.  So, unless you are told otherwise (Tuesday and Wednesday students!)  there will be no lessons during that break.  A reminder will be sent out to you again in the week coming up to those dates!

Our very own annual CHRISTMAS RECITAL
This is not an November Event….but just had to get another reminder in:  Mark those calendars for our Christmas Recital:
Cookies and Carols, Friday December 15th, 6:30pm  at Bethel Community Church 14204 25 Street, Edmonton…roughly 12 blocks north of our studio!
OTHER UPCOMING CONCERT OPPORTUNITIES AND LISTENING OPPORTUNITIES
The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra kicks off their Symphony For Kids series on November 18th!  I will have the privilege once again of being involved in the pre-concert activity planning once again this year and though I am not yet sure if I will be at the November 18th concert, I will most certainly be at the December Candy Cane Family Concerts as well as the SFK concerts in the New Year.  These concerts are a wonderful way and introducing beautiful music to your children!
Also:  Arden Theatre in St Albert will be present Elf The Musical JR on November 28th! Another fun and musical event.
For those of you who cannot make it to these events as well as those of you who would like more beautiful music to share with your children/family.  I will be occasionally sharing a listening calendar with you.  By email today you will receive a listening calendar for November and December that you can print off. It was made by my colleague, Doreen Hall. Each day in November and December I will be posting that youtube video on the studio Facebook page…..but if you do not have Facebook, you can also find the videos at: pianoparents.net
I you would like tickets to Symphony for Kids, Candy Cane Family Christmas or Elf the Musical Jr:

https://www.winspearcentre.com/tickets/subscriptions/2017-2018-eso-season/symphony-for-kids/

Rhythm and Dynamic Fun! October 2017 Master Classes

This week we are taking a break from our regularly scheduled private lessons and MYC classes (we do this about 5 times a year) and enjoying our first Master Class group sessions of the year!  And what fun we are having!

1. Icebreaker:  each student introduces themselves and say their favorite Thanksgiving treat

2. Piano Charades:  I used the Decide Now App to create our own little Wheel of Fortune of Musical Terms to review/introduce and then we played the game like this:

A) First I called out the words such as: piano, forte, fermata, ritardando, presto, largo, etc. and asked students to act them out physically.  For example: piano could be walking on tip toes while ritardando could be jogging in place and gradually slowing down the pace–like a train approaching a station.

B) After all terms were physically re-enacted I had each student come up to the piano one at a time to play their solo piece OR to play one phrase of a well-prepared piece as the composer intended.

C) Then after that the performer had to spin the wheel featuring all the terms just reviewed without letting the others see where the Wheel-of-Fortune-like spinner stops.

D) The pianist at the bench then played the same phrase but this time changed the performance to “portray” the term.

E) The audience had to guess the word and if they did, everyone got a treat as the performer was successful in communicating the music term through a performance and the audience demonstrated excellent listening skills.

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3. Rhythm Cups and Bucket Drumming:  I chose a rhythm to put to Cups or Buckets.  One they had mastered the rhythm and where to put it on the Cups and Buckets we added in some suspenseful music….In the Hall of the Mountain King!

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4. Notespeed Game:  This is a super fun new card game I found by Tara Cunningham that is very reminiscent of Dutch Blitz.  Tara has her students play it as a 2 player games but I divided the students into groups of 4 kids more like Dutch Blitz.  It was a HUGE hit among all the students and if you are looking for a fun and educational Christms gift or stocking stuffer that would help to foster great note reading skills you can find the game here: http://amzn.to/2xR9t6p

 

I had a bonus activity from Teach Piano Today up my sleeve just in these activities didn’t fill the time but I didn’t need it at all for classes this week but I’ll be saving it for the next class for sure:

Rhythm Telephone:

Instruct piano students to sit in a row, one behind the other, with their eyes closed. The oldest student should be at the back of the line. Your row can have as few as 5 students or as many as 20!

How To Play:

  1. To begin, show a two-measure rhythm to the oldest piano student (who is allowed to open her eyes) at the back of the line. (For example “quarter, quarter, half, half, quarter, quarter”).
  2. Next, instruct the oldest student who was shown the rhythm to tap this rhythm onto the back of the student sitting in front of her. This student then taps the rhythm onto the back of the next student.
  3. The chain of tapping continues until it reaches the final student, who then leaps up and writes the rhythm on a white board or poster paper.
  4. Next, reveal to your students the original rhythm. Did they pass it along correctly or did the rhythm get morphed somewhere down the line?
  5. Each time the group is correct, score one point for the kids. Each time the group is wrong, score one point for yourself (the teacher).
  6. Continue the activity with increasingly difficult rhythms.

 

 

 

 

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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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