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.

applechallenge

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!

appletree

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The Making of a Movie

Over the course of the last couple of months, we have been having a lot of fun in our lessons and classes. Including a week of fun masterclasses. For a while now, I’ve been wanting to capture a sample of our fun and share it….but my iPhone never seems to do it justice and the sound quality is not great (it could be time for a new phone now).

This summer, I had the privilege of attending many different professional development sessions and was even more inspired to embrace technology (which sometimes is very intimidating for me!). My husband is a big believer in using technology, having the right equipment…and always learning. So, with those things in mind I decided that one way I could keep on with my life-long learning goal was to try my hand at getting to know iMovie a bit better and utilizing it in a fun way for my studio and to inspire my students.

I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but my first attempt has been a lot of fun. It will be very interesting to have this to look back on when I get to know my way around iMovie just a little bit better! But, in the meantime, this gives you a little glimpse into the world that is our music studio!

Noteworthy Items and Reminders

As we finish up October and prepare to dive into November, I have a few important reminders and requests for you.

First of all, let me just say what a fantastic couple of weeks we have had.  The students have been working so hard over the last almost 8 weeks and the Practice Tree is just full of stickers and that Treasure box has been opened many times over the last two weeks–it’s already half-empty!!  Time to go shopping! 😉

MAKE A MUSIC VIDEO
The treasure box is one great way to celebrate all their hard work, but I was reminded this week of another terrific way to do celebrate at home.  I have often encouraged my students to call grandparents on the phone and play for them or take advantage of when they are over for a visit and put on a little concert, but this week one of my little students proudly showed me a video of herself playing the piano that her mom had shared on facebook.  We have so much technology at our fingertips now and so many of us have iPhones–take advantage of it!  Making a “Music Video” of your child and posting it on facebook or youtube is a wonderful way of sharing with family and friends as well a great way to show your child how important you think their music is and build their self-esteem and confidence!  Thanks, Ayla and Amanda for that great reminder!

WAITING AREA–IMPORTANT REMINDERS
I have had a chance to talk quickly at some of our classes this week about what to do when you are at the studio waiting for your class to begin, but there are few classes and students that I missed getting this message/reminder out to.  When you come into the studio for your lesson, please wait on/near the brown chairs around the corner, quietly and out of sight of the piano if at all possible.  When some of our classes were arriving this week, I noticed some students and parents standing about near the sofa and keyboards while a private lesson or class was still in session.  It’s easy to forget how intimidating or nerve-wracking (not to mention distracting) it can be to a student to see half a dozen adults and the same number of children watching them out of the corner of their eye.  Some of my private students feel a little nervous playing just for me, imagine how they must feel when a whole group shows up at the end of their lesson….especially if they weren’t feeling as prepared as they usually are to begin with.  This is especially important to remember if there is a private lesson going on before your class/lesson begins.  Many of the private students only get a 30 minute lesson.  If you are in a 60 minute class and think the time flies by, imagine what a race we have to get through everything we need to in 30 minutes and how vital it is that we can spend those 30 minutes un-distracted.  If you show up for your class 10-15 minutes early and you are talking, whispering or moving around in that student’s line of sight, they can be feeling nervous or distracted for up 30-50% of their lesson–that is a huge chunk of their time.  And, to be honest, they are not the only ones distracted.  I will often see little ones waving at me and I can’t help but wave back but my student needs 100% of my attention for their lesson.  So, please, if you can remember, try to come into class only 5-7 minutes early and wait quietly on the brown chairs, the sofa area is intended for parents and siblings of private students who need a comfortable place to study/work for 30-60 minutes while they wait for their child or sibling to finish their private lesson.  I know it can be exciting and inspiring to hear what those older students or other classes are working on, but make sure you listen in as quietly and as invisibly as possible! Emoji

CHRISTMAS IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
“Oh, my did she really just say that”, you ask, “we haven’t even gotten through Halloween?!”  Yes I did, and yes I have even bought a couple of Christmas presents already!  Christmas is only 2 months away and our Christmas recital is only approximately 7 weeks away.  If that thought has given you indigestion, I apologize, but swallow it down because we are going to be ramping up for our annual Christmas recital VERY soon.  My family has already heard me playing through several Christmas pieces as I choose and prepare to accompany some of the class ensemble numbers our classes will do and trust me, they have groaned loudly but I ignore them and play on!  If you have only been skim-reading my newsletters (shame on you!), then you may have missed the announcement about the when and where of our recital so here it is again–just in case:

Annual Christmas Recital:  Friday evening, December 14th, in the First Church of the Nazarene  Main Auditorium located at 14320 94 street.  I believe our time will be 6:30-7:30pm, but I will need to confirm that with you a little later–as soon as I hear the date and time of my husband’s work Christmas party. I may have to run the recital from 6-7pm.  I do apologize for the late date, I was hoping for December 7th, but, alas, it was unavailable.

With the recital just weeks away, we will begin working on special ensemble pieces in our music classes as well as some piano duet or solo opportunities.  All the MYC classes will find that seasonal music is actually included there in our books, but private students need extra supplementary books of their own.  So, all of you in private lessons: please take this weekend to go through your piano bench or magazine file beside your piano and dig out ALL your Christmas books–then bring them to piano lessons NEXT WEEK, we need to make sure the level of the book is still appropriate or if you have “out-grown” it and are in need of a new book/level.  We want to begin our preparations no later than the first week of November so we are confident, prepared and not cramming last minute practice into an already busy season!

Incorporating the iPhone or iPad in Piano!

I have had my iPhone for almost two years now. My husband surprised me with it for Christmas 2010. We had purchased a tiny little phone with a flip keyboard for our daughter as she approached junior high and prepared to ride the city bus. Even though it was the cheapest little phone at the Bell store with the littlest and more basic plan, it was still nicer than my ancient phone. My husband didn’t think this was very fair, so the night before Christmas Eve he removed my phone from my purse and went and traded it in. Imagine my panic and distress to be running around last minute shopping on Christmas Eve and discover my phone gone! He was almost busted! 😉
Anyway, on Christmas morning both me and my daughter were very surprised—and I was a little relieved to find out I hadn’t lost my phone!
I hadn’t been pining for an iPhone or really considering it, but now I can’t live without it. And it has been quite handy for my studio too! Here are some ways I’ve used it:

Recording my students for feedback–this was especially helpful to them in preparing for recital and exams
Finding youtube videos of piano pieces or orchestral arrangements to share with my students and use with Fun With Composers
Receiving text messages from parents if they are stuck in traffic or unable to make it
Music Theory apps

I admit, I am still discovering new ways to incorporate it. I am sure there are teachers out there who have many more uses and I sure would love to hear about them. At a recent teacher development meeting we were even asked to bring an iPhone, iPad, or laptop if we had one for a session on technology. When I looked around at each table I noticed that almost 50% of each table had an iPad. Now, I sure would love an iPad, it would be easier to see what’s on the screen and someday I do hope to get one, but for now I am finding that my iPhone can pretty much do everything the iPad can–just in a smaller version.