March Piano News

March is off to a flying start with many things going on, so let’s get to it!
  • First and foremost on minds right now is the COVID-19 (Corona Virus).  We are such a global and well-traveled community now.  I know many of you have been on holiday to Mexico and beyond in the last few weeks and even I have been in a couple of airports.  Studio policy for sickness remains the same with the same recommendations as always but let’s review:  please wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before coming into your lesson and touching the piano or keyboards AND please do not come to lessons sick.  In addition keyboards and instruments are being lysol wiped after each class. Should anyone be quarantined for a period of time we have options.  For private lessons, we can do facetime or video lessons.  For classes, I always send the homework for absences but for extended absences of two weeks or more, you could opt to join our class through Zoom or Facetime or there is a possibility I can record classes and send you a link to follow along when better (Zoom makes this possible).  However, I will need 24 hours notice to get a Zoom link prepared for you.  Just some things to keep in mind.  Most importantly, let’s work to keep our studio healthy through our usual good hygiene!
  • On a lighter note, March is birthday month in the studio!  We are always celebrating birthdays throughout the year but I like to dedicate the month of March to learning Happy Birthday!  I think it’s appropriate because it is, after all, MY birthday this month! 😉 It’s also Music for Young Children’s 40th birthday this month.  Every student will be learning to play  Happy Birthday whether through notated music, by ear or improvising with a lead sheet!  Your challenge will be to play it beautifully for me before Spring Break!  And speaking of birthdays, Happy Birthday to Malcolm S on Tuesday the 10th and to Lauren B and Brennan on the 27th (that’s the day after my birthday! wink, wink).  Be sure to get something from the Birthday Box!
  • RECITAL:  Just a reminder that the Spring Recital, Musicians in Bloom, will be Sunday, May 3rd, 1:30pm at St Albert Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Mark your calendars!
  • Spring Break is almost here.  We will have a two-week break to accommodate the various school districts this year.  No lessons from March 23-April  5, let’s hope Spring arrives!

February Piano News


Happy February 1st!  We made it through January and we are halfway through the school year and our piano year already!  Here are a few important things coming up for the month of February!
  • During the week of February 17-20, we will have another master class week in lieu of regular lessons!  Keep your eye out for a sign-up, coming out very soon!
  • February 6-7 and 27-28 are Teacher’s Conventions depending on which school district you are in.  There WILL still be regular piano lessons on those days.
  • I am in the process of booking a Spring Recital!  It will be Sunday, May 3rd at St. Albert Evangelical Lutheran Church, 11 Glenview Crescent, St Albert.  This is a NEW VENUE and we will have the opportunity to play on the most beautiful Petrof Grand Piano!
    • For those of you that completed the Holiday Family Ukulele course before Christmas, we are continuing on with a once a month Ukulele Circle, learning new songs and chords.  We had one on in January on a Saturday morning and one on a Monday evening. I will only be putting on one per month.  If you’d like to take part, here is a doodle poll to vote on when it should be!!  Have your say in the scheduling! If you can make any of the times suggested feel free to check them all, it will really help in the scheduling!    https://doodle.com/poll/339gws4xdyyr58eb
  • I will be away March 5th and 6th, no lessons on that Thursday.
  • We will have a two week Spring Break from March 21-April 5 to accommodate the various school districts Spring Breaks
Composing, Incentives, Newsletters, Piano Lesson Success, Private Lessons, Professional Development, Schedule, Seasonl/Holiday, Studio, Uncategorized

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.


Incentives, Master Classes, Newsletters, Piano Lesson Success, Recital, Seasonl/Holiday, Uncategorized

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!
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”.


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:

Newsletters, Uncategorized

November News 2019

A quick glance at what you’ll find happening in our studio in November:

  • November 4-8 Regular lessons and classes
  • November 11-15 FALL BREAK; NO LESSONS OR CLASSES (the exception to this will be Wednesday students who I started a week late and Thursday evening students who lessons I had to cancel last month.)
  • November 18 & 20 HOLIDAY UKULELE classes begin!  Monday class is FULL but Wednesday class still has some limited spaces!

Fall Break (1)

Master Classes, Uncategorized

October 2019 Master Classes and Halloween Fun!

We had a terrific October of musical fun!  Here’s a little recap:

The week of Thanksgiving was our first master class (all studio group lessons) of the year!

We opened our master class with a partner game where older students were paired with younger students and searched for musical clues around the room then matched the musical vocabulary to their sheet.  This was a great moment to have some of the older students teach some of the terms to the younger/newer students.


Then we did a little musical improv with Halloween rhythms.  Students picked a rhythm card and created a melody for it on their keyboard with their partner while I accompanied.


Students were given the opportunity to perform a piece they’d been working on since the start of lessons in November.

Then we tried something called SQUILT.  Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time.  We learned a little bit about Edvard Grieg and the music he composed for the play Peer Gynt and spent some time listening to and dissecting the piece, In the Hall of the Mountain King.  I wanted the students to listen attentively and focus on the essential elements of beautiful music:  Rhythm, Tempo, Dynamics, Instrumentation and Mood.  As we develop this habit for active listening it will be easier to be mindful of incorporating these essentials into our own playing.

We also had a little bit of a mini photoshoot and prepared new photos for our wall.  The polaroid photos and cards of last year were so cute but we have many new students this year and these photos turned out so great.  Pop in and check out our wall!


Master classes are always a fun time and the little ones enjoy listening to and being partnered with some of the older students.


We finished the month with a week of Halloween fun during our regular lessons and classes.  Particularly popular was the Trick or Treat cards.  Randomly throughout classes or lessons I would have a student pick a card that would have either a musical trick or treat on it.  If they drew a trick card, they learned a piano trick or technique and if they drew a treat card, we watched a fun piano youtube video.  We didn’t get through all the tricks and treats in lessons so if you want to try out more at home, here you are:


Hope you all enjoyed a safe and fun Halloween!


The Great Gumdrop Practice Challenge!

We wrapped up our year this year with the most intense practice challenge yet!  A studio versus studio practice challenge that pitted us against Swan’s Music Studio in Vanderhoof, BC!

gumdrop 1

Each week we were inspired by a practice tip and issued a practice challenge…then we waited to see how many of our students and how many of Swan’s students completed the practice challenge!


What exactly was on the line?  Well for each studio, it was the bragging rights of having the best practicers. And to add a little extra motivation: the losing studio would have to video record and a concession speech congratulating the winning studio and admitting they were the best! 😉

For the students individually, each completed practice challenge earned them a guess for the giant gumdrop jar that was sitting in studio.  At the end of the challenge, the gumdrops would be added up and the closest guess would take it home…but each student that completed all four weeks of challenging would go home empty-handed, they would receive their own little treat bag!  In the end, it was Hope’s guess of 801 that earned her the jar!


In the end it was our studio that won….but just by a nose! Swan’s Music Studio really kept us on our toes!

gumdrop 12

We celebrated our win and all the hard work at our final master class of the year!  We played our favorite pieces for each other, had a Note Speed competition, tried our hand at drawing a piano (great fine motor skill exercise and no easy feat drawing a grand piano!) and celebrated with an ice cream treat!  What a great end to another fantastic year of piano lessons!