Piano News November 2016 Edition


What a chilly November morning!!  I feel like a bit of a broken record when I say that October went by in a flash!  I expect the next several weeks will too!  Here are a few things to keep you updated:


The boys of my Moonbeams 3 piano class requested that this week be “Dress Up Week” .  If you are not already sick of dressing up from a weekend of fun and yesterday (they assured me that they would definitely NOT be sick of dressing up!) then feel free to come to lessons in costume this week for a little bit of extra fun (Oct 31-Nov 4). 😊


The students have been using the “What’s in my Musical Mind” posters to share with each other what they’ve been learning each week and how many days they’ve been practicing.  It’s a little bit of accountability and motivation rolled up in to one.  We will continue this both this week and next week before we roll out our new practice incentive after the Remembrance Day/Fall break.  Speaking of practicing, I came across this great article and just shared it on the Facebook page:



My children and several of my piano students have most or all of the week following Remembrance Day off, so there will be NO LESSONS November 11-18….instead, students will be encouraged to spend that extra time on the Christmas pieces they will be assigned both this week and next week in lesson….and I will be using that time to really start organizing and preparing for our big annual Christmas recital…which will be?? That’s right!


Mark your calendars for our annual Christmas Recital on December 16th at 6:30pm in the main auditorium of First Church of the Nazarene, 14320 94 street.  Our theme is:  Christmas in Our Jammies….feel free to dress accordingly!  There will be photo ops AND photo props! 😉 We will begin preparations this week.  Expect fun ensembles, lovely piano solos and yummy treats!

Piano News September 2016 Edition

What a busy but wonderful week of music making we had this last week.  It was so wonderful to chat with returning students and hear about their summers and start some new music AND it was fabulous to meet the new faces and begin a musical journey with them.

Along with new pieces to practice, we talked about our goal of 5 DAYS of practice…not a new goal for many but sometimes a bit of an adjustment to make after a summer away from lessons or for a new student not yet used to playing the piano each day.  I have each students name on my chalkboard and each week they reach the goal of at least 5 days of practice they may add a colored chalk checkmark under their name and see how many they can collect between now and Thanksgiving.

With the year off to a galloping start, I just wanted to give you a few upcoming dates in this newsletter.   First is that we will have our first all studio master class the week following Thanksgiving, October 11-13.  Many of you are old hats at master class week, but some of you are new and I’ve had a chance to tell you a bit about it and look forward to sharing it with our new students.  More information including the exact master class times for you to choose from and RSVP for will come out at the end of the month or beginning of October.  If you’re new and would like to see what a master class looks like in my studio of enthusiastic musicians, check out this link and scroll on down.  I’ve not been organized enough to post them all but there are several there to take a little peek at:  https://mmmusicstudio.com/category/master-classes-2/page/2/

Another important date coming up this fall is the Christmas Recital (yep, I said Christmas!).  Our annual Christmas Recital is booked for Friday, December 16, 6:30-8pm at the First Church of the Nazarene 14329 94 street.  Already this week, a few of the students were asking about this and you can’t help but catch their excitement.  Each year I build sort of a mini-theme/title for our recital….usually inspired by or based around a special ensemble piece or a song…and we dress up in our Christmas finest and present it to you.  Sometimes the students request a theme.  Last year one of our classes were inspired to wear Christmas sweaters and that was a lot of fun.  Now, I have had a student ask again and again and again if we could have a pajama party recital and I’ve always said, “oh maybe one day we will try that”  So, imagine my surprise and delight when in looking for Christmas music and ensemble inspiration I stumbled across a little song called, “Christmas in Our Jammies”.  If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is!😉 And so that will be this year’s Christmas Recital:  Christmas in Our Jammies.  Wearing jammies will not be mandatory but encouraged as I think it would be fun.  Families can get it on the action too and come in jammies!  What could be more fun than enjoying beautiful music and yummy refreshments in warm and cozy jammies on a chilly, December evening?

I keep a calendar for our studio posted on my webpage and am often updating it.  You can also subscribe to this webpage/blog and be notified of any updates or new postings. So far I have it updated all the way to Christmas and you can find it here:


Also we have a studio Facebook page, feel free to follow (“like”) it for updates, practice tips, inspiration and more and feel free to share on it anything you find inspiring!  https://www.facebook.com/mmmusicstudio/

So….just a quick hello from me and a few dates to mark on your calendar.  In the meantime, enjoy this beautiful fall weekend!

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!!

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.

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!

Then and Now: A Piano Celebration

April went by in a flurry of activity as we prepared for our annual Spring Recital.  As this was our 15th annual Spring Recital, we thought we would share a few “blasts from the past” and many of the students were excited to play their very first recital piece followed by their newly prepared piece from this year.  It was a special way to show just how much they’ve grown over the years.



In addition to the lovely piano solos, we had fun ensembles using keyboards, rhythm instruments and even just using our hands and bodies to do a lap, tap, clap, snap rhythm…even the audience got to participate!



Slipped into each program was a recital compliment exchange sheet that was inspired by fellow teaching colleagues, Swan Kiezebrink and Wendy Stevens (ComposeCreate.com).  Audience members were asked to listen to the solos and leave meaningful compliments for each performer.  This was embraced by most of the audience and in the end I had dozen of sheets of beautiful compliments to share with the students.  These compliment pages have now made a “Great Wall of Encouragement” in our studio for the students to read as they come to lessons this week.  I think they have all left the studio this week with an extra glow about them!

great wall of encouragement

We wrapped up our lovely evening with what every celebration must have:  cake!  A huge thank you to all of you for so generously bringing the supplies we needed for this!  The Elliott family provided cake, the Sedore family helped me blow up balloons, and you all brought plenty of juice and water and treats and napkins and plates.  It was a truly beautiful night and I could never have done it without your help!  The only downside was the few pictures and videos, I managed to get.  I would love it if you would share some of your photos and videos with us!

cake 2

March and April News

Time just seems to fly in our piano studio and we are already well into March!  Since the New Year we’ve had a lot of exciting things going on including a special evening field trip to Edmonton Opera’s production of Carmen,  composing, a Pajama Day master class session, a rise and shine practice incentive and now my wall has been filling up with students who were caught practicing without even being asked by the parent paparazzi!!

Just a quick reminder that we will soon be taking a bit of a break…Spring Break will be here shortly and our studio will be closed from March 20-April 2.  Enjoy a lovely break! I am looking forward to spending the two weeks on a mission trip with my daughter to Jamaica where I have been asked to share my love of piano teaching by running a few lessons for those who would not have the opportunity to learn!  Very excited!

We will resume lessons on April 3rd and begin a flurry of recital preparation for our April 29th annual Spring Recital!  I have a few exciting things planned for this year that I think will make for a special time.

Mark you calendars for both the Spring Break and the Recital!

Also coming soon:  The Piano Guys!!! Wednesday, May 18th, at the Jubilee Auditorium!  We are very excited for this!

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.”