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.

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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!

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

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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!

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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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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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!!

YEAR END DATES AND FINAL MASTERCLASS
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.

PRACTICE CHALLENGE
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!

Happy New Year-January Newsletter 2016

Hello Everyone and Happy New Year!

After a wonderfully refreshing, albeit quickly passing, holiday, it is absolutely delightful to look forward to having your children back in my studio again starting this Monday, January 4th!

I wanted to take the time before we launch into the new year to thank each and every one of you for your efforts this past fall, culminating with our fantastic Christmas concert. Being a “piano parent” is a big commitment, and I feel so fortunate to be connected with families who see the immense value of music. Learning to play piano can be a life-changing experience and I’m humbled that you have chosen me to be a part of this exciting gift that you continue to give your children.

I’ve spent some of my holiday time planning an exciting second term of lessons and I thought I’d give you a “sneak peek” of just some of what’s to come! This term your children can look forward to:

  • Exciting and fun practice incentives, including a Caught Practicing Event
  • Fun new piano theory games.
  • A composing unit with a “Mail-A-Motive” composing activity.
  • A field trip to Edmonton Opera to see Carmen (those of you who signed up for this in November: watch for an email regarding ticket payment coming on Monday!)
  • A super-fun master class week coming up in February with a PJ party theme!
  • Our Spring Recital coming up in early May, chock full of solos, ensembles and more fun!

I also wanted to reach out to you to let you know that I very much understand the life of a piano parent. Please know that, while I spend most of my time motivating and assisting your children, I’m also here to support you as well! Working as a parent/child/teacher triangle is the optimal way to ensure your children’s success and enjoyment.

You are always welcome to ask for advice on making home practice work, for updates on your children’s progress or for any other musical assistance you may need.

We’re kicking off the “New Year” with a practice event designed to get your children excited and motivated right off the bat. Please watch for information coming home next week. I’m always so appreciative of your assistance and enthusiastic participation in these fun events!

Seeing your children grow, improve and learn to love music is truly the most rewarding part of my job. This past term I saw confidence, progress, creativity, pride, feelings of success and major accomplishments on a weekly basis. These are powerful memories your children are making, and these are invaluable skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. What a gift to your children… what a gift to yourselves to experience … and what a gift for me to be a part of!

See you in the studio!

A Fun-filled February Master Class

This year, it seems like January and February are going by much more quickly than they usually do and Family Day weekend was here before we knew it!  To give my students the Monday off to enjoy some extra time with their families, I offered a February Master Class this week in lieu of regular lessons.  Sometimes for my master classes, I will have an all encompassing theme, but this time around I wanted to keep it simple and so had three main components:

1. Performance Opportunity:  Each student had the chance to perform a piece that they’d been working on since the New Year.  Knowing this would be coming gave them a little motivation to keep practicing on those short, dark winter days!  While each student played, I used a sheet that I had found on ComposeCreate.com to keep the rest of the students focused and particpating…an adjudication sheet.  Each student had a sheet to use to help them give some specific and guided positive feedback at the end of each performance.  I was so proud of the feedback they gave and the wonderful ways they encouraged and bolstered in each performer!  What a great bunch of students I am blessed to have!

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2. Specific Skill Development:  Then I wanted to focus on one specific skill and it was RHYTHM, of course!  I want my students to be strong in rhythm and to love it, so I pulled out the boomwhackers (because we LOVE them) and did a little Pinterest surfing to come up with some fun Boowhacker ensembles.

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3. Composer Biography: February always includes a composing focus in my studio, especially for the MYC group lessons, and learning about the masters of composition is so important as well as the period and style of music they were a part of creating.  This time our focus was Beethoven, his life and music.  We learned that though he had a challenging childhood and went deaf as a young adult, he still found joy in his music and was able to create that beautiful melody we know as “Ode to Joy” in his 9th symphony.  We enjoyed watching the Piano Guys put a fun new spin on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17GLE-16_3g

Before we knew our time was up and it was time to head home!

Master Class Mayhem and Wrap Up Fun

This past week we wrapped our another great year of piano with one last set of Master Classes and oh the fun we had. To be fair, our regular weekly lessons are always fun and energetic but our bi-monthly master classes allow every student young and old, tall and small, the opportunity to meet together and perform for one another outside the twice yearly recitals. They have truly helped boost students’ performing confidence and helped them be better prepared for both recitals and exams. In addition to performing for each other, master classes include games and lessons that help students better understand theory, improve technique, and learn about composers, musical genres and history. Here’s a little peak at our most recent master classes:

We had three separate master classes this week with each class having approximately 12 students in each. As each student arrived, I gave them paper and a pencil case and they created their own little poster of what they thought made their year of piano lessons really ROCK. They we had a little “photoshoot” with each of them at the piano. Here’s a sample of some of our pictures (the rest are posted on our Facebook page):

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I even made my own poster…art is not my strong point as you can see. Okay, AND I was in a bit of a hurry! 😉

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Next on the agenda was “Solotime”. Each student prepares a piece to share with the class and be given positive and encouraging feedback from both teacher AND peers.

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After the solos were performed, we had a bit of a little awards ceremony. I presented students with awards for the most recent practice incentives.

The first was our Rockin’ the Practice Challenge that was sent out to all 45 of our students. This was a fun practice incentive I received and then adapted from my favorite teacher resource site Teach Piano Today. I gave my students 4 big challenge to complete by the end of the year. Those that made it from Dusty Dan’s Coffee Shop all the way to Radio City Music Hall received a little treat. I’ve never seen kids so excited to get Pop Rocks! It was fantastic!

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The other challenge had been given to all the older student in private lessons. Their challenge was to learn 30 pieces this year….not an easy feat for students in the early intermediate and higher levels. Congratulations go to Brianna, Vian and Brayden! That was a lot of hard work and dedicated practice!

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And what would a master class be with out a treat!? We enjoyed peanut-free (a couple students have severe peanut allergies and wear an epi-pen to each lesson) ice cream sandwiches while watching a The Piano Guys video! 🙂

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We finished up the last half of our master class with music games. We had two days of beautiful sunshine and played our games outside in my yard, however one day was rainy and the games had to be adapted for inside.

Our first game was Music Theory Beach Ball. Students threw the ball to each other and then named the note, clapped the rhythm or defined the musical term closest to their RH thumb:

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The next game was Sidewalk Chalk Rhythm stories. This is a rhythm dictation game. I sang a two measure rhythm and then they wrote it on the sidewalk with chalk. Excellent ear training! The rainy day students were a little ripped off as they had to write it on paper.

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Our final game was Spell-A-Keyboard, a game I adapted from fellow piano teacher, Joy Morin. First, teams created a “lollipop” keyboard with their sidewalk chalk. Then I called out words that each group had to work together to spell with little beanbags. They really enjoyed competing to see which team could find the keys the fastest. Great for drilling that keyboard geography. Here’s a little video of the fun!

And with that we are all wrapped up for the summer! Enjoy the sunshine but don’t forget to keep that practice tank full! I’m looking forward to getting in a little more practice time myself! 😉