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.

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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!
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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”.

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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:

Master Classes, Music Camps, Private Lessons, Seasonl/Holiday, Uncategorized

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.

decide now

 

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.

 

 

 

 

***This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that by clicking on a link and making a purchase I may receive a small commission. You will never be charged extra for this.

 

Seasonl/Holiday, Uncategorized

Roadtrip Themed Lessons and a FREE game for the car!

Last week we had our third and final installment of summer lessons!  Our theme for the week was Roadtrip!  We had Tim Horton’s (because no roadtrip is complete without a stop at Tim’s!) and each student’s assignment was written on a roadtrip themed sheet.  I also sent each student home with a roadtrip themed game intended to be played in the car!  So for those of you still heading out on a summer roadtrip, you will have a way to keep that piano learning going strong even while on holidays…but in a totally fun way.  All you have to do is find the link to the roadtrip printable here,  then print and either laminate or place in a page protector (if you want to be able to use it over and over again and add a fine tip dry erase marker.  Alternatively, you could not laminate and just use pencil and eraser or print off a few copies to have in the car. And if you have no more roadtrips on the horizon, you can still play this game while driving to and from activities right here in the city.

Enjoy the rest of the summer, wherever your adventures may take you.  I will be using the remaining weeks to do a little refresh of the studio including some painting, rearranging and game making!  Looking forward to having it all ready for our September 11th start date!  Happy Trails, Roadtrippers! 😉

roadtrip

 

Incentives, Master Classes, Uncategorized

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!

Composing, Incentives, Master Classes, Seasonl/Holiday, Uncategorized

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.”

Newsletters, Uncategorized

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!