September Piano News and Important Dates ~ 2017 Edition

Hello Everyone!

Well the weather as well as the dates seem to be telling us that fall is here!  We had a whirlwind of first lessons last week but we are settling in well this week and it’s been so exciting and encouraging to see that practice that has already begun and the piano pieces that are already starting to take shape!

In this newsletter I want to share a little bit about some important dates coming up as well as a resource or two you might find helpful as we head into this year and some other info!

POLICIES SHEET

I’ll start with saying that I did try to send home a policies sheets with each student but in case I missed you, I have just emailed a copy (or you can pick one up off of the music stand by the practice tree).  For those of you that have been taking lessons here a year or more, there’s really no change to the policies but I did add a little bit of helpful information to you as well as some suggested practice guidelines so it’s worth the read through.  I also added a place to sign and am asking that signed copies be turned in so I know you are familiar with everything on the sheet.  You will have the document attached to the email as your copy. 😊

CHRISTMAS RECITAL (New location!!)

I’ll put this next on the list as many of you have been asking about this already as you plan vacations, get-togethers and juggle other holiday events.  I had a tentative date on the website calendar and that has all been updated now.  The date remains the same but the LOCATION HAS CHANGED!  We have a new location for our recital this year just up the road from my studio.  This will be a big change for some of you who have been with me for a while but I think it will provide a nice central location for those coming from either east or west.  The recital will take place at Bethel Community Church, 14204 25 street on Friday, December 15th at 6:30pm.  Our theme is Cookies and Carols and we will enjoy a time of sharing refreshments after our program.  More details will come as we get closer to the date, but for now you can mark your calendars with the date, time and location!

THANKSGIVING MASTER CLASSES

We will have our first all studio master class the week following Thanksgiving, October 10-13.  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.  Just to re-iterate, during master class week, there are NO regular classes or lessons.  Instead we have all-studio master classes for all ages and levels.  It’s a chance for the students to build community, learn about composers, and have a small scale performance opportunity making recital time much more comfortable.  It’s also unparented and give the MYC parents a week off of helping in class.  More information including the exact master class times including a link to a sign up sheet will come out by the end of the month.  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/

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

The best thing we can possibly do for our students is to support their practicing in any and every way we can!  Practice is the key to making progress and progress is the key to feel successful and joyful about piano.  I’ve shared both on my website and facebook page some ideas for creating a “practice nest”.  If you missed it, you can find it here:

Creating a Practice Nest

Another great resource is this book by Tracey Selle:  http://amzn.to/2yqsLwe   It’s called 101 Piano Practice Tips and is full of refreshing ideas whether you are new or you’ve been at this a while.

Another recommended (and easy as well as entertaining) read, especially for those with teens or pre-teens, is Coffee With Ray:  http://amzn.to/2jLkcsL

That should give you enough for now!  You can always the newsletters on this website where you can even subscribe to email updates every time something is added to the website.  You can find the studio Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mmmusicstudio

Enjoy a warm and cozy rest of the week!  Looking forward to a fantastic year!

 

 

 

*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.

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Summer Reading for Piano Parents and Teachers!

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is read!  Well, I love to do that all year round, but I usually have a little bit of extra time in the summer so I like to create a summer reading list.

This year I began with a book I read last year, Coffee With Ray, and then followed up with it’s “sequel”, Lessons With Matt.  They were both such a fun and enjoyable read that I thought I’d share, especially as they are both so applicable to both piano teachers and piano parents.

Here are the two books I started with this summer, I highly recommend both!  They will inspire you and leave you feeling a bit refreshed whether you are a teacher or parents.  In fact my husband really enjoyed them as well.

Happy Summer Reading!

*This post contains affiliate links.  Any sale that is made through an affiliate link provides me with a small commission. You will never be charged for this commission. It is paid directly from the company with whom I am affiliated.

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!

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.”

Achieving Excellence!

A huge congratulations to all my students who did The Royal Conservatory piano exams in June!!! EVERYONE received First Class Honors and their marks ranged from 84-88!  Outstanding dedication and practice effort, Everyone! I am just so proud!

Now go celebrate, you deserve it! 🎉

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.

Recording as Recital Prep

This past Friday was the annual year end recital for all my students and what a great night it was!  My students really out-did themselves this time!  We had a bit of a “Bach to Broadway” theme. I supplied the Bach by playing CPE Bach’s Solfeggio in C minor, and the students really enjoyed the piece.

This year as we prepared for recital, I tried something I haven’t done in a very long time to help give them a new perspective on their recital piece.  I asked each student or parent to bring their iPod to lesson (if they had one) so that I could record their performance.  For those that didn’t have iPods or recording devices, I used my own.  Then I had them listen to their performance while watching their music for different aspects: tempo, dynamics, melody.  Rather than me telling them what was great about the piece and what could use a little more work, I let them discover that for themselves.

Many of the students found it very eye-opening, some of them had never seen or heard themselves perform before.  It was a great opportunity for them to try on some new roles:

Listener– they had a chance to look at their music from my perspective or as an audience member and listen to dynamics or tempo.  As they listened and followed along in their music they were clearly able to see if they were incorporating the indicated dynamics or bringing out the melody line

Teacher–I let them evaluate their own piece, telling me what they liked and what they thought needed improving, and look at some strategies for improving the parts that needed it.

It also gave them a little extra performance experience as many of them felt just as nervous about playing for the recording device as they would playing for an audience.

I encouraged them to work through the things they felt needed improving over the week and record themselves again at home later in the week and what a difference I heard at the next week’s lesson!  I will definitely do this again before our December recital, it was well worth the extra time.