July Piano Newsletter 2017

School’s out and sun’s out!  Some of you have already hit the road for summer holidays, some of you have been enjoying some exciting day camps and some of you may have just been enjoying some lazy days of summer (my son falls into this latter category!).  A special few of you actually spent some of this week with me doing a summer lesson and what fun we had!!  This year I decided to offer summer lessons in the form of a three lesson package OR a la carte, this week was our first installment and it was a beach theme.  We enjoyed it all, from beach themed games and music to a tasty beach themed treat!

beach day studio

For those of you who weren’t able to sign up for this week I’ll be sharing one of the games we played in case you’d like to print and use it at home over the summer to keep some concepts reviewed. It’s not too late to join the fun over the summer!  Our next summer lesson will be the week of July 18th and the theme for that week will be CAMPING!  There will be one more during the week of August 2nd and that theme will be ROADTRIP.  Email if you are interested in some piano lesson fun for your student and a little help and review/practice motivation over the summer.

No matter where you are or what you are doing, I hope music is a part of it!  Over the past several weeks on our Facebook page I have been sharing some resources and tips to help keep up that practicing over the summer.  Practicing the piano is a little bit like climbing a ladder, every time you practice you go up a rung, but when you don’t practice you end up going down a rung and long extended periods of practice can mean going down several rungs before lessons resume in the fall. Even the use of some great music apps can help the slip and slide!

For those of you who haven’t yet liked the Facebook page or are not on Facebook, here are some of the resources that have been shared over the past few weeks:

  1. A fun beach themed printable game from Teach Piano Today (instructions at the bottom of the post: beachdaycardpacks BeachDayGameBoard
  2. Some great apps to keep up the note naming skills:  Note Rush, Ningenius, Flashnote Derby  (name AND play the key—these can be used with your acoustic OR digital piano at home OR if you are on the road traveling you can use the little attached keyboard setting!)
  3. Creating an awesome practice nest that will help keep up that practice motivation over the summer: https://mmmusicstudio.com/2017/06/26/creating-a-practice-nest/

I can’t possibly share them all so if you like to keep up to date, like the Facebook page!  Enjoy and have a wonderful summer!!

 

Beach Day game instructions:

Single Player: Place your game marker on the “Start” circle and draw a card. Complete the task on the card.  If you complete it correctly, move forward the number of spaces shown on the card. If incorrect, move back two spaces and re-draw a new card. If you draw a “beach gear” card, keep it and put it to the side of the board.  If you land on an “Oops” circle then you lose one piece of your beach gear and the card is returned to the pile.  If you land on the “Shopping Spree” circle, you get to take back one piece of your lost beach gear. If you reach the finish with at least 3 pieces of beach gear you win and head to the beach! If you do not have 3, stay on the last space and continue to flip over and complete cards until you collect the 3 needed pieces of beach gear.  (single player ideas from teach piano today.)

Multi-player (Mrs. Miller’s version): Place game markers on the start circle and roll a dice to see who goes first.  Draw a card and complete the task on the card.  If completed correctly, move forward the number of spaces on the card.  If incorrect, turn goes to next player. If you draw a beach gear card, keep it and draw another card.  If you land on an oops return to the beginning! If you land on a shopping spring you can “shop” from another player.  If you make it to the end with the most beach gear, you win!

 

Inspiring Creativity!

The month of May has been full of inspiring professional development opportunities for me, and last Friday’s session really took the cake! Forrest Kinney came to Edmonton to do a workshop on his Pattern Play and Chord Play book series and his 4 hour workshop turned into 5 hours of improvisation and inspiration!

My husband had recently been saying that he’d like to see our own children working not just on practicing their repertoire pieces and technique but also spending 5 minutes each days just making up their own music–not composing necessarily, just creating. Knowing only a little bit about Forrest’s work, I went hoping for some ideas to encourage my children and all my students to create their own music and I came away inspired and refreshed!

Forrest is an incredibly down to earth man and he took the time to really connect with the teachers he was working with, giving us all several opportunities to get up and create with him on the piano—it felt like child’s play!

And so this week, I used some of those techniques with each student. As we drag our poor, tired heels toward the end of the year and prepare for recital, our little improvisation sessions this week have been such a breath of fresh air–even my own husband (who does not play an instrument) sat down with me at the piano and we played an improvisational piano duet with a blues theme. Some of my parents even sat down with me and played and were thrilled to just sit and create! As the week progressed, with each student coming and creating, my excitement grew and I thought how perfect this is for every student.  Then Thursday arrived and with it one of my sweet little students who had had a very rough day.  She arrived late and her dad said she had really not wanted to come.  So I sat down with her and told her about my chance to be a student at Mr. Kinney’s workshop and suggested we just create some music at the piano.  She seemed to like that idea, so I began to play a blues on black pattern and told her to listen and then play whatever she liked on the black keys.  I played and played and played and encourage her to start but she just sat there with her hands in her lap.  Then I thought maybe she just wasn’t feeling connected to blues and started a slower more reflective pattern on white keys and suggested she just play on the white keys.  Again I played….and played…and, honestly, disappointment started to build.  I was so sure that this would work for everyone and after such a high of excitement this week, this felt like such a low.  Just when I was going to stop and return to the regular lesson, she lifted her hands to the keys and started to play….and I broke out in goosebumps! What she played was so beautiful, so haunting and so honestly emotional.  It was amazing.  At first her little melody was timid but it began to build and she added her left hand and I was stunned by the beauty of it! By the time we finished she was grinning from ear to ear and I was holding back tears!  Then I asked her if she’d like to try the blues on black and she grinned again and this time dove right in as soon as I started to play. Wow!  What a great way to finish off the week!

I am really hoping we Edmonton teachers will have the opportunity for a follow up session and with Forrest and more inspiring ideas in the near future, but in the meantime, this has reminded me how important teaching improvisation to my students is and I am determined to make it a regular part of our lessons!

Want to know a little bit more about Forrest??
Check this out:
http://patternplay.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18&Itemid=41

Here is an improvisational duet he did with his wife, Akiko: