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!

 

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Video of the Month Club

In my last post, I mentioned how inspirational it can be for our budding little students to get out and see some performances. It can really make the music come alive and be a giant motivation to keep practicing those skills! It works that way with most everything, not just music! In fact, one of the biggest inspirations and motivations for my own little aspiring lacrosse player was getting to see the Edmonton Rush play at Rexall last spring. However, not everyone has the time or money to get out and experience these wonderful opportunities. And so, inspired by a mention made by a teacher in my Pedagogy Etude group and a mention in a blog post by Anne Crosby Gaudet, I’ve decided to start a Video of the Month Club for my studio. Each month I will be Facebook-ing, blogging and emailing a video of the month.

I hope these videos will inspire, teach and entertain and that through them my students will be able to experience many different and wonderful styles of music as well as meet some new instruments!

My debut video for the month of October, 2013 is The Piano Guys One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful. I am introducing this video this week at our master classes and giving out an active listening journal sheet for them to read and fill out at home. I chose this video because the lid and music desk on the grand piano have been removed and a camera placed above and it gives an awesome view into the inner workings (I called them “piano guts” during the lesson to much uproarious laughter or..all out groans!) of a grand piano. I also love it because it shows the individuality of all these parts and the amazing sounds they can make when a little creativity is added….and frankly, I just think it’s the COOLEST!

I played this video for both master classes yesterday and I was astounded at the reaction. I knew they would enjoy it, but I worried that maybe most had seen it and would think it passé. In fact, only 2 of yesterdays 20 students had seen it before (but were excited to see it again) while for the rest it was a new and exciting experience. They all watched with rapt attention. I have never seen 10-12 children so focused and quiet for that length of time….they were glued to the performance….and at the end they had so much to share. Their reactions were so exciting, I wished I could’ve captured them all on video!

And so, I will share this YouTube video here with you and hope that you find it as enjoyable as they did!

Noteworthy Items and Reminders

As we finish up October and prepare to dive into November, I have a few important reminders and requests for you.

First of all, let me just say what a fantastic couple of weeks we have had.  The students have been working so hard over the last almost 8 weeks and the Practice Tree is just full of stickers and that Treasure box has been opened many times over the last two weeks–it’s already half-empty!!  Time to go shopping! 😉

MAKE A MUSIC VIDEO
The treasure box is one great way to celebrate all their hard work, but I was reminded this week of another terrific way to do celebrate at home.  I have often encouraged my students to call grandparents on the phone and play for them or take advantage of when they are over for a visit and put on a little concert, but this week one of my little students proudly showed me a video of herself playing the piano that her mom had shared on facebook.  We have so much technology at our fingertips now and so many of us have iPhones–take advantage of it!  Making a “Music Video” of your child and posting it on facebook or youtube is a wonderful way of sharing with family and friends as well a great way to show your child how important you think their music is and build their self-esteem and confidence!  Thanks, Ayla and Amanda for that great reminder!

WAITING AREA–IMPORTANT REMINDERS
I have had a chance to talk quickly at some of our classes this week about what to do when you are at the studio waiting for your class to begin, but there are few classes and students that I missed getting this message/reminder out to.  When you come into the studio for your lesson, please wait on/near the brown chairs around the corner, quietly and out of sight of the piano if at all possible.  When some of our classes were arriving this week, I noticed some students and parents standing about near the sofa and keyboards while a private lesson or class was still in session.  It’s easy to forget how intimidating or nerve-wracking (not to mention distracting) it can be to a student to see half a dozen adults and the same number of children watching them out of the corner of their eye.  Some of my private students feel a little nervous playing just for me, imagine how they must feel when a whole group shows up at the end of their lesson….especially if they weren’t feeling as prepared as they usually are to begin with.  This is especially important to remember if there is a private lesson going on before your class/lesson begins.  Many of the private students only get a 30 minute lesson.  If you are in a 60 minute class and think the time flies by, imagine what a race we have to get through everything we need to in 30 minutes and how vital it is that we can spend those 30 minutes un-distracted.  If you show up for your class 10-15 minutes early and you are talking, whispering or moving around in that student’s line of sight, they can be feeling nervous or distracted for up 30-50% of their lesson–that is a huge chunk of their time.  And, to be honest, they are not the only ones distracted.  I will often see little ones waving at me and I can’t help but wave back but my student needs 100% of my attention for their lesson.  So, please, if you can remember, try to come into class only 5-7 minutes early and wait quietly on the brown chairs, the sofa area is intended for parents and siblings of private students who need a comfortable place to study/work for 30-60 minutes while they wait for their child or sibling to finish their private lesson.  I know it can be exciting and inspiring to hear what those older students or other classes are working on, but make sure you listen in as quietly and as invisibly as possible! Emoji

CHRISTMAS IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
“Oh, my did she really just say that”, you ask, “we haven’t even gotten through Halloween?!”  Yes I did, and yes I have even bought a couple of Christmas presents already!  Christmas is only 2 months away and our Christmas recital is only approximately 7 weeks away.  If that thought has given you indigestion, I apologize, but swallow it down because we are going to be ramping up for our annual Christmas recital VERY soon.  My family has already heard me playing through several Christmas pieces as I choose and prepare to accompany some of the class ensemble numbers our classes will do and trust me, they have groaned loudly but I ignore them and play on!  If you have only been skim-reading my newsletters (shame on you!), then you may have missed the announcement about the when and where of our recital so here it is again–just in case:

Annual Christmas Recital:  Friday evening, December 14th, in the First Church of the Nazarene  Main Auditorium located at 14320 94 street.  I believe our time will be 6:30-7:30pm, but I will need to confirm that with you a little later–as soon as I hear the date and time of my husband’s work Christmas party. I may have to run the recital from 6-7pm.  I do apologize for the late date, I was hoping for December 7th, but, alas, it was unavailable.

With the recital just weeks away, we will begin working on special ensemble pieces in our music classes as well as some piano duet or solo opportunities.  All the MYC classes will find that seasonal music is actually included there in our books, but private students need extra supplementary books of their own.  So, all of you in private lessons: please take this weekend to go through your piano bench or magazine file beside your piano and dig out ALL your Christmas books–then bring them to piano lessons NEXT WEEK, we need to make sure the level of the book is still appropriate or if you have “out-grown” it and are in need of a new book/level.  We want to begin our preparations no later than the first week of November so we are confident, prepared and not cramming last minute practice into an already busy season!

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.