Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I "Mustache" You a Question!

Last week, we had our first group lesson of the new year.  I entitled it "I Mustache You a Question".  I started out by writing that very question on a white board and posting it in the center of the studio on a stand.
 There was immediate curiosity!  But I saved the question for later in the lesson.

The first game we played was our Jumbo Shut the Box!  Shut the Box is a favorite game in our studio and when I made it a jumbo game, it became an immediate hit!  The directions are the same as the original game described in a previous post here.  I made jumbo musical dice out of boxes and duct tape (instructions found here.).

A laminated game board, 2 dice per team and a whiteboard marker is all you need!
Fun, fun, fun!

After drilling them on note values, we went inside, had a snack and went to work on our note identification!  I used a bit of a different twist just for fun.  I set up the Apple TV in the studio, used flashcards and my iPad.  Instant hit!!  I simply divided them up in teams - in our case, girls against boys - and showed each member a flashcard.  If they could name the note correctly, they were able to add a "part" to Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head - a very fun app on the iPad.

As you can see...they got a bit silly with it! Arms in eye holes, noses in ear holes, etc.  All the more fun though!

I wanted this group lesson to focus on practicing habits and strategies so I changed up our game, "You've Been 'Stached" to ask them practice-type questions.  You can find the directions to this game here.  For this game, I changed it up and assigned the colors as follows:

PURPLE - Name an excuse as to why you don't practice!

ORANGE - Give an idea that helps you practice!

GREEN - Name a strategy that helps you polish a piece!

This game was a hit and we sure some great discussions about practicing!

I had purchased "My Practice Stache" from Melody Payne.  You can find it here.  It is a fabulous set of tips to use while practicing.  Using her ideas, I put together a set of my own for my studio kids using 20 tips (the original set comes with 52) as a start.  I gave each student one of these at the end of the lesson along with a die to go with 2 of the tips and a challenge for them to use them throughout the week.  This great resource is available in her store and is currently on sale!

Oh and the question??!!  At the very end, I said, "I mustache you a question!"  When they yelled, "What?", I said "Did you have fun today!"  A resounding "Yes!" was yelled back!

Friday, September 12, 2014

A look Inside My Studio This Year

After I finished two camps and a bunch of lessons in July, my studio was closed for the month of August.  While I try to take a week or so to relax, it wasn't to happen this year.  We completely renovated our living room taking it down to the studs, adding more lighting, outlets and fixing the baseboard heating before we added a new ceiling, walls and even pointed our fireplace.  It was a huge job that my husband and I did together.  I'm thrilled with the results but it also meant that I was a bit behind on getting started for the new year.  I rallied though and worked through our new incentive program and getting the studio ready.  I made quite a few changes to the studio as well as some of the equipment I now use so I thought I would share what's happening in our music world!

I installed a TV on the wall which is now hooked up to my digital piano.  I also added Apple TV to use with my iPad.  Seriously LOVE this feature!!!
(And there's a bit of a peak at some of the decor for the incentive program!).  I also broke down and bought a 2nd iPad.  Lots of new apps are bringing loads of smiles!

I purchased a couple more white cube drawers so that my games are all neatly organized!

I also added a second bookcase and a small matching file cabinet to hold printer supplies and student files.  Here's a look at one side of the studio.
I put a portion of our music library in these files, labeled by type, making it easier to find what I'm looking for than what I was using before.  The bulk of my music library is in a large cupboard.

And here's the other side of the studio.  We moved the piano over which seems to have given us a lot more space.  The cabinet in the corner has some games in file boxes on the top and loads of office-type supplies inside.

And here's the cupboard which holds loads of music and has games on top.  The drawer cupboard to the left of the cabinet holds all my camp paper supplies.

Right now, it's working great for me.  It always seems like there isn't enough room for everything, but I've managed to fit quite a bit in my space.  I'm happy and the kids were real excited to see all the changes!

I hope you are all enjoying a great start to your year!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Marooned on Musician's Island!

I finishing up what will become our new practice incentive this year..."Maroon on Musician's Island!".  This is a super fun program designed to have the kids work on their own AND with a group of other students.  I'm very excited about it and hope to have all the details ready for you shortly!

So stayed tuned...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Music Apps

My current iPad is a 1st generation!  Shocking I know.  In fact, I bought it almost 5 years ago when the 2nd generation came out so proud that I was saving money!  I had no idea what I was doing, but I've made it work, albeit limited over the last few years.  Sadly, I can't take advantage of the most current and fabulous apps out there with this operating system so I finally purchased a new one last night.  I'm eagerly looking forward to it's arrival (but not the credit card bill that will come next month)!  Part of the price of doing business!

In any case, I wanted to alert you to a fabulous list put together by Jennifer Foxx on her studio blog, Foxx Piano Studio Resources!  She has done a fabulous job of putting together a great list of apps and also categorizing them to make it easy to search for just what you need.  You can find the list here.

While you're there, take a look at her great blog and drool at her amazing computer lab!

Thanks, Jennifer!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Rhythm Dash!

Here's a fun game we used in the studio this summer.  It quickly became a favorite!
Who can be the first team or player to get 5 in a row and win?  This is a game that reviews note values in a fun, interactive way!

To play, you need a game board(directions below), the game cards (found here) and chips or game pieces for each team or player.

This is how we played the game - I put 4 teams together (one team of leaders!) and placed all the cards facedown on the floor a distance away.  Players took turns running down to select a card and to determine the amount of beats on the card they chose.  Once they determined the number of beats, then they had to decide where to place their team chip to either try and get their own 5-in-a-row OR to place it in a way that would block another team that may be close to winning.

Here's a look at the cards.  The game board uses numbers 3-12 (10 of each) so there are 10 cards with 3 beats, 10 cards with 4 beats, 10 cards with 5 beats, etc.  So 100 rhythm cards, PLUS cards that say, "Bump an Opponent!" and "Wild Card!".   You can print as many of these extra cards as you want.

If a player selects a "Bump an Opponent!" card, it enables him to remove a chip from an opposing team or player.  This helps to stop them from getting 5-in-a-row, or removes a chip that an opposing team placed earlier that was meant to stop you from getting 5-in-a-row.  You can decide if you want them to be able to place their own chip in it's place or just leave it blank.  A "Wild Card!" allows players to place a chip anywhere they want on the board.

To make a larger game board, you can simply use a poster board or foam board and draw a grid 10 x 10 which will give you 100 squares.  In each square randomly write in numbers 3-12 using 10 of each number.

If you prefer something more compact or without the extra work, you can print a smaller version here.  I made it without color for a bit of savings so I would suggest printing it on a colored piece of cardstock.

That's it!  You're now ready to play!

I hope you enjoy using this game with your students!  If you're a elementary school teacher, this would be a great day for your 100th day of school!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Look at a Notable Summer!

Once the school year ends, my studio starts what I call, Summer Flex.  All my students have the option to attend one of my summer camps or to have 2 "double" lessons in July.  The studio is closed in August.  This year I ran two camps, A Composition Camp and a camp I called, "GAMES, GAMES, GAMES!".  I wanted (NEEDED) a bit of a simpler summer this year so I put these two camps together and they were certainly much easier than in years past.  Here's a look at what we did:

These 7 adorable girls started out the summer in my composition camp.  In addition to working through learning to write our their own songs, we played some games, worked on our rhythm and just plain had a really fun time!

Happy Campers!

Great Compositions!

Our second week of camp was all about games!  My students constantly asked to play games during lessons so I pulled out a bunch of their favorites, made a few new ones and ended the week with two days I called, Crazy Carnival!  Here's a look:

17 Campers (not all pictured!), 5 teen leaders and loads of carnival games!

Silly, silly fun!

Kerplunk!  Note value style!
A teen clown!
Rhythm races!
Terminology, with a water twist!

Loads of musical learning!

All in all?  Two fantastic weeks!  How's your summer going?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Jumbo Musical Dice

Like many of you, I'm working hard on my summer plans.  Up here in the Northeast, schools in our area are just finishing up next week so our summer is just getting started.  I'll be running two camps this summer - a composition camp and a fun camp entitled, GAMES, GAMES, GAMES!!  As you can imagine, a week of games is really popular.

I'm getting all the plans together, gathering supplies and of course, making a bunch of stuff!  I'll be sharing them as they are completed.  So for today, here's a quick look at one thing I put together after being inspired by something I saw on Pinterest.

This is a 6"x6"x6" box I purchased for about $1.00 because I couldn't find one free!  I taped it shut with mailing tape and then began to cover it with duct tape.  I started with the edges and then covered all the sides.  

Then I added some musical notation with a black sharpie...

The end result?
4 Jumbo Musical Dice ready for camp this summer!  Oh...and my helper?  That's my beautiful, 2-year-old granddaughter and future pianist!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Winner Announced!

Thank you to all of you who posted a comment in hopes of winning a free copy of World Adventure!

Congratulations to...

       Sharon Valverde!

Sharon, if you'll send me an email, I'll send you a copy of the resource of your choice!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

World Adventure! Giveaway is Almost Here!

Time is almost up!  World Adventure! is now available in my online store, but if you would like to try to win a free copy of the PDF, just leave a comment under the original post here and let me know how you would make use of this resource should you win!  The giveaway will close on Friday, 5/23/14 at 3:00 ET.

To give you ideas, here are a few suggestions for how you can make use of this exciting resource:

1.  Run it as a summer camp!  That's right!  All the plans, details, resources are all set up for you!  You tailor your camp to the number of days, hours, etc. that you want and choose the resources, games, and activities you would like to use!  It's that simple!

2.  Use it as a yearly program in your studio or classroom!  How about celebrating World Music this fall?  Everything is laid out for you!  Discuss music from around the world and get your students actively involved!  They'll be learning music concepts at the same time!  All your group lesson plans are done for you!  Just choose from over 50 games and activities all ready put together for you!  Close out your studio year with a world music recital or your classroom year with a world music concert!

3.  Celebrate a continent!  Want something simpler?  Choose a continent and "travel" through visiting country after country!

4.  Use it as a resource for games and activities!  Need an arsenal of games & activities available that are completely planned out for you!  Are you looking for just that one thing that will help your students remember their notes on the staff or note values?  With over 50 to chose from, this will be all the resource you need!

5.  Use it as a way to bring value to your studio!  You'll be the talk of the town if your students are talking up how much fun they're having!  With all these games and activities, you'll have loads to chose from at every turn!

Of course, it's available for ALL these reasons and more!   Don't miss your chance for a free copy!  The giveaway closes soon!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Technology or Board Games?

I realize there is a place for iPads, apps, computers, technology in general.  The days of just teaching beside your acoustic piano are said to be fading away.  What do we hear?...You need to have a studio with technology!  You need to offer a computer lab!  You need to use GarageBand and record all your students!  You need to have an arsenal of apps and computer programs available so your students can learn!  You need to stay up on things like ever other teacher around you!

Hmmm...I didn't learn with ANY of that.  My teacher - the organist and choir director at my church growing up - sat beside the piano, gave me instruction, handed me a theory book to complete and expected me to practice during the week.  Period.  And yes, I learned to play the piano!  And every day now that I sit down at my piano, I am reminded of her commitment to help me learn to play.  It didn't hurt that I loved it and wanted to learn, but she still stuck with me through the highs and lows of my playing and motivation.

Why do I say this?  I've struggled at times feeling like I needed to make sure I offered technology as well!  And because I didn't grow up with computers (I used a manual typewriter with carbon paper in college!) technology has been something I had to teach myself.  So if I were to give myself a grade?...I'd probably need to repeat the class!   I've tried however to provide as much as possible - within my scope of understanding!  I do have a computer lab in place, but only have four students whose parents are willing to pay for it.  I do have an iPad with loads of apps - some free, some purchased that is available and yes, my students do use it and some like it.

But, ALL of my students LOVE a board game or activity they can do with me or with each other.   Hands down!   What does that tell me?  That technology is a tool - not a necessity!

I sit by the piano and give instruction.  We play games and do activities away from the bench to encourage learning and to have fun!  Learning to play the piano is work, so in my opinion, lessons should be fun.  I create incentive programs, build a games library, run summer camps, do group lessons - mostly without technology and guess what?!

My students learn to play the piano...and play it well!  I invest in them and like my own piano teacher, I help them find their motivation and stick with them through the highs and lows.  I'm committed to helping them learn to play so that they will enjoy this skill for life.

And that is why I'm not stressing about technology.  And why I'm committed to finding and creating games and activities that my students enjoy and that will help them learn to LOVE this magical world of music!  That doesn't mean I'm not trying to improve those areas, certainly, but I want to keep it in perspective.

Which is also why I put together the camps I currently have for sale in my store.
 Right now I have 15 kids signed up for one of my weeks of camps because they can't wait to come back after last year!  And there's still a month and a half left to sign up!  The revenue from the camps (for those outside my studio) normally covers the entire expense and helps fund instruments, resources, etc. for my studio.

So just as a reminder...there are only 8 more days for you to post a comment to win a free copy of any of the camps I have for sale!  Just post a comment under this blog entry!