Thursday, July 26, 2012

Student Compositions: Following Your Lead!

Do your students enjoy composing? Mine do! What steps do you take to help them learn to compose?

Yesterday in Ashlyn's lesson, we took some time to explore composition. Ashlyn, age 7, has had lessons for just under four months, and she has begun to read a few notes on the staff. I told her that we would be working together so that she could compose her very own piece of music, using the notes that she knows. Here is the process we followed, and the end result! Read on to take a glimpse into our composition session yesterday, which took only about 8 to 10 minutes of the 30-minute lesson.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Great Sight-Reading Challenge!

Summer lessons are wrapping up this week! Already! I can hardly believe it. There is a three-week break between the end of my summer session and the beginning of the fall semester, and I wanted to have my students do something beneficial and easy to ensure they spend at least a little time at the piano during the break. I created "The Great Sight-Reading Challenge" to give them some motivation and to challenge them to read three pieces or sight-reading flash cards/exercises each day that they are at the piano between now and August 13. I had forgotten the name of Jenny's "Summer Sightreading Challenge" when I named mine, so I hope she doesn't mind the very similar-sounding title :)

  • To encourage my students to become better sight-readers
  • To challenge my students to practice their sight-reading skills during our break
  • To have my students sight-read 40 items during the next three weeks (brief version)
  • To have my students sight-read 240 items during the next 16 weeks (semester version)
  • Any age!
  • Beginners through advanced students will benefit from this challenge
  • The Great Sight-Reading Challenge sheet
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Lots of appropriately-leveled sight-reading materials
  • Print out The Great Sight-Reading Challenge sheet below.
  • Have students sight-read 3 pieces/selections/items each day for at least 5 days per week.
  • For each 3 pieces they sight-read, they should color one star on the sheet.
  • They are sight-reading 3 selections during their lessons this week to get a head start on the challenge!

For more sight-reading posts: 

**Updated version is now called "Sight-Read Like A Rockstar" and can be purchased at the following shop:

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Shiver Me Technique!" and "Technique is Sweet!" Pirate-Themed and Cupcake-Themed Technique Packs

Getting ready for lessons to begin in August has been so much fun this week! I have been thinking about what to do regarding a bulletin board/visible incentive of some kind for my beginners, and decided that this year, technique is the way to go! These two printables, "Shiver Me Technique!" and "Technique is Sweet!" include some elementary technical demands that beginning students need to conquer. The idea for this project came from Wendy Chan's RCM Grades 1 and 2 Technique sheets at Piano Escapades, so thanks to Wendy for the inspiration!

**Updated 6/17/13 to include 16 pages per set! Click here to purchase.

  • To give young beginners a visual aid of the technical requirements they will be studying during the coming months
  • To give students a visual means of keeping track of their technical progress
  • To create a bit of healthy competition among the students in my studio :)
  • Beginners

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Five Core Values of Great Leaders" Applied to Piano Teachers

This morning as I was following my daily ritual of scanning through various social media sites of interest, I discovered this gem from Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership Advisor: "Five Core Values of Great Leaders". Please take just a moment to read the article before continuing to read this blog entry.

Photo from
Did you notice how easy it is to apply those five core values to piano/music instruction? In a few words, here's my take on how these principles can be applied within the piano studio.

1. Love Your Team. First you must define your team. My team includes my students, their families, their friends, and any others who contribute to their musical growth. By building relationships with the families and friends who are part of your studio, you are letting them know that you care about them as individuals, and this will create a huge amount of trust within your studio. Recognize what they are going through, lend an ear when they need it, offer the best instruction possible, let them know you care about them, and they will be loyal contributors to your studio as well as the music community as a whole. Love your students.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Creating Attractive Newsletters Using FREE Digital Scrapbooking Supplies!

There are so many great templates for newsletters out there! However, many of those templates are for software programs that I do not have at the moment, so I decided to create my own newsletter template using Microsoft Word (publishing view), digital scrapbooking supplies (they were FREE!), public domain clipart (also FREE!), and inspiration from other templates that I found online.

The first thing I did was search (using Google, Bing, etc.) for a template and a "look" that I liked and would enjoy using. I decided to use the first one on this page. Aren't they all great? I really loved the look of them, so I scrolled down to the comments section to see if the designer offered any information on where she got her digital scrapbooking supplies, which she did! Hers originated from but she found them on specific blogs that were offering freebies. CraftCrave is really terrific, so take a look! Simply click the link, then click any of the freebie links on that page. You'll be amazed. Really. There are templates, word arts, papers, embellishments, the list goes on and on! All you have to do is download them!

The CraftCrave website wasn't responding yesterday when I was working on my newsletter, so I did a search for free digital scrapbook supplies and was directed to a page containing these links: Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, Shabby Princess, Peppermint CreativeComputer Scrapbook, well, you get the idea :)