Saturday, September 30, 2017

Attitude is Everything: A Tale of Three Sisters

I was so inspired by "A Tale of 3 Sisters" that I heard in this inspiring message from Dieter F. Uchtdorf last weekend during the Worldwide Women's Conference.   I loved the overall theme of this message but it also sparked a fun idea in my mind for how to introduce scales through a memorable story.  Here's a sneak peak.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Piano Scale Thumb Tuck Challenge


Last week I introduced the "Can Can" to one of my piano students with a focus on playing even one-octave scales without a wrist bump.  I started with a daring challenge that really intrigued him.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fidget Spinner "I Spy": A Piano Piece Prep Game

Training piano students to look before they leap can be a challenge. If you are going cliff jumping into the ocean its a good idea to survey your surroundings before taking a plunge.  Are there sharks, sharp rocks, other swimmers or shallow water? Despite these dangers, some unfortunate jumpers find the blue water just too appealing to take the time to scan their surroundings before jumping in sometimes with disastrous results.


Some students find a new piece so irresistible they just can help themselves from diving straight into a piece from start to finish with a lot of errors before checking it out to see what they are up against.  But just like with cliff jumping, this usually isn't the best approach.
Taking an off the bench approach when introducing new pieces can help them to see the patterns, challenge spots and details in their music that they may overlook if they just do the dive in approach. This fun "I Spy" game can help cure this tendency.

How to turn a piece into an "I Spy" Challenge:

Monday, September 18, 2017

Eighth Note lays down and stretches out for Eighth Rest

At our last group lesson I invited my students to create posters to illustrate music concepts, and later I was inspired to do a little designing myself. My natural artistic skills are nothing to brag about, but with a little help from Picmonkey the message looks a little more flashy.
Eighth Rest Poster with a little help from picmonkey!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Piano Safari and Teaching Rhythm: Sound before Symbol Makes Sense


I love using the Piano Safari rote pieces with my students!  They enjoy being able to play cool sounding songs from the beginning, and it allows them to really focus in on proper technique from the start. This video posted by Julie Knerr, one of the authors of Piano Safari, is a perfect example of how engaging playful activities in lessons delight students as the time just whizzes by. The order she introduces concepts in is very intuitive.

Sounds before Symbols:
Introducing rote pieces first really encourages students

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Memorable Approach to Teaching Ties and Slurs


This week as one my students turned the page to unveil his next piece he said, "these lines are so confusing!"
His piece was filled with multiple ties and slurs on every line. So I handed over the pencil and had him color the ties one color and the slurs another after a brief explanation about the visual difference.

 A tie connects 2 notes that are the same pitch (same line or same space). To identify ties pretend you are walking on the noteheads in your music.  Imagine a runner staying in the same track lane (line or space) on the staff and touching the "target notes" in his lane.




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Piano Studio Tour

I am so thrilled to now have a specific room in my home dedicated to music teaching!  I was a little hesitant to move my piano out of our family room, because I always envisioned the piano being a gathering place for my large family ... but being able to shut the door while I teach and while children practice has definitely been worth switching it to a smaller space.

I'm a big fan of a bargain, so when I saw this bulletin board at the thrift store I was excited to snatch it up.  You can read more about how I plan to use it on this piano bulletin board post.

Once I secure something to the wall, its likely to stay there until I move (which will hopefully never happen again!)  So the DIY photo collage above has velcro backed frames that I can swap out for different photos when I want some change without a lot of hassle. You can view more details on how I made it  here.
 I paired this dollar store quote plaque with an old "sand tray that I spray painted white and covered with music wrapping paper.  I can easily swap out the picture in the middle when I'm ready for a change.

The glass insert on my desk is removable, so I slipped some music wrapping paper underneath it to go with the music theme.

My piano game card storage pouch hangs inside the closet along with music, string instruments, my children's personalized piano bags, and storage drawers containing rhythm instruments (maracas, castanets, etc.), piano group game supplies and white boards.
Since large box style tvs are a thing of the past, I found this tv armoire for a great deal on craigslist several years ago.  It is perfect for housing my most often used piano library music, piano teaching binders and teaching caddy.  I made book organizers using Costco cardboard milk carriers covered with decorative contact paper to separate books into different categories.  The colored dot stickers on the spines make it easier for me to quickly find supplementary music appropriate for the student's level.  The caddy keeps silly putty, game pieces, dice, dry erase boards/markers and colored pencils with in easy reach when a student needs some hands on fun to ramp up the learning.