Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reward Cards For Piano Students

Sometimes, you need a small reward for your students that isn't junky dollar store stuff or candy. Here are two sets of reward cards that might be just what you need! These Get Out Of Scales Free cards and Extra Time With Piano Maestro cards can be printed on card stock or business card blanks and (according to the Avery template site) they are compatible with the following Avery products:

15871, 18871, 27871, 27881, 27882, 27883, 28371, 28873, 28876, 28877, 28878, 38871, 38873, 38876, 5371, 5376, 5377, 55871, 55876, 5870, 5871, 5874, 5876, 5877, 5878, 5882, 5911, 8271, 8371, 8372, 8376, 8377, 8471, 8476, 8571, 8865, 8870, 8871, 8872, 8873, 8874, 8875, 8876, 8877, 8878, 8879

If you use Piano Maestro in your studio, your students will be happy to earn these cards!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Letting The Agenda Go

Photo by Wel Han Frank Lin
Today, I had the most delightful lesson with the most adorable 6-year-old boy. He's my only "little" this year - actually, my only one in two years now. I remember in former years feeling so pressured to cover so much material in the first lesson because I wanted to be able to send the student home playing the first pieces in the lesson book. And, in order to get to the first pieces in the lesson book, I had to cover the first several pages, teaching how to sit at the piano, how to hold the hands properly, which end of the piano had high sounds and which had low, what a quarter note and a quarter rest were, etc. Then we had to learn how to follow the directions on the page and what all of those words said. I always felt like I was spewing information, not really teaching them to be excited about making music.

Today, I let the agenda go.

We started by reading Mole Music, as recommended by Andrea at Teach Piano Today. I loaned him the book to take home. Next week, I'll use her printables to help him apply the story to his own study of music.

Then, we explored the piano. We opened up the top of my console piano, and I let him stand on the piano bench and peer in. We watched the hammers dance. We learned the names of hammers, strings, dampers, and keys. We explored what the pedals could do.

We talked about high bird sounds and low bullfrog sounds and made up a name for the middle keys. They are the Panda keys. Doesn't make any sense, but does it really have to?

We traced around his hands and learned that "King Thumb is No. 1."  Then we played the worm game. The fingers are worms, and when I call out the worm numbers, they come out of their hole and rest on the keyboard cover. But, birds like to eat worms, so they have to jump back into their hole quickly before my hands (the birds) can grab them. Many giggles. He had a little trouble with fingers 3 and 4. No matter. We focused on fingers 1, 2, and 5. When his fine motor control is a little better, 3 and 4 will come easily enough.

In a few short minutes, he learned how to clap quarters and quarter rests, saying "one" for the quarters and "sh" for the rests. In no time, he could do 4 measures all by himself. Then, we made up our own song using our four-measure rhythm which I had written out on a sheet of paper. He wanted to play clusters of keys on the quarters. No matter. They were on time. His hand position was not correct. There will be time to address that later.

Forty-five minutes went by before we knew it, and I had never cracked one of his books, Yet, not a minute of that lesson was wasted, and not a minute was dry. He went home with permission to create his own music. If my measure of success was to send him home playing a piece in his book, I failed.

I don't think that is my measure of success any more.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Eyes and Brain Before Fingers!

I'll bet your students are a lot like mine. When mine start a new piece, they have their hands on the keys before they've even read the title! They have no clue what the mood or tempo should be, what key the piece is in, or even how many pages there are! I need to slow them down and get them to think before they make sounds. I tell them that we should use our eyes and brain before our fingers!

As a more experienced musician, I scan for all of the following before playing, and I don't even realize I'm doing it:  the key signature and meter, tempo indications, repeat signs, accidentals, and repeated musical material. I form a preliminary idea of the mood of the piece based on the title, the tempo or expression indication at the beginning, and sometimes the articulation. But, students have to be taught this habit, and we teachers need to be patient with the fact that what we can do in a couple of seconds takes a student several minutes.

If I just talk through a quick score examination with a bunch of leading questions at the lesson, I've still done the work for them. It doesn't really teach them to take charge of scanning the score for themselves. It's also a problem that I tend to speed through this process in the space of about 30 seconds because I'm trying to fit so much into the lesson. Better to let them own the process and take the time to really look over the piece.

So, this year, for the entire first month, my students are going to fill out a score study sheet before each new piece. We will do the first one together in a lesson, but the others will be done at home. You can download a simple form for free below. I have a more detailed sheet available for sale as part of my Student Binder Inserts package at my Etsy store. Hope this helps you to teach your students to make it a habit to use eyes and brain first!

You can preview the worksheet below.  CLICK ON THE LINK to download the sheet:  Eyes and Brain Before Fingers!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Teaching Piano In A Multi-Faith World

I've written a very long blog post at my other blog. If the topic interests you, you are welcome to jump over and read it.

Teaching Piano In A Multi-Faith World

Friday, August 15, 2014

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations to Lori Harrison! She won a free copy of Findin' Buried Treasure for her studio! Thanks for entering, Lori!

If you didn't win, don't despair! Findin' Buried Treasure is still available in my Etsy shop along with some other piano teacher resources. Watch for more items to be added in the coming weeks!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pirate-Themed Games, Prizes, Music, and DIYs!

If you're using my new incentive program, Findin' Buried Treasure, you might enjoy checking out some of the following products and printables. Also, don't forget that International Talk Like A Pirate Day is September 19, 2014! That's a Friday, so plan to talk like a pirate all week - 9/15-9/19!

Cute muslin pirate treat bags - for loot!

First up is this great musical terms game from Making Music Fun:  Pirate Quest

A game for learning musical symbols:  Pirate Treasure Hunt

Here's a musical treasure hunt game by FPS Resources!

Here's a printable "Treasurer Hoarder" certificate. This is perfect for use with Findin' Buried Treasure!  I wish I had found this back when I did this program! Treasurer Hoarder Certificate

Print these pirate-themed images out on sticker paper and cut them apart. They’re supposed to be rewards for potty training, but nobody has to know that!!  Stickers

Make your own spyglass and use it to "take a closer look" at a troublesome passage! DIY Spyglass

Free sheet music from Making Music Fun:  A Pirate I Am

Jennifer Eklund's New Horizon's Songbook has several pieces that would tie in nicely with the theme:  Sailing, New Horizons, Guiding Light, Journey's End.

Pirate music at Prima:  Pirate Related Music

Pirate music at Pepper:  Pirate Related Music

Pirate music at MusicNotes:  Pirate Related Music

Rewards and Trinkets

Party food:
     pirate bananas
    Pirate flags on orange slice boats floating on blue jello - just adorable!

Pirate-themed fabric can be used in lots of ways. I used some as a background on my bulletin board
Pirate-themed fabric on Etsy

Feel free to add any other pirate related ideas you find in the comments section!

Findin' Buried Treasure: A Giveaway!

Have you checked out my new piano incentive program, Findin' Buried Treasure? It's for sale in my Etsy shop! This program gives you 27 pages of gold for your studio, but the best thing is the treasure you'll find in your students as they are motivated to complete assignments!

Findin' Buried Treasure provides motivation for your students to achieve by rewarding for every piano piece, scale, technique exercise, sight-reading exercise, ear-training exercise, or nugget of knowledge that your students complete. You'll receive 21 student pages, including a cover page, explanation page, Treasure Chest page, Compass O' Progress page, record keeping pages for repertoire learned and exercises completed, and an assignment page, all of which can be duplicated as many times as you need for your own students. Ten of the student pages are my "Knowledge Knuggets" - a graded list of theory study topics listed in short, easy-to-manage nuggets that cover information from naming white keys to writing scales, triads, and cadence patterns. In addition to the 21 student pages, you'll receive a 6-page Teacher Guide. You'll receive tips on making a bulletin board display, links to additional resources, and several ideas for extending the theme!

This program can be adapted to your own needs, and is easy to explain and implement in your lessons. You won't have to take a lot of time away from teaching! You can extend the fun by playing off of this theme in all kinds of ways, and I know your students will love it! Be sure to visit the listing in my Etsy shop to read more about it! While you're there, you might like to check out my Piano Student Binder Inserts for students in late elementary and beyond. These include a goal-setting worksheet, a 21-Day Practice Challenge sheet, a Piano Piece worksheet for score study, and a Scale Worksheet for learning and understanding scales!  The set of 4 worksheets is only 99 cents, and it includes permission to reproduce as many as you need.

The best news is that you can win a free copy of Findin' Buried Treasure! This is going to be a short giveaway, so don't delay entering! The giveaway ends THIS Thursday, 12/14/2014, at midnight, ET. How to enter? Just use the rafflecopter widget at the end of this post! When you leave a comment (mandatory for entry), you need to some identifying information for me! Please click the button in rafflecopter that says "I left a comment." If you leave an anonymous comment, I have no way of knowing who you are, letting you know if you won, or telling one anonymous commenter from another. Thanks for entering!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway


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