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!

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 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

Sunday, August 10, 2014

New Student Binder Inserts In My Etsy Shop!

There are new teacher resources listed in my Etsy shop:  four inserts for your students' piano binders which will help them focus on the things that really matter! The "21-Day Challenge" sheet can be used for any student in your studio while the others are intended for second-year students and beyond. These are effective because they require the students to really do some thinking. I hope you'll find these pages useful! There are more resources coming, including a give-away, so stay tuned!  


1.  My Goals For Piano gives students a format for listing their yearly goals and writing action steps to make those goals happen! Watch how they'll soar when they know exactly what they want to accomplish! 

2.  The 21-Day Challenge Chart will help motivate your students to make practicing a habit!  It's been said that it takes 21 days to establish a habit.  Use this chart to challenge your students to practice for 21 days during the month of September. (Or any month you choose! Every month??!) Students color in a note for every practice day until they've finished 21. Consider offering a prize to students who complete the chart within the first month of lessons.

3. The New Piece Worksheet helps your students do a little score study before even playing the first note!  They'll see the time signature, the key, the dynamics, all of the directions on the page, the repeats, and the form of their piece before ever making a sound! Use this worksheet for the first several months, and you'll establish the habit of surveying the terrain before jumping right in.

4. My Scale Worksheet will help students really master scales and intervals.  It offers a place to write in fingering on a keyboard as well as to notate the scale on the staff. Your students will review the key signature, the tonic and dominant note, and the intervals that can be derived from the scale. For students not ready to use the entire sheet, have them do only the appropriate parts by highlighting what you want them to complete. Students will retain the knowledge more readily if they write it themselves!

Please drop by my Etsy shop and check out these sheets as well as my practice incentive and studio theme program:  Findin' Buried Treasure! More resources are on the way!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Should Parents Make Their Child Practice?

Photo by Woodley Wonderworks via Wiki Commons
I'll bet that most piano teachers can relate to this:  I wish I had a nickel for every parent who has said to me in an interview, "I'm not going to MAKE him/her practice." After 20 years of experience, I've come to see this as a tip-off that, if I accept the student, there is a decent chance that he or she won't stick with piano longer than two years. I wanted to know if there was any real truth to that belief or if I could find some evidence for it.

As a child, I occasionally needed some enforcement of the practice routine from my parents, even though I loved playing and never entertained the idea of quitting. I wondered if other piano teachers would say the same about their childhood piano study.

I posted my question yesterday in two facebook groups:  Piano Teacher Central and The Art of Piano Pedagogy.  I got a huge number of responses! In fact, the responses are still coming in, but I decided to tally the results at 9:00 this morning. I had a total of 293 answers!

Here's the question:
I’m taking a poll. I have a hunch that most of us who are now music professionals sometimes needed our parents to give us a push about practicing when we were growing up. Which of the following choices best describes your childhood piano practice routine? This could be useful information to share with our students! (B is the answer for me.) 
A. I was always self-motivated to practice. My parents never made me practice. 
B. I was mostly self-motivated to practice. My parents sometimes made me practice. 
C. My parents often had to make me practice. I was only occasionally self-motivated. 
D. I was rarely self-motivated to practice. My parents are the main reason I learned anything.

I later posted to clarify that I specifically wondering about the elementary years. Had I said that when I first posted, it might have changed the results. This graph shows the percentage of each answer choice among the 293 total answers.

I confess that I got more A answers than I was expecting. Maybe I was projecting my own lack of discipline on everyone else! I suppose that among music teachers, I shouldn't be surprised that most of them loved practicing! The A answers represented 49% of the whole. A large number of the A answers indicated that their parents sometimes had to make them STOP practicing!

The E answers were ones that didn't fit well into any of the other categories. They ranged from "I didn't practice" to "I don't know if I was self-motivated or not because my parents gave me no opportunity to be."

Ultimately, though, my original hunch was pretty good. I think it's hugely important to note that a full 49% of people who now earn some or all of their income as musicians answered B, C, or D. "We needed a push from our parents at least occasionally." Many of the B and C responses indicated that by middle school or high school, self-motivation had taken over because their successes had spurred them on to greater effort. Considering that these answers came from people who now earn money as musicians, I suspect that among the general population, that percentage would be even higher. Of course this survey is entirely non-scientific, but the results suggest to me that in order to become competent at playing an instrument, at least half of students under the age of 13 or 14 are going to need the parent to be willing to enforce the practice routine.

So what does this mean in my studio? Well, it encourages me to believe that more students than I expected could turn out to be entirely self-motivated to practice! That's good news! But, this information also gives me something realistic to share with piano parents who say that they aren't willing to make a child practice. There's at least a 50-50 chance that your child might eventually be very grateful that you made them practice. 

In my studio, when the parents indicate that the child is never self-motivated and all of the practice is at the parents' insistence (the D answer), I support their desire to quit. Sometimes, I wonder if it was the right answer, though. Ten percent of the responses to the survey were D!

Ultimately, a parent's decision to make a child practice or not is a very personal one influenced by many different factors. Teachers, parents, and students should weigh all of the pros and cons in each individual situation together. I do think, though, that there is a perception that the "good" students are always self-motivated. This informal survey suggests otherwise.

I plan to show parents this article and graph and encourage them to use this information, non-scientific though it may be, in their decision about whether to require their child to practice. You can do the same. At the end of the post is a link to a printable document you can share with your parents.

What do these results say to you? Do you think I'm overstating my case? How would you use this information in your studio?

Click here for a printable document.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Announcing...A New Piano Practice Incentive and Studio Theme!

Drumroll please...I'm very happy to announce a new piano practice incentive program that you're going to love! Arrrr you ready for a fun yarrr in yer piano studio? Well then, put on your pirate hat, hoist the Jolly Roger, and get ready to find some buried treasure...treasure within your students, that is! Findin' Buried Treasure is just what you need to motivate your students to greater success!

A couple of years ago, I developed this program to use in my own studio, and it was a big hit! I finally cleaned and polished it all up for you, and it's for sale in my Etsy shop

Findin’ Buried Treasure is a piano studio incentive program and year-long theme. Your students will find treasure as they learn new pieces, master sight-reading skills, train their ears and fingers, and put new facts into their noggins. You decide what they learn, and the program gives you a format for recording keeping and rewarding their accomplishments. They’ll earn some fine gems and gold as they go! At the end of each month (or yarrr, it’s up to you), they can trade their loot for pirate doubloons and buy themselves a prize! 

This incentive program rewards students for practice results, not practice times. There’s no need to record practice minutes! Students earn gems for pieces learned to completion, technique activities like scales and arpeggios, ear-training and sight reading activities, and mastery of Knowledge Knuggets in theory.  Best of all, this incentive program is easy and quick to implement, easy to explain to your students, and provides a wealth of theming opportunities for the whole yarrr... uh, year! You can customize the program to your needs, leaving out what you don’t want to do, planning your own activities, etc. These are not rules; they’re more like guidelines, savvy?

Included in the purchase are three digital files. The first is a 4 page Teacher’s Guide and an optional bulletin board title page. The second is a file of student pages including a cover page, explanation of the program, record-keeping and motivational pages, and an assignment sheet. The third is a 10-page booklet of theory Knowledge Knuggets in increasing difficulty. Everything can be duplicated as many times as you need for all of your students. 

Keep yer spyglass trained on my Etsy shop for more items which will appear on the horizon!

Friday, August 1, 2014

80+ Pinterest Boards For Teaching Piano

Let me start with an apology, because if you click on any of these links, you are going to hate me. I'm so sorry. You are about to be sucked into a black hole of endless piano teaching resources. Every link you click will provide you with several more links to follow. If you love your work, as I do, you may never escape!

Here follows a MONSTER list of links to Pinterest boards with teaching ideas, in no particular order. I guarantee that within just a few minutes, you'll discover a great idea you want to incorporate into your teaching plans. I also guarantee that you can't click on just one board. I've bolded a few of the notable boards that are buried within the list, but there are fabulous ideas in all of these.

If your Pinterest board is not here, and you'd like it to be, please leave a link to it by using the linky tool at the end of the post. You can help to spread the word about this directory by pinning this post! Also, I'd LOVE to have you follow my own board which is no. 1 on the list, of course!

Again, I'm so sorry! ;-) 

1. Laura Lowe: 

2. Carrie Zak:

3. Beverly Cox:

4. Desert Valley MTA:

5. Mallory Harris:

6. Diane Hidy:

7. Kelly Bordeaux: - several boards

8. Debbie Lumpkin:

9. Saralyn:

10. Piano Gal Val:

11. Midnight Music:

12. Marina Hayes:

13. Elizabeth Piturachsatit:

14. Mary Miller:

15. Ninn:

16. Emily Matthew: - several boards to explore

17. Teletha Newell:  and

18. Carla Lowery: - several boards to explore

19. Deb Gough Wensel:

20. Natalie Shaw:

21. Pamela Robinson:

22. Angie Lewis:

23. Kathy Davis:

24. Patti Kolk:

25. Brittany Wilbourn:

26. Natalie Beebe:

27. Claire Westlake: - many boards to explore

28. Emily Zook:

29. Nicole Rich:

30. Marianne Marlor:

31. Lori Nielson:

32. Lana Hughes:

33. Ashley Caldwell Brown:

34. Amber Salas-Zuniga:

35. Tami Baird:

36. Julie Williams:

37. Amy Losee:

38. Penny Wiese:

39. Kathleen Hayes:

40. Jessica Grant:

41. Nicole Lookabough:

42. Jessica Hansen:

43. Carri Corbitt:

44. Patti Widener:

45. Heather McCook:

46. Shana Eliott:

47. Alta Joy:

48. Jessica Finch:

49. Andrea Dow:

50. Kristen Taylor: - lots of boards to explore

51. Wendy Stevens: - lots of boards to explore

52. Cammie Call Titus:

53. Kamalani Hansen:

54. Leslie Thackery:

55. Susan Paradis: - lots of boards

56. Laura:

57. Natalie Wickham: - several boards

58. Andrea Dow / Teach Piano Today:

59. Jenny Boster:

60. Gail Fischler / The Piano Addict:

61. Heidi Neal:

62. Wendy Chan: - many boards

63. Carolyn Medrano:

64. Barb Wagner: - several boards

65. Melody Payne:

66. Rhonda Hunter:

67. Heart and Soul Music Studio:

68. Alicia Dunlap:

69.  Janice Potvin:

70.  Karlyn Peterson-Lundquist:

71.  Maria Wonch:

72.  Deanna Lodge:

73.  Jennifer Hewitt:

74.  Christy Hollinshead:

75.  Kelly Nelson:

76.  Tiffany Shepherd:

77.  Clavier Companion:

78.  Rachel Thomas:

79.  Tim Topham:

80.  Nadine Reece:

81.  Jennifer Foxx: - 3 boards

82.  Leila Viss: - several boards

83.  Heather Nanny: - many boards!

84.  Sara's Music Studio:


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