Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Music for Students...and Teacher!

I had to place a big music order earlier this week, and decided to splurge a little bit and get myself a few new books for church. They arrived yesterday and I can't wait to sit down and spend some time playing through them.

The bottom book is "Sunday Morning Companion", a collection by Victor Labensky. I purchased his "Sunday Morning Holiday Companion" in 2011 and really enjoyed several of the arrangements.

In the middle is another Melody Bober hymn book titled "A Call to Worship". I have a few of her books, and was interested to see what this one was like.

On top is "What Can I Play for Funerals?" by Cindy Berry. I have several of her "What Can I Play on Sunday?" series and have been playing for enough funerals recently that I thought I'd give it a try.

I always love playing through new music! What sacred music gems have you discovered recently?!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Valentine Note Scramble for Basic Keyboard Notes and Middle C Position

I feel like 2012 just started a few days ago, and yet it's almost February! Where does the time go? In anticipation of February and Valentine's Day, I've created a few worksheets to help students review basic note names.

Susan Paradis has an excellent worksheet on her website that has notes from Bass C to Treble C, but I wanted something a bit more basic for my earliest beginners, so I created some worksheets that could be used with both pre-readers and beginning readers.

The first sheet is for beginner students and drills basic notes on the keyboard:

The second sheet drills the notes in the Middle C Position, for students who are reading on the staff:

These worksheets are available under the printables tab- look for the worksheets section and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the list. Let me know how you use these during lessons- I'd love to hear from you :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Question of the Week: January 16, 2012 - Guiding Weekly Practice

It happens periodically with practically every student: they hit a wall. Whether it's resistance to practice, a period of little or no forward progress, or just a general lack of enthusiasm toward piano, every student seems to hit one of those walls from time to time. That's when our jobs as teachers can become tough as we attempt to find the magic piece that will spark enthusiasm or look for ways to help progress happen.

I'm at that point with a student right now who seems to be stuck in a progress rut. I was thinking that it was perhaps just a symptom of the Christmas season, but we're into the January term and it seems to be sticking.

I started off the new year with a new plan- as we review each piece in the lesson we take some time before moving on to develop a specific practice plan for the coming week. I used to just give all the ideas, but I'm attempting to make this process more interactive so that it sticks over the week.

The main problem is that I just don't see our plan put into action over the week. The same problems persist from week to week- even when we isolate sections in lessons and agree to focus on them over the week.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation with a student who wasn't willing to take the steps to make progress over the week? How did you motivate them? Do you have any tricks that helped them start taking disciplined practice more seriously? I'd love to hear some ideas from more experienced teachers on what works and what doesn't work- so share your comments!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Resource for FREE Printable Music Certificates

My spring term starts up TOMORROW, and I've been busy making sure I am all set and ready to go. One item that was still on my to-do list this afternoon was printing certificates for the Fall 2011 practice incentive winners.

I've used multiple sites in the past, but my current favorite that I've used for several terms now is Certificate Street. They have creative, colorful, FREE certificate templates, many of which can be customized for specific uses.

Here's what the certificate I chose this time around looks like:

If you visit this link, you'll find all the music certificates in one place.

What other great places have you found for free certificate templates over the years? I'd love to add some more sites to my resource page!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Spring 2012 Practice Incentive: A Garden of Music!

I opted for a springy, garden-type theme for our contest, because even though it's only the early days of January, this teacher is already longing for spring!

Each student will begin with a butterfly and a caterpillar head. Every week their caterpillar will grow longer and longer as they add pom-pom segments for every 100 minutes of practice. On a separate page, the butterflies are on a quest for the flower garden, and every week they'll flutter closer depending on how many days of practice they've accomplished.

However, our flower garden needs a little help getting started! Good thing my students can help with that. ;) For every song they memorize, they get to plant a flower in the garden of music.

Below you'll see a copy of the handout each student will receive for their binders at their first lesson next week. I'm hoping that this will get my studio excited about lessons starting up again!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Note Wizards! Studio Project #1

It's a COLD, windy day here in Maryland. After an unseasonably mild December (I was walking around outside without a jacket on Dec. 30!) winter seems to be here at long last :(

While I am mourning the onset of winter weather, the cold weather has kept me inside and focused on getting some projects accomplished for the upcoming spring term.

I am putting the finishing touches on my big practice contest, and I'll post about that later in the week, but I completed another smaller side project today that I want to share.

My studio is mostly comprised of beginner and elementary level students. One resolution that I have set for myself this spring is to really help these kids learn their notes. While note reading isn't everything, it certainly factors in reading fluency.

To help my students learn their notes and encourage them to practice their flashcards (as well as foster some healthy competition!) I'm inviting all my students to try their hands at becoming music wizards over this term.

There are 2 charts, one for my beginners, and another for those that are a bit further along. Each chart has rules to pass each level, with more flashcards added for each new level. Going along, students earn stickers to put on the chart as they move closer toward becoming music wizards!

It's amazing how competitive kids can be- and I'm hoping that having a visual representation will encourage my students to master their notes!

What kind of projects do you have up your sleeve as you get ready to start a new teaching term?