Monday, April 30, 2012

Question of the Week: April 30, 2012 - Preparing Parents for Recital Events

Good morning! My studio recital is coming up in just about three weeks, and I know that many other teachers have May recitals as well.

Last Friday, I posted about my frustration over getting parents onto the recital bandwagon. I wanted to continue the discussion this week by opening up the floor for other teachers to share what they do in the weeks prior to a recital to make sure that parents know what's going on. After reading some of the comments from my last post, I am doing some specific things this week to make sure that parents and students are prepared and have the best recital experience possible.

I'll share those ideas at the end of the week, but for now, I want to hear from you!  

What do you do to help make communication more effective? How do you prepare both parents and students for the upcoming recital date?  

I'd love to hear feedback from seasoned teachers who may have some tried and true methods to share!

Friday, April 27, 2012


As a teacher, I am constantly amazed at how infrequently my students' parents actually pay attention. I struggle with this in my studio particularly where dates are concerned. It seems that no matter what I do, there is some kind of a disconnect between the information I provide and what parents remember.

At the beginning of each term, I send out registration forms. The form has the entire term's calendar at the bottom, with a note to KEEP the calendar and make note of the dates. Ninety-five percent of my parents return the entire form.

In the first newsletter of each term, I also include the entire term's calendar and ask the parents again to make note of pertinent dates.

In spite of these attempts to get everyone on the same page, every term I have to remind families again and again of the upcoming important dates. And even now, with the recital just 3 weeks away, I'm still getting parents asking me about the recital date.

I'm curious. Do other teachers out there struggle with communicating dates to parents? Do you also feel like there is often a disconnect between what you communicate and what parents actually assimilate? Have you found any effective measures to overcome the disconnect? If so, I'd LOVE your advice!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Finger Number Flashcards for the Beginning Student

I started 2 new students this past week, which inspired me to make these flashcards to help them learn their finger numbers. It seems like every student has their own personal challenges and I try to cater to those specific needs and help them overcome those challenges. These particular students were having a bit of trouble remembering their finger numbers.

The cards are very simple and can be used for a matching game, or just to drill finger numbers during lesson time. There are 2 types of cards, with a set for RH and LH. One set that shows a hand with a finger number in the middle:

and another set with an arrow pointing to the different fingers:

These flashcards are available on my printables page under the flashcard section. Please feel free to print them and use them with your own students!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Happy Dance

It's been a great week in my studio! I am so blessed with the students God has given me to teach, and while there are definitely good weeks and bad weeks, I can say without a doubt that I feel blessed to be a teacher. :)

Here are some of the reasons I'm doing a little happy dance this Friday afternoon:

1. I started 2 new students this week, and I can already tell that they are going to be wonderful additions to my studio!

2. I saw a positive response to a "you need to buckle down" conversation I had with a student last week. She came back this week and the difference was obvious- I was so proud of her for putting in the effort!

3. A student who's always been wishy-washy about practice is experiencing a practice revolution and exhibiting a much better attitude toward practice over the week.

4. Several students who are being diligent in memory work and asking about the upcoming recital because they're excited about performing!

5. Hearing about a performance given by one of my students at a Good Friday service at church (a student who is normally very shy about performing and has never been super enthusiastic about music/lessons in general).

6. Several encouraging messages from parents.

This was just what I needed to get back into the swing of things after our studio spring break! Have you felt especially blessed by certain students/parents recently?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Group Lesson Fun

Yesterday afternoon I held an Easter-themed group lesson for my early elementary piano students. Even though this is my break week from normal lessons, I'd had several students inquire about group lessons, so a few weeks back I decided to schedule a special group class for the younger ones.

I had a blast, and I hope they did too. Unfortunately, I kind of forgot to take pictures once we got past the first activity...but here's the one picture I did take!

As the students arrived, we did some fun Easter worksheets from Susan Paradis' blog. I also had paper goodie bags that each student decorated. They were much more excited about decorating their goodie bags! ;)

Once everyone had arrived and had mostly finished their worksheets, we divided into 2 teams (The Dolphins and The Chocolate Bunnies) and headed outside for our first game: an Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt. I used this wonderful game from The Plucky Pianista. I gave each team the scavenger hunt sheet, and they had to search the yard for hidden eggs and find the terms. Not all of the eggs had terms inside. Some of the eggs were empty, and some had just candy. Both teams came very close to winning- but when the time was up The Chocolate Bunnies won by 1 term!

Our next game involved the rhythm eggs I posted about last week. We played a relay race. Each team had 10 eggs to sort into either a 3/4 or a 4/4 basket on the opposite side of the yard. They had to take an egg and hop like bunnies across the yard to place the egg in the correct basket. The Dolphins won this game.

Back inside, we took a break from all the games and had our performance time. I had the students write the names of their songs on index cards and place them in an Easter basket. I chose the first card, and then the student that played chose the next card and so on. While each student played, the student who had their card wrote 1 nice thing about their performance on the back of the card.

Then it was time for our final game: Pass the Easter Basket. My students did a great job defining the terms- though they found out that sometimes it's not as easy to figure out how to describe a theory term as one would think! ;) We ended up with a tie in this game.

Our final activity was a listening activity using Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. As we listened, the students drew pictures. It was fun to see the different interpretations. Some drew pictures of instruments, and one student drew a concert hall complete with singers, an orchestra, dancers, and a chandelier!

All in all, it was a fun and successful afternoon! Have you been planning any special Easter group activities with your students?