Monday, June 18, 2012

4th of July

I have nothing profound or earth-shattering to say- I just wanted to share my July 4th decorations.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Projects

Who doesn't have a long list of summer projects? 
Here's mine:

1. New studio website 
2. Studio Logo and swag 
      (this is supposed to be good advertising)
3. Designing Baseball cards instead of costly recital certificates
       (see my blog post titled "Beethoven wasn't so great")
4. New "cool" Practice beads for Fall and updated rating system 
       (adding a "+/-"  to the current rating system)
       (See my blog post titled "No more initialed practice sheets")
5. Summer 4-week Baroque Class for 4th-5th graders
       (because I have a new harpsichord! yay!)
6. Shortened Studio Policy 
        (short and sweet...mine is way too long)
7. Parent information booklet 
        (containing everything from practicing to college auditions 
           because half our job is educating parents.)
8. Fun percussion ensemble pieces
         (this is going to be hard)
9. Studio Flyer 
        (more advertising)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Well, after several months, I have finally completed my studio yearbook for the 2011-2012 school year! I have orderd a hardcover copy for my watingroom and can't wait for it to arrive!

In the meantime, here is the link to it online if you'd like to see what goes on in my studio for the year. Or maybe you want to see how I set up the yearbook pages....I'll warn you, I'm not much of a scrapbook person....

Monday, June 11, 2012

Guided Practice Session

Every time I begin a new student, parents generally will ask about practicing.

  • How much should they practice?
  • When should they practice?
  • What are they supposed to practice?
  • What am I supposed to do when they practice?
  • I don't know anything about music, how can I help them practice?
  • What happens if they don't practice?

I have strict practice requirements in my studio. I expect my students to progress and not waste their parents hard earned money (or my time) sitting at the piano pretending to practice for 45 minutes.  I explain to parents that sitting at the piano hitting keys, does not constitute practice. Neither does playing a song from the beginning over and over again for 45 minutes.

Many students do just fine practicing. They just get it. Other students might come to the lesson now and then and fake their way through the assignment (as if I wouldn't know the difference). Some come in and can't play much of anything I assigned at all. Some do this often enough for me to raise an eyebrow.

These students (and parents) will benefit from a session on practicing. At least what I would call practicing. So this summer I am offering one "Guided Practice Session" for my students in the student's home for a discounted price- (factoring in gas there and back). This fall, I may make this a required "course" for all in-coming new students within their first year. Because effective practice from the get-go can make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

Here's how the Guided Practice Session works:
1. Parents are REQUIRED to be present.
             We sit in the room where the student practices.
2. I remind them to set a timer for the length of their lesson. 
              (....Hold on, hear me out first....)
3. I walk the student through each and every assignment they were given that week in their lesson. Step by step.
               I am very specific as to what they are to do with each item on their assignment sheet.
4. I discuss what to do if they forget how to do something or if they run into difficulty.
5.  When the assignment is finished, they are instructed to get out a fun book and sight read what they like for the remaining balance of their time. 
                I don't care what they play and I don't care how well they play it. I just want them to play  something fun (from a score)- something they must read, but can relate to. 

It doesn't matter if the assignment only takes 10 minutes to complete. That's ok, they can spend  the next 20-25 minutes doing fun music. (I'll guide them through that as well.) Thats why I have them set the timer.

Hopefully they will only need this once and it will reinforce a good balance of lesson assignment vs. fun playing.

Too much assignment and not enough fun and eventually, they won't want to do it anymore- and begin negotiation attempts over piano practice with their parents.

Too much fun and not enough assignment will present itself right away in their next lesson.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Today I held my annual Achievement Awards Recital. Every single student in my studio earned awards this year. They worked for them all year long and earned them. They set a goal and achieved that goal. This is such an important life lesson for my students. Quick, someone find me a child who wouldn't rather get a trophy or ribbon than sit around pondering the personal satisfaction and the intrinsic value of their piano practice....all 130 hours of it.

I am very interested in Character-building and here are just some of the Character qualities learned by my students while working toward just one of those awards; the "sight reading" trophy (where the student has to sight read 20 entire books)-

Continual self- assessment (otherwise known as Humility)

When my students stick with piano and work through 2 years of lessons to receive the MTNA 2-year (and 4-year) Certificate for Continuous study in piano, they have learned the following Character qualities-


Every single student was happy to receive the awards and I was happy to bestow them. I am so proud of all my students. Their parents are proud as well and a good time was had by all. 

Here is the list of the awards my student earned-

1. Practice Blue Ribbon Award
2. Student of the Month Certificate
3. PIANOlympic Gold Medal
4. Listening Trophy
5. Sight Reading Trophy
6. MSMTA Keyboard Award Trophy
7. MSMTA Theory Honors Award Trophy
8. MSMTA Distinguished Music Achievement Award
9. MTNA Continuous Study in Piano Certificate
10. Classics for Kids® Trophy & Certificate
11. MSMTA Keyboard Exam Certificate
12. MSMTA Theory Exam Certificate
13. MSMTA Spring Festival Piano Solo Competition Certificate
14. One Minute Club Certificate