Monday, October 29, 2012

A Stormy Song For A Very Blustery Day!

My youngest and newest student Quintin, braved Hurricane Sandy (we are getting pounded as I speak) and showed up for his lesson today with this fabulous song! What a lovely surprise!

Friday, October 26, 2012

My students ARE Awesome

This summer, I had a new logo made and at the back to school party in August, each student received this t-shirt. On the front is the studio logo:

And on the back, well, Grace is proudly displaying it. Today was twin day at school so Maddy and Grace both wore their t-shirts. They are both right to proudly say.....


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Getting Ready for the Halloween Recital

This week I've been getting ready for my annual Halloween Party/Recital. This is a student-only event, so parents get to just drop off and pick up. I invite a colleague to join with her studio- which adds more to the fun because she usually shows up in a fabulous witch costume!

My students have been playing Halloween games and flashcards, and learning their piece for the party all month and they are "Rock & Roll Ready". They are ALL psyched about it and can't wait! As a piano teacher, it just thrills me to see the students so excited to play their piece for their performance jitters around here. This is what piano is all about- sharing your music with others! (Oh, I know they are excited about coming to a party, but they also have said how they can't wait for everyone hear their song.) And I don't blame them- here is some of what we'll hear Saturday night:

Halloween Recital 2012
Jack O’Lantern- Bastien
Goblin’s Dance- Bastien
Witch’s Broom- Mier
The Happy Jack O’Lantern- Bastien
The Halloween Star- Bastien
Noises in the Night- Bastien
The Four O’Clock Ghost- Glover
Linus & Lucy- Gualardi arr. Winner
 Ghost in the Attic- Snell
Goblin’s Gavotte- Gurlitt
Halloween Hayride- Snell
This is Halloween- Elfman 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fun Fingernail Stickers

Just when you thought you'd seen it all in stickers....Claire had a good time at lessons today because she got lots of stickers for completing her songs….but instead of putting stickers on the pages, she picked my new fingernail stickers! 

"Who said that just because your nails are short for piano you can’t show them off with stickers?"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Creepy Rhythms

This week students are matching scary Halloween lyrics to rhythmic patterns. This ear-training exercise accomplishes two musical skills; understanding half, quarter, eighth note patterns, and using the ear to match words and syllables to each rhythmic pattern. First we say the words and clap the syllables, then we count and clap the rhythm cards. I think this make it easier for the student to match them up. Let’s see how everyone does!

I don’t know who wrote the lyrics, but Jennifer Fink at created this fun set of lyrics and rhythm cards that are now a permanent part of my game collection and an annual event in October. Thanks Jennifer!

Here they are:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Halloween Duets (for brand new beginners)

Halloween is in the air and I am preparing for my annual Halloween Party/Recital. My students are excited to play the creepy songs they've been hard at work practicing, but what about the very new beginning students who can't read music yet- or can barely count, for that matter? What can they perform at their first recital?

Composing music for my beginning students is just something I have not had time to sit down and do. But I have a dear friend and colleague who has been writing music for her students (of all levels) for years. 

A couple of years ago, she composed a collection of Halloween duets for brand new beginning students who could not yet master everything it took to perform at a recital. I tested the duets out on many of my students, and they were an instant hit!!

Now, its become an annual event during a lesson in October to hear the words..... "Miss Suzanne can we play the creepy Halloween duets??" It doesn't seem to matter how old they are or how advanced they are, they remember these pieces from year to year, and request them EVERY year--these are clearly a student favorite.

This year at my Halloween party I will be playing one of the duets with a brand new beginner. No doubt everyone else will recognize these pieces and want to play them all at the party!

These duets are energetic, fun to listen to, and most importantly, contain an easy ostinato for a new student to play without having to read the music. In fact, they don't even have to know how to count! You can let them know when to begin and end the ostinato simply by whispering it to them in recital. To see how proud the student is for being able to perform a creepy song with the teacher just like the big kids is priceless!
Duet Titles:
1. Footsteps at Midnight
2. Night on Monster Mountain
3. Skeleton Dance
4. Trick or Treat on Mars
5. Ghosts of the Haunted Swamp
6. Lullaby for a Sleepy Ghost
7. The Pirates Dance on Halloween

The entire collection is available for sale here-

With the composers' permission, here are 4 measures from 2 of my favorite duets:

Thank you, Ellen!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Tree of Skulls

This week I am reviewing letters, flashcards, and mnemonic flashcards with a creepy Halloween flavor. Here is the "TREE OF SKULLS". The student picks a skull off the tree and places it on the appropriate piano key......

Today, I used the Tree of Skulls with the accidental flashcards created by-

- the student placed the skull on the piano key and once all the skulls were used, the student had to then name every skull on the keyboard using ONLY ENHARMONICS....sharps, flats, double sharps or double flats. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Halloween Flashcard Games

Halloween has arrived at the studio and we've been playing some 
Halloween flashcards games.

Sarah and I played word flashcards on pumpkins with halloween pencil toppers. I would call out the word associated with a note and Sarah placed a pencil topper on the correct piano key. Then we did the piles of word flashcards again and she placed the pencil topper on the correct line or spaces of the staff paper. Then finally I called the words out one last time and she took them away one by one. She did a great job and we had a lot of fun!