Monday, July 21, 2014

A Look at a Notable Summer!

Once the school year ends, my studio starts what I call, Summer Flex.  All my students have the option to attend one of my summer camps or to have 2 "double" lessons in July.  The studio is closed in August.  This year I ran two camps, A Composition Camp and a camp I called, "GAMES, GAMES, GAMES!".  I wanted (NEEDED) a bit of a simpler summer this year so I put these two camps together and they were certainly much easier than in years past.  Here's a look at what we did:

These 7 adorable girls started out the summer in my composition camp.  In addition to working through learning to write our their own songs, we played some games, worked on our rhythm and just plain had a really fun time!

Happy Campers!

Great Compositions!

Our second week of camp was all about games!  My students constantly asked to play games during lessons so I pulled out a bunch of their favorites, made a few new ones and ended the week with two days I called, Crazy Carnival!  Here's a look:

17 Campers (not all pictured!), 5 teen leaders and loads of carnival games!

Silly, silly fun!

Kerplunk!  Note value style!
A teen clown!
Rhythm races!
Terminology, with a water twist!

Loads of musical learning!

All in all?  Two fantastic weeks!  How's your summer going?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Jumbo Musical Dice

Like many of you, I'm working hard on my summer plans.  Up here in the Northeast, schools in our area are just finishing up next week so our summer is just getting started.  I'll be running two camps this summer - a composition camp and a fun camp entitled, GAMES, GAMES, GAMES!!  As you can imagine, a week of games is really popular.

I'm getting all the plans together, gathering supplies and of course, making a bunch of stuff!  I'll be sharing them as they are completed.  So for today, here's a quick look at one thing I put together after being inspired by something I saw on Pinterest.

This is a 6"x6"x6" box I purchased for about $1.00 because I couldn't find one free!  I taped it shut with mailing tape and then began to cover it with duct tape.  I started with the edges and then covered all the sides.  

Then I added some musical notation with a black sharpie...

The end result?
4 Jumbo Musical Dice ready for camp this summer!  Oh...and my helper?  That's my beautiful, 2-year-old granddaughter and future pianist!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Winner Announced!

Thank you to all of you who posted a comment in hopes of winning a free copy of World Adventure!

Congratulations to...

       Sharon Valverde!

Sharon, if you'll send me an email, I'll send you a copy of the resource of your choice!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

World Adventure! Giveaway is Almost Here!

Time is almost up!  World Adventure! is now available in my online store, but if you would like to try to win a free copy of the PDF, just leave a comment under the original post here and let me know how you would make use of this resource should you win!  The giveaway will close on Friday, 5/23/14 at 3:00 ET.

To give you ideas, here are a few suggestions for how you can make use of this exciting resource:

1.  Run it as a summer camp!  That's right!  All the plans, details, resources are all set up for you!  You tailor your camp to the number of days, hours, etc. that you want and choose the resources, games, and activities you would like to use!  It's that simple!

2.  Use it as a yearly program in your studio or classroom!  How about celebrating World Music this fall?  Everything is laid out for you!  Discuss music from around the world and get your students actively involved!  They'll be learning music concepts at the same time!  All your group lesson plans are done for you!  Just choose from over 50 games and activities all ready put together for you!  Close out your studio year with a world music recital or your classroom year with a world music concert!

3.  Celebrate a continent!  Want something simpler?  Choose a continent and "travel" through visiting country after country!

4.  Use it as a resource for games and activities!  Need an arsenal of games & activities available that are completely planned out for you!  Are you looking for just that one thing that will help your students remember their notes on the staff or note values?  With over 50 to chose from, this will be all the resource you need!

5.  Use it as a way to bring value to your studio!  You'll be the talk of the town if your students are talking up how much fun they're having!  With all these games and activities, you'll have loads to chose from at every turn!

Of course, it's available for ALL these reasons and more!   Don't miss your chance for a free copy!  The giveaway closes soon!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Technology or Board Games?

I realize there is a place for iPads, apps, computers, technology in general.  The days of just teaching beside your acoustic piano are said to be fading away.  What do we hear?...You need to have a studio with technology!  You need to offer a computer lab!  You need to use GarageBand and record all your students!  You need to have an arsenal of apps and computer programs available so your students can learn!  You need to stay up on things like ever other teacher around you!

Hmmm...I didn't learn with ANY of that.  My teacher - the organist and choir director at my church growing up - sat beside the piano, gave me instruction, handed me a theory book to complete and expected me to practice during the week.  Period.  And yes, I learned to play the piano!  And every day now that I sit down at my piano, I am reminded of her commitment to help me learn to play.  It didn't hurt that I loved it and wanted to learn, but she still stuck with me through the highs and lows of my playing and motivation.

Why do I say this?  I've struggled at times feeling like I needed to make sure I offered technology as well!  And because I didn't grow up with computers (I used a manual typewriter with carbon paper in college!) technology has been something I had to teach myself.  So if I were to give myself a grade?...I'd probably need to repeat the class!   I've tried however to provide as much as possible - within my scope of understanding!  I do have a computer lab in place, but only have four students whose parents are willing to pay for it.  I do have an iPad with loads of apps - some free, some purchased that is available and yes, my students do use it and some like it.

But, ALL of my students LOVE a board game or activity they can do with me or with each other.   Hands down!   What does that tell me?  That technology is a tool - not a necessity!

I sit by the piano and give instruction.  We play games and do activities away from the bench to encourage learning and to have fun!  Learning to play the piano is work, so in my opinion, lessons should be fun.  I create incentive programs, build a games library, run summer camps, do group lessons - mostly without technology and guess what?!

My students learn to play the piano...and play it well!  I invest in them and like my own piano teacher, I help them find their motivation and stick with them through the highs and lows.  I'm committed to helping them learn to play so that they will enjoy this skill for life.

And that is why I'm not stressing about technology.  And why I'm committed to finding and creating games and activities that my students enjoy and that will help them learn to LOVE this magical world of music!  That doesn't mean I'm not trying to improve those areas, certainly, but I want to keep it in perspective.

Which is also why I put together the camps I currently have for sale in my store.
 Right now I have 15 kids signed up for one of my weeks of camps because they can't wait to come back after last year!  And there's still a month and a half left to sign up!  The revenue from the camps (for those outside my studio) normally covers the entire expense and helps fund instruments, resources, etc. for my studio.

So just as a reminder...there are only 8 more days for you to post a comment to win a free copy of any of the camps I have for sale!  Just post a comment under this blog entry!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Our incentive program for the year has been CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!  You can read about it here.  Besides the mystery aspect of this program, each student chose 1 of 6 characters (aka composers) to be throughout the game and through the year.  In addition to using the character as a game piece, they've been doing a bit of research on them.

Each student was able to chose from the following characters - Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Claude Debussy, Scott Joplin, Franz Liszt and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  I didn't care which one they chose or how many Beethovens we had versus Debussys.  I just wanted them to chose one they were interested in or one that sparked their excitement.

Then we began the process of learning about each of our characters.  From the beginning, I knew I wanted to use Joy's composer lap books.  These are WONDERFUL and if you haven't checked them out yet, I highly endorse them!  Throughout the year, during a few minutes of lesson time once a month, each of my students have done a bit of a craft project and "cut and pasted" in their lap books.

While they worked on the project, I played several pieces composed by their character, trying to give them a feel for the style and an appreciation for the time period.  In addition, I have used several other sources.  We have done coloring pages, puzzles, mystery sheets, etc.  I used books such as Meet the Great Composers, Accent on Composers, The Beethoven Code, etc.  We have also watched YouTube videos!

What I love the most is that because each of my students were able to choose their composer, they are much more excited to learn about them!  They ask me almost every week if they can do more activities with their composer lap books and listen to more music!

To culminate all of this learning, they will each play a piece from their composer at our spring recital in June.  It's also our award's night so each of the students who made it through the entire incentive program will receive (shh...secret stuff here!) a composer statue of their character!  

If you've been using CATCH ME IF YOU CAN! in your studio this year, I would love for you to share how it's been working for you and your students!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ready for a World Adventure?

If so, you now have everything you need!!

It's been about 2 years in the making and is now available for sale in my store!  World Adventure! is a compilation of over 50 games, activities, science projects & crafts designed to celebrate the diversity of our world!  With the help of this resource, you can explore 33 countries in 6 continents.  It is structured by continent and each game or activity relates back to the country it was inspired by.  You can run World Adventure! as a camp or simply use it as a resource within your classroom or studio as you explore world music.  

World Adventure! has all the information you need for each activity including a supply list and detailed instructions.  It also includes many resources you can print out and information you need to make individual pieces.  If you'd like to run this as a camp, I've provided detailed information as to how I ran mine with a printable passport and stickers for each country!  In addition, there is a word wall of unique world instruments that you can easily print out!

I ran this camp twice last summer and my students told me it was one of the best camps...EVER!  They often ask me during lessons if we can play a game or do an activity we did at World Adventure! last summer.

World Adventure! is available for $39.00 as an instant download.   The best news?  I'm offering one copy FREE to one of you!  Simply leave a comment BY 5/23/14 letting me know how you would use this resource in your classroom or studio and you will be entered in a random drawing!  To add a second entry, just post about it on your own blog and then add a second comment here letting me know and you have more chances to win!

If you prefer, you can choose one of my other resources - RoadTrip USA! or Meet the Composers! 
If you are planning a camp this summer, any of these 3 resources would make a great choice!  I hope whatever you do, that your summer plans are falling into place.!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Have You Read in Musical Terms Lately?

Meet Rafaele!

He has just started lessons and we've been working on dynamics - f, p, mf.   He's a hands-on learner and I wanted to have a bit of fun with him during a recent lesson, so here's a look at what I pulled out.

One simple book and 3 dynamic flashcards and we were on our way!

I asked Rafaele to read me the story with the understanding that as I held up a flashcard, he had to read using the volume of the dynamic marking.    Of course, I changed them often and we had ourselves a very silly time!

The end result?  Rafaele always remembers to apply those markings when he plays!  A fun exercise with quick results!

How about you?  Have you found a fun activity that has helped your students quickly learn a musical concept?  We would love to have you share!

Friday, April 11, 2014


This sweet girl, Abrianna, besides being very talented musically, has been blessed with loads of creativity!  She is a very talented artist and loves to make gifts for her friends and family.  Recently she made several stuffed animals and by "made" I mean she bought the fabric, sewed them together, stuffed them and embroidered the faces on them.

One week when she came to lessons, she surprised me with one of my own.  What's unique about this one, is that she also embroidered all kinds of musical terms all over the adorable cat.

Here's a quick look!

I decided to make this our studio mascot so I had a contest and asked my students to name the cat!  Abrianna selected the name from the long list of submissions.


I love kids and their creativity!  Thank you, Abrianna!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Life in My Little World

For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile, you may remember that in January of 2012, I slipped on a patch of ice after shoveling my sidewalk and ended up at the hospital.  I had to have shoulder surgery on my right shoulder and reconstructive hand surgery on my left hand.  Two weeks ago, I went back to the hand surgeon and because of additional symptoms I was having in my right hand and elbow, he immediately scheduled surgery on my right hand for 3 days later!  So, in the last 2 years, I lost use of my right hand and arm, then my left hand and then my right hand again!  Not too helpful for lots of things, and blogging certainly took a back seat!  I'm happy to report that I believe I am finally done with all that and while there is still some recovery in both hands right now, I'm glad to finally feel like life can get back to normal again.  Woohoo!!

My typing skills are slow, but every day the pain is a big less and mobility a bit better.  I have all kinds of games and activities I've been planning in my head and hope to get some of them posted soon.  So many of you have sent me emails and posted comments that I haven't been able to respond back to as of yet, but I hope to answer you shortly.  Please be patient.  I also promised to post two camps for sale and I'm hoping to make those available soon.

Thank you for all your support and kind words as you have read through my blog.  I hope to be back to more consistent blogging shortly!