Monday, August 24, 2015

Fun Finds!

Over the summer, I found a couple of fun things that I've incorporated into my studio for the year and wanted to share them with you!

First of all, I found these fun stools at our local IKEA for only $4.99 each!

They really our cute.  The photo doesn't do them justice.  Interestingly, when I went to IKEA, I brought along a friend and while she and I were discussing whether they would be good in the studio, another woman overheard and piped in!

She said she was a teacher and many of the teachers in her school had bought these because they worked so well in classrooms.  That was all I needed to hear!  I picked up 8 for additional seating since most of the time, students are sitting on the floor in our group lessons.  They'll be quite happy!

Another nice thing is that they stack together so well and it's easy to tuck them into a corner.  They are rated for 220lbs so they'll easily hold ANY of us!  And for $4.99!!!!

They'll make great seats for group lessons, lab work, seats for siblings working while I'm doing lessons, etc.  Lots of uses!

The other thing I picked up at a local craft store is these fun jars for all the game pieces and dice we use in the studio.  I didn't want to unscrew a lid every time I wanted something so I didn't want to use the typical canning jars despite the fact that we have tons of them.

These actually just snap open, making it easy to access everything quickly.

Here's a close look at the smaller ones.  A perfect size for 25 rhythm dice!  Loving these two finds and feeling more organized!

I had a new family come to the studio today and she commented on how organized everything looked and specifically mentioned these jars.  It must have helped because she signed up her 2 daughters for lessons!

I hope these two ideas inspire YOU!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What really worked this summer?

Every summer, I do a self evaluation of how the last year went and what I could do differently.  I analyze what worked and what didn't - in my teaching and in the choices of activities, incentives, activities, etc. we did throughout the year and in my summer camps.  One very successful thing for my students this year was...

I purchased a bunch of 5-gallon buckets from a local hardware store, removed the handles and added a couple of drumsticks (with nylon tips) per student.  What a BLAST we had!!  Many of my students told me that of all the fun things we did, the bucket drumming was the MOST fun!

What did we do?  We worked on steady beat TOGETHER. They had to really listen to each other.  Keep in mind, during this camp there were 20 students so it was definitely an outdoor activity!  With 20 students using drumsticks on buckets at the same time, it could have quickly gotten out of hand, but they did SO well.  They worked hard to keep a steady beat together and to make sure they stayed together.

Then I added simple techniques like drumming in the center of the bucket and then on the rim.  Tapping their drumsticks together on a beat, etc.  Then we tried some of those techniques together.  Again, they did SO well.  So throughout the week, I increased the level of difficulty.  Occasionally we (me, included!) would forget the order of our drumming - left right, rim, sticks, etc., but for the most part it really worked!

When those things got easier, I broke the kids up into 2 groups and had each group do a different rhythm.  Once they each got that rhythm down, we put them together!  It was so fun and the smiles on their faces was worth it!

I'm planning to work on more bucket drumming during the warmer weather as we have group lessons this year.  I'm pretty excited to see their enthusiasm and excitement to work together!  If you are interested in using bucket drumming yourself, there are a couple of websites that have some free rhythm patterns to help you out - here and here.  They also give great information about technique!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mystery on Musicians' Island!

Mystery on Musicians' Island was a HUGE hit this summer!  Here's a look at some of what we did:

Flamingo - Mania!

Island Dress!

Loads of games!

Bucket Drumming!

And loads of crafts and activities that helped us learn and reinforce musical terminology, rhythm, notes on the grand staff and intervals!

It was a super fun week!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Trip Around Musicians' Island

Our practice incentive theme this year was "Marooned on Musicians' Island".  What a GREAT time we had!  It was fun, engaging and motivating for my students.  I always try to tie in my Spring Recital with the incentive program so last Saturday's recital was "A Trip Around Musicians' Island".  

Part of my program this year was to have each student compose their own song to play at this recital and I'm happy to say, "We accomplished that goal!".  What a great night of music!  Each of the 21 students that participated in the recital played their own piece as well as a favorite song they enjoyed learning in the past few months.  And of course we had an "island" theme!

Here's a peek:
As a gift to each of my students, I put all of their compositions in Finale and gave them each a book of the studio compositions.
They were excited to see each other's pieces and have them to play.  It took a bit of time for me to get all of them done, but it was well worth it!  I left space on each composition above the title so they could also do artwork.  I'm so thrilled to have worked on this with the kids this year.  Many of them expressed that it seemed a bit overwhelming at first, but with my help and a bit of nudging they grew to LOVE IT!  I see much more of this in our future!

There were also several other awards given out since the Spring recital is also Award's Night.  It was a superb night of music.  I'm proud of all of my students and how hard they worked! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Wheel of Terms!

It's that time of year where I'm getting ready for the spring recital, preparing student evaluations and getting ready for summer camps.  It's super busy with piles everywhere, but I thought I would post about a group lesson we had recently.  One game in particular was a favorite!

Before the summer hit, I wanted to use up some small prize box items and some leftover candy I had hanging around the studio, so I put together a game I called "Wheel of Terms"!

I made the spinner on a medium size white boards and used my Spinzone magnetic spinner which is ALWAYS a big hit.  The wheel could stop on candy, prize box, move ahead 1 space or lose a turn.  The candy and prize box are obvious!  The move ahead 1 space related to this years practice incentive program, allowing students to move ahead one space without practicing for the week!  You can imagine that went over well.  Lose a turn meant that their turn passed to the other team.
We did play this in teams and based on the kids that came to the group lesson, I divided them up boys against girls which increased the excitement!  To play the game I wrote out a bunch of musical terms I knew were familiar to the students and grabbed another white board and marker.

I placed lines to match the number of letters in the word and had the first team spin the wheel.  As long as it didn't land on "lose a turn", the first team could guess a letter.  If they guessed a letter that was in the word, I filled it in on the correct space.  If there were two or more of the same letter, I filled all of them in.  The team then had a chance to guess the word based on the position of the letter(s) in the word.  If they guessed it correctly, they would receive the reward on the spinner.

Play would then pass to the next team with a new word.  If a team originally guessed a letter that was not in the word, I wrote it on the bottom of the white board and again, play would pass to the other team and the first team would lose their reward for that round.  We did several rounds and my students LOVED it.  It was also helpful to review each term after it was guessed.  SUPER FUN!

Can you guess the above musical term??

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Getting Ready for Camps!

It's a beautiful day out today and all the snow has melted so I decided to work outside a bit.  So, here's a quick peek at some items I'm getting ready for camp!  Don't you just love spray paint?  It makes anything instantly kid-friendly!
I hope you're having a great Spring!  Thank you to all of you who purchased resources while they were on sale!

Have a great day!

Friday, April 17, 2015


RoadTrip USA!, World Adventure! and Meet the Composers!  are not just for camps!  While they were original set up that way, there are many uses throughout the year!  Here's some ideas for you:

     1.  All three of them contain games and activities that can be used anytime.  They teach and drill rhythm, note ID, terminology, intervallic reading, composition, etc!
     2.  RoadTrip USA! and World Adventure! can easily frame a year-long program in your studio or
          classroom as they are FULL of ideas that work together.
     3.  World Adventure! is loaded and I mean LOADED with games and activities (crafts, science
          projects, etc) that are divided out by continent and country.  Many months of research went into
          this project and many of the games, though musical, were based on actual games unique to
          each country.
     4.  RoadTrip USA! has a very fun traffic theme to it that my students LOVED.  Why not add that
          same fun to your own studio or classroom.
     5.  All the resources needed are easy to put together or are completely provided!
     6.  The activities and games are easy to implement.
     7.  The activities and games are inexpensive.
     8.  Decorating your camp, studio or classroom to work with the theme is easy since each
          resource contains ideas to do just that!
     9.  Each Resource provides you with information about how to run the program as a camp.

    Enough said!

If you've been thinking about ordering RoadTrip USA, World Adventure, Meet the Composers or any of the sticker books, TODAY, 4/17/2015, IS THE DAY!  After today, the sale prices will be gone!  Hurry and get one or all of them while they are at these great prices!!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Just 4 Days Left!

Don't miss out on the big sale!  Only 4 days left to get resources at the reduced rate!  Keep in mind the camp resources are not limited to your summer break!  Each camp is loaded with games and activities that can be used all year long in your studio or classroom!  If. however, you want an easy camp to run, all the plans are done for you!  Don't miss out on the great savings!


Friday, March 20, 2015


Wow!  I am SO happy to finally be able to say that!  Up here in Connecticut we're welcoming Spring with another snow storm, but I won't be discouraged!  The fact that today is the first day of Spring puts a bit of a step in my feet (or snow boots!).

In honor of what I hope is the end of winter, I'm having a SALE in my on-line store!  I'm already deep in the planning of my summer camps so for those of you who are starting to think about it, there are camp plans for SALE!  All the work has been done for you!

RoadTrip USA! is a fun-filled exploration of the musical styles of America.  It has a bit of a twist to it with all kinds of road hazards!  It can be used as a full-week camp or you can use parts of it for group lessons!

World Adventure! invites you and your students to explore the music around the world, visiting 6 continents in 5 days!  You can use the full camp in one week or use parts of it, choosing which countries you would like to explore!   Loads of fun!

Meet the Composers!  If you're looking for a bit of a simpler plan for your summer, consider this one!  Meet the Composers! explores 4 different composers - Chopin, Copland, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky - and the art of composition!

All three of these camps include loads of resources, games & activities all planned out for you!  So take advantage of the SALE and stock up on all 3!

The SALE will extend through April 17th!  Even if you already have plans for the summer, any of these plans are great resources for your studio or classroom!

In addition to the camp plans, there are Music Sticker books for SALE!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

What are you doing this summer?

Have you thought ahead about what you want to do this summer with your students?  Regular lessons? Group lessons? Camps?  Each summer I run summer music camps so my students have a choice between a week of camp or 2 double lessons in July.   I am in the process of putting together my camps for this year.  If you are interested in using any of the camps I have put together in previous years, you can find them available in my on-line store.

Last summer I put together a Composition camp and also did a fun week, entitled, Games, Games, Games!  I had 8 students attend the composition camp which was a perfect amount.  We had SO much fun together and they are still talking about it!  I had 16 students attend Games, Games, Games and although the weather didn't cooperate on some days, we had a week filled with all kinds of board and active games, inside and outside!  Plans for that camp will be available soon!

I wish you the best as you plan for your summer!