3 More Days to Enter to Win All the Studio Decor for the Quest for Capital Practice Incentive Theme Package!

If you want to get a great deal on the Quest for Capital practice incentive theme package – and a chance to win all the studio decor for use in your studio, you only have three days left! So far there are only 5 entries, so the odds of winning are pretty good. 🙂 Here’s the info again for anyone who missed it:

It is with a great deal of excitement that I announce the availability of the practice incentive theme that we used in our studio this year: Quest for Capital! You can get your copy today…and see below for your chance to win all the studio materials for use in your own studio!

Quest for Capital is without a doubt one of the most fun, educational, and motivating practice incentives we’ve ever done in the studio! I like to think of it as an entrepreneur-meets-music-student endeavor. :-) In addition to investing in specific piano skills (a.k.a. Stock Options) throughout the year, students could also dream, plan, and create special Capital Improvement Projects that were showcased at The Gallery at the end of the year. The students were given a small table space and encouraged to sell their projects for a small profit, thus experiencing the excitement of integrating their music talents and knowledge with other areas of life and producing something of value in society.

The practice incentive is designed to provide a framework that will spur students on to attain greater proficiency in their skills and get their creative juices flowing as they contemplate possible project ideas. Students have already been asking me if we can do the same theme next year, or at least keep some of the same elements so that they can work on new projects. I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome of this theme and about the potential for it to be used in other music studios all over to inspire students in creative musical endeavors!

And now…for the special deal! Through the end of June, you can get $5 off the practice incentive package price when you use this coupon code: 59W3E7W2.

AND – everyone who purchases the practice incentive by the end of June will be entered in a drawing to win my complete set of studio materials – all the laminated studio cash, the wall banners, and the stock folders on the wall! Just select the Quest for Capital theme on the Resources page and checkout, and you will be entered in the drawing. The winner will be chosen at noon (CST) on Friday, July 1, using a random number generator.

iTouch Skype

Most of you know that earlier this year I took on a Skype student who lives in Germany. I am more and more amazed at the incredible technology we have right at our fingertips! For example, the other day just before our lesson was scheduled to start we had a severe thunderstorm going through our area. I had to shut down my computer, but thought I would try connecting with my student using the free Skype app for my new iPod Touch. And guess what?

It worked beautifully! Pretty cool, huh?!

Learning from Listen

A couple days ago I mentioned the magazine, Listen: Life with Classical Music. I can’t remember how I first discovered it, but the first issue I’ve received has made me a fan – and I’m only half way through it! Here are just a few of the wonderful things I’ve learned and come across in this Spring 2011 issue:

A behind-the-scenes article about documentarian Phil Grabsky and his bio-documentaries, “In Search of Beethoven” and “In Search of Mozart.” The article described Grabsky’s commitment to excellence and reported that each of the films took an astonishing 30-36 months to reach the screen! I appreciated this quote by Grabsky,

“[Film directors should be] thoroughly grounded in musical history…Without understanding the history of music, you’ll never have a great soundtrack. That will form the way that you film, the way that you edit, the way that you think, the questions that you ask.”

Another brief article profiled up-and-coming pianist, Alice Sara Ott. I thought her mother’s approach to her young daughter’s interest in piano lessons was rather comical,

“When Alice Sara Ott was three years old, she begged her parents for piano lessons. Not wishing to push her daughter into music too soon, her mother attempted to hide the family piano behind a bookcase.”

In an insightful interview with violinist, Anne-Sophie Mutter, she briefly referenced Mendelssohn and his comment that chamber music is “a dialogue between sophisticated friends.” I really like that concept and want to help my students consider that when they are playing music together.

What an inspirational read!

Summer Musings

I didn’t really mean to let the blog go so quiet as soon as summer hit, but it just sort of happened. Have you missed me? 🙂 I’ve missed blogging every day, but with lots of traveling and other projects, blogging seems to have opted for a summer break along with some of my students. Do you let your students take the summer off? I give my families the option – they can take the whole summer off, or take a mixture of regular lessons and/or piano camps.

This year, though, I’m not really doing piano camps per se. Inspired by one of my students, I launched something new that is open exclusively to middle school and high school students. It’s called, “Kick-It-Up-A-Notch!” The goal is to focus intensely on specific skills to help students become better pianists. We’ll be meeting for two hours each day for a week, and every participant is required to practice 1 hour between each session. Based on the responses I received from my students, I have three separate classes scheduled with anywhere from 3-5 students per class. Specific plans are still underway, but I’m super excited about the possibilities! I think the main difficulty will be fitting everything I want to cover into such a short period of time. If you have any suggestions for what you would include in such an endeavor, please feel free to let me know!

Summer travels provide the best time during the year to get a lot of reading in. I’ve got a never-ending selection of books to read, but one that I bought recently that I’m excited to read is called, My Life with the Great Pianists by Franz Mohr with Edith Schaeffer. Hopefully I can also catch up on the last several issues of American Music Teacher and Clavier Companion, along with a new magazine I’ve been receiving called, Listen – Life with Classical Music. Not sure if it’s any good, but I’m curious to check it out. Any music books on your summer reading list?

I also have dozens of studio projects I want to tackle – like playing through all the books that are overflowing from my file cabinets and just getting rid of the ones that I don’t think I’ll ever use. Anyone want the box when I’m ready to haul/ship it off? And then there are games to make, apps to research, materials to re-design, a practice incentive theme to develop, repertoire to plan, prospective students to interview, etc. I long ago came to the realization that time will always run out before my list of things to do. But such is life. It’s exciting to be working on projects and doing whatever possible to make the most of the time that is given. Someday it will run out for good and my deepest desire is to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Hope you’re all having an enjoyable and productive summer! Stay tuned for sporadic posting throughout the rest of the summer… 🙂

Highlights from the 2011 KMTA Conference

Our annual state music teachers conference has come and gone. I attended my first state conference 10 years ago on a whim with a couple of friends and have been every year since. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to get to know music teachers from across the state, hear excellent guest artists, pick up new teaching ideas, and just have fun! If you have a conference in your state, I encourage you to check it out.

In spite of some technical glitches, the two sessions I presented went well. I don’t have any pictures of those, but I did capture some other highlights from the occasion that I thought I would share with you!


Melody Bober was the guest clinician this year. The weekend commenced with her wonderful presentation on ways to energize our studios.


We had a small group, but it made for a great environment with lots of opportunity to visit, re-connect with old friends, and make new ones!


Virginia Houser shared “Off the Beaten Path Teaching Treasures.”


At our Friday luncheon, two teachers were recognized for special awards. Jennifer Fink, of the fabulous Jen’s Piano Studio blog, was the recipient of the KMTA Outstanding Teacher Award!


Julie Watson was the recipient of the KMTA Outstanding Service award!


A lovely evening concert was given by Dr. Jane Solose.


Spending time with colleagues/friends is always a favorite! Jen, Julie, Lisa, and I grabbed a treat at Braum’s and stayed up way too late visiting together.


A fun duet recital Saturday morning with Martin Cuellar and Melody Bober performing some of her duet works. My favorite was the Southwest Landscapes suite. I bought a copy and one of my students and I started playing it this week!


Sylvia Coats gave a highly practical and energetic teaching demonstration on “Encouraging Creative Interpretations.”


Our South Central Kansas MTA delegation. 🙂

There were a number of other great workshops, too, but I was so absorbed I guess I forgot to take pictures. Oops!


A lovely spot I captured with my camera on my way out of town at the conclusion of the conference. It was a gorgeous evening for a drive home through the Flint Hills! And now my mind is spinning with lots of ideas and things to sift through as I continue with summer lessons and prepare for a new year in the fall…

Thoughts to Ponder…

Things have been a bit scattered around here lately, so sorry for the intermittent posting. Summer tends to be that way anyway, but I also had a huge convention last weekend and am in the throes of preparing for my sessions at the KMTA Conference this weekend. I came across a couple quotes that I found quite thought-provoking, so I thought I’d share them with you:

“I believe that a lack of drive is not the main reason a person fails to live up to his potential. Rather, it is a combination of two things:
1) an inability to discern what his path to success looks like, and
2) a belief that he does not have what it takes to succeed.”

~Dr. Jeff Myers

and this one:

“We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure—all your life.”

~John W. Gardner

The latter came from this page of quotes on failure. Any thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with these sentiments?

Quest for Capital Practice Incentive Theme Package is Now Available!

It is with a great deal of excitement that I announce the availability of the practice incentive theme that we used in our studio this year: Quest for Capital! You can get your copy today…and see below for your chance to win all the studio materials for use in your own studio!

Quest for Capital is without a doubt one of the most fun, educational, and motivating practice incentives we’ve ever done in the studio! I like to think of it as an entrepreneur-meets-music-student endeavor. 🙂 In addition to investing in specific piano skills (a.k.a. Stock Options) throughout the year, students could also dream, plan, and create special Capital Improvement Projects that were showcased at The Gallery at the end of the year. The students were given a small table space and encouraged to sell their projects for a small profit, thus experiencing the excitement of integrating their music talents and knowledge with other areas of life and producing something of value in society.

The practice incentive is designed to provide a framework that will spur students on to attain greater proficiency in their skills and get their creative juices flowing as they contemplate possible project ideas. Students have already been asking me if we can do the same theme next year, or at least keep some of the same elements so that they can work on new projects. I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome of this theme and about the potential for it to be used in other music studios all over to inspire students in creative musical endeavors!

And now…for the special deal! Through the end of June, you can get $5 off the practice incentive package price when you use this coupon code: 59W3E7W2.

AND – everyone who purchases the practice incentive by the end of June will be entered in a drawing to win my complete set of studio materials – all the laminated studio cash, the wall banners, and the stock folders on the wall! Just select the Quest for Capital theme on the Resources page and checkout, and you will be entered in the drawing. The winner will be chosen at noon (CST) on Friday, July 1, using a random number generator.

Check Out My Latest Tech Toy!

Yes, it’s true. I am just now getting into the latest mobile technology. And really through no fault of my own. I’ve been contemplating the purchase of an iPod Touch or iPad for a while now, but hadn’t settled on which path to choose. The folks at YourVirtuoso.com made it easy for me. At the MTNA conference this year, one of the coupons in our little coupon book had info about their website with a link where you could visit and be entered in a drawing to win a free iPod Touch. I had completely forgotten about it until I got an e-mail last week saying that my name was drawn as the winner!

My beautiful 32GB, 4th Generation iPod Touch arrived at the end of the week and I’ve been in love ever since! 🙂 It’s been great fun exploring some of the available apps, synching it with my iTunes account, configuring all the settings, and using their new Facetime feature to chat with my sister across the country. So, so cool!

And now I’m trying to rack my brain and remember all the great apps that everyone has told me about over the past several months. Any suggestions? What are your favorite apps? Any fun music education ones that you like to use with your students? I can’t wait to put this to good use in my studio!

Watch Masterclasses Online

One of my favorite things to do is watch other teachers teach. I have picked up many valuable insights and teaching tips over the years from attending masterclasses – whether they be by pianists, vocalists, or other instrumentalists. Carnegie Hall has a special section in their Online Resource Center for Masterclasses and Workshops. I’m excited to spend some time in this section watching video clips and learning from some great teachers!

HT: The Musician’s Way Newsletter