The Third Cliburn Amateur Piano Video Contest is Open for Submissions

Any amateur pianists who are 35 years old and older by June 15, 2012 are invited to participate in The Third Cliburn Amateur Piano Video Contest. Contestants cannot perform, compose, or teach music as their primary profession. I know that knocks just about all of us out of the running. 🙂 However, from July 16-August 10, everyone will have the opportunity to view and vote for your favorite pianist! The winner of the most on-line votes is given automatic entry into the Seventh International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. It will be fun to view the submissions – and I think it would be a neat opportunity to pass on to our students as well!

Do We Have Time for an Improv?

This is a question I hear frequently at the end of lessons these days and I love it! Ever since I attended the workshop by Forrest and Akiko Kinney a couple of years ago and started using the Pattern Play series, my studio has been transformed. We focus so much more on making music together, and many of my students have grown to love and excel at improvising.

I found out that the Kinneys conduct Teacher Creativity Intensive courses during the summer to equip teachers to use the series more effectively with their students. I’ve been wanting to go for a while, and this year it looks like it’s really going to happen, so I wanted to let you all know about it in case you’re interested in being a part of this fabulous opportunity!

The course I’m planning to attend is on August 2-3 in the Seattle, Washington area (the store where they are held is in Tukwila), and there are six openings left! If you’re interested, be sure to visit the website and register. I’m super excited about learning and growing in my own improvisation skills and then coming back and equipping my students so that they will gain more confidence in their ability to sight-read and improvise “on the fly” at the piano!

Happy Summer!

Is everyone enjoying a wonderfully relaxing summer, full of afternoons at the poolside sipping lemonade? That’s what all of us music teachers do during these three months, right? 🙂

On the contrary, the last few months of spring and the beginning of summer have been abuzz with all sorts of activities! From graduations galore, to wedding showers and weddings, to various ministry activities, to work on some big projects, to a plethora of musical experiences, there is never a dull moment. I thought I would give you a glimpse of some of the fun musical things we’ve been up to lately:

We wrapped up our year of An Italian Intrigue with distribution of the special souvenir t-shirts to those who earned the required number of Complication Coins.

For an extra 10 Complication Coins, students could purchase sponsorship space on the back of the shirt and submit a personal logo for inclusion in the final design.

At the Year-End Evaluations, students who composed music to go with a psalm received their own copy of our 8th volume of The Psalms Project!

My friend Abigail and I had a lovely time traveling to and attending our Kansas State Music Teachers Association annual conference!

People travel from all over the world to attend the renowned Symphony in the Flint Hills. This year, some friends generously purchased tickets and invited our family to attend with them.

Three of my siblings and I had a wonderful time out on the prairie soaking up the sun and beautiful music!

One of the things our family enjoys doing during the summer is volunteering at the Chamber Music at the Barn. The evening begins with a catered dinner in the extensive gardens followed by an excellent concert in the barn (also live-streamed out to the garden for those who prefer to remain in the natural environment).

Life in the studio is going well, too! I’m loving working with my summer students, just started a beginning student this month who is so eager to learn, have been doing some major decluttering, and am working on new ideas for teaching, and collecting some supplies for some studio activities I want to put together. Hopefully I’ll do a better job keeping up with blogging through the rest of the summer. I’d love to know what you’re up to and if you’re working on any new studio projects this summer!

The Ultimate Music Classroom: Must-Haves for Every Music Educator – Guest Post by Claire Hines

If you’re planning to spend some time this summer revamping your studio and looking for fresh and fun ideas for the fall, you should be able to find some inspiration and helpful resources from this guest post by Claire Hines, of the Fun Music Company.

What does the 21st music classroom need? From music posters and kid-sized instruments to fun music albums, find out how to create the ultimate music experience for students in your classroom.

The Primary Classroom

When you teach young children on a day-to-day basis, your classroom reflects the vibrancy, energy, and life of the young child with colorful music posters on the wall with simple diagrams of music notation to the fun music props and instruments that you use during music time. Classroom materials, from music flash cards to recorded music, need to reflect a fun educational atmosphere.

The primary music classroom centers on kinetic music activities. Line the walls with colorful trunks or bookshelves stocked with essentials like a large rainbow parachute, colorful beanbags, rainbow scarves, puppets, and small percussion instruments like Toca egg shakers. Depending on space available, you may want to invest in child size mats or bright colorful towels for musical movement activities involving dance or yoga.

Stickers, Posters, and More

Posters in every music classroom can change thematically throughout the year. For example, during a jazz unit, posters about jazz instruments like the saxophone or artists like Charlie Parker can help students learn about jazz history. Classical music timelines are helpful for older students learning Western classical music while simple colorful diagrams of the treble clef and basic music theory will help young ones learn their note values.

Stickers and rewards remain an important part of every music classroom. Check out our printable Music Practice Charts and Stickers, meant to inspire and motivate young students to practice. For fun music rewards and toys, check out sites like The Music Stand ( and the Oriental Trading Company ( or sites like Zazzle (, where you can purchase music stickers and posters and upload your own music designs.

Fun music games are instrumental in teaching students new concepts. Flashcards are excellent memory tools for young students and should be a part of any classroom. Fun interactive computer music games and printable music games employ tested techniques, fun graphics, and enjoyable play to help students learn valuable concepts.

Music, Books, and Media

Excellent music books and media abound for youngsters. Enjoy this short list of must-have music titles and recordings.


  • The Wee Sing Songbook Series
  • I make music by Eloise Greenfield
  • Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss
  • Story of the Orchestra (Book/CD) by Robert Levine
  • Lives of the Musicians by Kathleen Krull
  • The Animal Boogie (Book/CD) by Debbie Harter
  • Creepy Crawly Calypso (Book/CD) by Tony Langham
  • Carnival of the Animals: Classical Music for Kids (Book/CD) from Henry Holt and Co.


  • Putumayo Kids Presents: Dreamland – World Lullabies (CD) by Putumayo
  • Putumayo Kids Presents: Kids World Party (CD) by Putumayo
  • Ella Jenkins “Songs Children Love to Sing” (CD) by Ella Jenkins
  • Ella Jenkins “This is Rhythm” (CD) by Ella Jenkins
  • Beethoven’s Wig: Sing Along Piano Classics (CD) by Richard Perlmutter
  • Raffi  “The Singable Songs Collection” (CD) by Raffi
  • Sweet Honey in the Rock “Experience 101” (CD) by Sweet Honey in the Rock
  • Eebee’s Adventures “Music & Sound” (DVD) by Eebee’s Adventures

Musical Instruments

For the primary classroom, classic Orff instruments and fun kid-size drums from Remo and LP give your students a chance to practice simple rhythms, melody, and harmony. The Remo Kids Make Music Too Kit provides small percussion instruments like finger cymbals and a guiro.

Many music educators use the recorder to teach students basics about melody and performance. Finding the right type of recorder for the classroom depends on your use. For schools on a budget, you can find inexpensive (and easily replaced) recorders at an affordable price online like the Yamaha Yrs-20 soprano, or you can opt for more durable versions like the Yamaha YRN-302B.

Yamaha instruments remain an excellent instrument brand for beginning instrumentalists and includes a wide array of brass, woodwind, string, and percussion instruments at affordable prices for most music programs. Yamaha instruments can be purchased directly from Yamaha or from secondary companies worldwide.


Putting together your own music classroom involves some time, preparation, and resources. Create a fun musical zone full of colorful posters and exciting games, flashcards, and music activities.

This is a guest post by Claire Hines from The Fun Music Company. The Fun Music Company creates Music Lesson Plans for music teachers worldwide.