Get $5 Off Through the Month of May!

Summer is just around the corner, and most teachers are starting to plan ahead for summer piano camps and theme ideas for next fall (except for the over-achieving ones who already have it all figured out… :-))! In light of this, I’ve decided to offer a special $5 off discount for anything in the Music Matters Blog store.

Whether you’re looking for piano camp plans, fun music games to change things up a bit, or a fully developed practice incentive theme to launch in your studio, you’ll find a variety of tried-and-true possibilities in our store. And if you have a website or blog with ideas or materials for summer, feel free to share a link in the comments section!

Just enter this discount code when you checkout to receive your $5 off: 101W2RP0

Announcing…For the Love of Music!

After many, many hours of work, I am thrilled to announce that our latest project is finished and ready for the world! :-) I could write all about it, but instead I’ll let you watch the trailer that Joey and Jed put together for it:

For the Love of Music is a 5-day course to help pianists develop a love for skillfully reading music. Joey and Jed were my inspiration for this course because they are both fabulous musicians, but both struggle to sight-read fluently. We spent an intense week working together to produce a course that they have gone through and that we hope will be a great help to pianists around the world who face a similar challenge.


You can visit the Music Matters Blog Store to read more about what’s included in the package (including a special bonus offer worth $15!). For the Love of Music can be used by any individual who has experience playing the piano and a basic foundation in music theory. The boys especially enjoyed going through it together, and competing against each other between each class to see who could sight-read the most measures of music (they both played 8,000+ measures of music over the course of five days!).

It was lots of fun and very stretching for us and we hope it proves to be the same for everyone who goes through For the Love of Music!

Review and Giveaway of Jumpin Jazz Kids

If the vivid colors of the website aren’t enough to draw you in, then surely the energetic music by renowned Jazz musicians will do the trick! This fun, high quality CD could easily be considered the modern day Jazz equivalent of Saint-Saens’ imaginative Carnival of the Animals.

Grammy Nominee for Best Children’s Album of the Year, Jumpin Jazz Kids: A Swinging Jungle Tale is a fun collection of narration and music as seven-year old Claire and her animal friends search for her Grandpa’s “lost” story. Kids of all ages will enjoy listening to the story unfold, and I could even see using it as a basis for a fun music camp curriculum!

Now, for the best part, the producers of Jumpin Jazz Kids: A Swinging Jungle Tale, have offered to giveaway five copies of the CD to Music Matters Blog readers! Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing. The winners will be chosen at noon (CST) Thursday, July 11, using a random number generator.

Wee Sing Resources

Did anyone else grow up with the Wee Sing series of songbooks? I still have a collection of these childhood favorites sitting on my shelves (I think I need to pull them off and start using them in my teaching!). I just recently discovered that there is actually a Wee Sing Website with more info, resources, and activity sheets to go along with the Wee Sing books. And even though these have been around for 30+ years, the authors are keeping up with the times and have created a new Wee Sing and Learn ABC app to help children learn the alphabet. The Wee Sing series would be a fabulous teaching resource for planning themed preschool or elementary music education classes!

Review and Giveaway of RoadTrip USA!

Buckle your seat belts and get ready for an adventure with this fun set of piano camp lesson plans developed by Sheryl Welles: RoadTrip USA!

The camp is organized into a 5-day/15-hour set of plans with a different theme for each day: Patriotic Day, Wild West Day, Carnival Day, I Love New York Day, and Luau Day. The students participate in themed games and activities all week long to help them improve their skills in note identification, rhythm, musical terms, ear-training, and movement.

Lesson plans for each day include ideas for set-up, listening suggestions, game and activity instructions, supply lists, and photos from when Sheryl held the camp with her students. The last two-thirds of the packet is a collection of resource cards to go with the road trip theme and printable cards for the various games and activities. Sheryl has laid out everything to make running the camp a breeze, but there’s also lots of room for flexibility and creativity! Her game ideas and supplies could easily be used with students throughout the year at group classes, too.

Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…Sheryl is giving away one copy of the RoadTrip USA! piano camp packet (regularly $39!) to a Music Matters Blog reader! Just leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing to win this packet for your studio. The winner will be drawn using a random number generator on Thursday, October 4, at noon (CST).

Review and Giveaway of Beethoven Who – Family Fun with Music!

From the colorful, eye-catching artwork on the cover to the extensive index at the back, Marcia Washburn has put together a fun and practical resource that is great for parents and teachers alike – Beethoven Who?! This 334 page ebook covers everything from why children should learn music, to an overview of different styles of music, to handy hyperlinks that take you directly to the corresponding terms in the glossary, and lots more.

Coming from a Christian perspective, Marcia includes a multitude of Scripture verses, inspirational quotes, listening suggestions, and full-color pictures. The book would be a great resource for music teachers wanting to plan a music camp, gather ideas for group classes, or just build their own knowledge of the history and elements of music to incorporate it more into their teaching. It is also ideal for a homeschool family looking for a fun, easy-to-use music appreciation curriculum.

Now, for the best part…Marcia has graciously offered to giveaway one copy of the Beethoven Who? curriculum (a $29.99 value) to a Music Matters Blog reader! Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing to win. A winner will be chosen using a random number generator on Thursday, September 20 at noon (CST). [Also, if you want to go ahead and purchase a copy, Marcia said that she would be happy to refund the winner for the purchase price if they’ve already ordered it.]

Pursuit of Music Piano Camp is Underway!

Mornings in the studio this week are abuzz with activity as five high school students and I gather for a week of Piano Camp! Each year I try to do something different that specifically addresses the interests and/or needs of my students. Right now, I have quite a few high school students who are considering music as a long-term vocation or avocation. In light of that, I decided to offer Pursuit of Music, a week-long daily camp focusing on five specific areas:

  • Essential skills for every pianist
  • Developing and Implementing Entrepreneurial Ideas
  • How to Succeed and Make an Impact in the Professional World
  • How to Plan and Teach Musical Concepts to Others
  • Developing a Gospel-Centered Vision for Music

Preparation for Piano Camp is always a very time-consuming process, but it is so enriching to think more deeply about a variety of topics, explore new resources, learn new things, and plan out each day’s lesson. In the process of reading to prepare for tomorrow’s class, I came across this statement that I absolutely love:

“…what you do with your talent and how it affects the lives of others is more important than the aptitude itself.”

~David Cutler, The Savvy Musician, pp. 300

Monday Mailbag – More About Pre-Piano Camps

My question is related to the pre-piano camps:  Do you have the parents attend with their child?  I have a lot of interest in my area and have been planning to start some classes soon but I’m a little nervous about the number of children, their age, and leaving mommy/daddy.  I also know that their attention span is going to be from 3 to 5 minutes per activity so they will need a lot of activities in a 60 minute time frame.

I offered a pre-piano camp for the first time last summer just to test out the idea. Since I only had the kiddos for one-hour each morning it seemed to work fine for them to leave their parents. The way I designed the program, we had a lot of available material so that I could quickly move from one thing to the next. But there was also flexibility so that if the students were really enjoying a particular activity, we could spend more time on it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the 60 minutes goes by!

One of the things that I emphasized with this pre-piano camp program was that the purpose wasn’t mastery, but an introduction to music and piano. My hope was that the students would love their time at the camp and gain an appreciation for music. That is exactly what happened! I only had two little girls and one of them learned much more quickly than the other, but they both really enjoyed their first “official” musical experiences. One of them is taking lessons now and the other one is on my waiting list!

Since there wasn’t any required homework, it worked just fine to have the students attend the pre-piano camp by themselves. If they wanted to, their parents could look at the workbook at home to see what they were learning and ask them questions.  However, when I start young ones in regular piano lessons, that’s a whole different story! In that case, I require a parent to attend with them so that they can ensure a daily practice routine and help them practice effectively at home.

A lot of my friends have little ones now that are the perfect age for a pre-piano camp, so I’m even thinking about offering a 6-week class during an upcoming semester for an hour on a weekday morning. It’s so fun working with this age group and such a great way to launch them into a lifetime enjoyment of music!

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

Kick-It-Up-A-Notch! a one-week intensive piano course Materials Are Available!

After hours of writing, working, testing, tweaking, re-designing, and implementing, I am excited to announce that the Kick-it-up-a-Notch! a one-week intensive piano course package is now available!

This course is specifically designed for middle school and high school students who are serious about music. In order for students to participate, I required them to commit to an hour of practice between each of our daily 2-hour sessions. Some of my older students are used to this kind of practice schedule, but for some it’s an entirely new experience. But it gives them a glimpse of what they can accomplish when they work diligently to accomplish their goals! You can see a few photo highlights from our first week of Kick-it-up-a-Notch! in this post.

One teacher has this to say after receiving her package of materials:

“You are amazing, that’s all I can say!  It is so well put together.  I can’t imagine the time you have put into all of this.”

I am really excited to share these materials with other teachers, and hope that you and your students find the experience as beneficial and rewarding as we did!