There are always a number of factors and considerations that go into developing a new practice incentive theme for our studio. This year, there were two primary inspirations. The first was a fervent request from one of my students (who also happens to be my daughter!) that we do a pirate theme of some sort. The second was a response by composer Wnne-Anne Rossi in the February/March 2017 issue of American Music Teacher. The question posed was, “How can you best assist a student who struggles with timing?” This paragraph from her response grabbed my attention:
“And yes, feeling rhythm is more important than thinking rhythm! The piano is a percussion instrument, and young pianists must act like drummers. Keep a drum on hand, and switch places at the piano. Assign sounds or words, like ‘boom-ditty-boom-yeah.’ Walk the beats. Enjoy rhythm as the ‘cool,’ playful part of the lesson.”
That last sentence, in particular, sparked an epiphany for me. “Enjoy rhythm as the ‘cool,’ playful part of the lesson.” This got my imagination spinning as I pondered the prospect of approaching rhythm in such a way as to make it the most fun part of the lesson. Rhythm has the potential to be so engaging and fun, and yet is so often relegated to the status of “necessary evil” in our effort to get our students to play a piece of music accurately. So…some of the details are still in development, but I’m super excited about how these inspirations are making their way into this year’s theme…
I’m planning to look into Wynn-Anne Rossi’s series, Latina Musica, and will be looking for lots of other resources and ideas to transform our studio into one where rhythm truly becomes the coolest part of every lesson!
Sylvia! Congrats, Sylvia, you are the winner of the complete studio theme decor package for the Vanishing Voices practice incentive theme!
As a special thanks to all who participated in the drawing, I’m offering all Music Matters Blog readers a $10 off coupon for any item in the Music Matters Blog store. The code is good through the remainder of June. Just select the item of your choice before July 1 and enter the code: SUMMER17
If you’re still looking for something fresh and inspirational to use with your students this fall, tomorrow is the last day to enter the drawing to win the complete studio display package for the new Vanishing Voices studio practice incentive theme. Everyone who purchases the theme by tomorrow at 12:00 noon (CST) will be entered in the drawing!
Every year around this time I release our latest studio Practice Incentive Theme, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited as I am this year! Vanishing Voices: a musical race against time! is one of the most successful themes we’ve ever done in our studio.
I have seen every student grow so much both in musical skills and in their awareness and appreciation of the rich musical heritage we’ve been given by dedicated composers throughout history. We incorporated several principles of Classical education into the theme and experienced great results; namely, memorization and repetition. Have you ever asked your student what a scale is only to have them fumble for the words to express what you thought was clear to them? Or what about rhythm? Or an interval? In the Vanishing Voices theme, every three weeks students are given (or select) a new set of musical terms to memorize and/or review so that by the end of the year they can clearly articulate the definitions of dozens of musical concepts. It is so vital for them to have a good working vocabulary as a foundation for building a stronger understanding of music and the ability to play well.
At the same time, students are developing rhythm and sight-reading skills while earning Meter Miles, becoming fluent in scales while earning Muscle Miles, learning to put their knowledge in writing while earning Mental Miles, and practicing every day to earn Music Miles. To top it off, students can rack up hundreds of Bonus Miles with a variety of additional options that they can have fun accomplishing on their own. It has been a blast to watch the students excitedly calculate their mileage in order to travel to various countries and collect composers to add to their Composer Portfolio, trying to make it to each one before they…vanish!
I am indebted to cartoonist, Ben Lansing, author of the fabulous book, Bigwigs of Classical Music, for generously allowing me to use his composer caricatures for the Vanishing Voices theme. Aren’t these such fun drawings?!
Now…for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Everyone who purchases the Vanishing Voices studio practice incentive theme between now and 12:00 noon (CST) Saturday, June 24, will be entered in a drawing to win a free complete set of all the studio display materials (that includes a 54″x36″ world map, 35 composer portraits for the wall gallery, timeline and marker, extra laminated student airplane markers, wall verses, and laminated composer and mileage charts!). If you’re looking for something new and fresh to start this fall that will keep your students excited and motivated throughout year, this may be just what you need!
Ashley! Congratulations, Ashley, you will be receiving a complete set of studio decor for Jungle Expedition that you can use in your studio. I hope you and your students have a wonderful time with it!
Fall is in the air, and with it the beginning of a new year of piano lessons, and (most importantly!) a new studio practice incentive theme! With that in mind, I’ve cleared off my studio wall in preparation for all new colorful decor. Now you have a chance to win a complete set of studio decor materials for Jungle Expedition: where mighty musicians survive!
Everything that you need along with the student assignment books is packaged up and ready to send to one special winner. The studio decor package includes the wall poster, the theme title and tagline, the theme verse, a set of student markers to place on the poster, and a set of laminated tickets that the students will be collecting throughout the year.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below. The winner will be drawn using a random number generator next Friday, August 26, at noon (CST) and the package will be in the mail the next day!
Vanishing Voices: a musical race against time!
The practice incentive theme for this next year is in development and I’m so excited about how we’re planning to integrate music history with world geography and a dose of strategy as the students work diligently to reach new goals and practice consistently throughout the year! It’s always fun to start a new year with th excitement and adventure of a new theme. I would love to hear what other teachers are up to this fall. Are you thing anything new in your studios?
Thanks to some wonderful suggestions from a Music Matters Blog customer who has previously used a Music Matters Blog studio practice incentive theme, I’ve created and added a few files to the Jungle Expedition theme to make it more easily customizable for use in your studio.
The customizable files include:
- A new Jungle Huts page with blank areas to customize your hut titles.
- Separate pages with enlarged blank huts so that huts may be placed in separate locations around the studio (for extra fun and adventure!)
- A new wall poster without huts so that the huts may be placed around the studio (this also allows more room for studios with a larger number of students that can’t all fit on one wall poster).
If you previously purchased the Jungle Expedition practice incentive theme, you can download this additional .zip package using this link: https://app.ecwid.com/download/5643098/9b249b7f4f3f5bb8800085548ad899f1/JE_Custom.zip. If you haven’t yet purchased the theme, the new customizable files will automatically be included in the downloadable package. Please feel free to email me with any questions!
We are wrapping up an exciting year of expeditioning at our studio, and we have had a blast! The students have loved traveling from hut to hut as part of Jungle Expedition: where mighty musicians survive, earning various privileges and treats. I’m impressed at how hard they’ve worked all year long to improve the consistency and quality of their practicing and to tackle Extra Endeavors (they’ve especially loved earning tickets for memorizing pieces and performing for friends!). It definitely makes the hard work of planning and conducting a practice incentive theme worth it when we can look back and see how far the students have come during the year!
We still have a few weeks of lessons left before we take a break or change things up for the summer, so most of the students are frantically collecting tickets and trying to get to one final hut before time runs out!
One of the highlights in our piano studio is the announcement of the new practice incentive theme for the year! This is something I started doing about 15 years ago and it’s amazing the excitement that it generates, along with the determination to work toward specific goals. I always incorporate 4 Components when I’m developing a theme that makes it accessible and appealing to students of all ages and levels. Even though I run mine through the entire year, if you’re looking for a way to jump start the new year after Christmas break, a new studio theme could be just the thing!
In light of that, I’m offering one free practice incentive theme of your choice to a Music Matters Blog reader! Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing. A winner will be chosen on Friday, December 11, at noon (CST) using a random number generator. Check out the 10 practice incentive themes now to see which one you would like to use in your studio!