Giveaway of C2 Practice Incentive Theme Studio Decor

If you are looking for a fun, simple to implement, practice incentive theme for your studio that emphasizes character and competence then you’ve come to the right place!

C2: Igniting the Power Within! is the theme we used in our studio last year and I have all of our studio decor, plus a handful of extra student worksheets that I am giving away to one special Music Matters Blog reader! Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing to win this package of materials for your studio! I’ll draw a random number winner at noon (CST) this Friday, September 4.

 

Coming this Fall…

After much brainstorming about goals and ideas I want my students to pursue this year, I’m excited to give you a sneak peek at this coming year’s studio practice incentive theme

It’s always an exciting moment to introduce the new theme to my students and see them get pumped for the year ahead and the opportunities to grow as musicians! Not to mention that it helps renew my enthusiasm for teaching as we all work toward new and relevant goals. Plans are still in development, so stay tuned for more in the coming weeks…

Practice Tips from The Musician’s Way

Gerald Klickstein’s newsletter is always a treasure trove of helpful links and resources. In his Summer 2015 issue he links to a couple of posts on his blog that I thought were particularly insightful, especially as I prepare for another year of teaching and consider what areas to emphasize with my students.

5 Tips for Successful Practice gives some great practical suggestions that teachers and students alike can implement to maximize their time at the piano! For some reason, I also had never come across his page of Downloads with a variety of helpful documents you can download and utilize for free. I’m especially drawing inspiration from his Practice Sheet with a specific breakdown of different kinds of assignments and succinct practice objectives that correlate with each one.

If you’re not already, I highly recommend subscribing to the fabulous quarterly newsletter from The Musician’s Way!

New Piano Practice Incentive Theme – C2: Igniting the Power Within! – Save $5

We finished up a wonderful year of piano lessons and this year’s theme – C2: Igniting the Power Within! – was  ton of fun! C2 is designed to emphasize the equal importance of developing character and competence to be a successful musician. It incorporates a rating system for each assignment and the overall lesson attitude that is similar to those used in corporate settings to evaluate employees. The idea is for students to consistently look for ways to go above and beyond, taking ownership for their own development as musicians.

C2 is a practice incentive theme to integrate with any teaching method and approach. Because it emphasizes character and competence, students of all ages and levels can work at their own pace and experience great success! If you’re looking for something new and exciting to launch in your studio this fall, you can save $5 on your copy of the C2 practice incentive theme from now until the end of June. Just enter the coupon code SUMMER when you checkout to receive your discount.

I’m looking forward to an exciting summer and hope to be posting semi-regularly again. We’ll see how that goes! :-)

4 Tips for Writing More Effective Piano Lesson Assignments

The topic of the latest newsletter from Music Educators Marketplace really resonated with me: Tips for Effective Practice Assignments. It always amazes me how often students return to their lesson with very little reference to their assignment book during the week. (I’m not the only one that deals with this, right?!) But the more I’ve pondered this, the more I realize that some of the fault lies with me and my approach to writing assignments. I think as teachers we may subconsciously write the assignments more for our own benefit than the student’s! So, I think it’s definitely worth exploring ways to make assignments more effective. Here are the 4 Tips shared in the newsletter:

1. Consider Visual Appeal

2. Include Specific Goals and Specific Suggestions for Results

3. Engage the Student as a Collaborator in Creating Practice Steps

4. Expect Student Engagement with the Assignment at Home

Click here to view the whole newsletter with more elaboration of each tip. I’m doing lots of revamping of my studio for this fall, so I’m excited to take these tips into consideration and figure out ways to make student assignments more effective so that their practicing, in turn, will be more effective during the week. If you have any additional tips that have worked well for you, please do share!

e.p.i.c. is Here!

I’m sure everyone has been waiting with bated breath for this moment, right? Well, at least I have been!

My studio saw quite a shift this past year, with many of my older ones graduating and moving on, and 9 new piano students just starting out! With that in mind, I knew I needed a practice incentive theme this year that would be conducive to a younger and less experienced studio, but that would still engage the students I already had.

When I was journaling last summer about the forthcoming theme, I stated, “I want it to be easy to understand, simple to implement, highly motivational, and primarily music-focused.” I also wanted there to be an emphasis on establishing consistent and quality practice habits and encouraging the students to develop the character to succeed in their musical endeavors. With that criteria and some inspiration from my backpacking trip through The Grand Canyon last August, the theme was borne:

e.p.i.c. – an unforgettable musical journey

This proved to be a very easy practice incentive theme to maintain throughout the year (which is good considering my year took quite an unexpected turn!), was a great fit especially for the younger beginning students, and was appreciated by parents because of its emphasis on character, learning to practice with enthusiasm ( a good attitude), perseverance (work hard), initiative (practice without being told), and creativity (try something new). The students loved choosing e.pi.c. experiences along the way and selecting a poster of their choice when they reached designated milestones. In summary, it was a ton of fun!

I know a lot of you are looking ahead toward next fall and planning practice incentives and themes, so for the remainder of the month of June, you can receive $5 off your purchase of the e.p.i.c. practice incentive theme when you use this discount code: 835M024P

Hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

Free Piano Interval Worksheet

The final e.p.i.c. Encounter (a.k.a. group class) of our e.p.i.c. practice incentive theme was last week, and our topic for the evening was intervals.

We started the class with an overview of what an interval is, then each of the students received a set of these interval worksheets to fill out and keep for their reference.

This was a helpful visual tool that launched us into an evening of fun interval activities and challenges. The hit game of the night was the “Flashcard Drop.” This ingenious idea (compliments of my creative husband!) involved us dropping note flashcards (we used this wonderful set from TCW Resources) through the slats in our deck to the patio below where the students were gathered in teams of two. As they collected cards, the objective was to identify the interval between any two notes, then run the pair of flashcards up to us on the deck and correctly identify the interval. Every correct answer earned the team a point. Whichever team accumulated 10 points first was the winner! This proved to be a bit of a challenge for the students, but a ton of fun!

We also enjoyed playing The Mystery Note game and the Spelling Challenge from the 5 for Fun! book of music games and activities. I just modified them so that the students could continue working in pairs as we played each game. These Wipe Off: Keyboards and Staffs by Bastien are a wonderful resource for group class games and activities!

Project 28 Studio Practice Incentive Theme Now Available! Special $5 Off Offer!

In Courtney Crappell’s article in the latest issue of American Music Teacher, “Dealing With Narcissism: Are Our Students Self-Absorbed Or Just Afraid?” he shares two concepts gleaned from another author that we can embrace as teachers to help our students overcome fears that may hinder them from learning: 1) Letting down our personal guard; and 2) sharing in personal growth. He goes on to say, “Showing another that I am a work-in-progress is scary and immensely challenging. Perhaps most significantly, this act requires us to believe in, and promote, our current level of ability rather than something more. Instead of selling ourselves as the perfect model teacher and performer, we must sell who we truly are.”

Largely inspired by my time last summer at the Pattern Play Teaching Intensive and the Creative Life Conference, I did exactly what Courtney suggests, I let down my guard and committed to sharing my personal growth with my students. That became the impetus for one of our most enjoyable and fruitful Studio Practice Incentive Themes: Project 28. You can read more about the philosophy behind the theme in my guest post for Easy Ear Training: 4 Steps to Playing By Ear. The way I set up this theme required a bit of a paradigm shift, particularly as I pondered what it means to study music as a language and what it takes to become fluent in another language. Thus, the assignment pages were completely revamped to include a space for Hear Music, Speak Music, Read Music, Write Music, Think Music, and Live Music. I was nervous about how it would all play out, but I found that as I approached each lesson with a willingness to learn and work with my students to help them achieve their goal, we had a ton of fun together and learned a lot!

Project 28 begins with the student answering the question, “What do you want to be able to do by next May that you can’t do right now?” From there, the teacher and student work together to determine their first 4-week (28 days…hence the title, Project 28 :-)) goal and what skills and resources will be required to achieve it. This becomes the basis for the assignments from week to week, thus adding an element of relevancy because the student and teacher have a clear idea of the purpose of each assignment. Every four weeks is dubbed, “Film Week,” and the student has the opportunity to share on camera (either verbally or musically or both) what they have accomplished in those four weeks. My students really enjoyed the Film Weeks, and they provided great accountability as they worked toward their goals. In fact, here’s a shot of a brother and sister duo who loved putting together creative presentations for each Film Week:

All of the details and resources for Project 28 are outlined in the downloadable theme package. And from now until the end of June, you can use the following code to receive a $5 discount on any purchase from the Music Matters Blog store: E91O40F4.

I hope this serves as a great tool and motivator for you and your students as you work together to become better pianists and musicians!

Consecutive Club

In the latest e-mail from Yellow Cat Studio, Sarah shared her idea for the Consecutive Club, a simple way to keep students (and herself!) accountable for spending time at the piano every day. I really like this idea, and may try to incorporate something similar into my practice incentive theme next year! We did something similar quite a few years ago with The Box Club theme, but I’ve gotten away from an emphasis on/incentive for practicing every day and I think it’s something I need to reinstate. There’s just nothing that can take the place of consistent, daily practice!

Monday Mailbag – How to Incorporate Student Options Into Practice Incentives

What did you mean when you said a good practice incentive should include student options?

One of the primary purposes of a practice incentive is to motivate students to practice. And what better way to do that than to let them choose what they are going to practice? As teachers, we have to tap into what students actually want to achieve with their piano studies in order to develop assignments that will help them reach their goals. However, as teachers we also have a better idea than our students of what will contribute to their overall music education. So, if we want them to become well-rounded musicians we will give them options that are designed to help them build essential skills as well.

Think of it like this: A parent could give a child at dinner time of what they want to eat. If they gave their child the choice of ice cream or peas, I bet every time the child would choose ice cream. This might make the child happy and motivated to eat, but it would be extremely unhealthy for the child. Not to mention, bad parenting. However, a parent could similarly give their child a choice between peas and green beans. Perhaps the child dislikes both, but the fact that they are getting to choose which one they prefer to eat gives them slightly more control of the situation and instills a greater sense of responsibility for eating their vegetable since they are the one that chose it. This is an example of a good way to utilize options.

In a piano lesson environment, perhaps you realize that most of your students need vast improvement in their sight-reading skills. You could develop a practice incentive that would incorporate a variety of options related to sight-reading, and each week students could choose one challenge from a list to accomplish by the following lesson. Examples include:

  • Play through 5 easy level pieces of music.
  • Select a speed note drill and play each line in random order 3 times every day.
  • Work on a flashcard drill – see how many notes can be named and/or played in 1 minute by your next lesson.
  • Tap through one level of rhythm drills with the metronome at a certain marking.
  • Search for and play a sight-reading app every day.
  • And so on!

This is how I design all of my studio practice incentive themes so that students have plenty of options to help them reach their desired goals while still ensuring a well-rounded music education. This also makes every lesson new and different, but provides a wonderful framework to teach within all year long so that we stay organized and on track in our musical studies!

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!