If you haven’t checked out the Music Matters Blog store in a while, you may be pleased to know that there is now a Free Resources section and every week I’m working on adding new free music theory and piano worksheets to the collection. Many of these have been posted over the years, but have been lost in the archives and are difficult to find. I’m hoping that this will keep them better organized and easier to find (for me, too!).
Those of you who have been here for a while know that I don’t typically use theory books with my students, so it’s essential for me to be able to pull out just the right worksheet to help my students learn or reinforce a musical concept in a given week. All of these worksheets are PDFs, so they can be downloaded and printed for use with your students or downloaded and used on an iPad or other tablet. If you have any suggestions for other worksheets you’d like to have, feel free to send me an email and let me know!
As we finish out these final few weeks of 2017, I wanted to offer a small gift to all of you Music Matters Blog readers. It’s been a full year with lots of unexpected happenings in my life, so fewer posts have made it to the blog, but I am still so grateful for this incredibly supportive and creative online music education community. From now through the end of the year, you can get $10 off any item or 50% off any two or more items in the Music Matters Blog store. Feel free to check out these testimonials from other teachers to find out what some of their favorites are to use with students in their studios. Just use the following codes accordingly:
To receive $10 off any single item: Christmas2017
To receive 50% off any two or more items: 50Off
Merry Christmas from me to you!
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!
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!
To celebrate the arrival of June/summer, we’re offering a special coupon for $5 off of anything in the Music Matters Blog store! Whether you are looking for some fun games to incorporate throughout the summer, a complete piano camp curriculum, or are exploring possibilities for a motivating practice incentive theme you can launch next year, find the perfect fit for you and your students to infuse your teaching with something new and exciting! The coupon is good through this Saturday, June 5, so have fun shopping! Just use this code when checking out to receive $5 off: SUMMER
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!
In addition to starting the New Year with the introduction of the Mini Music Manual, I also wanted to provide some clear structure for students and a way to them to work systematically on their musical progress. Instead of “reinventing the wheel” I pulled out my tried and true Music Progressions Curriculum Guide and decided that it was just what we needed!
I compiled and printed off a modified chart outlining the first five level requirements for piano students in performance, music understanding and vocabulary, functional skills (rhythm and pulse, sight-playing), keyboard skills (scales, chords, arpeggios, intervals), written theory, and listening.
We spent time at each lesson today evaluating where the student was at, recording new information in the definitions and diagrams sections of their Mini Music Manual, and going over what was required for each level. I am starting each student at a specific level, but then letting them decide what level they want to work toward for this year’s Music Progressions evaluation event. It was exciting to see their enthusiasm ignited as they saw the potential for progress by learning systematic skills. And I was even more thrilled at how quickly they took ownership of writing things down in the Mini Music Manuals so that they could refer to it during the week. Here’s hoping that lasts through the rest of the year (and beyond!)!
One of my favorite things about taking breaks from a regular teaching schedule is the opportunity it gives me to evaluate how I’m doing as a teacher and how my students are doing learning and retaining new concepts and skills. I love pondering possibilities to help me be more organized and intentional as a teacher. And I love dreaming up creative ideas to inspire my students in their ongoing musical pursuits. From these musings the past several weeks was borne our latest musical resource: The Mini Music Manual!
The more time I’ve spent learning from and tutoring with Classical Conversations, the more I’ve become convinced of three important facets of a successful education: memorization, repetition, and ownership. Memorization is the first step of acquiring new information (a.k.a. grammar) that will serve as the basis for deeper understanding and application. Without an inventory of knowledge from which to draw, students are left grasping for random bits and pieces. In piano teaching I’ve become adamant that students memorize the essentials that they need for musical success. It’s amazing how easy it is to inadvertently move on to harder assignments when students can’t even readily identify notes on the staff!
Next, repetition is the means by which the memorized information is solidified for application. If I’ve learned anything over the last couple of years of homeschooling it’s that just because I said or taught something it doesn’t mean that the student learned it. Again, it’s easy to assume that if I know something and have communicated it to the student that they now possess that information as well. That couldn’t be further from the truth! The real test of whether or not a student has learned something is how well they can communicate that knowledge to someone else. If it can’t be effectively communicated then it has not truly been learned.
Third, ownership. So much education today is a spoon-feeding approach whereby the teacher feeds information to the student and the student is expected to receive, digest, and systematically regurgitate it (usually for the sake of scoring well on a test). I want my children and students to learn to learn. To think for themselves. To search out, process, and evaluate information. To derive well-informed conclusions and then use what they’ve gleaned to grow as individuals and then help others grow.
These three underlying philosophies are what led to the development of the Mini Music Manual: The Ultimate Reference Guide that You Create! I’m excited to begin using this manual with my piano students this semester to help them learn and memorize new information and take ownership for their music education. They’ll be writing their own definitions of musical terms and symbols, memorizing scale patterns and diagramming them with correct fingering, keeping track of their favorite repertoire, and more. I’m excited to see how it goes and will try to post updates along the way!