Games Webinar This Thursday

Hey, friends!

I just wanted to drop you a quick note and let you know that I’ll be a contributor on a webinar put on by The Francis Clark Center this Thursday, May 21 @ 11:00 a.m. EDT.

Our topic will be focused on games during online teaching. Other contributors include Nicola Cantan, Joy Morin, Christina Whitlock, and Melissa Willis. What a great crew and I’m honored to get the chance to be a part!

I’m guessing you know most of these ladies but if you don’t, here’s a little about each one:

Nicola Cantan writes at Colourfulkeys.ie, Joy Morin writes at ColorinMyPiano.com, Christina Whitlock is author of our awesome Varsity Musician Series here on PP and Melissa Willis has been really active in Facebook teacher groups sharing her online teaching tips on YouTube since this all started.

Can I give you a sneak peek? I plan to share a tip for keeping all of those games organized. It’s me – you know I can’t resist!

You can either register for the webinar ahead of time or view the replay later by visiting this link.

Hope to see you there!

 

The One-Minute Club Goes Virtual

One of the top posts here on Piano Pantry is the One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge.

Recently, I went through a bit of an overhaul of my own program and in the process did a big update to the original blog post.

If you use this challenge, even if you’ve read the original post before, you’re going to want to check it out again as it now includes 7 small but really great tips to help ease nerves during the timing and help foster the best results in students.


Read the Original Post: One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge


Here we are, four years from the first time we talked about this studio-wide challenge, and every teacher around the world has suddenly been thrown into online teaching like we never expected.

So, today, let’s talk about a few different ways we can adapt this challenge to our online lessons including the pros and cons of each format!

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Implementing Incentives

The Struggle Is Was Real

To incentivize or not to incentivize. That is the question.

(Or maybe you’re simply wondering at the moment whether or not “incentivize” is actually a word? It is, by the way. 🙂 )

Do you struggle with implementing an incentive program?

Is it because you’re torn between the philosophy of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation or is it because it’s a struggle to be consistent in implementing something? (Or maybe a little of both?)

While there’s plenty of research supporting both sides of this age-old question of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, today I’ll be sharing my journey with (and support of) implementing incentives. Specifically:

  1. Why I struggled for years with implementing incentive programs.
  2. Four things I found an incentive program (and I) needed for long-term success.
  3. How others in the field helped inspire and develop my own philosophy regarding extrinsic rewards along the way.
  4. How short term rewards can turn into long-term joy including a specific example from my studio.

In a later post, I’ll get more specific with the incentive program I’ve been using with success for several years, and a list of popular prize box items.

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December Fun

Christmas Games and Activities for Your Studio

Are you looking for ideas on fun “off bench” activities to use in this Christmas season? Look no further! Today I’m going to share some of my favorite games and resources that I return to year after year along with tips for each one.

First, let me briefly share how I store my holiday games. We have to stay organized, right?

 

Storing Games (Both Hard-Copy and Digital)

Inspired by Nicola Canton I’ve started storing my holiday-themed games in these clear plastic document folders.

(P.S. The A4 size is nice because if you laminate a letter size-sheet, the lamination makes it larger.)

It’s not a cheap way to store games as they’re almost $1 a piece, so I’m currently only storing my holiday-themed games in these. The rest of my games are stored in hanging files in a file drawer. (I’ll write a post on that another day!)

The digital files are stored in my cloud file manager.

From there, I name files for what they are. This allows me to see how many games, for example, I have, how many worksheets, etc.

 

Favorite Christmas-Themed Activities

In no particular order…

Holiday Rhythm Cups from Wendy Stevens at Compose Create.

This is a great way to have fun with rhythm in a unique and collaborative way. The set includes three songs in three levels: Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and Joy to the World.

Check out a clip of my students having fun with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

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12 Ways to Turn a Potentially Frustrating Lesson into a Musical Opportunity

A while back I wrote an article for Alfred Music Blog called Learning Music in a Quick-Fix Society: 7 Tips to Foster Music for LifeIn the article, I share seven ways we can help create an environment that fosters the mindset that learning music is more than just a short-term activity.

One of those seven items was that, as teachers, we shouldn’t feel frustrated when students come to lessons either without their books or having made little progress. (Of course, if it’s an ongoing issue, that another story.)

It can be very easy to get irritated at students and in turn, have the lesson take on a sour note and be a negative experience. On the other hand, if we keep in mind that life happens and music lessons are an ongoing commitment, we can look at it as an opportunity rather than a failure.

Here are 12 ways we can turn a potentially negative, frustrating lesson into a positive musical experience. You don’t even have to pick just one! Set a timer and tell the student every 5 minutes you’re going to switch activities!

 

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Free Printable: My Hands

Watch them Grow

Over the years I’ve come across several different printables for young students to trace their hands. Many method books also include a page for this activity.

None of these, however, include one little thing I really wanted, so I decided to make my own sheet. I’ll tell you what it is, but first, the backstory.

It’s very easy when attending professional development conferences, to hear great ideas but then forget to put some of those ideas into place.

When I attended the 2017 MTNA Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, I gleaned a fun idea from a session given by Amy Immerman on tracing students hands.

She suggested that with young beginner students we not only trace their hands but retrace them every so often so students can see how much they’re growing. (Kind of like the typical height-growth chart found in a lot of homes, but for piano 🙂 )

Children love to learn and see how they are growing.  Just last night I had a group class for tweens. When I asked each of them to remind me how old they were, none of them responded with their actual age. They stated how old they would be and in how long, such as “I’ll be 13 in two months.”

Growth, in whatever form it is, feels good.

The reason none of the other printables I’ve ever found have worked for me is that they don’t remind me to re-trace their hands. It’s easy to forget to do things unless they’re right in front of us (a perfect example of why so many teachers love method books).

Plus, I don’t use method books with beginners and even if I did, once you start progressing forward, how many of us would remember to go back and do that? No one.

This printable includes instructions for students to trace their hands multiple times over the course of their first year of lessons.

I would recommend keeping it in the front of their piano binder or better yet, in their student file folder. (Check out my student files here.)

A Visual Listening Guide for Group Class Performances

Listening guides are like a collector’s item in my studio. The file drawers hold no less than six different forms obtained over the years from other wonderful teaching sites. Unfortunately, none of them have hit it spot on for me, so last year I finally came up with my own.

Inspired by the Listening Card Race from Pianimation, this listening guide uses small visual cues and descriptors. This sheet is wonderful to use for student performances during group class to keep students engaged in listening to the music (and performance) actively.

My recommendation would be to go over the sheet first as a class and even do some demonstrations. With younger students, I sometimes even like to have them pronounce the words together to make sure they feel comfortable with the terms.

Laminating the sheets will keep them in good shape for repeated use. Sometimes we use dry-erase markers, but I prefer to simply have students use game markers such as pennies, Japanese erasers, or the clear flat marbles that you see.

Note: I don’t necessarily expect students to write down answers to the question of “Mood,” etc. They can simply be prepared with a verbal answer.

 

 

 

Piano Teacher Must-Have’s

A Minimalist’s List

As the time gets closer and closer for us to move into our new home and eventually my new studio, I’ve come to realize just how much STUFF I have in my studio that will have to be moved.

While dreading the thought of relocating all these things, I began to ponder what it would be like to have a “minimalist” studio.

If I were a brand new teacher or if I had to start all over again in a very small space, what are the items that would be “must-haves”?

Thus was born this “minamalist’s list.” Keep in mind that we’re talking bare bones. This list does not include equipment (like a piano),  office equipment like computers and printers, or pedagogical books.

I look forward to hearing some of your “must-haves” in the comments!

 

A Copy of Your Favorite Method Book

This is my first recommendation because it’s one of the most basic and important in my opinion.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either wanted to have a look at a students method book while lesson planning, needed a copy so I could make a video lesson for a student or simply need an extra copy when a student forgets their book. Whatever method you use the most, keep one extra copy on hand at all times!

 

 

Office Supply Must-Have

Post-its are kind of a “must-have” in any teacher’s world. I couldn’t go without these 1/2″ x 1 3/4″ Post-its for marking assigned pages. I like the paper ones because I can also write on them if needed as opposed to the plastic-type tabs.

Erasable pens, markers, and colored pencils are God’s gift to teachers. I have four specific recommendations in this area.

Frixion Erasable Colors 12-pack.

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Manipulatives and Games for Private and Group Lessons

A Master List

How many manipulatives, games, and other resources do you have in your music studio?

You probably don’t even have to count to know the answer. A lot!  Am I right?

Keeping track of all our teaching resources can be a daunting task.

Lesson planning for private and group classes can be enough work in itself without having to continuously recall and rehash all the different manipulatives and games we have each time we plan.

After finding myself physically walking back and forth regularly to my game files, flashcard box and such, I decided it was time to put together a master list of every activity or manipulative I had or could use to teach a concept.

It can be very easy to lose track of what we already have. Having a document like this has allowed me to not only have an easy place to reference what activities I could utilize at any given time, but it was an awesome snapshot and inventory of what I owned.

Keeping a master list is also a great place to keep teaching ideas that may not necessarily have physical items to accompany the activity.

I thought you might find this document useful as well.

 

The Master List

Since it is a document that I update on a regular basis I decided to simply share the public link to a Google Doc. Keep in mind that it’s a working document so it’s possible I will add to, edit, and even remove items as time goes by.

There are three ways you could utilize this document

  1. If you want to keep the document as is and not risk being at the mercy of my future edits, you could download it.
  2. If you want to always see the updated version, I would recommend bookmarking the link in your browser (or in Evernote :-). This way you simply click on the link and you always see the most updated version.
  3. If you wanted to create your own list you could even copy and paste into your own document to get you started and create your own version with the materials you have!

I’m working on hyperlinking directly to every item on the list if it’s available. It’s not complete but I have a good start.

May this document help you add a little more sanity to your lesson planning and studio organizational life. 🙂

Click the link below to view the document.

Manipulatives and Games for Private and Group Lessons

 

 


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Candy Jar Contest Printable

Building community within our studios is an important part of both growing our studios and also maintaining and marketing to the students and families we have.

The term “community” can be defined as:

A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Our studio students aren’t going to get feelings of fellowship by simpling coming in and out of a solo piano lesson week after week.

There are a variety of ways we can build community into our studio offerings including group classes, recitals and more (see the Varsity Musician’s Playbook Series).

Sometimes though, it can be even simpler than that.

Enter the candy jar!

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