A Great Game for Reviewing Major Chords and 5-finger Patterns

Don’t you just love it when you come up with an activity or game that turns out to be a real winner making you wish you had thought of it sooner? I had one of those moments recently and wanted to share the activity with you right away as it was such a hit.

I was looking for a fun way to do a big review of all the 5-finger patterns and chords in preparation for a festival in which a few students will be participating.

The only game I really have for that concept is one of my favorite TCW card games (that’s Three Cranky Women if you’re not familiar) – Flashy Fingers.

Most of the TCW card games though are not made for students just learning, or even in the early-mid stages of mastering any particular concepts. They really have to know their stuff to play most of the games. Believe me, I’ve tried a lot of their games with students who didn’t know the information like the back of their hand and it makes the game a lot harder and not nearly as much fun if they have to sit there for a minute to even figure out the answer.

Don’t get me wrong, they are high quality, wonderful games (I own every card deck in the series), they’re just more useful once the student really knows what they’re doing. The games really help students learn to think faster about concepts they already know and understand well.

Just because particular games are made to be played one way doesn’t mean we can’t utilize them in another, so that’s what I did!

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Get a Great Deal on an Annual Subscription to Sproutbeat

I just wanted to let you know that the iPad app SproutBeat that I use a lot during my student’s music lab time is running a sale for 15% an annual subscription for new sign-ups. This is a GREAT deal. If you’ve been thinking about trying it, now is the time.

If you’re interested in reading a little more about how I use the app in my studio, see this post.

The discount ends on December 16.  

Happy Holidays from SproutBeat®

Friday Finds

Christmas Edition

As we enter the beginning of December, it’s time to start gathering ideas for holiday activities for group classes and, if you haven’t already, Christmas or Hanukkah music for students.

For some of my favorite holiday books, see Trusty Christmas Favorites: Repertoire I Return to Year After Year.

There’s a heck of a lot of Christmas activities floating around in piano teacher world – believe me, I’ve tried them all!

To help you weed through the noise, finds this week include activities I’ve included in lesson plans in the past and seem to return to plus a few more goodies.


Christmas rhythm dictation sheets | Pianimation. (They’re harder for students than you may think! Because of that, I don’t do these with my very youngest students. The same goes for the next one.)



Christmas carol rhythm matchups | Pianimation. My older students usually do well with this one.



My eyes are on the beautiful Farm Fresh Christmas Trees sign from HarperGrayceSigns.com for our new house (and studio)!

The Kris Kringle Bed and Breakfast sign from signsofhopear.comis also on my radar!

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Friday Finds

Thanksgiving Edition

Thanksgiving is a cook’s dream, wouldn’t you say? Choosing an array of food to eat at my family’s table is actually fun for me! Some of my favorite meals and music for the holiday season can be found on Amy’s Holiday Favorites.

Since many of us will be planning our lessons and group classes next week around the Thanksgiving theme, I thought I would focus this weeks finds on this American holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!



The most popular Thanksgiving recipes by state. Indiana? Pumpkin pie.



Chasing the Turkey board game from Susan Paradis.



When we lived in Australia, one of my favorite chefs to watch on TV was the Canadian show French Food at Home hosted by Laura Calder. As we’re coming into a season of having our homes full of family, food, and friends, I cannot wait to read and relish in her new book The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness.

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Friday Finds

Chord Town Christmas and the Newly-Named “Micro-Generation”



Yep, I’m a part of this so-named “micro-generation.”



I really liked this teacher’s idea of giving students a piano book for fun if they’re unable to make a lesson. Something they could sit down and just have fun playing through would be an ideal choice. I’m going to start doing this!



We are all about to embark upon the season of giving. Throw this fun book into your Amazon shopping cart for the kiddos or your nieces and nephews. It’s customizable to the state in which you live. The customization doesn’t just affect the title, but the contents of the book and what towns Santa visits! Continue reading

Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Music Students

Who Couldn’t Use Another Idea?

When it comes to this time of year, I usually whine a little. Not because I don’t love Christmas or giving gifts, but because I have to figure out something different to do for my students once again.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE giving gifts to my students. It’s just the process of making my brain think about what to do this year that makes me often procrastinate. After getting down to the wire a few years ago, I vowed never again and right after Christmas, I purchased my gifts for the following year (ornaments). Bye-bye stress.

Crafts are not my strong suit so my kiddos will most likely never get a hand-made craft from me. Since I love to cook, however, homemade goodies have made it into the mix frequently.

The gifts I do each year often have to do with where life is for me at the moment. Don’t you agree? Some years money may be tight so gifts may be bulk-homemade and lest costly, and some years I may be too busy to put the effort into making something so I just purchase an item – even if it’s a little more costly. I would say I have spent anywhere between $1.25 – $5 per student but my comfort zone is around the $3 mark. It adds up quickly with a full studio!



Symphony Extra Large Creamy Milk Chocolate Bar.



Music Notes and Treble Clef Ornaments

Decorate your studio Christmas Tree with student Christmas-gift ornaments. Let them choose their ornament off the tree at their last lesson before Christmas Break. I really like these black ones from Amazon. Hobby Lobby has some gold sparkly versions of this same ornament as well.


These Music Snowman Christmas Tree Ornaments are my choice for this particular year. Sara over at Sara’s Music Studio made a fun suggestion to add a ribbon around the neck like a scarf. I’m not crafty, but that I can handle. Won’t it be so cute!?

*Note: At the time of this post, the price on Amazon is $22.99 for a dozen. You can get these at Oriental Trading for $15.99 but with shipping at $6.99, it makes a total of $24.36 with tax. If you have Amazon Prime it’s actually cheaper to order from Amazon!

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Friday Finds

A Piano Holiday in France and Finger-Patterned Scale Sheets




London-based piano teacher and blogger Graham Fitch is hosting a “Piano Holiday in France!” It’s not just about piano but is also about enjoying the local cuisine and wine! Nice!



Only 25 calories per drink. I’m adding a box or two of this Swiss Miss Light to my cupboard for the winter.


Teachers are so creative. Ohio-based teacher, Clinton Pratt has really put his brain to work in creating a scale sheet that highlights the 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4 patterns in all scales. In this thread on Facebook, he was still playing with it and asking for feedback. In this thread, he shares the final PDF download with several versions teachers. Continue reading

Trusty Christmas Favorites

Repertoire I Return to Year After Year

We all have our favorites. Our favorite Christmas songs, our favorite composers, our favorite arrangements. Each year when it comes time to pull out the Christmas books for students, while I try new ones each year, it seems I always return to the sturdy few.

Today I’m going to share with you my favorite Christmas books for students from beginner through late intermediate levels. The repertoire in this post to me is what I consider good solid arrangements. While several pieces I’ll highlight are jazzy, I’m not including any books that are specifically labeled with specific styles like “jazzy” or “Romantic Christmas” etc. (those are for another post another time).

Today is just about good old trusty Christmas music.

After so many years, you begin to see not only which books seem to appeal most to students, but which pieces within those books are the best. So, I’m also going to also highlight some of the arrangments I return to again and again.

I always ask my students if they have any requests for Christmas pieces, so hopefully seeing specific piece names within books will help you as you do your Christmas book shopping.


Faber Supplemental Christmas

I often give my students a Christmas book that is below their current method level, so if they’re playing in Faber 2B, I may choose to give them 2A Christmas. I want them just to be able to have fun playing Christmas music and to be able to play as many pieces as they can.

Level 4 is my favorite especially because of the jazzy arrangements of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Winder Wonderland that use lots of 7th chords. Continue reading

Friday Finds

Andragogy, Pedagogy, and a 19′ Piano



Anytime I tell someone I have a Masters of Music in Piano Pedagogy and Performance everyone always looks at me with their head slightly cocked, and their eyes conveying their puzzlement. “Peda-what?” They say.

Do you ever get this? My husband and I always get a good chuckle. Awhile back he messaged me while he was at a conference excited that someone in the session he was attending had just clarified perfectly the term and he thought I might like to share with you:

“Andragogy” refers to methods and principles used in adult education. The word comes from the Greek ἀνδρ- andr-, meaning “man”, and ἀγωγός agogos, meaning “leader of”; it literally means “leader of man”, whereas “pedagogy” literally means “leading children”.




Super stinking cool. Check out this 19-foot piano.

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