Posts

Meaningful Performance Experiences

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Childhood performances are a part of so many activities kids do. From dance & music recitals, to school plays and concerts, or karate demonstrations and sporting events, kids are on display a lot. In the context of piano lessons, I see performances as serving two roles. First is to provide motivation for practice and to celebrate what we've learned with a couple big benchmark events each year. And second, to build some confidence and self-assuredness that will extend beyond piano lessons themselves as students grow up and need to give presentations, do job interviews etc.  In today's post, I'll be giving some quick ideas for making these meaningful,  whether they're the big traditional events, or something online or more individual.    Make time for it.  Save the dates for big events when you get them, and do your best to honor both your child's preparation, as well as other performers, by making time to stay for the entire event. If it's an online event, se

Composer Timeline

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I want to introduce everyone to our composer timeline! Each week on the Studio Facebook page I've been sharing a 'hand-washing song' chosen by one of our students. And today's post is a closer look at what that means, and how that plays into our lessons and musical study. I have a cup full of composer cards (from Vibrant Music Teaching ) and when it is a student's turn, they draw a card, and we search up that composer on Youtube. The student gets to pick a piece from the list of selections available, and that becomes the week's hand-washing song! That music then plays for the next week while students are coming into the studio, I am sanitizing pianos, they are washing their hands, and getting their books prepped for lessons, etc. With the few extra minutes of cleaning procedures that come with operating our studio in a pandemic, this has added a sense of musical purpose and routine to our slightly longer transition time. After we are settled and ready for lesson

Piano Maestro Challenge Check in

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With two months to go until the end of the school year, I wanted to give everyone an update on our ongoing 40 hour Piano Maestro practice challenge. The goal of the challenge is to practice in Piano Maestro for a total of 40 hours during the school year, including time in lessons and time at home. (Original post announcing the challenge here) This effectively means students who complete the challenge will have spent 40 hours sight playing music over the course of the school year, and that kind of time goes a long way towards building those real fluency skills that we want piano students to have.  40 hours comes out to 2,400 minutes, so here is our chart tracking how many minutes each student has practiced.  Our top three Piano Maestro practicers so far are: Brielle with a 1,330 minutes Bronwyn with 1,128 minutes Gentri with 889 minutes And there are a handful of other students in that 800 range as well. There's still a way to go if anyone is to hit that goal of 40 hours, BUT one th

Spring Video Recital

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I've decided to go ahead and plan one more video recital for our year-end Spring performance this year, and am hoping to have a big in-person concert for our Fall 2021 performance! To tune in on the 24th, just head over to  www.facebook.com/dawnspianostudio  and look for the video premiere right at the top of the page. I will also post a youtube video for anyone who is not a facebook user, and will be sure to share that on this website. Invite friends and family using our Facebook Event , and all viewing instructions and links will also be posted in the event page as they are available.  Please share your encouragement in the comment sections or with the performers directly. The validation that these performance opportunities bring goes a long way to build confidence in sharing our music with others.  We'll record the student performance pieces showcasing what students have learned during our lessons in the week or two before the show, so all you have to do that day will be to

Learning to use Music as an Expressive Outlet

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One of the things that makes me happiest as a piano teacher is when a student comes in for lesson and tells me they were playing a song, just because. Maybe it helped them feel better on a hard day, maybe they were celebrating a good day, or maybe they just needed a mental break from another task and turned to music as a creative outlet, or even just a boredom buster. One of music's most valuable impacts in my own life is as a form of self expression, a safe place to work through tricky feelings and a space to exercise some creativity. In today's post I'm going to look a little closer at some of the ways we can be sure that students are learning to use what we do in piano lessons to express ourselves, so that when we eventually stop lessons, they'll retain music as a part of their expressive toolkit. Play music you love. Compose. Improvise. The first step to connecting to music on a personal level is knowing what you like. Students should listen to music regularly, find

2021 Word of the Year

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Just a heads up readers that this blog post is going to feel a little different from the usual fare here. This is mostly some personal musings on the year that's past, the one that's coming, and the role that music plays in my internal process. So, if you're just here for the practice ideas, piano studio news, or musical projects from wonderful young musicians, feel free to skip this one. But if you are someone who is also interested in musings, and choosing a word of the year, read on.  Choosing a word of the year is something I've started doing the past few years as a way to help frame the mindset I want to have as I head into a new year. I've found it more effective than resolutions for getting me closer to who I want to be. Looking back at the beginning of 2020, I chose Ease.  Little did I know how important that word would become as we had to collectively navigate our way through an entirely unprecedented year. And in the chaos, I did find myself coming back to

'Get Smart' Practice Challenge

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Our practice challenge for January is going to be based off an improvisational teaching acrostic, Get SMART, introduced to me by Shelly Davis of the piano parent podcast several years back.  You can listen to that podcast episode below to hear examples of students Getting Smart with their music.  The word SMART stands for  Style, Melody, Articulation, Rhythm  and  Tempo . And our challenge for this January will be for students to put their own spin on each of these elements into music of their choosing. Once they've given their own creative interpretation to a piece on each of the 5 musical elements, they'll have completed the challenge!  This is going to be very open-ended and student led because: Students can use the same music for all 5, so they end up with 5 different versions of the same piece, or choose different music for different elements along the way. Students can work through SMART in any order, they don't have to start with Style if they'd rather start wi