Posts

Young Composers 2021

Image
Drumroll please! I am proud to present our 8th annual Young Composers Project for 2021! What is Young Composers? Each summer at Dawn's Piano, continuing students get to dig into creating original music and learning about the composing process. In just a handful of lessons, students write, notate, practice and record tracks for their original music. This is a highly anticipated season by the students, and I am often asked throughout the year 'when will we get to do that thing where we write music on the computer?'. For this project, I also intentionally choose to use software that is free ( Noteflight for notating, GarageBand for recording), so that the programs we learn can be accessible for students to continue exploring and creating on their own if they are so inclined.  For students who truly enjoy the process of creating music, this opens doors and helps them find ways into exploring that. And for all students, whether they're jazzed by creating new music or not,

One Minute Club!

Image
Lessons begin this week, and for this year's BIG practice challenge we're going to start a studio One Minute Club . This is a challenge that's been floating around the piano teaching world for a while, but I first heard of it on Susan Paradis' blog  several years back. And I think it's the one for us this year as we continue to build our sight reading fluency across all learning levels.  To get into the One Minute Club, all you have to do is to play all the notes in your assigned flash cards in under a minute! In the studio we'll be using Note Rush during piano lab to build the skills and try to gain entry into the club. Any students who hit their target during lessons will get added to the One Minute Club studio wall chart, AND will receive an official membership card and a prize. (I'm thinking gift certificates to the Pink Flamingo  candy shop , or something equivalent in your area for online students, so you know, prizes your piano kid is going to want!

New Studio Piano!

Image
Our studio got an exciting upgrade in July with the addition of this beautiful Kawai RX-2 Grand Piano!  I knew going to the Sounds Great Retail Retirement Sale unsupervised could get me into trouble (the good kind!) because the action on our main studio piano had been deteriorating pretty rapidly, and I had already started thinking about how to get a newer instrument in the next year or two. . . So off I went. I played several different pianos while I was there, and there were a lot of great options. Some old Steinways, a couple excellent Baldwins, and I did spend some time with a Chickering concert grand which would have been much too large for our studio, but was a lovely instrument.  I grew up playing a Chickering, so they will always have a special place in my heart. But the one really spoke to me as a good studio instrument and a real investment in my students' growth for many years was this Kawai professional grand, and I ended up signing the purchase agreement before I left

Espressivo Camp Inside Look

Image
At the beginning of June, the McPherson Area Piano Teachers' League held it's third annual Espressivo Piano Camp. 25 local piano students from 2nd grade through high school came together in the halls of the Wesley Black Fine Arts building to dig into music with some fun sessions on Music History, Theory & Games, Composition and Performance.  After cancelling our 2020 camp due to the pandemic, we were extra excited to relaunch this year for a new group of piano campers. With a mix of whole camp activities as well as some sessions where students work in smaller groups of their own age and level, this camp provides  something really special in the way of a large, fun social environment for more musical learning and engagement. We know that a lot of learning to play the piano involves practice on our own, or private or small group lessons, so these piano kids really seem to embrace the idea of getting to grow their learning together in this type of summer camp setting.  Here a

Spring 2021 Video Recital

Image
It's Recital Day!  All our performers, from the preschool beginners up through late intermediate and advanced students have worked hard on making wonderful music this year, and they have prepared a great show for us today. Family & friends are invited   to tune in as well, so be sure to share viewing info with anyone who will want to cheer on your piano kids. For students who've been attending lessons in-person,  check your piano kid's binder  for a recital program like the one pictured here, as well as some compliment cards. The cards will be a great way to bring in a sense of studio community to our online show. And as an extra incentive, students can earn some final beads for their year-end lanyards by writing encouraging compliments to their fellow performers while watching the show. Just bring your filled out cards back to the studio at your lessons next week! For online students, or anyone else who would like a program, you can download one here . And online stude

Meaningful Performance Experiences

Image
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

Image
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