The Badges Challenge

One of the new activities students took part in last year was a badges challenge.  Students worked hard in lessons to collect a variety of lesson-related badges.  Students could earn badges for playing scales in lessons, practicing, learning music, and taking part in studio events.  Taking part in this activity was a great way for students to appreciate all the hard work they’d done in lessons.

The full list of badges is a few pages long, but here’s a very small sampling of badges:Examples of various badges

At the end of each term, students also had the opportunity to design their own badge.  I asked students to make a badge about something they thought they’d done a great job at in lessons.  It was great hearing students talk about what they were proud of!

Students collected their badges on a sheet of construction paper all year, which they got to take home in June to show off.  Here’s part of one student’s sheet of badges:

Badges example

About the Spring Festival 2018

This year the studio hosted a Spring Festival.  Students were invited to attend as many of the five events as they wished.

Our first two events featured special guests.  Melissa Goodchild was invited to give a workshop on improvisation.  She brought over a whole bunch of percussion instruments for students to try out as a part of her workshop.Melissa's Percussion instruments
Tuesday, Janna Willard discussed composition with students.  Prior to the festival students have worked on composing by ear as well as experimenting with aleatory (chance music – some students wrote pieces with the help of dice).  Thus, it was really interesting to meet a local composer and learn about a different method of composing.  We got to learn a little about how theory and composing can work together.

Wednesday, we made composer collages.  This year’s composer of choice was J. S. Bach.  Whilst the collage was put together we listened to music by this composer, looked at instruments from Bach’s time, and discussed fun history facts.

Inside of composer lapbook

Thursday was the music games night – students were invited to come over and play some of the studio’s musical games.  These focus on a variety of areas of theory ranging from beginner to advanced levels, so  there were games for students of all ages and years of study.  Having the chance to try out some new games is a fun way to learn!

The week ended with a mini-recital.  This was very well attended – many students came, as well as some family members.  Students had a chance to play multiple pieces for each other, and had time for a few group activities at the end as well.

 

Thanks to everyone who came out to these events.  It was wonderful to have some guests in the studio and for students to have a chance to try out some new and interesting musical activities.  I’m looking forward to planning next year’s spring festival!

Musical Timeline 2018

Students have been working on a huge musical timeline this year.  This year, we featured composers.

Composer Timeline side 1As you can see, students really filled up the timeline!  We added familiar composers students had played as well as learning about some new ones.   The composers’ age is reflected in the length of their name card.  This made it easy for students to see relative ages, who was contemporary to whom, and also to see who is still composing today.  We listened to compositions and discussed facts about the lives of the composers.  It was really interesting to learn so much about both familiar and unfamiliar musicians.

Composer timeline side 2

We had so much fun with this project, we had to add a second side so we could keep adding composers!

Musical Timeline

In the fall, students started building a musical timeline.  Each composer get their own strip of paper, and students write on their name and dates.  Students often like to add other information too, such as a list of some well-known compositions.  We’ve included composers students are familiar with and have played and have also added some new composers students may not have heard of, which gives us a chance to learn about new music.  Students have also suggested and added a few of their favourites.

Timeline picture

We have been filling up the modern era really fast, so the opposite side of the timeline has been marked with dates as well so that we can continue adding composers even if we run out of room on the first side.

We’ll continue adding composers as the year progresses – you can look forward to more pictures in June, when you’ll get to see the timeline filled up!

Brainy’s Food Bank Challenge 2017

The Brainy challenge wrapped up last week!  Students who participated in this challenge had 3 challenges over the course of three weeks – one per week.  Students were asked to try and place one piece eight times over the week.  If they succeeded, they earned Brainy a penny.

Brainy at the Grocery Store

At the end of the challenge, Brainy took all his pennies to the Stuffie bank and exchanged them for loonies.  In total, he earned 41 loonies from the foodbank.  Wow!  Students have beaten last year’s record, where they earned 40 pennies during the course of the challenge.

Parents were invited to match the studio’s donation, and Brainy was give both food items and monetary donations.  So in total, Brainy had 78 dollars to spend at the foodbank.  We successfully matched last year’s donation amount.  Great job everyone!

After all the pennies were collected, Brainy went shopping at the grocery store and picked up a lot of food for the Food Bank.  This year, Brainy wanted to go drop it off directly, so he travelled to the Food Bank and dropped it off.  Thanks again everyone who participated in this challenge!  Students did a great job practicing and Brainy is really proud of all the hard work they did earning food for the Food Bank!

Brainy says thank you!

In the studio: 2017 news

It has been a busy fall in the studio!  Students have been collecting music badges for their practicing, participated in recitals, worked on a musical time line, and have learned a lot of great music.  Students worked on Compositions for November, and we will continue to be working on finishing these compositions and typing them into Musscore (a music notation program) as we proceed into the new year.  The Brainy practicing challenge has just wrapped up, also – updates about this will be posted soon!

Origami Music star decoration

In performance news, I took part in the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra’s November Master Series concert and their Nutcracker meets Duke Ellington concerts.  I’m looking forward to the Night In Vienna concert, which takes place December 30th.  The October Classical Variety Night concert I organize was lovely, and I’m already planning the next one, which is scheduled for February the 4th.

It’s been a fun year in the studio, and I’m looking forward to continuing to make some great music with students in 2018!

Practicing Badges

This year in the studio, students are collecting badges for the hard work they’re doing practicing and preparing music.  Badges can be earned through a variety of means.  Some badges come from attending studio events, others from learning songs in their method book, practicing ear training, beating a high score in an educational music game, etc.  There are many badges for students to try and acquire.

For the last week of lessons before the end of term, students will be invited to make their own badge – this badge will be to celebrate something they think they have done well this term.

There are a few tricky ones that students can attempt to achieve if they are feeling ambitious.  For example, the gold level practicing badge is achieved by a student practicing 50 days in a row.  The bronze level practicing badge is given out for practicing 14 days in a row, and the silver level for 25 days in a row.  I can provide a calendar to track if students are interested in trying to achieve this badge.

Piano lesson badges

Students will continue collecting these through the new year, and will be able to take their sheets home in June.  If you would like to see all the badges you child has earned, pop into the studio and take a look!  I also have a full list of all badges available – parents are welcome to stop by during the lesson and take a look at this list.

It takes a lot of hard work and practice to learn to play the piano or clarinet!  These badges are a great way of celebrating all the different accomplishments students achieve during their lessons.  I’m looking forward to seeing all the badges students achieve this year!

November Composition Project 2017

For November, students are working on compositions!  This is a great month to work on this as it’s also National Novel Writing Month – a nice time of year to create new things!  We’re composing using a variety of methods.  Some students are writing their songs out by hand and others are beginning by putting songs they’ve already finished into Musscore, a notation program.  Students who are writing them out by hand will get help from me to input them into the computer, so at the end of this process, all will have a typewritten copy of the music they have made.

A handwritten composition

We’re writing compositions using a variety of methods.  Some students are using dice and the composition wheel on my “Decide Now” app to help them write.  (Composers of modern music call this ‘aleatoric’ music – there’s a cool word you can use in conversation!)  We’ve also composed by selecting a rhythm and inventing a melody to suit it.  A few students are composing songs by ear at home, so they are at the stage of typing them up.  We do this in lesson – it’s a great way for students to see how notation works and to learn more about notes and rhythms.

It’s been fun to hear all the interesting compositions students come up with – we’ll continue to work on these throughout the month of November and into December.

Spring Recital 2017

The studio’s spring recital was today. It was a fun concert! Students celebrated all their hard work practicing this year by playing some of their favorite music.  Puffy the puffin enjoyed hearing everyone’s lovely playing.  He had the front seat in the house – right on the piano!

Puffy the Puffin at the piano

Performances included pieces for solo piano, piano duets, and a few pieces for clarinet and piano.  It was one student’s birthday, so a student and I played Happy Birthday to finish off the concert.
A ‘food bank reception’ followed the concert.  Instead of eating food ourselves, we collected non-perishable food items for the Saskatoon Food Bank.  Brainy came along to help with collecting the food.  He was really proud of everyone for all the food they brought!

Brainy, Puffy, and food for the foodbank
Students stayed after the concert to play some music games. It was a fun way to end the concert. Thanks to everyone who came out to listen!  The students appreciate your support.

MTNA 2017

I recently returned from the MTNA/CFMTA conference in Baltimore.  It was a lot of fun!  I saw a lot of great speakers, listened to some awesome music.  I am looking forward to using some of the great ideas I heard in my teaching!

Puffy admiring a view of Baltimore

Puffy the puffin, my travel buddy, admiring the view from our hotel room.

The first night featured a concert by comedic duo Igudesman & Joo (they’ve got a youtube channel).  It was a hilarious concert.

The next couple of days featured masterclasses, interesting talks from a wide variety of teachers, and an exhibition.  There was a lot to see there, too, including sheet music, pianos, piano technicians, and more.

Puffy the puffin at a piano

Puffy the puffin saw lots of cool stuff at the conference!