Brainy’s Practicing Challenge 2016

This was the second year for Brainy the Octopus’s practicing challenge.  This ran for three weeks.  Each week, students were challenged to play one of their pieces eight times.  If they met the challenge, brainy collected a penny.  At the end of the three weeks, all pennies were tallied and the total number of pennies – 40 – was converted into loonies.

 

Brainy at the Bank

Brainy gets very good exchange rates.

Parents were also invited to match donations, and many did, so the total amount brainy had to spend on food bank food was 78 dollars.  Wow!  Brainy took a lot of selfies, so students got to see the entirety of his trip in the studio this week.  It was a fun way to show them the results of their hard work!

Brainy says thanks

Brainy and friends thank the studio’s students.

Brainy is grateful to all the studio’s students for working so hard during the challenge, and is grateful to the parents for supporting their students with their donations.

 

Winter Recital 2016

This afternoon the studio had it’s winter recital for 2016.  Students  worked hard and did a lot of practicing – thanks to everyone for sharing their music!

A lot of preparation is involved in learning recital music.  Practicing pieces to learn notes, rhythm, and dynamics (and all the rest) is the first step, but as recitals get closer, students start getting used to performing.  Playing for family, recording themselves, and doing a practice run through are some ways.  In the studio, students rehearsed their pieces for Rudolph, who was an enthusiastic audience member.  He did a great job helping students remember to bow.

Rudolph the Reindeer

 

At today’s recital, students performed a number of solo pieces and some ensemble pieces.  There were a few piano duets, a piano and clarinet piece, a piano and clarinet quartet, and a piano and violin duo.  One student played a piece she composed herself, which was really fun to hear.  We finished up the concert with everyone playing ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ together – some on piano, and many on various percussion instruments.

Thanks everyone for taking part – the residents at Stensrud Lodge undoubtedly enjoyed the music, and it’s a fun way to celebrate all the pieces students have learned so far this term!

Brainy, Puffy, and Concert Programs

Composing for NaNoWriMo

This year in the studio we worked on composing music during the month of November.  November seemed a great time to do this as it’s also National Novel Writing Month.  Thus, it seemed like a good time of year to be working on a musical kind of composing!  All students worked on writing pieces, and after November finished, I typed them up in a music notation program.  Since then, we’ve been adding and editing what we’d written so far.  it was a lot of fun, and was a great opportunity for students to try their hand at creating their own music!

Staff paper and Pen

 

Musical Passports

If you’re following the Studio on our Facebook Page, you’ll know we’ve been doing a new activity in the studio this year – musical passports!  We’ve been visiting different countries as a part of our musical travels this year.

So far, we’ve visited: Japan, Germany and Austria, and North and South Sudan.  Most of the countries covered so far (and those on the list for upcoming weeks) were requests by students.  It’s been fun to listen to music from other places, and interesting to see what countries students request!

Musical Passports

Spring wrap-up

It was a fun year in the studio!  We started the year with Composer Elections, and in December, we had a practicing challenge.  Brainy the octopus collected food for the food bank for every selection played 8 times during the week.  Students have taken part in the Saskatoon Music Festival, RCM examinations, and studio events.

We had a variety of recitals, including students-only mini-recitals, a visit to a retirement home, and wrapped the year up with the spring recital.  Everyone played well, and I enjoyed hearing the progress students made over the year.

We also collected food for the food bank at our spring recital.  Thanks everyone who brought something.

 

Food bank donations

 

I was involved in a some fun performances this year.   I played with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra a few times.  The Bugs Bunny at the Symphony concert was really neat.  The music was tricky, but it was great playing along with cartoons.  I also took part in the Klarinet Kerfuffle.  It was a fun day with clarinettists of all ages taking part.  I enjoyed getting to perform as well as teach a few clinics.

I’m looking forward to another fun year of music making come fall!

 

 

Brainy’s Practicing Challenge

Starting in November, Students had to complete a practicing challenge.  The mascot of our challenge was Brainy the octopus.  As such, students were given one challenge a week.  During the week, they had to complete this challenge 8 times.  Challenges included: playing a piece 8 times, doing 8 pages of theory, and sight reading 8 pieces.  For each week students completed this challenge, they earned a penny.

Brainy the Octopus

This is brainy collecting the pennies.

Students were given 3 challenges each, and reported their results at the end of the week.  Over the course of the challenge, students earned 29 pennies.  At the end of the challenge, the pennies were exchanged for loonies at the Stuffie Bank, meaning Brainy had 29 dollars to donate to the food bank.

Brainy says thanks!

Brainy’s proud of everyone who tried their best to complete their challenges!

Brainy took photos of his entire shopping trip.  Results were announced at our Christmas Recital on December the 19th, where students also got to see photos from Brainy’s shopping trip.  (If you’d like to see the entire trip, all the photos have been uploaded to the studio’s Facebook Page.)

Inside the piano

Piano Strings

This week in the studio, we’ve been exploring inside the piano!

As studio members will know, I’m currently taking care of Gustin House’s wonderful Knabe.  (I looked up its serial number on the internet, it looks like it was built in 1914.)  The piano tuner came to replace a string (C3, or the C below middle C).  Since strings come in pairs, he put in a set,  This means I had one of the old strings left over after to show to students.

We looked inside the piano and explored the mechanics of the piano.  The string replaced was one of the lover notes, one of the ones wrapped in copper wire.  Also, we had an example of a hammer and some dampers.  It was fun to learn a little bit at the piano mechanics.  Exploring the mystery of how a piano works has been an fun activity for students in lessons this week!

Composer Elections

This year in the studio, we had composer elections. This was a fun way to learn a little about music history whilst celebrating the fun of voting!
Election Posters

As you can see, there were four parties running this year.  They were:

  • the Baroque party – leader, J. S. Bach
  • Classical party – leader Franz Joseph Haydn
  • Romantic party – leader Ludwig van Beethoven (who crossed the floor from the Classical party)
  • Modern party – leader Claude Debussy

To learn about these parties, we kept track of all the pieces played by students, listing them by era.  We checked out some books of historical instruments, historical dress, and made timelines featuring musical and-non musical facts.  We also listened to some music from these composers.

Composer Election Ballots

Voting ended on the 19th of October, and here are the results:

  • Baroque party: 20%
  • Classical party: 10%
  • Romantic party: 40%
  • Modern Party 30%

91% of eligible voters cast a vote.  We celebrated the end of elections with a mini recital, playing pieces from various eras and finishing with some music/music history games.  Thanks to all my students for participating.  This was a fun way to start the year, and a great way for students to get to know the history of the music they play a little better.