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

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!

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!

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.

 

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.)

“Take Chances. Make Mistakes. Get Messy!”

Can you guess who said this quote? It was a character in one of my favorite series of books: The Magic School Bus. I can still hear Mrs. Frizzle’s, from the cartoon, saying these words. Mrs. Frizzle’s advice is as good for music students as it was for her class.

Take chances.   Musicians have to take lots of chances. A complete list would be very long! Performing, playing from memory, sight reading, duet playing are all common ways of taking chances. The great thing is, musicians of all ages have other kinds of chances, too. We have the chance to connect with others by sharing  our music with our families and friends or even strangers.  Music is a chance to connect with the community.

Make Mistakes. Mistakes happen. Everyone makes mistakes, even in performances. The best mistake is one that we can hear. If students recognize their mistakes, then they are one step closer to fixing them. Being able to identify and fix trouble spots is an important skill. It’s always okay to make mistakes, especially if we can learn something from them.   Mistakes are experiments, and experiments teach us about the world.

Get messy! Getting messy is important to practice and discovery. Perhaps one student’s way of getting messy is to improvise. Another might like to try playing by ear. Playing duets, performing for others, composing… there are so many great ways to ‘get messy’ as a music student. All of it is part of the fun!  Students who get messy in these ways are showing their enthusiasm for the instrument, and learning new skills in the process.

The Magic School Bus is a wonderful series because it was so much fun.  Mrs. Frizzle’s words reflect the enjoyment that can be found in the learning process.

Spring practicing advice

Spring is here, and that means lots of musical events for students!  It can be a tricky time of year to find practice time, so here are a few tips to help students keep up the hard work work as Music Festival and exams get closer.

A regular schedule

A great way to make sure practicing happens regularly is to have a special time of day set aside, and to use the same time all practicing days of the week.  If we know that a particular time of day is especially for music, that can make it easier to do.

Practice often

Practicing a little every day (I recommend at least five days a week) is another great way.  Even if you only have five minutes, that’s enough time to practice some technique, work on a tricky passage, or practice perform a piece.  Being consistent about playing every day is really helpful, and keeps memories from lesson and previous practice sessions fresh.

A little help from my friends (or parents)

Having someone there can be helpful.  Parents can get involved by being around when the child is practicing, so they feel less isolated.  Positive reinforcement is best encouragement.  Do not use practicing as a punishment for other activities in their lives.  Let them know you appreciate the hard work they do when they practice.  Sit in on a pretend  performance, and get other supportive family members to do the same.

Keep an eye on the blog, and your emails, for updates.  Happy March everyone!