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Celebrating Small Wins

In Canada, one of our national pastimes is talking about the weather.  And, it hasn’t been positive talk lately, especially with the latest snowfall warning from last night.  We are heading into our 6th month of winter & I’ll admit some days it can be difficult to remember the positives.  It’s something I’ve noticed in myself, my students, & well, from just about everyone I’ve encountered lately.

But, it actually has been a really great month! I was able to:

  • Give my studio website a much needed overhaul so now there is a clear journey for visitors to the site with lots of fun pictures to look at.
  • Celebrate my 10 year anniversary with my husband with a long weekend together sans kids.
  • Enjoy having the sun come out early & stay out later each day … The sun is up before school & I can usually get at least part of my evening teaching with some sunlight.
  • Finish a big project (more on that in the upcoming weeks).
  • See many of my students have small & big wins during lessons!

When life gives us dark, snowy days & nights (or lemons) …

Teaching is for the long-haul. I feel that, as teachers, when we focus either how a particular lesson went or on how far our students “have” to go, we can miss out on so many great moments!  We need to find those small wins … & celebrate them just as much the big wins.

For example, one of my little ones did not want to start his lesson last week. He was done for the day & that was that. Thankfully, his mom & I worked well together in getting him over to the piano … eventually.

This week, I had another student who didn’t do what she was supposed to during lesson. She had only partly read her lab assignment which led to completing the wrong tasks & then struggled with basics in her songs during our time at the piano. We reviewed the tools we had put in place (ie. keyboard showing notes in the song & colour-coded melody direction) and I guided her (once again) through the process of using those tools. But, it wasn’t necessarily the most uplifting of lessons.

Enjoy the moments when the sun is out & the snow glitters (or just make lemonade) …

Remember my little one that didn’t want to start his piano lesson?  Rather than focus on how lesson had started I said, “We are going to do our Wunderbie finger rhymes. Come join me on the floor.”

Imagine my delight when he immediately came over, plunked himself down on my lap & snuggled in close. (I wouldn’t recommend this unless the student initiates, the parent is okay with it & is also in the room.) What made this all the more unique is that he can experience sensory overload &, especially when that happens, can be rigid in his thinking. We had a great time doing our finger rhymes & I praised how well he was doing. His finger dexterity had really improved from the previous week! While we didn’t cover everything I had planned, he was able to do several activities before enough was enough again. What had started off as a rough lesson became one of my favourites of the day!

And my student that had trouble with her lab time & using tools we had already gone through many times? Not only did she complete Muscle Builders: Book 1 after many months of practice (a big win), but she did fantastic with the first part of her new recital piece.

I made a big deal about both things & told her mom about it at the end of lesson. Does she need to be more proactive & independent in her practice? Sure. But, she is going into this week with a review of those skills, sheis excited about the start on one of her recital pieces (complete with photo & video help) AND we celebrated a big accomplishment!

The perfect recipe for a snowy day …

Today, we are expected to have 10 cm of snow.  I am profoundly thankful I can leave the city to clear the streets & stay in our warm home.

And, for dinner?  I’m thinking we all could do with a big bowl of smoky tomato lentil soup & fresh baked olive oil bread spread with homemade hummus that E & I made a couple days ago. (E is one of our twins)

Soup in general is always a big hit for our family & I have a feeling there may not be any bread left for tomorrow.  Plus, I have a feeling my husband will be happy when he finally gets home after work to get a warm meal to thaw out.

And, if you are fortunate to be having summer right now?  This is the lemonade recipe that our family loves!

  1. Bring a 1/2 cup of lemon juice & 1/2 cup of sugar to a boil.  Stir or whisk to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Take off the heat & let it cool.  If you would like, add fragrant herbs to the mixture.  (The twins are big fans of chamomile or mint.)
  3. Add the concentrate to a pitcher with cold water.  Adjust water to taste.

What can I say?  I love food & especially love how it can take a day from crummy to wonderful!

Remind ourselves & our students of how beautiful things really are.

Sometimes, it can get easy to get bogged down in lessons & miss those beautiful moments.  I know that I’ve been guilty of it in the past.

We can miss when a student, without prompting:

  • Remembers to get their books, pencil & binder ready at the piano
  • Plays their scale with drama (instead of like a robot)
  • Adds something new to a song AND is able to let you know why it was added
  • Sits up straight at the bench
  • Plays with curved fingers & strong fingertips
  • Understands & can show the pattern in a song or part of their technique
  • Uses the tools we went through in lesson during their practice

These are all small things that are so easy to miss.  Even when a student has struggled with them in the past.  And yet I would argue that those small wins may be just what our students (& their parents) need to hear the most so they stay excited about lessons.

What was a small win for either you or a student this week?

Please share in the comments section below.  I would love to celebrate with you!

And, as always, have a great weekend!

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