It’s the most wonderful time of the year … except when it isn’t

Years ago, I was a junior high teacher at a special needs school. It came with lots of joy when a student would have a breakthrough behaviourally, developmentally, or academically. But, it also came with its challenges.

While most students eagerly await winter break & the change in routine, for many special needs students this can be a time of stress. At the school, we always knew that December & June were going to be tough months for both students & teachers. For students, the upcoming change in routine tended to lead to anxiety, more frustration with routine tasks, & a big focus on what the new routine over the holidays would be. For teachers, it required a lot more patience & an eagle eye as we did our best to keep things from escalating. How do we help our piano students transition to the upcoming winter break?

Top 4 Tips to Keep Students Engaged All Music Lesson

This is the question EVERY teacher would love to hear at the end of each lesson. After all, a student who feels lesson flies by is much more likely to continue taking lessons & even tell their friends about how awesome piano is. Sure it can get a bit awkward when you get to listen to the following conversation.

Rhythm Warm-Ups That Get Students Off the Bench

With the end of the year just around the corner (or so it seems), many of our students will be getting a bit wiggly on the bench, perhaps a bit teary-eyed at staying inside on a sunny day, and in general wanting to do something just a little bit different.

One of the favourite warm-up activities we did in my studio this year was rhythm warm-ups. I wanted my students to feel a steady pulse as they played piano, but I also wanted them to improvise with rhythms so when they saw them in their music it was easier to recognize. I wanted a warm-up that kind of did it all. This week, I am sharing the warm-up with you!

Don’t Fight the Lure of Outside

‘Tis the season for final school projects and tests, outdoor sports, mosquitoes, and trying to convince the kids there is a reason to give full effort until the last day of lessons.  It can feel a little like herding cats … in a room full of rocking chairs.  Don’t fight the lure of outside!  Let’s take lessons from the piano to where students want to be and give them the change of pace they are craving.

Celebrating Small Wins

We are heading into our 6th month of winter and I’ll admit some days it can be difficult to remember the positives.  How do we make sure we continue to celebrate those small wins that make lessons so rewarding?

How To Set Up a Note-Reading Challenge

We want our students to love playing music!  And, we don’t want them to be stuck figuring out the basics for Every. Single. Sound.  It’s annoying.  It’s frustrating.  And, that goes for both student and teacher.  So, how can we help them move beyond the basics?

End of Year Student Gifts (That Don't Break the Bank)

This month has been all about getting ready for recital season & part of that may be giving gifts to your students or families. There is something about giving families a thoughtful present that lets them know how much they are appreciated.
But with all the tasks involved in putting on a recital (let alone helping students prepare their repertoire beforehand), combined with end of year assessments/reviews, & keeping students engaged when they are more likely wanting to be outside … well, those gifts may just seem like more work than they are worth.
Here is a list of ideas that are homemade & look like you spent days & days prepping Martha Stewart-style … but in reality you only invested a couple hours.

Practice Challenge During Spring Break? Yes. Really.

We all know that practice tends to drop off during vacation times. Between family trips & a more relaxed home schedule, piano practice tends to fall through the cracks. I used to exhort my students to continue practicing over school holidays so that they could “keep up their progress”. When we got back to lesson, I typically got a long list of reasons why the student had not practiced over the break.
Rather than continuing to stress about the practice or lay the blame game, I decided to do something different. Hold a studio challenge!