getting onto the practice wagon
I've been hearing from parents lately about their child not really getting into practice and if I have suggestions. I do!!
#1: Try and make practice part of the schedule. It could be the same time each day or just part of the daily flow. Do you usually eat dinner around the same time each night? When whoever is cooking, maybe that's the time to remind your student to go practice! Or, maybe it's in the middle of homework and your student needs a break. Physically get up from homework (at the proper stopping point) and switching that part of the brain off to work on practice helps tremendously. Not only will practice be a welcome thought, but also when practice is done, your student will be ready and fresh again for homework! If your evenings are crazy, how about practice first thing in the morning before jetting off to school?
#2: Remember WHY you are doing this! Why do you feel music is good for your student? If there's no practice (or very little) your student is going to get discouraged. Keep the momentum going at the beginning establishes that habit of practice. Even if it's only for 5 minutes. I often think getting TO the instrument is the hardest part. It's kind of like working out, once you get to your mat or to the gym, you feel better working out! Just get to your instrument- make the effort, and the rewards will show themselves.
#3: Need a little incentive? This is part of the reason we begin Music Ball when we do!! (we are kinda smart sometimes). We like to wait a few weeks in and then throw in the super fun, competitive game of Music Ball. Students are put on teams according to their teacher and then we "play" against each other. Honestly, all you will have to say at home is "How's your team doing?", "Make sure you mark your practice so your teacher can see it!" , and I promise your student might go running to their instrument!! Then, check out the weekly newsletter each week- save the URL for Music Ball (only available to students) and check in on it at the beginning of each week. Viola! You're golden! Bonus point for not even saying "go practice!".
the thing you do to make you good
So, you've got your child in music lessons and now, you've got to figure out practice. Why? Well, they can't learn to play an instrument only by attending lessons. Practice is a must. I know, it's hard to fit in. I get it. I struggle with my kids every day, every week, and they are older! So, here are some pointers on how to get in practice.
Once practice becomes part of the schedule, then it just gets easier and even more fun! Of course, we as teachers are always rewarding our students for practice with music bucks, contests, music ball, and honor roll. But the real fun, honestly, comes when they are confident & learning more repertoire! For more fun practice pointers, check out an past blog from the Old Pro.
Happy practicing!! Let us know what works for you!
let's have a fun contest!
Whenever I teach a student a new song, one of the first things we do is figure out what the starting notes are in each of our hands. I always point to the note and ask “What letter is this?” At first, I might get a blank stare, then I say, “Remember the silly thing I say to remember the lines and/or spaces or treble/bass clef?”. Those little funny mnemonic phrases really help my students to remember those letters!
How do I remember the spaces of treble clef? They spell FACE. That one most kids remember.
How do I remember the lines of treble clef? EGBDF, or Every Good Boy Does Fine. Now, sometimes my girl students don’t like this one, so we try to come up with something else. For a while, I used Every Good Boy Deserves Fortnight. I was cool with the kids then.
How do I remember the spaces of bass clef? ACEG, or All Cows Eat Grass. This one is not only silly, but also factual! I have also used All Cars Eat Gas, but that one isn’t as silly.
How do I remember the lines of bass clef? GBDFA, or George Bush Dances For America. I learned this one from my piano teacher growing up and it stuck with me, most likely because George W. Bush was president at the time. But now, kids have asked me “What is a george bush?” I felt OLD. So I came up with a new one, Good Burritos Don’t Fall Apart. Again, silly but true! This one has been a big hit with my students recently!
So, all of these mnemonic devices got me thinking, our students could probably come up with some amazing ways to remember the note names on the staff. So we should have a little contest! We are calling all students to submit their favorite way to remember the lines and spaces, or come up with a fun one themselves! Prizes will be awarded!
Treble Spaces: FACE
Treble Lines: EGBDF
Bass Spaces: ACEG
Bass Lines: GBDFA
ENTRY DEADLINE WAS OCTOBER 24, 2020
Here are our winners:
Bass Lines: GBDFA: Grannies Boogie Down Fifth Avenue!
Bass Spaces: ACEG: All Crepes Equal Great
Treble Spaces: FACE: free armadillos cross expressways
Treble Lines: EGBDF: each gamer boy dies fiercly
We have started using an app to help our students with their practice. And, we want to help you get started!
Once you receive an email, it will look like this:
Log in by using an email address and the studio code.
For families with more than one student, the options are:
Once you get logged in, you will be taken on a tour of the app. Below are screenshots of the tour.
If you have questions, please let us know. We hope this will be motivating and a great practice tool to use.
music practice as self-care
These are stressful times...unprecedented...uncharted… You have heard these terms ad nauseum in the past several months. We have been forced to learn more technology than ever before-as students, teachers, parents, and families. We are living through a pandemic and social unrest. We have been separated from friends and family. Our normal way of life has been put on hold
Here you are, at the beginning of a new school year, starting music lessons in the midst of the chaos; adding more to your already overflowing plates.
Why did you decide that this was a good idea?
I submit to you that you know something on a deep and visceral level. You understand that across cultures and across eras, music is the thing that connects all of humanity. You understand that in all times, but especially during difficult times, music practice is self-care.
To be sure, it is not to be taken lightly; to get good at anything, one must put forth effort and dedicate time to the study of an instrument. But, the creative process in general and music study specifically, affects our brains and our whole being. “Music”, as Oliver Sacks writes in Musicophillia: Tales of Music and the Brain, “is part of being human.”
Certainly listening to music for the purpose of affecting or reflecting our mood is not a groundbreaking idea. However, learning a musical instrument can be even more beneficial than passively consuming music. In addition to increasing cognitive functioning, memory, and focus, learning an instrument, increases dopamine, the “feel good” hormone. And couldn’t we all use more of that these days?
So, when it is time to practice your instrument each day, don’t think of it as yet another duty to check off your to-do list. Instead, recognize it as a gift to yourself. Taking moments out of each day to tap into that which connects us to all of humanity is the highest form of self-care. In a time when connection may seem hard to achieve, let music be the glue that connects you to our human family.
Take good care.
Williams, Amanda. (August 20, 2018) Stop. Pause. Play-Using Music for Self-Care. https://www.tendacademy.ca/using-music-self-care/
music lessons in a divorced family
The topic of divorce has been close to my heart in this past year as I have witnessed it first hand with my sister. However good or bad the situation is, the main goal is to keep our children in music lessons with a trusted teacher. It can be healing, beneficial in its consistency, and an escape for the child.
As I have watched my niece go back and forth to the different households, I have made note of some of the things that are helpful in her piano lessons. In addition, I have reached out to teachers and other divorced parents to ask about their tips and tricks. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to comment or send me a note!
All about our May Awards
Our May Awards Recital is always something we all look forward to at the end of each school year! Due to the circumstances, our May recital this year looks a little different: instead of performing for a live audience, our students are submitting a recorded video of themselves performing at home. They have been working so hard on their recital pieces, and we wanted to give them a chance to still perform in the safest way we could. We will be putting together the videos to make virtual recitals and sending them out to all of our families!
At the end of the May recital, we call up students one by one and present them their bag of yearly awards. Most families head home with their awards, but don’t always understand what they are for or how their child earned them. So I thought this blog would be a great way to explain all the different types of awards students can earn!
Our last category of awards has to do with how long a student has been studying their instrument. Awards start at half a year of study all the way through their senior year.
Our intention is never to hurt anyone’s feelings if they didn’t receive many awards. We know how challenging it is to earn some of these, and we feel that students who achieve them should be recognized and celebrated. Reflecting on the quality of a student’s work is a valuable lesson no matter the outcome because it shows them how far they’ve come in the last 9 months, and shows them what could be improved so that they earn a certain award next year. We think awards are the perfect way to end the school year, and we really are so proud of all of our students!
What to do during the break?
So, as we approach the holiday break and are off for 2 weeks, you might just be wondering what your child should do for practice. We like to make it simple and easy. Honestly, we ALL need a break, so take it! Enjoy the family time and the down time. But don’t completely abandon your instrument. Here are some ideas:
Enjoy your break and we will see you ready to hit the ground running!! Merry Christmas and Happy 2017!
A time for new year resolutions
With 2016 coming to an end, this time of year is a time of reflection, pride, and setting goals for 2017. In the past 6 months, we’ve come a long way: preparation to open this studio, launching it in June 2016, growing and adding a new teacher in the fall, and then capping it off with wonderful holiday recitals. It’s easy to say that 2016 has been pretty stellar! We are excited to share with you in this week’s blog some of the goals we have for next year.
Our first goal in January is to hire another piano teacher. We’ve just announced the job opening on social media, so we’d love it if our followers could also help us spread the word! Currently, we have 10 students on a waiting list, and we are definitely growing fast. Please see our job posting on indeed.com if you or anyone you know would be interested in joining the Music SO Simple team!
Another major goal for us next year is to find a studio space. We are still deciding where the best location would be for us to grow, and will most likely commit to a location in the spring so that we can have summer programming. This is one of the most exciting changes we hope for next year, so stay tuned via our Facebook Page for more details!
We would also love to start developing our early childhood programming once we have a space to call our own. We are planning to provide parent/child music classes for babies and toddlers, preschool music classes, and beginner’s group classes for piano and guitar.
And lastly, we’d love to keep growing in our private student list. We cannot express our appreciation enough to our families who have passed our names onto friends looking for lessons. There’s an added bonus for them too: they receive one free lesson for each new student they bring to us! Our ultimate goal is to provide quality music lessons and to help our families build a love of music.
Need a little motivation?
We all need a little motivation to work towards long-term goals, regardless of our age. For our students, we decided to continue a little incentive that I started quite a few years ago called Piano Bucks.
The idea began around 2003 when I attended one of my first national conventions. I remember seeing music money being sold at one of the vendor booths and thinking that I could design something like that myself! When I got back, I designed a printed my own little “bucks” and rewarded my private students with them every time they did something great! It could have been answering a question, or working extra hard on a piece, or completing their theory work. These bucks became so popular with my private students that they began telling my (at the time) group students about them- which then led me to give them to my group classes.
Once my students started earning bucks, they had to spend them! So, I came up with prizes for the students to buy; of course, they loved that! A prize box is brought to lesson at the end of every month. This really helps students to not get distracted every single lesson wondering what they can buy, and it also forces them to save a little too! Being able to visit the prize box each month gives them even more incentive to earn bucks because they see things that they want to buy! So, the student goes home and plans to practice every single day till their next lesson! The day of music buck prize box, students are always so proud of what they can buy and what they earned.
Upon creating Music SO Simple, I really wanted to keep the piano buck tradition that my students loved so much. So, since we added voice to the mix, we decided to call the “music bucks” instead. Our students love music bucks- they help motivate our students to practice, officially making it a habit. We also use them as a reward for learning festival/recital pieces, memorization, and performances. In addition, we give them as gifts for Christmas, when they are chose for student of the week, and birthdays. Music Bucks are seriously a win-win! It’s not rocket science- it just works!