MTNA Conference; Monday, March 23, 2015: Piano Adventures at the Intermediate Level

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In this showcase Randy Faber went through the 2nd editions of levels 3A and 3B. I was a little late getting to this session, but wanted to share a few quotes as I know many of you use Piano Adventures in your studio. Randy mentioned that in the 2nd edition the books are tied in tighter together.IMG_4787

On Technique:

“Use the rotation to get where you are going.”

“Be clear on gestures: Forearm rotation, wrist circles”

“First exaggerate the circles (etc) then trim down.”

“Taller knuckles and duck bill (closed hand) approach as students move into intermediate pieces.”

(Duck bill approach= put hands out, cup them with all fingers and thumb touching. Turn over hand.)

“Finger muscles are not efficient, finger coordination is better. Use 3 sources of power: Arm weight, core- rotation, back muscles. Use the sources of nature.”

On Sight-reading:

“Controlled environments with similarities.”

“Use the books not just simply sight-reading but applying the technique secrets.”

“Smart thinking of decoding is from chunking.”

At the end of the presentation he shared the Piano Adventures will be coming out with a new app soon called Piano Adventures Player app. This app will have the entire midi library built in.

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$3 Thursday!

Does this look familiar…?

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.35.33 PMYou were able to download a sample pack of it last month in the MIOSM rhythm book! But for TODAY only you can own the COMPLETE pack for only $3.00. That’s half off!

A bunch of music teachers are joining together and doing a one day sale for some $3 Thursday deals. Just search $3ThursdayMusicFlashSale on TpT to see all the deals!

Be sure to take advantage of the Complete Rhythm Clap Backs Pack for half off as this deal won’t happen again. This is a great pack to use in a group lesson, workshop, bring a friend day, centers and more!

The complete pack includes 20 rhythm slides/cards, 4 rhythm notation worksheets and a memory game! If you like the complete pack, you may want to also look at the I Have You Have Rhythm Clap back game.

Now let’s get clapping! Click the pictures above or below and enjoy!

$3 Thursday

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ASMTA Conference- Coming Soon!

The Arizona State Music Teachers Conference is coming the May 28-30, 2015! Ever wanted to come to Arizona? You should! Did you know that all the ASMTA conference info on my blog? You can find it on this page. I update as new information comes in!

I’m really excited about this conference. There a lot of GREAT presentations in store. Our theme this year is…



Jeremy Siskind is the concert artist and will also be presenting a couple sessions.

Arizona attorney, Susan Dallimore, Esq. will also be speaking to us about the Antitrust for Music Teachers after the FTC v. MTNA. This should be an informative presentation.

Though the theme is Jazz it Up, there are many other presentation topics that will interest all. I personally will be presenting on Engaged Learning. I’m super excited to share this presentation as it should be beneficial for all.

You can see the list of presenters and the current schedule (this will be updated again soon) and much more here. Hope you can make it!

MTNA Conference; Monday, March 23, 2015: Fueling the Flame- Strategies for Preventing Teacher Burnout

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Martha Fischer was a hoot to listen to. Poor lady, she started off with tech issues but all ended up well and she made what could have been a very stressful situation for a presenter (I totally empathized as I have had first hand experience with this) and turned it into humor. The thing I liked most about this session is how engaging she was. She wanted to hear what worked in other teachers studios and many teachers were more than willing to share!IMG_4791

Preventing burnout is always a hot topic because most of us at one time or another will experience this on varying levels and degrees. The

Martha begins by saying, when in a helping profession, burnout happens often. Your vital flame and energies are distinguished because of lack of fuel.

Are you burning more fuel than receiving?

Are you stuck in a routine? Not feeling valued? Feeling powerless to change? Creative energy is drying up? Work no longer feeds you?

There are many symptom’s to burnout varying from physical and psychological symptoms (depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, digestive…)

Moslac burnout inventory (see handout for website)


3 dimensions of burnout:

-Emotional exhaustion


-Negative personal accomplishment


Excerpt online tool to help access where you are… (link on handout)

(personal not scientific)


Prevention and Cure for Burnout

Self care- move, (exercise…), eat well, stay hydrated, get together with friends, pamper yourself once in a while, (be intentional- do it as an act of self care), attend to your emotional health.

Address emotional problems, learn the power of “No”, embrace the power of “yes”, enjoy doing nothing once in a while, participate in the JOY of the music.

Don’t be afraid of getting professional help.

You have choices even when it may feel like you don’t.

When your instincts call you to do something, then do it.

When we are constantly doing, we don’t have time for reflecting, dreaming, creative thinking… Make the time!

Elevated playtime. (her husband measures a lesson if he and a student had a good laugh)

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way on purpose in the present moment and nonjudgmentally”. Jon Kabat-Zinn

Point- so many things we go through in our daily life that is mindless, the more we can be mindful, the more richness we are enjoying in our lives.

Interesting statistic: The average person takes in as much as 5 times as we did in 1996.

Task positive- engaged in task; Task negative- mind wondering. These cannot work at the same time.


Organize the Mind-

Partition our day into project periods (certain times of day)

Avoid multi-tasking and immerse in a task for sustained periods of time 30-50min.)

Allow time for daydreaming

Take a nap (even 10 min. does wonders) (I can personally vouch for this one!)

“Daydreaming leads to creativity, creative activity teach us agency…” Daniel….(missed the last name)


Professional development and validation

Ongoing reflection is a philosophy of teaching.

Join organizations

Professional business practices- studio policy

Promote achievements of your students and others

Fees should reflect your experience (under charging devalues your worth which is a sure way to burnout)


Ways to keep the flame burning bright

Remain a student (don’t pretend you know everything)

Nurture your own musical growth

Be an Arts advocate

Brainstorm with Peers


By the way I found this burnout self-test if you are curious where your burn out level is at right now. Click here.

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MTNA Conference; Sunday, March 22, 2015: Teaching Performance Skills

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Gerald Klickstein is the author of The Musician’s Way; A Guide to Practice Performance and Wellness and has a very informative website that has some free resources you can download and use. Click here.  (The Musician’s Way). You can like his Facebook here.


Gerald begins his presentation by telling us that we are performing when there are stakes involved in how well we perform.

There are 3 main skill sets in our performances.

Personal- success resulting from effort

Task-related- automated recall is effected by stress

Situational- can be unsettling if we are not ready

I love this quote “If we don’t teach performance skills are we teaching performance anxiety?”

Think about that a little more. If we just tell our students they have to participate in a recital, but give them no direction in how to perform, expectations or preparation how would they feel? How would you feel? My stomach would be in knots for sure. I personally like to know as much as possible before I do anything new and I’m sure most of our students are like that.

“The more we do, the less it affects them…”

With my mandatory recital I like to hold rehearsals the week of the recital in lieu of regular lessons. This gives us a chance to remind them (or teach them if they are new in the studio) of recital preparedness, etiquette, going up to the piano, bowing… literally go through the whole process of what to do and expect that day. Most of the time I don’t have the opportunity to hold the rehearsal at the recital location, so we do our best to imagine the stage and pretend to walk up the steps, etc…

Another thing that stood out to me in this particular presentation is this…

“If it’s something they are going to perform- it needs to be highly accessible (learned in a week) so we can concentrate on performance skills.”

I think I can count on one hand how many of my students chose a piece they can learn in a week. Matter of fact, if they did usually they ask for a harder one because it was too easy. But Gerald suggests that it SHOULD be easy enough to learn in a week so we can fully concentrate on performance skills. “Accessible music promotes deep learning and facilitates artistic expression.”

Curious, what do you think?

What kinds of things do you do to teach your students performance skills?

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2015 Summer Camp Plans

It’s that time of year! Time to prepare for summer! As most of you know I like to hold summer camp in my studio. It has created a win-win solution in my studio and allows both teacher and students a much needed break.

I’m really excited about our summer camp this year as I’m focusing a lot on performance. This is the flyer my families have received about camp…

2015 Summer CampI thought I would share a little more what we are doing in case you are looking for some ideas.

Years ago I did a conducting and accompanying basics camp. I decided it was time to revive this one so I’ve been putting the polishing touches on and am happy to announce that I just added Group Made Fun: Accompanying Basics in my store so it is now available along with Conducting Basics!

If you are doing a summer camp or workshop, I would highly recommend combing both Accompanying Basics and Conducting Basics in the camp as they both blend together quite nicely. To give you an added incentive to include both, I have discounted both of these Group Made Fun packets as a bundled price (Normally they are $12 each, but now $10 each) through the end of the month! You can view complete descriptions and some sample pages on each page. Click on pictures below.

Group Made Fun Accompanying Basics Cover Page

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Okay, back on track…

In Conducting Basics students will learn the basics of conducting (the file includes conducting posters), tips and tricks and of course lots of hands on experience. Do you have a Wii? Purchase Wii Music and use the Open Orchestra, found in the Jam Mode. Players will use the Wii Remote as a baton to conduct an orchestra. FUN!  I have a fun snack and craft in store as well for them. I always like to have some kind of snack and craft to break the camp up a bit.

In Accompanying Basics students will have hands on activities learning how to accompany soloists, choirs, stories/poems, instrumental and dance. They will learn page turning tips, the Be-Attitudes of Accompanying (includes teacher guide) and of course a fun craft and snack!


I wanted to do more because I really wanted to focus on ALL things performance. So we are going to really dive into Technique Secrets and making our Performances POP! Jackie Sharp’s new book, Technique Trainer (see recent review here) will come in really handy, especially her videos. We will be visiting Irina Gorin’s YouTube channel as well. If you subscribe to Piano Book Club, their recent book, My Piano Teacher Thinks She’s a Ninja will come in handy!

And then we will conclude the camp with iBand Ensembles! I did this years ago in a group lesson and have been wanting to bring it back! Susan Oglivy and Dennis Mauricio has created some fun iPad ensembles complete with background tracks! Check them out here. Students will be bringing in their iPads and Tablets. If they don’t have one, I have 3 available in the studio (actually 4 if my husband will lend me his).

If you had extra time, you can add Wendy Stevens Rhythm Cups (recently released Bk. 2!), create Boomwacker ensembles (check out this website with free boomwacker color coded songs) and more! (Tip: Always have more planned than you need) Performance Pizazz is what this camp is all about!

Happy Planning!

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MTNA Conference; Sunday, March 22, 2015: Ultimate Music Theory

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Glory St. Germain and Shelagh McKibbon U’Ren are passionate about theory. They make it fun and have the best little tricks to help students remember. If you ever have a chance to watch them in person or one of the Ultimate music theory videos, you will always learn something. The presentation at conference focused on mnemonics and how they can help students remember especially when testing. Mnemonics ultimately increases test scores by 77%.

Did you know there are different kind of mnemonics? For example…

Connection Mnemonic is information connected to something we already know.

Expression Mnemonics is taking the letter of each letter key and making a sentence.

Spelling Mnemonics- combines word and pictures together.

Music Mnemonics- Music makes us feel something.


Me and Shelagh

Here is the Ultimate Music Theory Website and Facebook page.

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