Friday, December 30, 2016

Teachers Pay Teachers Sale

Woods Piano Studio - 2016

Check out our Top 3 Blog Posts from 2016!

Grab your own copies of the games at 20% off in our Teachers Pay Teachers store  

Sale ends on January 2nd! 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Nutcracker Suite Practice Challenge

We officially started our newest studio practice challenge this week! It's centered around The Nutcracker and I'm so excited to share this wonderful story and music with my students. I created a practice record page to help student keep track of their weekly practice goals; at the top of this record, there is a row of walnuts to color as a representation of days spent practicing. The walnuts are worth $0.05 each. As a studio, we'll collect as many walnuts as possible and make a donation to a local food pantry at the end of the challenge.

There are 5 auditions for students to pass each week. This week's audition was called the Corps de Ballet Audition and students that successfully passed it earned a snowflake. The upcoming auditions each have their own icons, and these all will be placed on construction paper ornaments. I do have general guidelines for each audition, but will adapt them for each student as necessary. Once a student has 5 images on their ornament, they win a prize! They will have a choice between an actual nutcracker or a $5.00 gift card to McDonald's. 

This challenge will focus on technique, note reading, intervals, ear training, a composer study on Tchaikovsky, and much more! I've had a wonderful time putting together activities for this practice challenge. We've already used one of the games that I created! Find your own copy here! I'll also be updating my Teachers Pay Teachers store with more of the resources I've created, so check back!

Graphics by Linda Murray

If you're a teacher, I'd love to hear about the practice challenges you're using during this fun holiday season! Leave a comment here or send me a quick message using my contact page :)
These dolls accompany the story perfectly.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall 2016 Piano Recital

We were blessed with a beautiful day for the Fall 2016 Piano Recital! Almost a third of my students were able to participate at this event, which was held at Faith Lutheran Church. 

(Photography by Joshua Hoffman)

My students worked very hard over the past several months on fall themed pieces:

The Hungry Spider by Jennifer Linn

Spooky Tower by Elena Cobb

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater by Susan Paradis

See the Scarecrow by Susan Paradis

Monster Talk by Jennifer Linn

Dancing with Frankenstein by Nancy Faber

Trick or Treat Waltz by Gayle Kowalchyk

The Perceptive Detective by Carolyn Miller

Night Sounds by Melody Bober

Midnight Shadows by Martha Mier

Lost It All by Black Veil Brides

Autumn Rain by Tom Gerou
Following the program, there were light refreshments, fall themed music games, and medals for each student. 

S'more Kits for the fantastic Piano Parents

Pumpkin Medals from Crown Awards

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lucky Leaf Piano Technique Game & Bonus Freebie!

Lucky Leaf Piano Technique Game
Over the weekend, I created the Lucky Leaf Piano Technique Game to review basic piano technique concepts (sitting position at the piano, proper hand posture, finger numbers, relaxed arm/arm weight, curved fingers, etc) in lessons this week. It is suitable for private lessons and group classes. 
To play, students draw cards and place corresponding leaves on a tree after they complete the direction on the card. The winner draws the card with the "lucky" green leaf on it.

This game includes 1 tree game board, 24 playing cards, 12 blank cards to customize as desired, and 24 leaves. I used poster tack to adhere the leaves to the game board (my students LOVE poster tack). 

To assemble:

  1. Print the tree game board, playing cards, and leaves onto cardstock.
  2. Cut out the playing cards and leaves. I cut the leaves out as closely as possible. They could also be printed on transparent paper.
  3. If desired, print blank cards and write your own directions on them!
  4. Laminate all pieces to extend game life.
To play (2-4 players):
  1. Set the game board up on the piano's music stand. Cover the keys with the lid to prevent small pieces from falling in between them.
  2. Place leaves in a pile between all players or adhere the leaves with poster tack around the base of the tree prior to the lesson (I chose the latter option).
  3. Shuffle the playing cards and place them face down in a pile.
  4. The youngest player starts, drawing a card from the pile. Player completes the direction on the card and places a leaf that matches the leaf on their playing card onto the tree. 
  5. The winner of this game draws the "You Won" card and places the green leaf on the tree.
I played this game with my 2 year old by making simple adaptations. Some examples include:
  • Wave your left hand!
  • Wave your right hand!
  • Clap your hands 4 times!
  • Make circles with your fingers!
This game is available in my TeachersPayTeachers Store. Let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Also, check out my Freebie Cat Themed Ear Training Worksheet, just in time for fall!

Fall Preschool Piano Palooza Lesson Plan

Ready for the Palooza!

Earlier this month, the studio hosted a Preschool Piano Palooza, a free event where preschoolers could experience a taste of the preschool piano classes offered here. It was wonderful to see so many children, some as young as two, playing their first piece on the piano after just 30 minutes! I'm looking forward to hosting another one in the future!

I've included the lesson plan in this post, for those of you curious to read more about it. This plan is purposefully multi-sensory and fall themed. One resource that I did use and is not mentioned in this plan was Pumpkin Musical Alphabet Cards from Susan Hong Studio. She posted them the night before the Palooza, and they were so adorable that I just had to include them last minute!

Resource Links: This was the curriculum that provided the base for this event. The songs, story book, coloring pages, cloth keyboard, and discs came from here.
Tales of a Musical Journey For this particular event, I only used some of the exercises found in Irina's teacher guide. This book is excellent for beginners and teaching proper piano technique.
Five Little Pumpkins Book I created a simple finger play to accompany this book.
Getting to Know You Page
Autumn Musicland Game From Greenside Music
Blackbird Puppets These puppets have been a favorite in my studio for almost 2 years now!
My First Piano Trip to London Another great resource that I can't imagine being without!

My students and I love the Music Alphabet Song from My First Piano Adventures (MFPA), so I used the CD for that song only during the Palooza.

Preschool Piano Palozza!
Sept. 5, 2016
·         KiddyKeys & MFPA CD
·         My First Piano Trip to London
·         5 Little Pumpkins Book
·         2 Blackbird Puppets
·         Buckets & drumsticks
·         Cloth keyboard & circles
·         Getting to Know You Pages
·         Parent Handbooks/Information
·         Coloring Pages & Markers
·         Autumn Musicland Game

·         KiddyKeys Song                     
·         Getting to Know You Page
·         Let’s Say Hi!

·         Tales of a Musical Journey (Gross Motor Skills)
-           Weeping Willow Exercise
-           Big Bird Exercise
-           Windmill Exercise
-           Floating Arms Exercise (like pool floaties)
·         5 Little Pumpkins & 2 Little Blackbirds (Fine Motor Skills)
-           Read 5 Little Pumpkins Book and complete finger plays
-           2 Little Blackbirds

·         Music Alphabet, pg. 62 in MFPA with song
·         Play Autumn Musicland
·         Keyboard Geography: Use cloth keyboard and mark groups of black keys with circles
·         Use Kids Music Piano app to find letters on keyboard; which black key group is C closest to?

·         Learn and play Royal Guard piece

·         Bucket Drum Echoes
·         Read story/color pictures, if time permits

Conclude class with choice from prize box!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fall 2016

Wreath Designer from Etsy
The first day of fall is just around the corner! As each season changes, it seems appropriate to bring out something new in the studio, too. Check out some of the instruments, games, and pieces that are new to us this fall:

Labor Day = SALES! The local Guitar Center was having a fantastic sale. Some beautiful instruments were added to the percussion collection here. Filbert the Frog is already a favorite and loves his new home on the piano.

The fall recital is less than a month away, and everyone has been working tirelessly on their pieces! This recital will feature fall themed repertoire. Some of it is pictured above. Pieces not pictured came from Susan Paradis' site and Elena Cobb's publishing company. 

I recently spent a Sunday afternoon assembling some really fun games to use in lessons this fall. Several of them came from the Piano Game Club, which has been a fantastic resource since I subscribed a few months ago. Here are the names and sources of the others:

After attending Irina Gorin's inspiring Practical Piano Pedagogy Workshop last month, it has become a renewed goal to focus on review and learning of proper piano technique. I put together the Lucky Leaf Piano Technique Game pictured above to fit the fall theme, review technique with my beginning piano students, and to provide a fun alternative to scales. Also, my students love using poster tack, so I had to include it in this game!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Music Hotel: Note Reading and Keyboard Geography Game

Music Hotel Game is perfect for beginners that are still learning to read the grand staff. It is designed to further develop an association of the notes that students see on the staff to the keys on the piano. 

Two small mice are the game pieces. As players read notes on the grand staff cards, they'll move their mice up and down the "elevator" floors. When they land on specific floors, they'll have the opportunity to explore a room with their mice and have a free pass on their next turn!

Get your own copy here: Music Hotel Game

Monday, July 25, 2016

Preschool Piano Palooza!

You’re invited to come to our Preschool Piano Palooza! Watch your 3-6 year old play a real song on the piano, enjoy autumn themed games, and explore music through singing, apps, rhythm instruments and more in this FREE 30 minute class! This is a great way to sample our regular preschool piano classes!

Date: Monday, September 5th at 10:00am or 6:00pm (your choice)
Location: Woods Piano Studio

Space is limited! Register online at (put “Palooza” in the skill level slot) by August 22nd to reserve your spot! Looking forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Kolor-N-Kiln Adult Student Piano Recital

We had our very first adult student piano party/recital! It was such a fun evening! Everyone played beautifully, and it was a pleasure to listen to every piece.

Our recital/party was held at the Kolor-N-Kiln at the Mall at Robinson. The owner and staff there were incredibly helpful and hospitable. It's a creative place to visit, and I highly recommend it. 

Following the recital, we enjoyed light refreshments (this event was BYOB and hors d'oeuvres) and painting. 

Sur le fil


Purple Twilight

Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant
Le jardin féerique
Love Somebody

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Guest Post: Music Lessons With Play-Doh!

Note: Today's post comes from Music for Little Learners, a blog featuring excellent and unique resources for music students and teachers.

Music Lessons With Play-Doh!

Ever thought of using Play-Doh in your music lessons? Well, let me tell you, it works wonders! Using Play-Doh will give you a true hands on experience of learning notes and rhythms. I believe this is a great way to help students! Instead of just having students repeat over and over again what notes are or what certain rhythms or symbols are, have them use their hands and create it with Play-Doh!

Have students create music rhythms:

  • Treble Clef
  • Bass Clef
  • Repeat Sign
  • Coda
  • Double Bar Line
  • First and second endings

Tell them you want to write out a particular type of rhythm such as an eighth note, half note, or whole note.

Clap out a rhythm and have them create it with Play-Doh.

Or tell them to write/find particular notes on the staff!

As you can see, Play-Doh can be just as much fun if not more fun in music lessons. It has so much potential for a student's education and the ideas of using it are endless!

Don't miss out on the fun and get your Play-Doh TODAY!

For more fun and creative ideas, check out the Music For Little Learners Blog!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

5 Helpful Resources for Improving Note-Reading

Over the past year, I've been a part of a few online piano teacher forums. These forums have been a great source of encouragement, inspiration, and networking. Sometimes, advice is sought out, and I've noticed that some questions are consistently asked over and over again. One of these questions is: "How can I help my student become better at reading notes?" While nothing can beat daily focused practice, I've found five resources that have been incredibly helpful (click on the titles for information about each resource).

Students can race to the finish line as they correctly identify flashcards. The custom settings make this app useful and engaging for students at all ages and levels.

I highly recommend using this instructional series with your students. Each book is full of worksheets that introduce musical concepts in a clear, concise way, and regularly repeats and reviews that information until it becomes a part of each student's musical core.

Some students are kinesthetic learners, meaning that they excel when they are able to engage in a lesson physically, rather than aurally or visually. The physical act of placing these letters on the correct lines or spaces seems to really help my students remember note names.

Most children learn best through play! I believe that games are an essential part of every piano lesson. Right now, I've been using  Greenside Music's Music Olympics games during our studio challenge . These games are very popular with my young students!

TeachersPayTeachers is a helpful resource for note-reading games. I recently uploaded a interval identification game called Franz & Clara Frog Step and Skip that includes frog flashcards that can be used to practice note reading. Here are some others that I've successfully tried and recommend:

I use hand drums, rhythm sticks, or egg shakers at every lesson. When a student begins a new piece, we always tap through the rhythms together with percussion instruments. Then, we'll tap through the rhythms a second time, and read the note names aloud. This process helps the student master difficult rhythms and ensures that they've read through the music before attempting to play the notes on the piano.

What resources do you use to teach and review note-reading? Share your thoughts in the comments!