Throw Away Your Theory Books – Next Friday!!

It’s time to start another school year!  I’ve been enjoying a few weeks of vacation (far, far from the internet), and am now rested, refreshed and ready to jump back in!!   For any of you who happen to live in the Wichita, Kansas area, I’d like to extend a special invitation for you to join me for a workshop next Friday evening, August 26th. … Continue reading

Hands-On Teaching… Part 1

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I use a LOT of games and teaching props with my students.   Thanks to a few wonderfully active students who came through my door a handful of years ago (and drove me nearly to the point of exasperation), I’ve come to embrace a very multi-sensory, “hands-on” approach to elementary piano lessons.  We … Continue reading

New Practice Helper

Meet the newest member of my studio! At our state conference a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful workshop by Betty Todd Smith titled “You Like to Practice?  Why???” As a part of the presentation, she discussed fun and creative ideas to help students learn to repeat tricky passages.  The one that grabbed me?  Mr. Potato Head!  Students start with … Continue reading

Floor Staff Carpet

It’s finally summer in my studio.  Not that you could tell by looking at a calendar – the “official” June 21st start to the season is still a week away, and I’ve already been on summer teaching schedule for 2 weeks.  Nope… It’s finally summer because my to-do list has been cleared to the point I can work on some creative projects I’ve been putting off … Continue reading

Giant Playable Floor Keyboard

Does anyone else remember watching this scene from the movie “Big” and wishing for a piano like this??? I’ve always thought that it would be REALLY fun to have something like that in my studio, so was very excited to run across this smaller 6′ version in a catalog earlier this year: I ordered one immediately!  This is called a “Big Keyboard Fun” mat, and … Continue reading

The Really, Really Long Music Game

Already a little scared by the title of this post?   I’ve used this new game at group lessons for the last 2 months, and hadn’t really settled on a name for it until a student pointed out this month that the gameboard was “really, really, really long!”  Don’t let the title intimidate you – this is a super-versatile game that can pack a LOT … Continue reading

Flower Pot Note Toss

Get out your scissors…. This new game definitely falls into the “some-assembly-required (but your students will love you for it)” category. It’s almost springtime here in Kansas, and I’ve been in the mood for some new, fun spring-themed activities for the studio.   One of my students’ favorite ways to drill note-reading is a game I picked up from a workshop a couple of years … Continue reading

New Rhythm Game Cards

Here’s one more game from my February group classes.  I posted this rhythm game last fall, but added 2 new sheets of playing cards to it this month.  I have a number of students who are starting to play in simple compound meters and wanted a fun way to review those rhythms at group lessons (and what better way to get students to reinforce something over … Continue reading

Crazy Keys – A Whole & Half Step Game

Whole steps and half steps… is it possible to drill those concepts TOO much with elementary students???   We write and identify them each week in lessons as we work through our technique patterns and warm-ups, we play games with them in group lessons, we identify them in our repertoire pieces… and yet I still fear that under the pressure of a theory exam, some … Continue reading

Stem Placement Game

It’s group week again in our studio!  Many of my students will be taking theory exams later this spring, so we’ve been doing LOTS of theory review this month in preparation.   One of the skills my elementary students are required to demonstrate on their exams is proper stem placement.  We usually don’t spend much time covering that particular objective (other than an explanation and … Continue reading