Master Classes, Uncategorized

October 2019 Master Classes and Halloween Fun!

We had a terrific October of musical fun!  Here’s a little recap:

The week of Thanksgiving was our first master class (all studio group lessons) of the year!

We opened our master class with a partner game where older students were paired with younger students and searched for musical clues around the room then matched the musical vocabulary to their sheet.  This was a great moment to have some of the older students teach some of the terms to the younger/newer students.


Then we did a little musical improv with Halloween rhythms.  Students picked a rhythm card and created a melody for it on their keyboard with their partner while I accompanied.


Students were given the opportunity to perform a piece they’d been working on since the start of lessons in November.

Then we tried something called SQUILT.  Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time.  We learned a little bit about Edvard Grieg and the music he composed for the play Peer Gynt and spent some time listening to and dissecting the piece, In the Hall of the Mountain King.  I wanted the students to listen attentively and focus on the essential elements of beautiful music:  Rhythm, Tempo, Dynamics, Instrumentation and Mood.  As we develop this habit for active listening it will be easier to be mindful of incorporating these essentials into our own playing.

We also had a little bit of a mini photoshoot and prepared new photos for our wall.  The polaroid photos and cards of last year were so cute but we have many new students this year and these photos turned out so great.  Pop in and check out our wall!


Master classes are always a fun time and the little ones enjoy listening to and being partnered with some of the older students.


We finished the month with a week of Halloween fun during our regular lessons and classes.  Particularly popular was the Trick or Treat cards.  Randomly throughout classes or lessons I would have a student pick a card that would have either a musical trick or treat on it.  If they drew a trick card, they learned a piano trick or technique and if they drew a treat card, we watched a fun piano youtube video.  We didn’t get through all the tricks and treats in lessons so if you want to try out more at home, here you are:


Hope you all enjoyed a safe and fun Halloween!

Composing, Incentives, Master Classes, Seasonl/Holiday, Uncategorized

Piano Pajama Day Master Classes

Happy Family Day!! I hope you have some time today to spend with your family!  Just a quick reminder that this week we will be having Piano Pajama Day Master Classes in lieu of regular lessons!  If you haven’t yet signed up, there is still lots of room on Thursday at 4:30pm as well as some room on Wednesday at 5pm!

Pajama’s are absolutely OPTIONAL but we have a lot of fun PJ party themed activities (including performances, improvising lullabies, ear training, sight reading and theory games!) as we kick off a fun morning practice challenge.  With Spring approaching and the days getting longer, I will be challenging students to do more of their piano practicing in the morning.  They will be challenged to collect 7 morning practices (a full week’s worth!) OR MORE over the next few weeks. Once they reach the 7 morning mark (not necessarily in a row!! Each week they come to lesson they can put a sticker on for each MORNING practice they did!), they will receive a LEVEL ONE morning practice super star certificate! 🙂  Let’s see who can get to level 3 by Spring Break!  Of course, they may continue to do after school or evening practices too, we still want those 5 practices a week….this is just a fun challenge that shows them the benefits of morning practice and how it frees up the  rest of the day!  And may develop a great habit for when soccer season arrives or warmer weather and more after school and evening activities begin!  Teaching colleague from BC, Andrea Dow, shares why she believes in morning piano practice!

“I was in Grade 11 (at exactly the same time I met my most massive time-stealer… Trevor) when I realized there was no way I was going to accomplish anything with my piano if I didn’t practice. And with homework, singing lessons, musical theatre, sports and… Trevor… it truly was impossible to get anything done after school or in the evenings.

So I did the one thing I absolutely hated to do; I got up earlier to practice piano. And it did wonders for my progress.

Why does morning practice work?

  • Studies have shown that sleep directly (and positively) affects the learning of a fine motor skill. We actually did an interview with Dr. Karen Debas on this topic.
  • No matter how many activities your students have scheduled after school, morning practice ensures their piano is never forgotten, crammed in or done haphazardly. Frenzied or rushed practice results in negativity towards the piano, practice fights with parents and other things we piano teachers would rather avoid.
  • The excuse of “no time” is completely eliminated. With a simple adjustment to the morning alarm, your piano students can have all the time they need.
  • The discipline of getting up early and practicing every day establishes habits that are pro-active and that will carry over into other areas of your students’ lives as well.
  • The likelihood of parental involvement in practice increases, as your students no longer practice alone while parents are at work, driving siblings to other activities etc.
  • As your students become teenagers, homework, jobs, friends and other extracurricular activities no longer pose a threat to their piano progress (none of those things happen in the morning!)
  •  The parental “guilt” from daily practice being repeatedly forgotten is eliminated, taking one more stressor away from busy families.
  • Starting a day off with music starts your students’ days with all of the wonderful benefits that music has been proven to provide such as mood improvement, stress-reduction, and mental alertness.

All of these factors combined means morning piano practice is one of the most powerful ways you can ensure that your piano students are practicing and progressing.”

Incentives, Studio, Video of the Month

Video of the Month Club

In my last post, I mentioned how inspirational it can be for our budding little students to get out and see some performances. It can really make the music come alive and be a giant motivation to keep practicing those skills! It works that way with most everything, not just music! In fact, one of the biggest inspirations and motivations for my own little aspiring lacrosse player was getting to see the Edmonton Rush play at Rexall last spring. However, not everyone has the time or money to get out and experience these wonderful opportunities. And so, inspired by a mention made by a teacher in my Pedagogy Etude group and a mention in a blog post by Anne Crosby Gaudet, I’ve decided to start a Video of the Month Club for my studio. Each month I will be Facebook-ing, blogging and emailing a video of the month.

I hope these videos will inspire, teach and entertain and that through them my students will be able to experience many different and wonderful styles of music as well as meet some new instruments!

My debut video for the month of October, 2013 is The Piano Guys One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful. I am introducing this video this week at our master classes and giving out an active listening journal sheet for them to read and fill out at home. I chose this video because the lid and music desk on the grand piano have been removed and a camera placed above and it gives an awesome view into the inner workings (I called them “piano guts” during the lesson to much uproarious laughter or..all out groans!) of a grand piano. I also love it because it shows the individuality of all these parts and the amazing sounds they can make when a little creativity is added….and frankly, I just think it’s the COOLEST!

I played this video for both master classes yesterday and I was astounded at the reaction. I knew they would enjoy it, but I worried that maybe most had seen it and would think it passé. In fact, only 2 of yesterdays 20 students had seen it before (but were excited to see it again) while for the rest it was a new and exciting experience. They all watched with rapt attention. I have never seen 10-12 children so focused and quiet for that length of time….they were glued to the performance….and at the end they had so much to share. Their reactions were so exciting, I wished I could’ve captured them all on video!

And so, I will share this YouTube video here with you and hope that you find it as enjoyable as they did!

Incentives, Master Classes, Newsletters, Uncategorized

Last Lessons of the Year Are Here! June 10-12 Master Classes

We made it through another recital and what a wonderful job everyone did!  I heard a lot of people enjoyed our surprises and thought the Surprise Symphony number was pretty neat!   Certificates and little gifts were handed out last week during lessons, special medals were awarded during the recital for MYC graduates and those doing exams and if I were giving out another award this week it would be for Exceptional Effort and Enthusiasm!  I guess we will settle for some ice cream instead! 😉


So this week is our final lesson week until September.  It will be special, un-parented group lessons.  We will be doing solo performances, rhythm drills and inventions, ensemble playing and improvising and a few games to review all that we’ve learned this year…..then we will wrap up with an ice cream treat and celebrate a year of exceptional and outstanding effort!






For those of you who haven’t had a chance to sign up yet for a group, I want to let you know that the Tuesday 6-7pm class is VERY full already with 13 signed up.  There is still some room in Wednesday 6-7pm and Monday 6-7pm is very lonely right now with only 4 signed up!!!!!!  So, if you were wondering which time to pick, know that there is still lots of room for you!



I have peanut free ice cream and some peanut free toppings, but a potluck of toppings would be fun to share with each other so if you have a favorite ice cream topping you would like to share with the group, feel free to bring it along to share!

Also, remember to bring your book bag as you will need to play a solo and might want something to take your blossoms from the practice tree home in.



I hope you all are looking forward to a well-deserved summer break with lots of special plans!  I am hoping to do a few things over the summer to freshen up our studio just a bit and am quite excited to get started!  All the best this week to: Annaliese, Brayden, Delaney, Dexter, Jessica, Kira, Mary, Matthew and Ryan as they do their Conservatory exams!

Thank you again for such a wonderful year.

Newsletters, Uncategorized

June News: Recital and Special Wrap Up Lessons and Ice Cream Party

Can you believe June is just a couple of days away!  I am still trying to wrap my head around that.  I cannot believe how quickly the last few months have flown by but, not only are we well into spring, we are just weeks away from summer.  In fact, we only have two more weeks of piano lessons.  Here is what is coming over over the next couple of weeks:

JUNE 4-7  will be our last week of regularly scheduled lessons and classes and we will be spending time getting ready for our Year End Recital. We will have one more week of lessons after the recital but these will not be our usual lessons, it will be a special group class.

JUNE 7, 6:30pm will be our recital at the First Church of the Nazarene 14320 94 street.

JUNE 10-12 will be special group lessons once again to finish off the year (these will be our very last lessons of the year).  We will spend some time doing solo performances, playing music games that review the concepts we worked on over the past year, do ensemble work and improvise.  At the end of the hour we will celebrate our accomplishments and incredible practice efforts from this past year with an ice cream sundae party.  Please sign up for one of the following days and times:

Monday, June 10, 6-7pm

Tuesday, June 11, 6-7pm

Wednesday, June 12, 6-7pm

I have to apologize that all the times are the same and all are evening times this time around instead of the usually varied times I try to schedule.  I am taking a special certification course that week and it runs until 4:30pm each day in the west end.  However, considering that it is an ice cream party, perhaps feeding the students ice cream AFTER supper rather than before will work out for the better anyway! 😉

We will break from lessons for the summer from June 13 to September 9.  I hope I will be able to send the students off with enough positivity and inspiration to continue their wonderful practice efforts over the summer!  Thank you parents for another incredible year, it is truly a blessing to be able to work with so many wonderful students and parents who feel like one big extended family!  You are all treasures!

Newsletters, Recital, Seasonl/Holiday, Uncategorized

November/December Newsletter 2012

I can’t believe we are heading into our last week of November! Where did the month go? I really need to get a start on my Christmas shopping. Anyway, I have a newsletter full of what the upcoming weeks will hold for us and some very important dates! Read carefully….remember no skim-reading!!

A couple of our students took part in a Young Composer’s Workshop for 4 weeks this fall and congratulations go out to Delaney. She was partnered with George Andrix, composer and violinist for the ESO, and was chosen by him to play her piano composition at the upcoming Contemporary Showcase Gala Concert on November 30th at Alberta College. For any other students who are interested in composing, we will have a chance to look at that in the New Year!

We have just 3 more lessons to go before the Christmas recital arrives. All the students are working on Christmas pieces right now and we will spend these next few weeks making sure we are prepared. Our recital, once again, will be held on December 14th from 6:30-7:30pm in the main auditorium of the First Church of the Nazarene, 14320 94 street. I usually send out an Evite invitation via email around the first week or so of December with an map attached so keep your eyes open for that.

The next three lessons will take place on our regular days and times as we prepare for recital, but the week following the recital will be a little different. The last week of school this year is December 17-21 and is often full of school Christmas concerts and so traditionally we have special themed group lessons that week with many flexible times to choose from and sign up for. During that week of December, regular lessons and classes will be cancelled and instead I will have special group lessons offered on various days at various times so that you can choose which hour works best in your schedule for that particular week. These special group lessons are for ALL the piano students whether they are in Sunshine, Sunbeams, Moonbeams or Private Lessons. They are UN-PARENTED and mixed ages and levels and give the students an fun opportunity to get to know other students as well as giving our faithful parents an hour or so to themselves during the busy Christmas season to grab a coffee or do some last minute shopping. Classes usually last about 60-75 minutes and can accommodate roughly 10 students per class. I will be sending out the exact days and times to choose from in another week.
The theme of this year’s December group lesson will be: “Christmas at Mr. Bach’s House”. The students will be getting a fun dose of music history while learning about the life and music of Johann Sebastian Bach, listening to some of his creations and finding out what Christmas might have looked like at his house. A little fact sheet about Mr. Bach will be sent home to read over with your child to prepare them for some of the activities and since Mr. Bach loved having music played at his house, I will be asking them to prepare a SOLO piece to play for their group…it can be different from their recital piece or the same, whatever they would prefer. Stay tuned for more info!

Following that we will break for Christmas from December 21st to January 6th.

Lessons will resume on January 7th at their regularly scheduled times. We will begin a bit of a composition focus in January. All the MYC students will begin learning about composing and compose their very own piece of music ton enter in the MYC Composition Festival. All the private students will have the opportunity to compose as well or they may choose to work on arranging a favorite piece of music using a lead sheet as a guide or focus on improvising on a theme–this will all be with the goal in mind of sharing and showcasing our creations during our very own mini-recital/contemporary showcases here in studio during the third week of February.

Bu,t as you are keeping these upcoming plans in mind, please note on your calendars that I will be away from January 20-27th. There will be no lessons that week, however we will still have plenty of time left in the year to get all of our 34 lessons in by the mid-week of June.

Thank you again to everyone who has liked the studio Facebook page! We now have 18 likes, my goal is 30 by the New Year. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out: