Incentives, Master Classes, Uncategorized

May News and Year End Dates

Hello, Everyone!

It seems like just yesterday we had our lovely April recital and now we are in the second week of May with only 5 weeks of lessons left!

Our recital went so well and I cannot thank everyone enough for the help you gave and the many ways you all contributed!  It was our earliest ever Spring recital this year (one week earlier than last year) and because I was away for all of Spring Break, it felt like a short time to get organized, but with your help I think it came off better than ever AND I think the early time ended up working out really well as it kind of pumped us all up and has given us extra enthusiasm and a renewed energy for the remaining weeks of lessons! Something that will be especially great for those doing Conservatory exams in June…and for those that aren’t doing exams there is a renewed enthusiasm for getting some extra pieces learned before June! Some students have challenged themselves with learning 30 pieces this year! Phew!

A couple of you have shared a picture of the recital, but I would just love to see more–pictures or video.  I was not able to get pictures or videos taken myself as I have in the past and I missed getting a picture of all the MYC grads.  So please feel free to share!!

The kids have all been asking when the next master class is.  Normally I have done a master class as the very last class of the year because I am often away during the May long Weekend week.  However, this year I am not going to be away!  So, I am changing up the schedule just slightly this year.  We will have our last master class of the year during the week of May 24th, immediately following the long weekend.  Then we will have two more regular lessons/classes before finishing up for the year on June 9th.

I will send out the master class times for May 25, 26, 27 in the very next email…expect that in the next day or so.  And you will be able to indicate the time you wish your student to attend, but putting it in the subject line of your reply to that email.

Also starting next week will be our final practice challenge of the year.  It’s going to be a lot of fun and offer some more creative ways to look at your piano practice to keep the energy going right to the end of the year…when I issue this year’s Summer Practice Challenge!  A handout will be coming home with each student next week and the summer practice challenge will go home with them at the last lesson of the year, so be sure to continue checking those music bags regularly over the next few weeks!

In the meantime, have a lovely day!  Looks like we’ve got some sunshine again!


A Quick May Update!

Well, what a week this has been! We had another terrific spring recital last Friday (it was our 13th annual Spring recital!) and it was so nice to hear all the wonderful, glowing feedback. I was a little worried there was going to be another recital “disaster” as I had been feeling a bit under the weather in the days previous and then woke up that recital morn with joints so stiff and swollen, I could hardly move! I wasn’t able to play the blues piece I had planned for the recital, in fact my poor stiff fingers hardly wanted to play the two little accompaniment pieces for the ensembles and my knees did not enjoy so much getting up and down and bending for that cups song….but we made it through! On Saturday, I was even worse so my poor, worried hubby shipped me off to the medicentre. After 15 different blood tests (each with their own vial of blood!), a heart test and a ultrasound, we discovered it was parvovirus b19! So, much to my hubby’s relief, I won’t die and my joints seems to be slowly returning to normal. However, piano practice will be a little slow for me right now….and sadly, I’m going to have to take a break from all those push-ups and planks I just LOVE doing during bootcamp classes! 😉 Anyway, for those of you who noticed I was going barefoot and moving slowly and thought it unusual…that’s my excuse!

I tried to get pictures and video as much as possible of the recital as they are so nice to share (I will do up a post of this soon!), but I did have some technical difficulties….not enough storage on my silly new iPhone. I did manage to get video of ALMOST everyone by frantically deleting things, but I hardly got any pictures. I would absolutely LOVE if you would email OR share on the Facebook page some of your great pictures! I’d like to do a little recital write up on the blog page and share! So, please send those awesome pictures of yours! ALSO, send me some of the Christmas ones if you have them! I’m really trying to work on a nice studio photo album of memories, but I have so little opportunity to take pictures (or at least very good ones) at our recitals!

Now for a quick and important update regarding our next couple of weeks:

It’s the long weekend! There will be NO lessons on Monday, the 19th….enjoy that day off, Mondays students! We will have regular lessons for the Tues-Thurs students from the 20-22, HOWEVER, the following week only the Monday students will have a lesson (May 26th) and the Tues-Thurs lessons (May 27-29) will be canceled as I will be away….so just a reminder to mark those calendars!

As long as I do not have to cancel any more lessons for illness or unexpected absence, we may even get a BONUS 35th lesson in this year and so this is the tentative schedule for the remainder of the year:

Monday May 19th NO LESSONS
Tues-Thurs May 20-22 Lesson 33
Monday May 26 Lesson 33
Tues-Mon May 27-June2 NO LESSONS
Tues-Thurs June 3-5 Lesson 34
Monday June 9 Lesson 34
Tues-Thurs June 10-12 MASTER CLASSES (Monday students, you will have the opportunity to come for your regular lesson on the Monday AND a master class the Tues, Wed or Thurs so that you get a bonus lesson, too!) 🙂

If, for any reason, I must cancel lessons between now and then the master classes will become our 34th and final lesson of the year. Does that make sense? Clear as mud, right?! 😉 At any rate we will dismiss for the summer by June 12th!

Enjoy a wonderful May long weekend!

Incentives, Newsletters, Recital, Registration, Schedule

March News and 2014/15 Registration

March certainly did come in like a lion with icy, cold temperatures and a wind chill that made me want to hide in my house! What a relief to be looking at double digit temperatures on the plus side of 0 for the upcoming days!

It’s hard to believe we are already almost halfway through March. Actually, this is Week 24 of our lesson year which means we only have 10 more lessons to go before summer break is here! And as one year closes, I am always thinking about the one upcoming. So here is a quick look ahead for the next several weeks.

There will be no lessons during Spring Break, March 31-April 6. Lessons will resume on April 7th and I’ll have a brand new practice incentive cooked up for you by then! 😉 I think we will have a bit of fun with it as it brings our focus towards the upcoming Spring Recital. Let’s just say it’s going to “rock”!

Our Spring Recital is scheduled for Friday, May 9th, at 6:30pm in the main auditorium of First Church of the Nazarene. First Church is planning some big renovations, so there is a small possibility that they could begin around this time. We may have to be flexible in the when and where of our recital, but I will keep you posted! In the meantime, we will plan on this and mark our calendars! 😉 UPDATE: the church renovations have been officially scheduled for late May through end of June so our May 9th recital is a GO!

I am currently working on the schedule for next year and hope to have it up by Spring Break so that we can begin re-registration and new registration for the fall when we return from Spring Break. Next year my daughter enters grade 10 and over the last couple of week’s she had an interview and acceptance at Strathcona Christian Academy in Sherwood Park. She is very excited, but it does mean that I will likely be driving her both to and from school as there is no bus from Edmonton to transport her there. This will certainly impact what I can or cannot add to my schedule for next year and will limit the number of new classes or private lessons that I can add into the schedule for next year.

There will be another master class in April, during the week immediately following Easter Monday. More information will come out after Spring Break.

I will be away during the last week of May. I actually have a conference in Las Vegas! We will still get all 34 weeks in the schedule, though, and are set to finish up by or slightly before June 12.

Incentives, Recital, Seasonl/Holiday, Uncategorized

Elf on the Shelf, Meet the Piano Practice Elf!

What an absolutely terrific week we have had! The days and weeks are flying by and I cannot believe this is the last week of November already! Not to mention we have just under three weeks left to our annual Christmas recital…or about 20 days left to practice!

I think our students have been doing a pretty outstanding job of practicing this year so far and I am so proud of the enthusiasm they shared over the Pennies for Practice idea that was presented last week! HOWEVER, I thought it might be nice to add a little something silly and fun, too! And so, we are going to incorporate the “Elf on the Shelf” idea at our studio and introduce a little Christmas magic into our daily piano practice. For those of you unfamiliar with the “Elf on the Shelf” idea, here it is in a nutshell: “The Elf on the Shelf is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.” For more info:

So here’s how we are going to take this idea and work it in to our piano practice, I have printed off and laminated little elves to send home with each student this week–one per student. PARENTS, here is what you need to do: Each night after your child has gone to bed, the Piano Practice Elf will need your help choosing a new page in their piano book on which to hide. The next day, your child will need to hunt for the elf in their book and then begin their practice with the piece or concept where the Elf was hiding. You can be as creative as you want and have the elf leave little messages of encouragement, special instructions (play this piece over the phone for Nana) or tell a silly piano or Christmas joke OR as simple as you want. PARENTS: This is an absolutely OPTIONAL practice idea, but in order for it to work and to be a success, it will require your help and participation. All I hope for is that this will simply be a way of incorporating some extra Christmas fun into our practicing and be a way for our students to look forward to each day of practice! I will be sending the elves home with the students this week. Feel free to name your elf together and incorporate him/her into your practice immediately OR coordinate his/her appearance with your own elf on the shelf OR wait until December 1st to begin….it really is up to you!! Remember, once you have decided on a name together, his magic begins!! 😉 If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to email me! I would LOVE to hear what you name your Elf and about any of his antics, crazy or otherwise….you can even post pictures of his activities to our studio facebook page:

practice elf

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:

Incentives, Newsletters, Private Lessons, Recital, Schedule, Seasonl/Holiday, Studio, Technology, Uncategorized

Noteworthy Items and Reminders

As we finish up October and prepare to dive into November, I have a few important reminders and requests for you.

First of all, let me just say what a fantastic couple of weeks we have had.  The students have been working so hard over the last almost 8 weeks and the Practice Tree is just full of stickers and that Treasure box has been opened many times over the last two weeks–it’s already half-empty!!  Time to go shopping! 😉

The treasure box is one great way to celebrate all their hard work, but I was reminded this week of another terrific way to do celebrate at home.  I have often encouraged my students to call grandparents on the phone and play for them or take advantage of when they are over for a visit and put on a little concert, but this week one of my little students proudly showed me a video of herself playing the piano that her mom had shared on facebook.  We have so much technology at our fingertips now and so many of us have iPhones–take advantage of it!  Making a “Music Video” of your child and posting it on facebook or youtube is a wonderful way of sharing with family and friends as well a great way to show your child how important you think their music is and build their self-esteem and confidence!  Thanks, Ayla and Amanda for that great reminder!

I have had a chance to talk quickly at some of our classes this week about what to do when you are at the studio waiting for your class to begin, but there are few classes and students that I missed getting this message/reminder out to.  When you come into the studio for your lesson, please wait on/near the brown chairs around the corner, quietly and out of sight of the piano if at all possible.  When some of our classes were arriving this week, I noticed some students and parents standing about near the sofa and keyboards while a private lesson or class was still in session.  It’s easy to forget how intimidating or nerve-wracking (not to mention distracting) it can be to a student to see half a dozen adults and the same number of children watching them out of the corner of their eye.  Some of my private students feel a little nervous playing just for me, imagine how they must feel when a whole group shows up at the end of their lesson….especially if they weren’t feeling as prepared as they usually are to begin with.  This is especially important to remember if there is a private lesson going on before your class/lesson begins.  Many of the private students only get a 30 minute lesson.  If you are in a 60 minute class and think the time flies by, imagine what a race we have to get through everything we need to in 30 minutes and how vital it is that we can spend those 30 minutes un-distracted.  If you show up for your class 10-15 minutes early and you are talking, whispering or moving around in that student’s line of sight, they can be feeling nervous or distracted for up 30-50% of their lesson–that is a huge chunk of their time.  And, to be honest, they are not the only ones distracted.  I will often see little ones waving at me and I can’t help but wave back but my student needs 100% of my attention for their lesson.  So, please, if you can remember, try to come into class only 5-7 minutes early and wait quietly on the brown chairs, the sofa area is intended for parents and siblings of private students who need a comfortable place to study/work for 30-60 minutes while they wait for their child or sibling to finish their private lesson.  I know it can be exciting and inspiring to hear what those older students or other classes are working on, but make sure you listen in as quietly and as invisibly as possible! Emoji

“Oh, my did she really just say that”, you ask, “we haven’t even gotten through Halloween?!”  Yes I did, and yes I have even bought a couple of Christmas presents already!  Christmas is only 2 months away and our Christmas recital is only approximately 7 weeks away.  If that thought has given you indigestion, I apologize, but swallow it down because we are going to be ramping up for our annual Christmas recital VERY soon.  My family has already heard me playing through several Christmas pieces as I choose and prepare to accompany some of the class ensemble numbers our classes will do and trust me, they have groaned loudly but I ignore them and play on!  If you have only been skim-reading my newsletters (shame on you!), then you may have missed the announcement about the when and where of our recital so here it is again–just in case:

Annual Christmas Recital:  Friday evening, December 14th, in the First Church of the Nazarene  Main Auditorium located at 14320 94 street.  I believe our time will be 6:30-7:30pm, but I will need to confirm that with you a little later–as soon as I hear the date and time of my husband’s work Christmas party. I may have to run the recital from 6-7pm.  I do apologize for the late date, I was hoping for December 7th, but, alas, it was unavailable.

With the recital just weeks away, we will begin working on special ensemble pieces in our music classes as well as some piano duet or solo opportunities.  All the MYC classes will find that seasonal music is actually included there in our books, but private students need extra supplementary books of their own.  So, all of you in private lessons: please take this weekend to go through your piano bench or magazine file beside your piano and dig out ALL your Christmas books–then bring them to piano lessons NEXT WEEK, we need to make sure the level of the book is still appropriate or if you have “out-grown” it and are in need of a new book/level.  We want to begin our preparations no later than the first week of November so we are confident, prepared and not cramming last minute practice into an already busy season!

Incentives, Piano Lesson Success, Piano Pedagogy, Private Lessons, Recital, Uncategorized

Recording as Recital Prep

This past Friday was the annual year end recital for all my students and what a great night it was!  My students really out-did themselves this time!  We had a bit of a “Bach to Broadway” theme. I supplied the Bach by playing CPE Bach’s Solfeggio in C minor, and the students really enjoyed the piece.

This year as we prepared for recital, I tried something I haven’t done in a very long time to help give them a new perspective on their recital piece.  I asked each student or parent to bring their iPod to lesson (if they had one) so that I could record their performance.  For those that didn’t have iPods or recording devices, I used my own.  Then I had them listen to their performance while watching their music for different aspects: tempo, dynamics, melody.  Rather than me telling them what was great about the piece and what could use a little more work, I let them discover that for themselves.

Many of the students found it very eye-opening, some of them had never seen or heard themselves perform before.  It was a great opportunity for them to try on some new roles:

Listener– they had a chance to look at their music from my perspective or as an audience member and listen to dynamics or tempo.  As they listened and followed along in their music they were clearly able to see if they were incorporating the indicated dynamics or bringing out the melody line

Teacher–I let them evaluate their own piece, telling me what they liked and what they thought needed improving, and look at some strategies for improving the parts that needed it.

It also gave them a little extra performance experience as many of them felt just as nervous about playing for the recording device as they would playing for an audience.

I encouraged them to work through the things they felt needed improving over the week and record themselves again at home later in the week and what a difference I heard at the next week’s lesson!  I will definitely do this again before our December recital, it was well worth the extra time.


Inspiring Creativity!

The month of May has been full of inspiring professional development opportunities for me, and last Friday’s session really took the cake! Forrest Kinney came to Edmonton to do a workshop on his Pattern Play and Chord Play book series and his 4 hour workshop turned into 5 hours of improvisation and inspiration!

My husband had recently been saying that he’d like to see our own children working not just on practicing their repertoire pieces and technique but also spending 5 minutes each days just making up their own music–not composing necessarily, just creating. Knowing only a little bit about Forrest’s work, I went hoping for some ideas to encourage my children and all my students to create their own music and I came away inspired and refreshed!

Forrest is an incredibly down to earth man and he took the time to really connect with the teachers he was working with, giving us all several opportunities to get up and create with him on the piano—it felt like child’s play!

And so this week, I used some of those techniques with each student. As we drag our poor, tired heels toward the end of the year and prepare for recital, our little improvisation sessions this week have been such a breath of fresh air–even my own husband (who does not play an instrument) sat down with me at the piano and we played an improvisational piano duet with a blues theme. Some of my parents even sat down with me and played and were thrilled to just sit and create! As the week progressed, with each student coming and creating, my excitement grew and I thought how perfect this is for every student.  Then Thursday arrived and with it one of my sweet little students who had had a very rough day.  She arrived late and her dad said she had really not wanted to come.  So I sat down with her and told her about my chance to be a student at Mr. Kinney’s workshop and suggested we just create some music at the piano.  She seemed to like that idea, so I began to play a blues on black pattern and told her to listen and then play whatever she liked on the black keys.  I played and played and played and encourage her to start but she just sat there with her hands in her lap.  Then I thought maybe she just wasn’t feeling connected to blues and started a slower more reflective pattern on white keys and suggested she just play on the white keys.  Again I played….and played…and, honestly, disappointment started to build.  I was so sure that this would work for everyone and after such a high of excitement this week, this felt like such a low.  Just when I was going to stop and return to the regular lesson, she lifted her hands to the keys and started to play….and I broke out in goosebumps! What she played was so beautiful, so haunting and so honestly emotional.  It was amazing.  At first her little melody was timid but it began to build and she added her left hand and I was stunned by the beauty of it! By the time we finished she was grinning from ear to ear and I was holding back tears!  Then I asked her if she’d like to try the blues on black and she grinned again and this time dove right in as soon as I started to play. Wow!  What a great way to finish off the week!

I am really hoping we Edmonton teachers will have the opportunity for a follow up session and with Forrest and more inspiring ideas in the near future, but in the meantime, this has reminded me how important teaching improvisation to my students is and I am determined to make it a regular part of our lessons!

Want to know a little bit more about Forrest??
Check this out:

Here is an improvisational duet he did with his wife, Akiko: