Turkeys, Spiders and Practicing

Happy Thanksgiving!

I trust that your studio and classes are full and brimming with future musician's and rock stars.  I am enjoying my private students this year and looking forward to doing some group classes to cover for the upcoming holidays.  I've decided to cancel classes on all holiday Monday's and then have a group class on the Tuesday.  I'm preparing the students for this group class by letting them choose a song that they will perform for the other.   They also have been learning the E flat blues scale and will improvise with each other and if there is any time left, a bit of theory and some games.

I've been thinking about this idea for a long time and have read many blogs from teachers who do just this.  I was a little worried that parents might balk at the idea of a group lesson but not one parent has said a word to the contrary.  So I'm looking forward to seeing what this little venture will do to create musical friendships among my private students.

The British Columbia Music For Young Children conference was a couple of weekends ago.  It was a great time of sharing and being inspired by our speakers.  I love the fact that our speakers were are our own MYC teachers who have expertise in other areas and are willing to share their knowledge with us.

Wendy Stevens of "Compose Create" website and blog has written the most adorable 'Happy Birthday" song that will be the hit at any recital.  Take this link to hear it and order it for a student for an upcoming recital.

Please read about my experience at the Alberta conference with Paul Coates of the "Practice Monster" fame.

Happy Thanksgiving and don't forget the "Turkey Feather" term review for a quick and fun Thanksgiving activity in your studio this week.

Lois Dicknoether
Solo Time Music Games

Solo Time Music Games

are designed to instill a life long passion 
and understanding of music and its concepts 
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Game of the Month
Here are a couple of new digital products this month and most are geared for the Music for Young Children program.
A Critter Avenue Story is a cute little review of critters developed for the MYC program
 11 pages for only $2.29.

(This product sold out at all conferences.)


Spider Fingers is a fun printable with fingering and fingering exercises to help students learn and review their finger numbers.   Free for only a short time!

To Market To Market - The Practice Monster
In August a parent phoned and asked me to take her child as a private student who had been a student of mine a few years previously.  "Mrs. Lois," she said "You are the only one who can get him to play, he's so talented." Two years prior I had released him to another teacher as I was really tired of him NOT practicing ... ever. 

Reluctantly, I agreed while kicking myself for giving in, once again.  This was the student who I once dismissed from a lesson ten minutes in from lack of practicing and attitude.

In August, I attended a conference and heard Paul Coates speak on  "Calming the Practice Monster." He shared how he turned his students into practicing monsters.  But the one idea and suggestion that I totally couldn't get my head around was that he has all of his students phone him and let him know when they had practiced every day.
My immediate thought was, "I just don't have time for that."

But then I took back this student who never practiced and so on our first lesson I informed him that he was to call me every time he practiced.  There had to some accountability on his part.   He wasn't impressed but he phoned me on his first day of practice.  He sheepishly said that he had  practiced and I told him how "awesome" he was, which is another "Calming the Practice Monster" tip.

After a week of this student calling me it wasn't the student who changed but me.  We kind of developed a new kind of relationship. 

I wasn't always there to answer the studio line but I did listen to the messages the student left. After four weeks this student started telling me about the problems he was having with a particular part of the music that day and I was able to give suggestions right then on the phone or I would phone him back with a suggestion.

As a result, I started giving other students who didn't have a great track record of practicing, the privileged of calling me.  In every conversation I told them they were "awesome" and thanked them for calling me.  It didn't take longer than 30 seconds. The change in these students practicing is quite amazing.  And for me, I realized how I love hearing from them and encouraging them through out the week and developing more than just a once a week lesson relationship. 

Last night one little 8 year old phoned me and said he practiced and after I said how "amazing" he was and thank you for calling me and have a good night,  he said, "Good Night to you too, Mrs. Lois, see you Monday." 

That's what I'm excited about, the students practiced and they are excited about coming to lesson practiced and not feeling bad about not practicing.