Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Best Friend For Life

My writing ability isn't something that I feel completely confident in, so awhile back, I asked my best friend Katie to edit my blog posts.  She's been my best friend since I was a baby.  She lived one house down from me growing up and our backyards were connected by a broken fence that we could crawl through.  Our parents are best friends as well and even last Christmas our parents and us (Katie and I) partied together and exchanged gifts.  Katie works professionally as an editor and I'm so lucky to have her!  Putting a little plug in ... if you are interested in having a blog editor, I'd be glad to connect you. She doesn't know that I'm writing this post, so please overlook all my grammar errors!

My best friend's dad past away this past week after a long battle with parkinson's and diabetes.  I'm sad tonight because flights were outrageously expensive (nothing under $800) for me to attend the funeral.

I know that we will all see him again.

I love you Katie!  Sending prayers of comfort to you and your family.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Theory/Ear-training books that I Love

I've used TCW products for years and would highly recommend them! I love their Theory books, and I recently found out that all of the ear-training examples (found at the back of each theory book) are on www.kjos.com. Click on "Kjos Multi-media library" found on the right side of the main page, then click on 'Theory', and then click on the TCW theory book that you are using. You can listen to the examples or simply download them. I'm so excited to start using this online tool because it's something that I can assign my students to do at home.  I can easily let them work on my computer in between lessons as well. What a time saver!

Are you familiar with TCW products? When I was a student at Utah State University (USU) their products were being piloted at the Utah State University Youth Conservatory. At USU, I taught group theory classes and soon became quite familiar with their theory books, technic charts, and fun games. I'll blog more later about some of my favorite TCW products and maybe offer something for free!  How fun would that be?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Time to Change

I've been busy updating my new studio website and making a few new changes to my policy letter. I've really enjoyed following Anne's blog. A while back she wrote an entry called "A Make-up Policy That Almost Works." Enforcing my make-up policy has been challenging for me this past year. I'm such a softy! I cave most of the time and schedule make-ups on Saturday or tack another student on at the end of a regular teaching day. This usually means that my husband is on baby-duty a little bit longer and his schedule is always being compromised. After reading this entry and then researching what other teachers do, I decided to make a couple changes.
  • Semester/Tuition Billing:  I've always charged by the lesson/per month. For example, if the month has 5 Monday's, then I adjust the invoice accordingly. This doesn't always work well when you are constantly adjusting for holidays, school holidays, and winter and spring break. This is frustrating for everyone's budget! I really hope this new billing will work better for me and my families. So far, the feedback from my parents has been positive.  
  • Missed Lessons:  After I read Anne's blog entry about her make-up lesson policy, I decided to give it a try. I created a Studio Calendar page on my website that lists all my students' lesson times. If they cancel, then I update the calendar to open their scheduled time up for another student to use. I also decided to open up a few days here and there as "make-up days" to fall back on. I've tried so many different ways of handling make-up lessons, so I really hope this is the cure or at least a positive remedy.  Last year, I implemented a "swap list," allowing students to trade with other students when conflicts arise. I only had a couple families utilize it, and I still ended up scheduling make-up lessons.  
I really hope these new changes work well for my studio!  I'll keep you updated.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bulletin Board

I have a darling little student who was diagnosed with leukemia a few months ago. She's handling all the treatments like a champ, and she still comes to lessons when she can. She loves playing the piano and catches on really quickly. When she started her treatments I asked one of my good friends to crochet her a pink hat (pink is her favorite color). About a week after I gave the hat to her I received a darling card in the mail thanking me for the hat. I looked at her beautiful message on the card and realized I didn't have a place in my studio where I could display this card:

Because I'm not creative on my own, I spent some time on Google looking for a way to make a bulletin board where I could display my student's card. I stumbled upon this site:  www.jenniferrizzo.com 
There were directions on how to turn an old picture into a cork board. I took an old picture that was in my guest room, removed the glass, and hot glued some cork board to the picture. Then, I used some old piano books (I cut up a Bach Chorale book that I bought at a second hand shop) and glued the music to the cork. I also spray painted the frame black to match my studio. Last, I put some Mod Podge over the music for a finished look. I love how it turned out, and now I can hang up all kinds of things, including cards from my students!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I won!

One of my favorite blogs to visit is The Teaching Studio and recently they reviewed an online ear training resource called Eartraining Pro. Through The Teaching Studio's blog, Eartraining Pro offered to give away a free account to one lucky reader and that lucky reader just happened to be me. I'm really excited, especially because I'm new to the piano blogging network and really didn't expect to win. I'm looking forward to learn more about this resource and I'm sure it will be a helpful addition to my studio. Thanks so much Eartraining Pro and The Teaching Studio!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Music Money Incentive

After Spring Festival, I decided to implement an incentive program to help my students continue to be motivated and work toward the Spring Recital in May.  If this incentive program works well, I hope to do something similar in the Fall. 


The main goal is to motivate students to develop more effective practice habits, improve skills, and recognize/reward consistent efforts for progress.

Each student will strive to earn a $50 ticket to attend the end-of-the-year Ice Cream Party. Once a student has earned his or her ticket, he or she may continue to save up to shop in my “store.” Shopping will take place during the party, on May 21st at 11:30 a.m.

For their efforts, students will receive:


*For each piece and/or assignment passed with all details mastered
*For each week that all Scales, Chords, and Arpeggios are passed


*For each week that ALL assignments are passed
*For each week that all materials are brought to the lesson


*For performing a piece (by memory) in public, at school or church, or other outside events
*For keeping a six day practice log

Students will be deducted:

-$1 For not paying attention to rhythm
-$1 For “fiddling” while teacher is talking
-$5 For coming to a lesson without all materials needed for the lesson

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Festival

This past weekend, several of my students participated in the Spring Festival held at Oakton High School. Each student performed two selections: one piece chosen from a bulletin put out by the National Federation of Music Clubs, and another piece of their choice. Students performed for two judges and were given a rating of Superior (5 points), Excellent (4 points), Very Good (3 points), Good (2 points), or Fair (1 point).
Once a student has earned 15 points they are awarded a "15 point gold cup." Cups are awarded in increments of 15 points (15, 30, 45, etc.) per event.
Each student worked incredibly hard for this event and all received Superior ratings. Congratulations to all of you who participated this year. I'm so proud of you!