Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Giveaway Winners For Rhythm Card Set!!



Congratulations to the winners!! Please email me your mailing address so I can get the rhythm cards out to you. To everyone who participated, I'd like to thank you all for your interest in the Rhythm Card set and your encouraging comments.

If anyone is interested, I'm excited to announce that the Rhythm Card set is now available for purchase at MyTeachingAide's online store

Thank you again everyone for your interest in the giveaway!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Giveaway of Rhythm Card Set

When I first started to teach the Music For Young Children program, I was pleasantly surprised by how young children respond to sounds and how naturally they feel rhythm so the concept of rhythmic dictation for these little ones was very intriguing. In my early years with musical studies, I was never quite exposed to these kinds of rhythmic activities. Ear training exercises were sporadic and always secondary to practising and developing skills at the piano. The experience involved structured listening exercises and responding exactly according to what was expected in an exam environment. So, naturally, I was very interested in learning how to teach and help these children experience rhythm...in a creative way!

Rhythm dictation is a vital component of the MYC curriculum from the beginning and these young students learn to listen and dictate rhythm using manipulatives such as popsicle sticks for the quarter note rhythm from the very first lesson. As lessons progress, more rhythms are being introduced and the rhythmic patterns become more complex. I have to say that students enjoy the tactile experience tremendously for representing "rhythm stories" (as we call it) and it is just wonderful to see these kids having fun, all while developing a sensitivity to rhythmic patterns and sharpening their listening skills!

I have pondered a little more this summer and decided to plan things a little differently for rhythmic activities in my lessons. While I enjoy using manipulatives, it is considerable time spent to create these "toys" from craft supplies and often these items get lost from rhythm baggies. I have decided to use rhythm cards instead this year and to prevent the occasional missing card/rhythm, the cards are hole punched and students keep them in a binder ring. I have designed my first rhythm card set and this year, students will be collecting colourful cards for each rhythm as it is introduced to add to their collection.

So how can I use these rhythm cards? Here are some ideas I have in mind..
  • Introducing Rhythms
  • Students can play games like "Rhythm War" 
  • Rhythm dictation exercises
  • Identify Accents for simple and compound time signatures
  • Rest Placement exercises 
  • Construct rhythm for different time signatures
The colours at the top and bottom bars of the cards make it really easy for kids to pick out the rhythm, time signature or accent cards they need quickly amongst the pile of 40 cards in the deck. This rhythm card set includes 5 time signature cards, 8 "Accent" cards and 27 rhythm cards and comes printed on sturdy and thick card stock.

Without further ado, here's a sneak peek and a little product video introducing the new rhythm card set!



Here's the part I hope you will be excited about! I am hosting a giveaway of this new rhythm card set and would love to present to 3 teachers who will each receive 2 decks (one for teacher and another for his/her student) to try in your studios (of which I will be grateful for your feedback).

If anyone is interested in entering in the draw for this giveaway, please leave me a comment. Share this post on your facebook page and you will receive another entry to this draw! (be sure to let me know if have done so)

The draw will take place on Wednesday, August 21st at 1pm
Hope to hear from many of you!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mini Piano Flashcards Printable


I've been working on a new printable, have you noticed a new obsession with piano designs? I love stripes and dots so the pianos in this printable are full of of them. I am planning to use this with my younger son to boost note reading and sight reading skills over the summer. 

I designed this flashcard set so that the staff lines are extended to the edge of the cards to allow for sight reading activities. I am a huge advocate of employing an intervallic approach to reading music and believe that sight reading is enhanced when a student attains a combination of strong intervallic and note reading skills. On this note, if you haven't read Joy Morin's post on Intervallic Reading, be sure to do so on her blog. It's an excellent post and Joy shares some wonderful ideas and games for interval reading!

Yesterday was the first test drive with this flashcard set. I selected 5 cards (C-G on Treble Clef) and arranged the cards at random to make a first sight reading pattern. I challenged my little one to play the notes fluently without peeking down on his hands. Initially, it helped that the notes were "whole notes" so he could take his time but we increased the tempo gradually as he gained confidence at reading intervals and finding the distance on the piano. It was much FUN! After that, he had an idea to shuffle the cards and rearrange them to make a new sight reading pattern. I am so glad this little activity engages and gets him excited at sight reading.

I'm glad to share this printable to use with your students. If you click on the little black rectangles in the graphic and animation above, it shows a preview of the cards and other ideas for use. For print settings, be sure to print at the actual size. I recommend printing on card stock and laminating for durability.

If anyone is interested in a colour version of the piano designs, I am excited to announce that the coloured printable is available for purchase.

$4.99 CAD

With the purchase of the Coloured Mini Piano Flashcards, you will also receive a free PDF (22 pages) featuring a single note on each page for students to name the notes in the Treble and Bass Clef. Simply write the letters on each side, when used with an annotation app on the iPad or tablet. The PDF also includes 4 pages showing "cards" with a blank staff (but may need zooming in to draw effectively).  If you are looking for an annotation app, I'm loving GoodNotes, thank you Joy for the recommendation!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

2013 Year End Recital

It's been a week since my studio's year end recital. I still remember the weeks leading up to the recital, the preparation by the students, practising how to bow and the kids counting "tur-tle" and "half-note" to hold on a little longer to the bow. Seemed just like yesterday!

This year, the kids decided on their recital pieces and to spice it up, I asked the students to come dressed in a costume, in the theme of their recital pieces. It's not the Halloween season so students (or rather their parents) had the extra challenge of "thinking up" their costumes. Some of the kids worked on their costumes weeks in advance while a few were not too keen about falling short of customary recital attire. In the end, I decided that students had the choice to wear a costume and those who did would earn an additional entry to a draw for a movie ticket, for the efforts they put in.

Here are some of the titles of the recital pieces and the students sure had quite a bit of fun embellishing on their costumes.
  • Star Wars
  • Beauty And The Beast
  • Monster's Midnight March
  • Pirate Story
  • Bluebird On My Shoulder 
It was a lovely recital and every year, I am always surprised by how the students take to the stage - with such enthusiasm, poise and confidence. This year, the students announced their names and recital pieces before their performances. Most of the students performed by memory and I was very glad that they actually chose to play without the music after working on some exercises and techniques to enhance and improve memory.

We had a potluck party after the reception and it was so nice to meet the rest of the students' family and their guests. Really made my day when a few students came to ask "Can I play again?"

I am delighted to share a slideshow of photos captured at the recital. One of the projects I always look forward to after a memorable event!


Onward to the summer break, I was feeling inspired this morning to weave a little creation to remind myself to....



Sunday, May 5, 2013

2013 Recital Program Template


It's that time of the year again for recitals! This year, I will have 37 students playing their solo pieces, a few duet selections and I am excited that my younger son will participate with his first violin solo.  Since I assigned students their recital pieces, many students have been hard at work polishing their pieces to performance level. It will be the first performance for many of my 4-5 year old students and I am so happy that they are excited about sharing their little song. It's just so rewarding to see the students' confidence growing each year when they play at recitals and festivals.

Yesterday, I finished working on a design for a new recital program template and matching invitation cards that students can print for their guests. I am intending to print a copy of my program on cardstock (in colour) to save a keepsake but for the actual recital, the program will be printed in black and white on coloured paper. I am loving the lime green for this season and hence the colour scheme I have selected.  
This printable includes the colour as well as black and white versions of the program and invitation card designs. Click below to download the file in word format, edit the text to personalize for your studio and print.

2013 Recital Program (Word)

I have really enjoyed working on these creative projects for the studio and hope this template comes in handy and timely for many of you who are planning your recitals this time of the year. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Concerto Stars

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Sometime last year, members of the RMTA (South Fraser Branch) came to know of a very ambitious project that the branch was to embark on and now it's getting exciting that we are just weeks away from the event. "Concerto Stars" as the project was named.

I thought it was a fabulous idea and more so, I am so grateful for this opportunity for our students, especially the efforts of a branch member and chair of the project, who has done an incredible amount of work all these months as we lead up to the big night on May 12th!

More than 100 students auditioned last December and 40 students were selected to move forward with the Level 2 auditions and interview with the conductor of the Lions Gate Sinfonia and his assistant, from which the finalists were shortlisted.

These students will have the opportunity to play with an orchestra at their current level of study, isn't that amazing? The conductor, Maestro Clyde Mitchell has created orchestrations for RCM preparatory to Grade 9 pieces so that these lucky students will have a chance to play with the Lions Gate Sinfonia. The audience will be treated to "Starfish At Night" (yes, the music of talented Anne Crosby from "PianoAnne"), favorites from the Grade 2 and 4 Levels, "March of the Goblins" and "Monkeys In The Tree" by Boris Berlin among 18 other pieces from the RCM repertoire list, including 2 duets at the concert.

For these participating students, it will be an experience of a lifetime to perform in front of 1,000 people, in a beautiful concert hall, dressed in formal concert wear and playing on a Steinway concert grand with orchestral accompaniment.

The second half of the programme will feature Ian Parker, a well known Canadian pianist who will be treating us to "Rhapsody in Blue" by Gershwin and "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" by Rachmaninoff.

I am really happy that most of my students will be attending this concert. It's such a wonderful opportunity for students to hear great music (and other students who play at their level) and be inspired!

For anyone in the Vancouver area, I hope you will come and support these talented young musicians! Tickets can be purchased from the Bell Centre box office.
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Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Easter Printable

It's been a long break from my blog and while the blogging hiatus, I have really enjoyed some quality time with family and working with students in their preparation for 2 festivals and the January exams over the last few months.

The studio is closed now for 2 weeks and I am glad to find some play time at the computer. With Easter around the corner, I'm excited to share a new printable in an Easter theme. 

This printable features 24 flashcards for students to identify diatonic, chromatic semitones, whole tones and enharmonic equivalents. Page 6 provides an optional card backing for this set. Here's a preview of the printable and you may download "Guess Which" here


Hope you and your students enjoy this printable as much as I have had fun creating! If only I have all day to do this :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Music Math Printable and Background

With the festive season approaching, I'm excited to share a seasonal printable "Music Math" that I have had fun working on and enjoying with my 5 year old son. I admit that perhaps I have gone a little far with the design, I actually spent quite a bit of time tweaking this one till it met my liking :)

Before I created this, I had written out the rhythms for my students to figure out the math but my students actually found much more fun creating their own musical math questions for each other, especially their moms!!

The coloured version is perfect to use on the iPad with drawing apps such as Skitch, Multitouch Whiteboard or Paperport Notes, one of my favorite apps that opens and allows the user to annotate their pdf documents. I have also included a black and white version if anyone is interested in printing for their students to complete with colouring and decorations. I hope you like this one!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Turkey Trivia

I created the Turkey Trivia iPad background yesterday and a video just for fun but wasn't sure about posting as I am certain it will be too late for use in classes since Thanksgiving is tomorrow. But feel free to use it with a Whiteboard or Drawing app if anyone is still looking for quick activity in a Thanksgiving theme.
I wrote the questions on the "feathers" and students simply write their answers in the white circles.



Here's a blank template for customizing questions to suit your lesson.

Turkey Trivia For iPad (jpg format)

Turkey Trivia Printable (pdf format)

Have fun and Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends and teachers!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

C Major Street

It's back to school next week, can't believe the summer has just flown by. I sat down this morning and had intended to continue to work on lesson plans since classes are starting next week! But, as I was thinking about how I can help students "see" the fingering patterns for scales, especially when students will be transitioning on to 2 octave scales, I got carried away with creating my C Major Street design above. 

I thought this visual will help students get the idea of groups of 3s and 4s when working on Group 1 scales. I am excited to show this to my students when they come back next week.

On the topic of scales, be sure to also check out Susan Paradis' post and her lovely printable that provides students with a great hands on activity for building major and minor scales, I LOVE it!!

Please leave me a comment if you find this visual helpful and if you may be interested in using it for your studio, I'll be happy to send you the download link for the pdf file. Be sure to leave your email address or drop me an email at wendy@pianoescapades.com

Hope your summer has been relaxing and best wishes for a wonderful and fulfilling teaching year!

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