Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spinner for iPad

This last weekend, I had a chance to play around with the iPad and browse to see what's available on the app store. What a huge database of apps out there. Many of them are actually free apps and I'm just blown away by the vast selection of apps for virtually anything you are looking for.
I was curious about a customizable spinner template to review a  variety of musical concepts and guess what I found? The amazing "Spin the bottle" app by Vitzu. There were a few other similar apps that are free but I chose this one for $.99 for the colorful graphics, full screen app and its ease to operate. Creating titles for the "wedges" is a breeze and each spinner allows up to 15 sections with a timer for each, if so preferred. To give an idea on how simple it is to customize and set up a spinner, I created my Tempo Spinner in less than 5 minutes!!

Yesterday, I used the app in my class for the first time and what FUN! The students had a blast reviewing tempos along with game cards that I threw in to add a twist to the game. Each student took turns to spin the bottle and complete the task from the game card in the tempo the bottle pointed to. For example, one student had to "dance accelerando"
I am absolutely thrilled to find this app and for $.99, I think it's well worth the purchase as it's SO fun and easy to use! I was initially thinking of creating a few spinners for studio use but with this app, I am happy that I can now devote my efforts to other initiatives this summer...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Resources for iPad Whiteboard App

If you haven't seen Anne's post on the "Multitouch Whiteboard for iPad", you must head over now! Thanks Anne for sharing this awesome idea!! I have to admit it's a fantastic tool that opens up a world of possibilities for its use as a teaching aid and adds a fun way for students to complete theory worksheets on the iPad. For those of you still on the fence about an iPad, perhaps this will finally convince you?? :) I was one of those people sitting on the fence months ago and today, I think it's probably one of my best purchases for the studio. The only downside is my inability to afford a class set of these awesome gadgets. An iPad with a larger screen size would also be REALLY NICE!
Anyway, the Whiteboard for the iPad. I thought it was great as an extension to the Crayola boards but what is exceptionally neat is the fact that users can create theory worksheets and save them as "backgrounds" for students to complete on the iPad. Backgrounds are simply resized and saved as photos on the iPad and they are incredibly easy to switch back and forth on the program. And it's completely paperless, no more printing and slipping in worksheets on sheet protectors.
I'm so impressed and excited that I decided this year, I will be spending some time designing and creating backgrounds for this program and sharing them on a page dedicated for iPad resources!! :) I'm even considering sharing these files with students and families so they can have access on their iPads at home.
I got a chance to resize and transfer the Circle of Fifths and Finger Dance jpeg files on the iPad. Quite pleased with how they look and function on the whiteboard app. I will be posting the resized jpeg files on my blog under "iPad resources" if anyone is interested in downloading for use on the iPad. Here's a picture to share...have fun exploring this app!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Summer Project List

Now that the recital is over, my summer break has officially started and I'm so excited to get started on projects and some work I've had to put off for a while. Most of the items on my to do list stem from the inspirations, discussions and wonderful ideas I've had the joy of learning from some fabulous blogs. While I really admire the enthusiasm and energy of teachers who are running music camps and their creativity with the curriculum, I think it's something I have to pass for now. Instead I opt to take the opportunity to relax, reenergize and smell some of the roses out there.  
It's funny to think how life seemed so different just 3 months ago before I created this blog. I didn't recall feeling so inspired, didn't recall being excited about writing, let alone maintaining a blog. Writing was never my thing and I still remember the shivers at the thought of completing an essay. I was quite nervous about this blog and particularly anxious that I will not be able to keep it running for too long. Well, it's been 2.5 months and I am enjoying it especially getting to know so many teachers and the friendships I have made along the way. I actually look forward to sharing and learning from other piano teacher bloggers. Anyway, I am excited to share my summer project list and day 1 will officially begin tomorrow. This list is arranged in order of priority and I consider myself successful if I can get through half of my list for the summer. Fingers crossed!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gift Certificate?

I was practicing one afternoon last week when I heard a knock on my front door. I was greeted by a familiar face and then the gentleman introduced himself as the husband of an adult student who used to take lessons at her leisure. I was surprised to see him but it was not long before I learned he would like a gift of piano lessons for his wife's birthday. How VERY sweet and thoughtful, his lovely gesture really moved me and more significantly, I felt honored that my lessons were worth something to this wonderful lady I had the priviledge of working with. For the longest time, I thought she had quit and I had failed to keep her interested.
The gentleman asked if I had gift certificates and wanted to know if he could have one right away. I thought that he really deserved a nicer gift certificate than a casual handwritten business card that acknowledges receipt of the purchase. Thank goodness he was patient enough to wait a few days considering my crazy schedule last week. Yesterday, he came to collect the gift certificate and the smile on his face really touched me....
Since I have the gift certificate created, I'm glad to share it with anyone who may need this for their studio. I've never had a request for one until now.....what an honor to know my service makes a worthy gift...:)

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Year-End Recital

Last Friday, I had my studio's Year-End Recital on a beautiful, sunny day. I am SO delighted that the kids put on such a splendid performance of their recital songs. There was such amazing poise and confidence and the students all seemed so eager to be in the limelight. They practiced very diligently and I could feel the looming excitement to share their recital songs with the audience. The large hall and grand piano that stood on a stage did not seem to intimidate the performers at all and they each performed their solos by memory. Words simply couldn't describe the pride and joy I was feeling.
The program featured solo performances by MYC and private students, a duet and trio and ended with my rendition of Gershwin's "Embraceable You", arranged by Earl Wild. It certainly felt good to perform alongside the students. Then I presented the gifts and awards and what a time of sharing afterwards! 
The event was indeed a memorable one and I decided to make a slideshow of the pictures captured to share with parents. Another year has gone by but it was one filled with much warmth, wonderful memories and amazing progress with these students. I'm excited to share the slideshow with all fellow teachers, hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Winner of My First Giveaway is....

The random number generator says............Heidi!!

Congratulations Heidi, I'm so excited to gift this. Please contact me at pianoescapades@gmail.com and provide me with your contact and mailing address.
Thank you all who entered the draw and for your wonderful suggestions for my next giveaway. I am feeling inspired to create and I absolutely love all your ideas! THANK YOU!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recital Preparations

Last week, I had a "kids only" class to work on a special project for their parents. It was doodle day and the kids were overjoyed when I pulled out sheets of drawing paper and crayons and then announced the creative assignment. Parents have attended a full year of lessons with their children and I thought it would be nice for them to take a break and for the students to work on a simple thank you gift for mom and dad. The kids worked within a 10 minute time limit to complete their artwork after which I quizzed them on musical terms, symbols and everything we've learned throughout the year.

Here's what a student came up with after 20 minutes of doodling and writing down the answers to my questions. I collected the artwork, rolled them into scrolls and attached a small packet of tea bags along with a thank you note. I'm planning a surprise gift that the children can proudly present their parents.

As for student gifts, I have been keeping busy with some frame designs that showcase each student's composition on one side and photos on another. The project is finally completed for 24 students and I am very excited to include this along with the certificates in a gingham sleeve to present on recital day. I am hoping this will be a special keepsake in the years to come....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When a Teacher's Heart Melts...

One of the joys of teaching is knowing you have a special place in a student's heart. Recently,  I was presented with a beautifully hand drawn card with the most heart warming message. It is pieces like this that really melt my heart and encourage me to be the best I can to provide a fulfilling musical experience for students. I am always fascinated by the work of a child, no matter how simple or intricate as I can reminisce with warm recollections of the time when the special gift was created and feel the sincerity and thoughts of the young mind behind a masterpiece.
Over the years, I have received quite a few cards and I have kept them in a photo box along with other treasures from students and parents. I feel I have been blessed with the most amazing families and students:)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

To Perform Or Not..?

I have had reservations about playing because as a perfectionist,  I grew to believe for many years that there was nothing worth showing unless a work was 100%. And to have been born into a musical family, performing at a recital or concert hall was rather nerve-wrecking due to the high expectations imposed on me and the pressure of keeping up with surrounding musical prodigies, competition winners and piano students who were offered full scholarships to study abroad. One senior scored a full 100% at a distinguished Performer's Diploma examination with only one word in the comment form - BRAVO!! These were my very humble friends I got to know very well and who were visiting my home a few days a week. In my culture too, praises are few and far between and performing was often associated to "showing off" so in many ways, I felt self conscious and rather inhibited.

But for the last few years, my perspective has changed quite a bit when it dawned on me that music comes from the heart and is meant to be shared regardless of skill level. Of course that's not to say that one should never aspire to improve and train to meet the musical and technical demands of a given piece. But I view playing as an opportunity to share and be opened to constructive critiscms. A chance for the pianist to bring his/her performance to a new level of musical depth and technical proficiency, possible through one's humility and by the grace and kindness of fellow musicians who share the same love for the art.

Today, I encourage even my youngest students to perform for friends and family and I'm really happy that the students have so many opportunities to play at recitals and festivals. Last week, I delighted at the news of one of my students performing via skype to relatives in Europe. I learn to offer positive comments along with suggestions and tips as I like to put, rather than "constructive criticisms" to keep the students motivated.

I'm wondering how teachers feel about performing and sharing their music. Were you exposed to performing from a young age? Would love to hear your thoughts :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My First Giveaway!!

Eversince I won Leah's compound time teaching blocks, I've been inspired to reciprocate the generosity of an amazing community of piano teachers with my own creations. I'm learning so much and excite at reading what everyone is up to and what everyone is doing to raise the quality of teaching and making it a fun experience at the same time.
With this in mind, I'm excited to announce my first giveaway! A very humble project on musical alphabet cards complete with sharps and flats as well as a bonus set of 1" stickers set on wooden discs with magnet backings. This is my first attempt at creating something and I'm excited to give this away to one lucky winner. 

The giveaway includes the following: - items #1 to 3 are printed in color on cardstock and fully laminated
  1. 3 sets of A-G alphabet cards (2.5" each)
  2. 7 pieces of sharps (1" each)
  3. 7 pieces of flats (1" each)
  4. 10 pieces of 1" stickers (set on wooden discs with magnet backing)
  5. 10 pieces of critter clothespins from this post
To enter the draw, you will need to
  1. comment on this post and tell me what should my next giveaway be - hope this is an easy one :)
  2. for another entry, be on my list of followers
  3. and a 3rd entry, mention this post on facebook or your blog if you have one and make sure to let me know about it.
I will generate a random draw on Saturday, 18th June and post the name of the winner on my blog. Good Luck!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Fun with Eraser Toppers

I have been working on triads and inversions with the students and I love the use of my "crazy erasers" (as a student puts it) as a teaching aid. They seemed to be working really well functioning as visual cues to help students easily find the notes to the inversions as they try to simultaneously remember the finger numbers. To add to the fun, I clipped on miniature strawberry clothespins on the pencil eraser toppers and then set the students on their way to finding the root, 1st and 2nd inversions of the triad.
As usual, the room was filled with a chorus of giggles as students watched their "guideposts" fall. I love how these simple little pieces bring the fun and excitement in learning...
I'm now wondering if any teachers are using different tools, visuals or methods to introduce triads and inversions to a young student. If so, I would love to hear your thoughts and glean other ideas on presenting this concept.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...