Winter lasted so long that the weather people coined a new term-“Sprinter!” We cheered ourselves up during “Sprinter“ by celebrating the winter and spring holidays with seasonal music and games. Winter blues were chased away with Valentines Day music about family and friends, Pots of Gold were pursued on iPad music worksheets, and Spring was welcomed with Easter sacred music and and “ hoppy” holiday tunes and games. But summer is coming soon, and we’re all glad to say goodbye to “Sprinter!”
Our students got together in December for our “Christmas is for Sharing” group class. We enjoyed playing Christmas duets for each other, created wooden ornaments with old fashioned Christmas sheet music, played “Hot Potato : Would You Rather”, and, of course, shared some holiday treats. Students took home recital program templates to fill in over the Christmas break so that they could hold their own recitals at home. Not only was it a great way to share their special music with family and friends, the could earn a star on the “Mission: Music” chart for completing another challenge!
October 4 through 9 is World Space Week. That might not seem to have much to do with music, but some of my students have been "out of this world" since we returned to classes in September! The eclipse inspired us to to learn some music with space travel and planets themes. This week, my middle school and older students will be playing a very popular note reading game called "Staff Wars". Staff Wars was created to be used on a computer in music classrooms and has been popular for quite a few years. It's also available now as an app (iPad and Andoid), or can still be downloaded for free for desktop use. If you're looking for a fast-paced note reading game that can be used on just about any device, check out "Staff Wars".
We're celebrating Arts in Education Week during our second week of the Fall term . Many of our students are in band, orchestra, and chorus in school as well as private piano lessons. The skills they learn here integrate so easily to their school music programs. I hope you'll take time this year to enjoy the wonderful concerts our schools will be offering -from marching band halftime shows to high school musicals, there's something for everyone!
Our studio was full of holiday cheer in December! During the week before Christmas, students were able to attend one of two student get-togethers to celebrate the season. Of course, performing the holiday music they've all been working on since Thanksgiving was our "main event", but we also played a "name that Christmas song" emoji game on the computer, created a holiday wreath by tracing our hands to the theme of " Many Hands Make Merry Music", and had to guess the composer as I played the original seasonal music that they composed themselves this fall. And what would a party be without snacks to share?!
This month our students have been preparing seasonal music for the up-coming Christmas holiday. We celebrate with piano parties during the last week of classes, and each student shares a musical performance with fellow students, plays music games, creates a music craft to take home, and, of course, enjoys some holiday treats! Click here to hear a recording of "We Three Kings" that twin brothers Ben and Luc made of the duet for the group.
We're entering our third week of our Fall Challenge and and everyone dove right it (pun intended!) As you may remember, our theme is "Something Fishy's Going on!" and students are busy checking off activities on their challenge charts. Elizabeth and her brother William, who just started piano lessons this year, were the first two students to complete a challenge-their mother made a video of them playing one of their favorite pieces at home and e-mailed to me. Six other students have complete one or more challenges, as well. Completing challeges allows the students to add "fish' with their names to our underwater chart and be entered into a random drawing in November for a "Dory" stuffed animal. The more challenges completed, the more chanced each student has to win.Read More
Summer is coming to a close, and I'll bet you and your family saw at least one of the fun animated features that were so popular this summer. We're going to get a little fishy this fall, and start a new Challenge- "Finding Dory"! A list of twelve activities will be provided to every student who wants to accept the challenge. Everyone who completes at least eight of the twelve challenges will have their "fish" entered into a random drawing for a Dory stuffed piano mascot. If you'd like to increase your odds of winning, complete more challenges! Complete 10 challenges, and you can add a second fish to the pool- complete all 12, and you may enter a third fish into the drawing.
The challenges include a variety of activities: reading "fishy" flash cards, completing fish-themed music work sheets, composing music, meeting practice goals, and others.
This Fall Challenge begins the week of September 19th and runs through November 10th. Good luck, and "Go Fish"!
On Sunday, June 5th, twenty -two students performed their favorite music for friends and family at the Monroeville Community Church in Monroeville, PA. This year-end event featured a variety of music ranging from classical to jazz and contemporary, played by students graduating from kindergarten through high school. Two of our students are moving on to college next year. Stephanie, who performed a piece called "Keep Rising", in the spirit of moving on to new experiences, will be studying chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and Madisson will be studying communications at Penn State. We've had many wonderful years of music together!
What do Midnight Frosting, Nutcracker, Mystery Man and Princess Fiona have in common? They’re students in the Kerry Drombosky Piano Studio! This winter, in order to foster a sense of community among the students, each one created a new identity for himself and was matched with a Piano Pal. During the last eight weeks , Pals exchanged recordings of the pieces they were working on, composed simple melodies based upon the rhythm of the piano pal’s name, told teach other which musical instrument they’d like to be ( to be- not to play!), and older students brain-stormed fanciful musical technologies they’d like to invent. Next week is the “Big Reveal”- they’ll find out the true identities of Mr. Cool, Sportsy, and Pop Corn!
Just a little over a month ago, we celebrated the end of the 2014-15 school year with our Spring Recital at Monroeville Community Church. Twenty-two students performed for an audience of families and friends. We were pleased to have so many new students performing for the first time this year! The students also received their music medals for completing this year’s “Thirty Piece Challenge”, and some even went for the “Forty Piece Challenge”! As a group, they learned over 700 pieces of music this year.
A group of students were recognized by the MTNA( Music Teachers National Association) for 5 or more years of piano lessons. Pictured here are Ava, Tim, Anna, and Tyler. Missing from the photo are Madison, Maria and Andy. Several of them have completed 7 years of study, and are looking forward to continuing on in the Fall.
On Saturday April 11th, two of our students participated in the Pittsburgh Piano Teachers Association’s annual GPS( Great Performers Series) recital, East Division. Held at Beulah Presbyterean Churich in Churchill, the GPS Programs offer area students the opportunity to perform with other area piano students in a beautiful setting on a 9 foot Steinway grand piano. Our two participants this year were Madisson Biertempfel, playing Kirnberger’s Bourree #2, and Andy Fisher, who performed Haydn’s German Dance in D Major and James Hook’s Allegretto in C Major. Well done!!
Surely “Spring is right around the corner”! Our students passed the time during February’s frigid weather by declaring February “Game Month”- each week, at the beginning of class, they’d spend a few minutes playing board games created by master teachers throughout the US and Canada. We developed our skills in key recognition, note reading, intervals and rhythm, while building snowmen, chasing snow flakes, playing hearts and clubs, and racing around a race track counting rhythms. We do play games on the studio computer and iPad, but sometimes, playing an old-fashioned board game (and eating your life saver game piece!) is even more fun!
We’ve been back to piano classes for a month now after our December break, and all of the students are well on their way to completing their “30 Piece Challenge”- in fact, seven have already completed 30 pieces and are closing in on the ultimate “40 Piece Challenge”! In the beginning of January, our studio-wide total for pieces learned was 432, and we’re going to be hitting the 500 mark soon. The Challenge ends in April, and the students will receive a music dog tag at the Spring Recital to commemorate their achievement. I’m in the process of scheduling our recital now, and hope to have approval from Monroeville Community Church for Sunday, June 7th.
Don’t be disappointed that the Ground Hog saw his shadow- remember, “6 weeks ’til Spring” means it really is right around the corner!
As we started back to piano this Fall, many of the students were working on folk tunes from the United States and around the world. One tune that was a big hit with many of them is “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”-as soon as they played the first few measures, everyone recognized it! Our latest featured performer, Elizabeth, recorded it for us on our digital piano and chose two instrument voices to create a more authentic African sound- the flute and marimba. We really liked it, and hope you will, too!
We have been off to a very busy start this Fall in piano class- many of our students have learned at least 10 pieces for this years “Thirty Piece Challenge”! We also started working on Halloween and Fall themed music.
A quick note about our up-coming Holiday schedules: before you know it, we’ll be taking our Thanksgiving break! As usual, we will have regular classes Monday, November 24th, and MAKE UP CLASSES for those of you who have missed a class (not many so far!) will be offered on Tuesday, Nov. 25, Wednesday, Nov. 26, and Monday Dec 1st.
If you haven’t missed a class , you’re on vacation- no class for you! No regular classes will be held during those days or the day after Thanksgiving. Regular classes will resume on Tuesday, Dec.2nd.
When a new school years begins, parents start to focus on ways to help their child to be organized and be successful in their class work. With just a little help and support from their parents, children can achieve the same level of success with their music assignments. Piano teacher Alex Bowen, of Stepping Stones Music in Great Britain, has written a great article on some simple strategies parents can use to help their children practice at home. http://steppingtones.co.uk/stepping-tones-blog/2014/8/6/how-to-help-your-child-practise-the-piano
Here a few of Alex’s tips:
Practice should happen everyday-at first, even just a few minutes each day is enough to establish the practice habit.
Make it social- ask your child to play the pieces that you enjoy hearing him practice-ask him questions about them! Better yet, ask him to teach you how to play it! Practice can be a lonely experience- include other people.
Praise, Praise, Praise! Positive comments are fuel for productive practicing.
Children love to know that their parents are interested in and value what they’re doing-why not read Alex’s tips for sharing your child’s musical journey!
There are only a few more weeks left of summer vacation for most of my students, and sometimes these last days can be b-o-r-i-n-g! Why not give your children something fun to do by exploring the free resources provided by our friend, Kristin Jensen, on her Ear Training and Improvisation page?!
Kristin has loads of colorful theory sheets and composing ideas that you can down load and print or view on your tablet to get a jump-start on reviewing for the start of our fall session. Lots of our students enjoyed entering her “I’ve Got the Blues ” lyric writing contest last October ( 6 were finalists!) – the Ear Training and Improvisation materials are always a treat!
It’s finally online! My computer was giving me a lot of trouble putting this one together (something about an imported wall paper that was shutting everything down!) The students performances are posted alphabetically by last name- of course, for privacy sake, their slides show first name only. But if your last name begins with “Z”, you know you’re at the end of the show!
The Fall class schedule has almost been completed. Only a few students need to confirm their times, and I have only 4 openings in the schedule for new students. Parents often wait until school starts (and they have their other activities scheduled) before they call about lessons, so I expect to fill these spots in September or early October. If you have a friend or relative who might be interested in enrolling, “the sooner, the better”!