Piano Camp: Put on a Show!

photo

Planning, preparing and executing a piano camp takes time but with careful planning it turns out to be a satisfying endeavor for the teacher and an exciting experience for the students!

Beginning in January, I polled the parents to find out the interest level and available dates. Shortly after I began browsing the many resources available. The model for piano camp has traditionally been group games, crafts, worksheets and rhythm play. I decided to follow a different path in order to challenge myself and inspire the students.  The two major changes I made, were:

  1. Piano Camp for a wide range of ages.
  2. Put on a Show!

Offering a piano camp for ages 5-11 seems like a disaster. However, by mixing the age groups and musicianship levels, I did not have to worry about having enough children enrolled in various groups.  My goal was to have 12 children participate in the piano camp. Why did I stop at age eleven? Two reasons. The 12-year-old students that I know would probably not have enrolled in the same class as the 5-year-old students, so I went ahead and offered a different camp for them.

Usually at the end of the week the students would go home with crafts and worksheets completed with a little verbal summary from me.  Sometimes each student would perform solos or we would prepare a piece to play as a group.  But I took a risk  and instead prepared them to perform an “operetta” . Students had to sing, dance, act out the story and make music together.  By the end of the week they had experienced music in a whole different way, worked as a group and shared their talents and skills with an audience.

 

IMG_6138 (2)

How does an operetta become a piano camp? Each day the twelve students shared six keyboards and learned different parts of the songs.  Students were of all different levels and it was great to see how they helped each and worked together.  However, during the performance only two students played the piano while the others had different parts to play on stage.

 

IMG_6151 (2)

Interested in doing this next summer? I ordered my operetta here.  Jack and the Beanstalk became “Jackie”, the Con Man became the Con Lady, the Giant was not tall at all – adaptations we made to fit our group and add to the fun.

Did you have a piano camp last summer? What new things did you do?

IMG_6157 (2)

At The Seashore

What a delightful resource Musikgarten has published!

I have adapted this summer curriculum for 4 one-hour classes once a week in the month of July.  Ages in this summer’s class range from 4 to 7 and during our first class they connected very well.  Even though I have taught this curriculum several times, each time I change it up a little based on the experiences of previous years.

This year instead of a gigantic seashore display I quickly put together a seashore in a box (above) with sand from Florida, different types of shells, a starfish and a seahorse.  The plan is to change the items each week.

I use beach buckets to store their poster, beach towel, crafts, etc. for the day. They do not take it home until the last day of class.  However, they do take home their CD and parent booklet.

 

After an hour of singing, playing the piano and moving like seaweed we turned on the water got wet and had a fun snack of blue Hawaiian Punch and Goldfish.

Come join us next week!

Olympic Medals and Torch

Planning.

Start researching medals that you can use for awards at the end of your Summer Piano Olympics.
Oriental Trading has some great options and chocolate coins are a yummy alternative.

What about an Olympic Torch?  You definitely need a fiery object for your opening and closing ceremonies.  The one you see in the above photo was purchased here or you can just make your own.

The Summer Piano Olympics e-book will be coming out soon and you will find many more ideas for planning a successful event!  Start looking around for items around your house that you can tuck away for use during this big event (timer, extra markers, popular CD’s, etc.)

 

Musical Amnesia

It happens every September. Sometimes even in late August.

Piano lessons resume, students file into the studio and choose their keyboard.  You greet them happily and chit chat about how big they’ve grown and what grade they are now in. When all these pleasantries are done, you ask for keyboards to be turned on and “Let’s play a D major scale together”.

And that’s when the blank stares appear.  And the questions begin….”Is this C?”, “Are we going up or down?” “Does C major have any black keys?”….

WHAT??????? I quietly whisper to the air….  Or even worse.  I don’t react.  I just expect it. I already know.

Every year during the month of May  I let go of a group of wonderfully capable piano students who have at least a repertoire of 6 to 7 memorized pieces, can play 5 different scales (major or minor), have learned to write simple songs, can harmonize with 3 different chords and improving their note reading every week.  And then for some “WE NEED A BREAK” reasoning they do not continue lessons during the summer or practice on their own and 80% of what was learned during the school year goes down the drain of forgetfulness.

But …we  can’t afford it!

Parents might think that I am whining about loss of income during the summer months. Not at all. My Boss owns everything in the known and unknown universe.  I will not worry.  Plus I also enjoy a more flexible schedule in the summer to spend time in the pool and catching up on all those books I started reading and never have time to finish.

But do parents realize the loss of money they incur while their children sit away from the piano for 8 to 10 weeks? This is exactly where musical amnesia sets in.  Students are no longer plugged in to their routine of practice, singing, listening, dancing and playing instruments, and the connections, those vital pathways that we worked so hard to attain, quietly disappear.

Is there a solution?

Of course there is!

When students are not coming to the studio on a regular basis parents must provide consistent and varied practiced times at home.  If they have sacrificed during the school year to provide musical training, they should find a way to continue when they decide to “take a break”.  Parents owe it to their pocketbooks and to their children.

There is always the  option of scheduling lessons during the summer.  That is the ideal.  But if families are traveling all summer, involved in too many other activities, struggling with carpool issues or other conflicts, it would be wise for teachers to provide a way for them to keep the connections plugged in.

Here are a few things you can offer your families (besides a flexible summer schedule at your studio):

  • online assignments (click here)
  • Youtube tutorials (check out ellenjoh’s tutorial)
  • general assignments written in their assignment books
  • computer theory assignments (such as Music Learning Community)

Help your students prevent musical amnesia…

By providing and encouraging various ways to stay plugged into the musical skills they have already acquired!

Summer Piano Olympics 2010

We had a great time during Summer Piano Olympics 2010, 4 days of synchronized playing, scale marathons and team musical sports.  Family members and friends joined us for the closing ceremonies which included  the award ceremony, procession of flags, synchronized keyboard performance and the passing of the Olympic torch.

Congratulations to all!