I can accomplish Great Things

One of the classes I attended at MTNA conference is a subject that is close to my heart.  The topic was “The Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in the Music Studio”   Natalie Wickham at Music Matters Blog attended this class as well, so I will just refer you to her notes when you get a chance.

My son Skyler, now 17 years old was diagnosed with autism when he was younger.  When he was a young child, I would have never imagined all that he would be able to accomplish over the years.  My husband and I made sure that we were always encouraging.  We didn’t allow his diagnoses to be an “excuse”.  Matter of fact, it wasn’t until he was 12 years old that he even knew he had autism.  It was around that age that he started to notice on his own that he was “different” from the other kids at school.  That was the appropriate time to explain what autism was and what he was going through.  But we always made sure he knew that just because he had a diagnosis known as autism, it did not define who HE was.  When he was in 7th and 8th grade he was really struggling, probably more than ever socially.  He went through constant teasing, bullying, etc…  He had many meltdowns.  It was when he was in 8th grade that I felt we needed to educate his peers.  So Skyler and I went to each of his classes and did a presentation on autism.  Skyler talked about things that he goes through.  How the noise in the classroom, the fluorescent lighting, changes, simple things that the average student wouldn’t even be aware of affected him.  He talked about his social struggles and took questions at the end.  I wish I would have thought of it sooner, because after his presentation things improved.  Matter of fact, at the end of the day one of the girls that teased him came up and apologized.  That alone made it all worth doing.  I’m happy to say that his High School years have been much better than his Jr. High years.  He is a Senior this year!  He has a talent for computer animation and broadcast.  He has been doing computer animation since he was 5 years old.

Skyler has participated in Boy Scouts since he was 8 years old.  The highest achievement in the Boy Scout program is to earn an Eagle award.  To earn an Eagle, the scout is to pick a project that will demonstrate leadership ability and will benefit the community.  Many hours are put into this project.  When we were talking about project possibilities, Skyler decided that he wanted to do something that was close to his heart, something that could benefit not only the community in which we live, but communities all around us.  He decided to do his project making a video on how students with a disability can accomplish great things.  That even though they have a disability, it does not define them.

I wanted to share this video with you.  In this video one of the students is a HS student who is talented at the piano and uses music as a way to uplift.  Please share it with your friends, your family, your students, your piano families.  It is a great message and something that can benefit everyone who watches it.  Skyler gives permission at the end of the video for schools, churches and other institutions to freely distribute for the purposes of disability awareness programs. The more people that view and use it, the better!


Video:  I can accomplish Great Things


Tech Thursday- TES

I’m back from NYC!  Wow!  What an experience it was.  I’m anxious to share all I was able to take in.  MTNA conference was wonderful.  I’ll be blogging about some of the classes I went to real soon.  While in NYC, I was able to go see some fantastic Broadway Shows, sight-see, tour (the Steinway tour was awesome!), do a lot of walking, taxi rides, etc…  I was amazed how much I was able to pack in.  My Mom came with me so we had a lot of fun!

Well, as you can see Tech Tuesday has come and gone and because I was still in NYC it is belated.  So instead we are doing Tech Thursday.  Still works right?  For Tech Thursday, I wanted to remind you of a site that I briefly mentioned before.  TES is the largest network of teachers in the world.  It is what I like to think of as a teachers “playground”.  It is full of so many resources for teachers of all subjects.  I particularly enjoy exploring all that is offered in the music category.  Some are even free!d  There are now 300,000 teaching resources on TES that have been created and shared by teachers like you from all over the world.

If you have something to share, sell, buy, download or just explore it’s a fun thing to be a part of.  Just go to TES to sign up.

NYC- Here I Come!

I am soooo looking forward to coming to New York in a couple days for the MTNA conference.  This is my 3rd MTNA conference.  I’ve never been to New York, but it’s always been on my wish list of places to go.  While there I will be cramming in lots of sight-seeing, tours and broadway shows (we are seeing Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera) with my Mom.

For those joining me in New York, I wanted to pass along an awesome tip that I just learned from Mario Ajero…  If you have a mobile phone or device, MTNA has put the schedule available for download on the free Guidebook mobile app.  You can find the links to download this app by either searching for Guidebook or going to:  http://guidebook.com/getit   I just downloaded mine and it is AWESOME!  This allows you to save your favorites and create your custom schedule.  You can also mark the exhibitors you definitely want to visit and there is a map of the hotel showing you where everything is.  You will definitely want to take advantage of this tool if you can.

Another little conference tip that I wanted to share is make sure you print out address labels in advance with your name, address, phone number and email.  This way when you receive the coupon book of giveaways you just need to stick  your label on, versus writing this information over and over.  For other tips on must have’s for conference be sure to visit Natalie’s blog here:  http://musicmattersblog.com/2010/03/26/the-conference-goers-list-of-essentials/

Now I don’t know about you but I’m having a hard time narrowing my class choices down to one.  I may be bouncing around a little, we’ll see.  I think I’ll be able to decide a little more once I get a hold of the conference booklet and read the descriptions fully.

Tell me… do you have any other conference tips to share before I leave?  Hope to see you there!

Piano Pronto Review Update

Last August I reviewed a piano method series called Piano Pronto.  I wanted to give an update now that I have experienced the series with quite a few of my students in the last 8 or 9 months.  I’m happy to say that I am very pleased with Piano Pronto.  It has been the perfect segue for my Pianimal students to go from Book G into Piano Pronto Movement 1.  Movement 1 gives them a little review and then moves forward.  It has been my lifesaver for transfer students.  It also served as my lifesaver when I realized after several months working with a student that a particular method wasn’t meshing too well with this student.  I was getting frustrated, I could tell he was not motivated at all with the pieces in the book and knowing his personality after working with him, I knew I needed to switch him to Piano Pronto.  I did, and what a difference!

In January I started a new adult student and had her choose the method that she would like to work from.  While she never took lessons herself, all her kids did and she was very involved in their practicing.  So she was familiar with the basics.  I was so happy that she chose Piano Pronto as her method choice as I wanted to try it with an adult student and see how it went.  My adult LOVES the series.  She is now in Movement 2 and progressing so nicely.  She loves being able to recognize the pieces she plays, and she loves doing the written activities in the book as well.  After this experience I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to use Piano Pronto with an adult student.  Matter of fact, I have a piano Dad that has 3 of his boys taking lessons.  He is going to school and taking music classes but he expressed to me that his playing skills aren’t where his educational skills are.  He asked if I could recommend something that he can learn at home with to work on his playing skills.  I showed him Piano Pronto Movement 1 and he was delighted and said that is exactly what he was looking for.

All and all I am real happy with Piano Pronto.  My students are enjoying the pieces they are playing.  Many of them they recognize which is exciting.  I wanted to also share that Piano Pronto is running a spring special- 10% off of all the books.  The code is:  SPRING10  and will expire April 1st.

Tech Tuesday- Wireless Bluetooth iPad 2 Keyboard

I will be attending the MTNA Conference in NYC next week.  I was planning on taking notes on my iPad 2, but I didn’t want to use the on screen keyboard.  While I have used it in many meetings, after awhile it does get tedious and wanted something that wouldn’t make my fingers hurt after awhile.  I wanted to find something that I could remove the keyboard if I wanted to.  I also wanted something that I could adjust the screen horizontally and vertically.

After much online research I found the Trent IMP38B Airbender iPad 2 Case.  I have been using it for a couple weeks and have really enjoyed it.  Not only can I use the screen horizontally and vertically, I can adjust the iPad in 3 different positions.

Now who’s joining me at MTNA Conference next week?

PMTA Ensemble

On February 25, 2012, The Phoenix Music Teachers Association held it’s 60th Annual PMTA Piano Ensemble Concert, the longest run Ensemble event of its kind.  The first concert was held on May 7, 1953 featuring 204 students playing on 21 piano’s. This year our concert featured over 400 performers representing various levels of music study and performance experience.  In one of the pieces performed, Souvenir de Porto Rico, the Judd family covering 3 generations, played together.  Members of this family has been performing in the PMTA Ensemble for almost 40 of the 60 years of the PMTA Ensemble!  What a fun experience for them to be able to perform all together.  Not all of them lived in the same state so thanks to technology they practiced together online until they could get together for the final rehearsal and performance.

I know there are several teachers who like to hear about good duets for their Ensembles, whether in the studio or for a big concert so I thought I would list our pieces for this year.

Fanfare Celebration by Robert D. Vandall

Memory by Andrew Lloyd Webber arranged by Marion Verhaalen

Stormy Sea by Melody Bober

Hoedown at Cripple Creek by Kevin Olson

Le Bal from Jeax d’enfants by George Bizet

Over the Rainbow by Harold Arlen arranged by Dan Coates

Parade of Toy Soldiers by Leon Jessel

Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel arranged by Kevin Olson

Souvenir de Porto Rico by Louis Moreau Gottschalk arranged by Amanda Christensen

Brother Come and Dance with Me by Engelbert Humperdink arranged by Mary Elizabeth Clark

Sneaky Fox Boogie by Emilie Linn

Perpetual Commotion by Kevin Olson

Let There Be Peace on Earth by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson arranged by Carol Klose

Feed the Birds by Richard and Robert Sherman

Festival Tocatta by Robert D. Vandall

Hungarian Dance, No 2 in d minor by Johannes Brahms

All Star Marching Band by Judy East Wells

My Bold Argentina by Kevin Costley

Ship Ahoy by Kathy Holmes

Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues arranged by Jason Sifford

I thought I would share some pictures… Enjoy.

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