Jazzed about 4th of July- Book Review

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 12.39.26 PM It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is just around the corner. With our Independence Day coming up, this is the perfect time to tell you about some music you and your students will really enjoy. Jazzed about 4th of July is filled with well known patriotic pieces arranged by Jerald M. Simon.

The arrangements are designed for the early intermediate/intermediate piano student. With the exception of the very last piece (America- A Patriotic Salute), each arrangement is in the key of C. Which allows the perfect opportunity to transpose these pieces in whatever key if desired.

As with all his books, Jerald includes an introduction at the beginning briefly reviewing theory that they will find in the arrangements. I really appreciate this tool. Because the arrangements are jazz, he also includes LH jazz patterns that will be found in the arrangements. Students can use examples as warmups and review before beginning a particular piece.

Jazzed about 4th of July begins with two pieces, America the Beautiful and My Country, ‘Tis of Thee. Both written in a smooth jazz style that were so relaxing I felt like I was in a fancy restaurant listening to someone play. In both of these pieces you will find lots of glissando’s. The Star Spangled Banner picks things up a little with a light swing and grace notes throughout. Yankee Doodle begins with a walking bass pattern in the left hand and then changes to a blues/rock pattern on the 2nd page. This is a fun piece to play.

Another crowd favorite is Battle Hymn of the Republic. Jerald recommends that it is played with a light swing but can be played straight as well. Rockin’ out to You’re a Grand Old Flag, this piece includes the left hand 5th/6th interval patterns occasionally moving to some 7th’s. I really enjoyed the creative style of When Johnny Comes Marching Home. The tempo description at the top says: “Stealthlike (as though you’re on a secret mission). I thought Anchors Aweigh and The Marine’s Hymn were appropriately arranged in a 50’s rock style. Each giving a unique sound and bass pattern. And now my favorite! The last piece of the book, America- A Patriotic Salute.

I could tell it meant something very special to Jerald as it was the piece that shined the most bright. This book was packed with popular jazz patterns for students to learn. Jazzed about 4th of July makes a fun supplemental book for students who would like to learn and play jazz style pieces. In addition, these pieces would make a perfect recital piece if you were having a patriotic recital or any recital! They lend themselves to good performances pieces that are enjoyable to learn. You can view sample pages in the book here.

Tech Tuesday: tempoTeacher app review (and a surprise)


When it comes to metronome apps there is definitely not a shortage of them to choose from. So when I am considering a metronome app it needs to have something unique about it that I can’t find on another app. In comes tempoTeacher. An app that was recently created by two friends and musicians, Travis and Beau. Their company name is birdSound.

At first glance, tempoTeacher looks like a basic metronome app. But what sets this app apart and makes it unique from the rest is the “Teacher mode”, which allows real time feedback to your playing.

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When you first turn on the app (in any mode) you will see a red light that is a visual indication of the tempo. When you turn it to the Teacher mode and begin playing, you will notice an additional light which is green. This green light is following you as you play. You will be able to visually see if you line up right on the beat or not. In addition, the tempoTeacher app will analyze, score and display these results for you to view. It will keep your top 10 scores so you can continue to improve on keeping a steady beat. Because of this score feature, it feels like a game instead of a simple metronome. Perfect for our students!

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To view your scores you just simply swipe from left to right. By swiping bottom to top you can adjust settings. Volume, mic sensitivity, skill level, tune up/down and whether you want the clicking sound on or off.

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Travis shared a couple tips with me on how uses tempoTeacher with his students…

1. At home, when students use iPhone or iPad headphones (which have a mic built in), it prevents the app from “hearing” its metronome click and incorrectly interpreting it as a note the student played.

2. During lessons he turns down the sensitivity slider (see the demo video link below) and the click volume to minimize the chances that the app will hear its own click.

You can view some video’s with tempoTeacher in action heretempoTeacher is available at the iTunes store for $2.99.

Now for the SURPRISE! Travis and Beau are offering a free download code to the first 20 people that visit their blog and follow the instructions. Don’t delay, visit their blog now!


Just got word that the 20 free codes are now gone. You guys are quick! BTW- the app is only $2.99 which is worth the unique feature to try with your students. Give it a try!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this app in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Tech Tuesday: The Virtual Music Education Conference 2013

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If you haven’t heard already, music teachers are in for a treat. An online treat where you don’t need to go anywhere. From the comfort of your own home, you don’t even have to get dressed up, do your hair or anything! Just sit back, relax, grab your favorite drink and some food and enjoy the virtual music education conference online at your convenience! Limited tickets will be available. Sessions will be made available starting July 27th onwards. You must purchase your ticket by July 30th. Visit the website to see the list of presenters and topics.

***I forgot to mention something I wanted to mention this morning so I’m editing (adding below) to include this.***

One thing that I think is SO cool about this conference is 50% of the ticket proceeds will be going to music education related charities. How awesome is that? So by purchasing a ticket to this conference you are also contributing to a music education charity!

Piano Olympics Training Camp (Part 3 of 3)


Music Beach Volleyball- Version 1: Students catch the ball and do a musical act (ie: create the musical alphabet with your body…) that is on the ball wherever their right thumb lands. Version 2:  Students catch the ball and answer an interval question according to what letter the right thumb lands. (ie: right thumb lands by D. I ask them what a 4th below D is…)




Musical Darts- Students throw velcro balls on dart board and names symbols and definitions.




Step Skippin’ Along- Board game where students move according to the step and skip staff cards.


Musical Draw, Say, Play or Act- (Game Idea from Wendy Stevens) Students spin and then choose a symbol flashcard. If they land on draw- they draw the symbol. If they land on say- they say the definition, if they land on play- they play it on the piano and if they land on act (my favorite!) they act out the symbol for the other students to guess!




Musical Duck Duck Goose- Version 1: With Rhythm Version 2: With Pitch. Duck represents a certain rhythm or pitch and Goose represents another.


Sticks and Puddles- Students are given an interval and step/skip over/on the puddles and sticks. (This is a helpful product to have in the studio created by Rebekah Maxner)



Here is a sample video of Rebekah using it with her students…

Puddles and Sticks

Build an Interval- Version 1: Taking a note flashcard, then spinning an interval and finding it on the keyboard and/or staff. Version 2: Throwing a beanbag on the keyboard and/or staff and naming the interval.



Musical Hot Potato- A fun iPad flashcard game where students answer the note within a time limit before the hot potato buzzer goes off!

Here is a video of students playing the game…

Ear Training with Intervals and Melody- After learning some ear training tips and tricks, students practiced their aural skills and a couple apps (goodEar Melodies and goodEar Intervals) figuring out intervals and melodies by ear. We did this round robin style.


Screamin’ Match (aka Go for the Gold!)- Similar to Old Maid, In this music symbol matching game students are finding music symbol matches by taking a card from another students deck. However, there is a fun card in the mix called the Screamer! If a student takes this card, the other student yells “Go for the Gold” (in our ‘piano olympic’ version) and everyone now knows who has the screamer. (Screamers are worth the most points).


Musical Parachutes- Fun with rhythm, tempo, pitch and articulation changes in the music. See more here.



Piano Olympics Training Camp (Part 2 of 3)


Spell A Note- Given a word, students spell the word on the staff and/or keyboard.



Water Sponges Staff Toss- Students are the notes on the staff! A note is spun and the student with the sponges locates the student standing on the staff and tries to soak them with the wet sponge! Fun on a hot summer day!






Indoor Staff Beanbag Toss- Students toss a note on the staff and name the note.



Musical Alphabet Shooting Gallery- Students are asked a note question and then they try to shoot the note (answer) that is on the cans down with a water shooter.











Music Note Basketball- Students are asked a note question either on the keyboard or staff then have the chance to make a basket.




Music Note Dominoes- A musical spin on the game dominoes!


Swat a Note- Who can swat the correct note first?!





Note Memory- Good ol’ memory. Matching note name with staff note.


Musical Slap Jack– In this version students were to look out for any of the C’s on the grand staff. First one to slap gets all the cards underneath.




Musical Note Ring Toss- Each ring represented a note name. Students answered the note on the staff and then tried to throw a beanbag through the correct note ring.





Piano Olympics Training Camp (Part 1 of 3)

Who says music isn’t a sport? Brushing up on their theory skills and preparing for the 2014 Foxx Piano Studio Piano Olympics; students participated in the Piano Olympics Training Camp this summer.

Joy over at ColorInMyPiano compiled a great list of fun games and activities from other blogs including her own for a musical olympics camp. Because I’m in AZ, I was limited to how many games we could really get away with doing outside before it became unbearable. So some of the games I adapted to be inside activities instead. And some games I just adapted to fit my needs a little better. I also used several of Susan Paradis games and some other games and apps that I have tried in my studio before or recently found.

I thought I would share the games and activities we did. I separated this into a 3 part post…

Making Team Flags that will be displayed on the wall in the studio music lab room for 2013-2014.






What Note Am I? 

Similar to the “headband” game. I found these foam hats over at Michaels 50% off making them only .50 each. Saved me some time in making some headbands and they worked great. Students can ask 3 yes/no questions in order to guess what rhythm or note value they had on their head. Version 1 was with note/rest values. Version 2 was 4 beat measures students clapped and the student who’s rhythm was on their head had to listen and figure out the 4 beat measure they had.




Rhythm Value Relay

Students were given a note value and had to relay race with that value in mind. For example if they were to get a whole note- that is 4 beats. (Jump rope 4 times, bounce ball 4 times, go through hula hoop 4 times, find the whole note and come back with your partner in 2 legged race style, give correct rhythm card to teacher.)











Over the Edge- A board game where students are covering up the rocks on their board according to the rhythm value in hopes of not going over the edge before the flashcards run out!



Water Rhythm Relay- Given a rhythm, students race to fill up that many sponges and ring them out in the bucket on the other side. The team with the most water in the bucket at the end wins!










Rhythm Bean Bag Toss- Trying to toss a beanbag and make it in the cans. Larger the note value- more points!






Cup Song– The movie, “Pitch Perfect” made the cup song activity very popular. This was a fun rhythm activity to do at camp!


Learning the Cup Song…

Rhythm Band– Younger students always enjoy making a rhythm band!