We have two winners who will receive a copy of The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff!

Muttzart screenshot

Congratulations Melissa McMahan and Melody! Andrea will be contacting you soon for the download. Enjoy using this resource for your students.

Don’t forget to visit TeachPianoToday and take a look at all the great resources the Dow’s offer.

As always, be sure to like FPSResources on Facebook to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!

Radio Interview

Yesterday I had the chance to be interviewed on SpotLite Radio, an internet radio show. It was a fun experience and just thought I would share. I decided that I wanted my topic to be some helpful tips when looking for a teacher. We only had 8 minutes so I wasn’t able to cover everything I would have liked to. But I thought it went pretty well anyway. Afterwards they called me and said that they had people calling in to ask me questions, but because it was a short segment we couldn’t take any. Anyway, here is the link if  you want to take a listen.

On my studio blog I also linked to the interview but also to a handout that had a little bit more of what I wanted to cover. If you are interested in seeing the handout, you can view it below. (Just click on the image to enlarge.8 Helpful Tips When Looking for a Piano Instructor

Review: The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff

Muttzart screenshot

I have been anxiously waiting to use and review The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff, a composition workbook for students created by Andrea and Trevor Dow by While it says it is for ages 7-11 the concepts that are taught are really great for all students. I think the age range is mostly due to the fact that it is based on a fun storyline and these cute cartoon characters Muttzart and Ratmaninoff who interact through the composing process.

In this review, I wanted to share a little more in depth, my experience using The Curious Case of Muttzart and RatmaninoffI knew one of my main focuses for Christmas camp was going to be composition and I knew that I wanted to use this book. One thing that I really love about most of the Dow’s products is that they are offered digitally. Because I did have teenagers participating in christmas camp, and to save money and time, I opted not to print out the entire workbook for each student and instead printed individual pages that were relevant to what I wanted to accomplish during camp. When teaching the composition lesson, I simply downloaded the book on my iPad and projected those pages I wanted students to see and learn on the wall. Once I felt they understood the 4 main composition tools I wanted them to learn and apply, then I turned it over to them to do the fun part- compose!

At camp, I had a couple students that were new to piano lessons and hadn’t learned notes on the staff yet. So for those students I simply had them write in the letter names and dashes (representing rhythm) instead. But the process we went through was the same as the students that did write on the staff.

At camp, we did not worry about adding the left hand. I explained to students that they can add that later at home because we simply did not have time to do this during Christmas camp. So that is something I look forward to seeing and/or helping with when they return in January.

The main tools that are taught in The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff is Motive, Repetition, Sequence and Retrograde. After we went through these tools, one of my students said, “I had no idea that there were actual tools that you can use when creating a composition.” I laughed and said, isn’t it great? Doesn’t it make writing a composition that much easier? This is important especially for students who are so worried that they can’t compose.

Every single one of the students walked away from camp with a finished (RH only) composition. I had one student that even wrote words for hers.






I have used several composition products over the years and I can honestly say that The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff has become a favorite of mine to use! Not only does it add fun with the character dialogs throughout the book, but it makes the whole process easy! The great thing about this book is you can use it successfully in private and group settings. Muttzart and Ratmaninoff interact throughout and make it fun and enjoyable for the student. Composing with The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff is an adventure your students will not want to miss!

You can find out more about  The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff by clicking any of the links in this post and watching the video above.

Be sure to like FPSResources on Facebook to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!

Christmas Camp Week 2

Just like the week before, as students arrived at camp they worked in the activities that were inside their Olympic workbook. Then before I would forget we did group pictures!

After pictures, students who weren’t able to perform their Christmas pieces the week before performed while the others listened and wrote down what piece they thought was being played. (Name that Christmas Carol)

Next, it was time to create a creative compositions using The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff. I will be blogging about this tool in depth soon! Keep your eye out! Everyone did a great job and I look forward to hearing everyone’s completed compositions in January when they return.



After our hard work with creating original compositions we took a snack break…

Then it was time for more Christmas Music Games! We played Christmas Carol Charades, (There are several ways you can play this game. We did it Charade and Taboo style), I Have Who Has Christmas theme reviewing music symbols and Christmas Rhythm Match Up.




With a couple minutes to spare we ended camp with watching the very creative Jon Schmidt from the Piano Guys playing his version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer… A must see!


Be sure to like FPSResources on Facebook to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!

Christmas Camp Week 1

This year Christmas camp tied in with our Piano Olympic theme but really stressed one of our events, Creative Composition.

As students arrived to camp they worked on written activities found in their Piano Olympic workbook. I then quickly introduced ClassDojo, a behavioral tool I would be using during camp (I’ll be blogging more about this another time) and then we got started with some fun musical/Christmas themed activities.



We started out with Wendy Stevens fun Christmas Stinky Stockings game. Similar to hot potato, students would pass the stocking to the music and whoever had it when the music stopped would take a card out of the stocking. The cards had theory questions, riddles, singing using an articulation or dynamic, finish a tune challenge, acting, playing (sight-reading) and white elephant (mixing it all up). Be sure to read my review to this game here.



After Christmas Stinky Stockings, we created a Sound Story using MadPad on the iPad to the poem (and song), The Night Before Christmas. This was a precursor in composition for the following week showing how some sounds can create some fun ideas for creativity in compositions. I wish you can view the video clips, but you have to have the MadPad app to see them. So here are some screenshots…



Afterwards students performed Christmas songs for each other. While one student played, the other students guessed what Christmas piece it was and writing it down on a piece of paper. 

After about half the class performed (the rest performed the following week) we took a quick snack break and then ended the class with another game. Find the mistake- Christmas Carols that Jennifer Fink from Pianimation created on her blog. Students were first shown two lines of a Christmas carol. I played but made a mistake on purpose and they needed to tell me where the mistake was by listening. Then the second example shown had written mistakes and they needed to find where they were.

We concluded by watching a video by the Piano Guys- Angels We Have Heard on High. If you haven’t seen it yet, you must check it out…

Week 2 coming soon!

Be sure to like FPSResources on Facebook to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!

Christmas Gifts

Yesterday was  my last day of Christmas camp (will blog more on camp soon). After our holiday Music at the Mall event this Saturday, I will officially be on break! Looking forward to getting some stuff off my to do list and taking a break.

I’m really excited how well the gifts I made for my students turned out that I wanted to share. They were easy and very affordable! (Which are two important criteria’s for me)

While I was working on plugging in words on Wordle a teacher had posted on Facebook about Tagxedo. I got so excited that there were music themed options and immediately changed my plans.

Here is what my students received…

IMG_1582You will want to click on the picture so you can see them enlarged. I had emailed parents asking for 10-15 words that described their child (what they liked, personalities, etc…), I added in a few more and then plugged them into Tagxedo. Chose a color theme that fell into their favorite color. Printed them out on card stock, put them in a  frame (dollar store) and wrapped them in Christmas music themed wrapping paper that I had found. (Total gift cost including wrapping paper- approx. $1.50 a student.) For my adults I plugged in the names of the pieces they learned over the year so it was a visual representation of what they accomplished (so important for adults to see).


Here is a text I received from one Mom… “Oh my goodness, the gift you made R is amazing!! She loves it and so do I! Thank you so much for everything you do!”

There are times when I have thought about not doing a gift for my students because I hear teachers say that they are the one’s that should be receiving gifts, not giving. And I totally get that. But I just can’t help it. I enjoy giving and it is just a small way of letting them know how much I care for them. When I get texts like the one above, it makes that extra time and effort worth it.