Saturday Solos (Review and Giveaway)

One of my favorite blogs to follow is Susan Paradis.com. Susan is known for her fun games and printable resources for students, but did you know that she also has music books available to purchase?

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One of the music books she has written is called Saturday Solos. Susan composed 14 original solos to celebrate childhood. When she was a child, she remembers long sunny Saturday, hunting doodle bugs, playing in the creek, picking berries and riding bikes. Though times have changed some, one thing that doesn’t change is the fun of daydreaming and exploring.

Inside you will find pieces such as: “Stuck Inside, Laughing Song, I Like Bugs and Cycling Down the Street. These simple yet refreshing pieces are sure to delight each child who learns them. In addition, Susan has included 6 traditional pieces such as Camptown Races, Found a Peanut, Deedle Deedle Dumpling and She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain. She wanted to include some traditional pieces in this book so students had some pieces they would recognize.

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The pieces in Saturday Solos are written in C, middle C and G position. You won’t find expression marks in the music because Susan wanted to create music that would allow students to concentrate on the step and skip pattern. This also allows the student to add expression marks later. There is also minimum finger numbers encouraging teachers to add in when necessary.

Saturday Solos would make a perfect supplementary book for the beginning student. The solos are delightful, playful and simply refreshing. Because the pieces are pattern based with lots of stepping and skipping, it is a wonderful book for those students that need practice moving in different positions. In addition all the pieces lend itself well for students to learn and practice transposing. You can purchase Saturday Solos as well as other music she has written in her store here.

Susan has offered to give a digital copy of Saturday Solos to a lucky teacher! To enter please comment below. Deadline to enter is by Saturday, February 1st; 10:00pm (az mountain standard).   Giveaway has expired.

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

Tech Tuesday: Class DoJo

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As much as I enjoy holding group lessons and camps they can be exhausting. More in the last 5 years then I ever remember. Maybe I’m getting old, maybe the kids don’t take authority as well, maybe it’s a combination of the two. Now mind you it’s not all my classes that I have problems with. I’ve noticed it’s usually due to particular high maintenance students being in the same group of each other. For example, I could have 4 different groups of kids totally getting along, totally respectful of the teacher and eachother, no problems. My lesson plan goes exactly as planned. We are able to get through everything. The personalities in the group just mesh perfectly.

Then I turn around and have a group that is a total disaster because of particular personalities feeding off of each other. It’s all about them, respect is lost, the volume is high, they can’t leave their hands to themselves and I’m lucky if I get through everything that I had planned. And let me tell you, those are the groups that I question if I ever want to hold another group lesson or camp again.

As hard as I try to prevent that second scenario from happening, chances are that there will be at least one group like this.

In comes Class DoJo!

teacherappreciation-900I found out about this website awhile back, (I believe from TeachPianoToday.com). It is a behavior management software program FREE for teachers to use. While it caters to the school classroom teacher, it is perfect to use in any group setting. I was going to use it at my first group lessons this year but then didn’t because I figured I wouldn’t have any problems THIS time. Surely, it would all be fine. Well, you guessed it, I had one class full of boys (one girl- poor poor girl…) that was so bad that I ended up having to contact parents afterwards about it all. I have never done that before for group lessons and I never want to have to do it again.

So Christmas camp comes along and once again I was tempted that surely it would be fine. (How I forget so quickly…) Then I remembered the nightmare from a couple months prior and said no! This time I have to try it! And try I did. And guess what? It made a big difference! Why did I wait?! The kids that tend to be larger personalities were soooo concerned on how many points they had. I did have one student (10 year old boy) that had the “doesn’t care” attitude that he will do what he will do despite of it. There is always one of those and I just ignored it. Because he was alone in his quest to rebel it didn’t really affect the class as a whole.

Now keep in mind Class DoJo is geared towards elementary kids. I had a mix of elementary through high school in my Christmas camp groups, which was one reason I almost didn’t use it. (In my group lessons I try to schedule my older students separately) So I just told my HS to go with it and they were fine. Some of them got a kick out of picking their monster avatar.

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Which brings me back to the Class DoJo program. You or the kids will pick out a monster avatar that represents them and will keep track of their positive and negative points. There are several behavioral tasks already in the system. You can delete what isn’t relevant to your class and add custom tasks to what is relevant. Or perhaps you only want to keep track of positive behaviors, then just delete anything that would be considered negative.

teaching-900For example the behavioral tasks I had:

Positives– Helping Others, On Task, Participating, Persistance, Teamwork, Working Hard

Negatives– Bullying, Disrepect, Inappropriate, Off Task, Talking out of turn, Unprepared

During camp, I used it on my iPad since they have an app that you can download and log into your account from the app. It worked out nicely. But if you don’t have an tablet, smart phone or iPod touch you can just use it from a computer. Did I mention it’s free? On the website it says “We intend to keep ClassDojo free, forever, for early-adopter teachers like you! Sign up below now to join our early-adopter teacher community.” This tells me that while it is free and has been for a while, there is a possibility of Class Dojo charging sometime in the future IF you don’t take advantage of being an early-adopter and sign up for an account now. So even if you don’t do any group type classes now (or never will- more on that later…) but think you may in the future, I would go ahead and sign up for an account now. (Hopefully I haven’t scared you away from trying group classes and/or camps because they really are fun and worth doing. The goal is to get those behavioral problems down to none so they can be fully enjoyed by everyone who participates…)

Another neat feature about this program is if you choose to do so, ClassDojo can send you behavior-tracking analytics and reports that can be shared with parents. In addition, there is a teacher “decoration” pack that you can download to make Certificates, passes, posters, whatever you think would be fun to use to encourage good behavior!

Even though Class DoJo is geared towards classes, I would imagine you can adapt this to the individual student who has a hard time staying on task during lessons. Really, the possibilities are up to you and your needs! I would encourage you to visit the website, sign up for an account and start trying Class DoJo in your studio. I promise  you won’t regret it!

Clavier Companion Review and Giveaway

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Back in 2009 Keyboard Companion and Clavier, two of my favorite magazines merged as one making it Clavier Companion. This allowed the best of each of the magazines to become one. I always look forward to when it’s time for the current issue of Clavier Companion to arrive.

Clavier Companion has recently gone through a redesign. While there may be some organizational changes, you can still expect a high quality magazine filled with helpful and educational information.

The first thing you may notice if you are a current subscriber is the logo and cover has been updated to give it a more current look. A tag line, “The Piano Magazine” has been added to be clear that this magazine is catered to you- piano teachers! When opening the magazine, the table of contents are more spacious, which allows you- the reader to find the articles and resources that you are interested in quickly. There is a new section you will find called, “Preludes“. Preludes are short items of interest, tips and tid bits. I noticed in the current Jan/Feb issue Jennifer Eklund’s “Dog Days” book is mentioned (Which has some great music by the way!) as well as many other helpful tips.

The heart of the magazine has been divided into sections. As explained in the Clavier Companion redesigned tour: The first section, Learning & Teaching, will cover the basics of HOW we learn to play the piano and how we teach it to others. Repertoire will deal with the many aspects of WHAT we play and assign to our students. Perspectives will generate a broad range of IDEAS and discussions on areas such as business, psychology, technology, and other topics relevant to teaching and playing the piano.

In First Looks, you will continue to find helpful reviews of books, music, products, apps (by Leila Viss), and other piano-related materials. In addition you will still find the Keyboard Kids’ Companion (perfect for lab time!) and the traditional back-page column Questions & Answersnow written by Sam Holland.

When you click on the picture below you can get a sneak peak of what you will fin in the January/February edition.

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One of the articles in the January/February issue is, “Piano Music Inspired by Art” by Ellen Schorsch. It is filled with wonderful pictures and information that would be perfect to share with our students in a group lesson or camp setting.

Your one-year print subscription to Clavier Companion includes:

  • Six bi-monthly print issues (one year) of Clavier Companion, the premiere magazine for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts, and the only magazine in North America devoted exclusively to piano instruction.
  • Annual directory of national and international summer workshops and festivals for students and teachers
  • Regular departments covering a variety of teaching and performing concerns in areas such as: Adult Piano Study, Harmony, Jazz & Pop, Music Reading, Repertoire, Rhythm, Technique, and Technology.
  • Keyboard Kids’ Companion, with composer profiles, practice tips, and fun puzzles for students. Subscribers receive exclusive rights to reprint Keyboard Kids’ Companion in any quantity.
  • New research in areas of practical concern to pianists and teachers.
  • FREE access to Clavier Companion’s digital edition.

When you subscribe to the print edition, you can receive the digital edition for free. Or you have the option of subscribing to the digital option only. To see subscription options for Clavier Companion, click here.

Clavier Companion is a must have resource for every music teacher. 

Exciting giveaway! Clavier Companion has offered to give 5 lucky teachers a one-year digital subscription! To enter please comment below on what you would like to see Clavier companion feature in an upcoming issue.  Deadline to enter is by Monday, January 27th; 10:00pm (az mountain standard).  Giveaway has expired.

Be sure to like FPSResources on Facebook to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources! (Hint: there is something you won’t want to miss on the FB page- going on right now!)

Congrats to… (and a tip on another giveaway!)

Congrats to the following teachers for the SightReadPlus app:

Kathy G

Cindy R

Karen T

I just sent an email with more info. Code will be coming soon!  If you didn’t win this time, be sure to download the app here.

I will be giving away the companion app, SightRead Minor app on my Facebook page tomorrow! Be sure to “like” FPSResources (click here) so you don’t miss it!

Tech Tuesday: Did you know…?

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– There is a new Pinterest page called Piano Teaching Products where you can find some fun resources to use in your studio all in one convenient place? Follow here.

MusicEdConnect.com, a virtual conference for music teachers is coming up in a couple weeks. It’s not to late to register and hear some great presentations at your convenience in the comfort of your own home! Click here.

Musical Moments is currently offering FREE shipping on all their music right now until February through Feb. 15th. Click here.

Box, is offering 50 GB of FREE cloud storage when you download their free iOS app before February 15!!! Don’t wait on this one! Click here.

Prima Music is offering an extra 5% off of your order the month of January (up to 30% off) using the code: JAN2014. Click here.

Well now you know! So what are you going to do about it? Go check them out!

SightReadPlus app giveaway!

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This week in my studio students will be using the SightReadPlus app. If you haven’t seen this 5 star app yet, please read my original review of it here. You can also view more in the app store here.

What you may not know, is in the last update (September) there is an Assignments text window now available for teacher or student to write notes. The date is automatically inserted.

Melissa Harris has offered to giveaway 3 free codes to download SightReadPlus to 3 lucky teachers! Now, if you already have this wonderful app, you can just gift it to a deserving student in your studio. Win-win!

Deadline to enter is by Wednesday, January 22nd at 10:00pm (mountain time).  (*Winner MUST respond within 72 hours of announcement or another winner will be chosen*) The winner will be announced on this blog and on the FPSResources Facebook page by Thursday, January 23rd.Giveaway has expired.

Be sure you subscribe to the blog and on our Facebook page so you don’t miss out seeing if you are a winner!