The Dawn of a New Age Winners!

Congratulations to all our winners of The Dawn of a New Age!

The 2 spiral bound copies go to:

Karen Gilbson


The 10 digital pdf copies go to:

Amy Carla Coila Connie Dixie Lawson Gail Heather Jane Leia Noreen Fredriksen

All winners will also be receiving an MP3 file of The Dawn of a New Age as well! I will be emailing your information to Jerald. Give him a few days to get a hold of you especially with this being a holiday weekend. Congratulations!

If you didn’t win this time, please visit Jerald’s store for information on how to purchase The Dawn of a New Age and many other wonderful music books that he has composed!

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

Facebook notifications on iPhone, etc…

Just wanted to give a quick update to yesterdays post! (Thanks Leia S.!) If you are on your iPhone, you will need to click on the specific post that you want to get notifications on, then click the triangle, and then your option. Now I’m not 100% sure if this will mean you will get notifications every time that person posts anything or if it is just for that post (hopefully the latter). Worth trying!

Get Notifications

Stop Notifications


Tech Tuesday: Facebook Notification Tip

I’m on quite a few Facebook message boards and I noticed a popular thing for people to do is comment that they are “following”.  The purpose of this is so they will receive notifications when any other comments come in. I thought I would just give a little tip that there is a better way to do this so it doesn’t congest the comments on the post. If you hover over the original message, you will see an upside down triangle appear on the right side. Click on that triangle and then click “Get Notifications”.

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On the flip side, sometimes we make a comment but we don’t want to get bombarded with notifications every time someone makes a comment, especially if it’s a popular thread. So to stop the notifications, simply click on the same upside-down triangle and click “Stop Notifications.”

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UPDATE! (Thanks Leia S.!)  If you are on your iPhone, you will need to click on the specific post that you want to get notifications on, then click the triangle, and then your option. Now I’m not 100% sure if this will mean you will get notifications every time that person posts anything or if it is just notifications for that post (hopefully the latter). Worth trying!

Stop Notifications

Get Notifications

I hope that little tip helps some of you today! 🙂  See you on Facebook!


Music Book Review- The Dawn of a New Age

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Jerald Simon’s newest book, The Dawn of a New Age, is a refreshing set of New Age style intermediate to late intermediate collections. 12 pieces are included in this book, beginning with the easiest piece and progresses to the most difficult.

The 12 original piano solos composed by Jerald Simon are:

1. Morning Star

2. The Sands of Time

3. Reflection

4. Song of Serenity


6. Utopia

7. The Dawn of a New Age

8. Heaven on Earth

9. Hereafter

10. Tranquility

11. Destiny

12. Resolution

As you play through the pieces in this book, you will notice the repeated left hand patterns. Jerald wanted to teach left hand “New Age” patterns to better help pianists create music of their own. As with all his books he gives tools students can use to practice these patterns and feel comfortable with them before learning the piece itself. Once they are comfortable with the new pattern with the practice steps he provides, they are set up for success in learning the piece. The other thing that I appreciate about this approach is it lends itself for plenty of “teaching moments” and ideas for students to branch out. It allows them to gain skills and ideas that will inspire them to make their own music.

Jerald was recently interviewed by the Standard Examiner. It is a great read, plus be sure to take time to view the short video clip. You will be able to hear an excerpt of one of the pieces in The Dawn of a New Age called Heaven on Earth.

Heaven on Earth- Jerald Simon

I enjoyed playing the pieces in The Dawn of a New Age. The book is packed with inviting, pleasant and refreshing pieces that are waiting to be played and shared!

If you have heard Jerald Simon in any kind of workshop or event setting, you will know that he thinks of himself more as a music mentor to his students. He encourages them to explore, create and make music often. This is something that shows in his compositions and I have really come to appreciate.

I have never been lucky to see Jerald present a workshop in person, but I have had a chance to view some video’s, one of which was a workshop for teachers on how to motivate piano students to play the piano. If you haven’t seen this video, be sure to check it out here.


Jerald is offering 10 PDF copies and 2 spiral bound copies of The Dawn of a New Age as a giveaway. Everyone who receives the PDF and Spiral Bound books will all receive a free MP3 download of the album as well (the album is available on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and all online music stores. Thanks Jerald! To enter this giveaway, leave a comment sharing what your plans are this summer and if you use new age style music in your studio. Deadline to enter is this Friday, May 23rd 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!

Fall Lesson Scheduling

I thought I would share what I do each year when it’s time to put together the puzzle called Fall Lesson Scheduling.

May 1st is when I have my re-registration deadline to receive the following from parents:

1) Re-registration (now done online)

2) Summer Camp registration (now done online)

3) Lesson Schedule form (more on this one later…)

4) Studio Fee


The lesson schedule form looks like this… (click to enlarge)

Lesson schedule form

Once I get all the forms back I start on my “soft” schedule so I’m able to see where things are at, if I have any openings and what they might be, etc…  I start with all the one’s that say they can keep their same day/time. Then I go into the students that need to change and the puzzle making begins! Usually change is due to school schedules, extra-curricular activities, work schedules, etc… For example I have 5 students going into high school next year so that may affect the earliest time they can get to lessons. Out of 15 families, only 3 needed a change this year.

There are several online scheduling options such as, etc… and while I have used the sites to set up piano parties (perfect for group lessons, parties, events, etc…) and such I like to have more say in how the fall schedule will turn out so I don’t use those resources for that.

A popular question I get asked regarding the form is if I have any families that mark only 1 or 2 smiley faces and the rest are frowns. Usually that isn’t a big problem. This year I had 2 that did that and neither one will be a problem as far as the schedule request goes. One is a homeschool family that just wanted to keep their day/time. The other was one of my first lessons of the day that wants to keep their day and time. No problem with me accommodating either.

If I did run into problems, I simply email that family and let them know that their one and only choice they gave me is not going to work and then I let them know what will and then they usually say okay. I haven’t come across not being able to work something out.

In my studio the Fall schedule begins in August (this is when school resumes). So I take my “soft” schedule and email all the families in July to just make sure that what I have for them will work okay. This is their chance to let me know a few weeks before school begins if there are any problems. Then the following week I give the final schedule. If there is a family that has a last minute change request at that point or when school begins, I have them work out the change and see if there is anybody that can switch with them.


Super Duck app winners!

Congratulations to the following teachers who won the Super Duck app….

Lisa Shoemaker Juliet Eva Kwan Heather Watson


Congratulations to…

Karen Lupardusfor winning the Super Duck app AND a digital copy of Higgledy Piggledy Jazz!

I will be forwarding your email to Elena and she will be contacting you soon! Congratulations and enjoy!

If you didn’t win this time, be sure to check out the app here.

Be sure to like FPSResources on Facebook to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!  *Coming soon* Another Jerald Simon music book review and giveaway!

Be Our Guest: The Power of YES!


I am very happy to introduce you our guest for May. She is a very special person who touches the lives of all who are lucky to get to know her. When you are around her, you can’t help but feel special. So today I would like to share a little bit of Claire Westlake with all of you. She shares a special story of the power of saying YES even though we really would rather say no… Welcome Claire as our guest blogger!


The Power of YES!

25 years ago I would have questioned your sanity had you told me I would be teaching piano as a career, managing a large organization and having Jon Schmidt of “The Piano Guys” staying in my home for a few days. It’s funny how life takes you through all of its’ twists and turns and where you finally end up. My life-changing moment occurred when I was asked to serve on the board of the Desert Valley Music Teachers’ Association.

Claire with Jon Schmidt

I knew I needed to take my turn to serve as I had been given so much from this group, but I was already over-committed with family, church and studio responsibilities. Despite my doubts and with encouragement from the incoming President who was more overloaded than I, I decided to take the plunge.   I knew I couldn’t always be a taker, I needed to be a giver. Little did I know how my life would unfold and how much I would learn in the process because of that first yes.

After I served that first year as Achievement Day Chairman I thought I had done my part. However, not only did I find that it was actually a two-year term, I also found out I was expecting our 5th child. Not wanting to let anyone down, I served the second year. Though I was crazy busy, I made it through with the help of my DVMTA friends and family. (I also learned how to delegate.) After a short break, I was asked again to serve on the board as Scholarship Chairman, a position I held for 14 years, having another child in the process to further make time management more interesting. Like so many of you, I think I could have made multi-tasking an Olympic event by the time I was finished with this chairmanship.

With each passing year I watched each President and board member continue to serve, always marveling at their energy and how they never complained. They had great knowledge and experience that they freely shared. I always considered it a privilege to rub shoulders with them. They became my heroes, my mentors, and my best friends, in short; the finest people I have ever had the opportunity to know.

DVMTA Volunteers

After watching their example for years, how could I say no when one of my best friends asked me to be in charge of the duet ensemble when she took over as President? This position took far more time and effort than any position on the board, including that of President. Almost 600 kids, 57 teachers, 14 groups and two performances for two years in a row, was almost more than this small town girl could handle. On top of that, it was the 25th anniversary of our “Cavalcade of Rhythm” the second year of that term. I was asked to make a big celebration out of it, if it wasn’t big enough already, and invite a guest composer. In the past they had invited popular composers like Kevin Olson and Melody Bober to attend. Initially I laughed at my friend and told her no, that I didn’t have time to even consider it. Later that night, however, I had a very strong impression that I needed to do this for her and for the organization that had given so much to me. For years I had entered students in this great event, doing little to help, other than conducting a group. It was time to step up, especially after the women I had looked up to for so many years had set the example. I am so glad I did for what I was to learn in the next two years had a profound impact on the rest of my life.

Calvacade rehearsal


This position took all of the organizational and creative powers my poor little brain could muster. I had to pick the music, write a script, choose conductors, type a program, sell ads, run rehearsals, get a stage crew, rent costumes, rent pianos, pick a theme, find a venue, decorate a stage, sell tickets, involve the local media, advertise and handle a million more details to make this into a great experience for everyone involved. No pressure. One by one, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, things began to fall into place, and I began to gain confidence that I could do this with the help of my friends. Whenever something went wrong, someone would step up and take care of things. By the end when all was said and done, I had perfect faith or confidence that everything would be taken care of, thanks to my volunteers. We became a well-oiled machine, we became as one. The first year was a success with our “Dynamic Duos.” The second year was going to be more of a challenge as we decided to invite Jon Schmidt to be our guest composer. This was before he joined “The Piano Guys.”

Our theme for the event was “Super Songwriters.” It was conceived before “Dynamic Duos” although it debuted a year later. We needed the extra year to iron out the details, such as arranging a few of Jon’s pieces into duets, getting his permission to do so, calendaring the event with Jon and so on. We wanted to showcase a few students and DVMTA teachers who were gifted composers and arrangers. We wanted to tell the world that kids can compose and to encourage more composition in our organization. Two students performed their original compositions for our pre-show. Additionally, we commissioned them to write a duet for one of the groups to perform. When Jon arrived for the dress rehearsal and heard his songs performed he was absolutely amazed! I will never forget his face. We had 25 pianos on stage, two kids at each piano performing his “Dumb Song” and “Waterfall.” The sound was amazing. Jon was speechless. I truly believed he was touched that we took the time to do this, that 50 kids could sound so good on the piano at the same time playing his music and that the kids were enjoying it so much!

Jon Schmidt Calvacade

It was a magical moment for me as well.   All of that work was worth every hour I spent planning and preparing just to see the smiles on everyone’s face. It brought us much closer as an organization and motivated our students to practice. One of the highlights of my life was to have Jon stay in my home for two nights, have him eat dinner with my family, listen to him play on my piano and hear him tell stories. He also offered to do a private recital for my students. It was SO WORTH IT! All of this happened because of the great men and women that had my back. I truly came to have perfect faith in them.

Jon Schmidt home recital

Now after that, one would think I deserved a rest, that everything would come to an end, but shortly after the duet ensemble I was asked if I would be Vice-President for the next two years. I knew however, it was not just a two-year term. It was a six-year term! After you serve as Vice-President, you become the President for two years, then you get to serve on the board for two more years in an advisory position. I thought of my mentors who served as President before me and I said yes again. During this time I learned how to preside over a meeting, run and grow a non-profit organization with all its financial and legal obligations, motivate and inspire people, market and advertise, research areas of music and present it to our membership during our general meetings. It forced me to get out of my shell. All of those acquired skills were used in turn to grow my studio when my husband was laid off a few years ago during the economic downturn the country experienced.

Many groups and organizations found their numbers diminishing during this crazy economic time. I was worried that we would experience the same thing. I made sure the general meetings I planned as Vice-President were relevant, informative and interesting to the members that would attend. I tried to keep up with the latest ideas that were happening in the music education field to meet the needs of our teachers. We had several teachers retire and move but we were able to keep our numbers steady and even increase slightly due to our marketing efforts.

Mall event

An organization such as DVMTA runs successfully only by the generosity of its unpaid volunteers.   I discovered early that I had lucked into a very special group of teachers as they were always very supportive of me and of the other members. I grew to learn that this was a positive, nurturing environment, with no competitiveness nor politics, nor special agenda except that of empowering the teachers so they can in turn empower their students they had stewardship over. I liked how this made me feel, how it made me grow with knowledge and how it benefitted my studio and family. My abilities as a teacher grew in leaps and bounds as did the size of my studio. Additionally, I gained leadership, organizational, time-management, marketing, computer, social media, event planning and composition skills. I also learned how to keep my teaching fresh and fun while maintaining the highest of standards. Whatever service I gave, came back to me one hundred fold. Most of all I met and worked with the most wonderful, giving and caring people that I consider my dearest friends. Any measure of success I enjoy today is directly a result of being a member of DVMTA, the example that the members set for me and for my wonderful family that supported me. I would never change a minute of my experience being a member nor serving in DVMTA. All because I said yes that first time……….



President DVMTA 2012-14

Claire Westlake has over 30 years piano teaching experience and has a successful and thriving studio. She has been a member of Desert Valley Music Teachers’ Association (DVMTA) for 22 years and served as President from 2012-2014. She has also served as VP, Cavalcade of Rhythm Chair, Scholarship Chair, Achievement Day Chair and currently serving as the Social Media Chair. She is an accompanist and church music chairman and has served as a choir director. Claire is also an avid gardener, genealogist, mother of 6 and grandmother of 3. 


Thank you Claire for being our guest blogger. I wanted to just take a moment and brag a little bit about Claire. Not only has she put a lot of time into volunteering for DVMTA, but she has done quite a lot to get DVMTA out in the social media circles. The DVMTA Facebook page, Pinterest page and Blog are among my favorites to visit. You can even find them on Instagram! Be sure to check them out!

DVMTA Facebook Page

DVMTA Pinterest 



If you are interested in being a future guest on FPSResources, let me know by emailing me: Don’t forget to like FPSResources on Facebook to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!

Tech Tuesday: Super Duck app

You might remember, last summer I was able to review a jazz book called Higgledy Piggledy Jazz. A fun jazz book composed by Elena Cobb. If you missed that review, be sure to check it out here.

I’m excited to announce that there is now a pretty neat iPad app that correlates directly with Super Duck, the first piece found in the Higgledy Piggledy Jazz book. This iPad app is not a game app but full of exploration, learning and improvisation all based on the piece, Super Duck.

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When you first open the app there is a brief explanation on what the app includes. Then you go into the Learn mode. In the learn mode you will find audio and visuals of the following: An introduction to the 12 bar blues, 12 bar blues chords, last bar of Super Duck, end of the 12 bars, bring it all together. Remember this is all based on the piece Super Duck. Once they learn these small little clips of the piece, they can record them and self evaluate how they think they did.

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Then they have the opportunity to practice in larger sections. Once they are confidant with the sections there is some improv exercises and examples. If you are familiar with Super Duck, then you know there is an opportunity for students to branch out and improvise their own melody.

The next section is to Master the sections. After they master those sections it’s time for the bonus fun! Playing along with a jazz band! They can choose to play the full score with a slow band and piano, fast band and piano, slow band only or fast band only. When you play the notes will be highlighted as it moves along.

Inside the app is also a video of Elena introducing the piece Super Duck and explaining the color chord system and the full score of Super Duck.

To get a feel of what this app is all about check out Elena’s brief introduction and performance with the app  in this video here…

Super Duck is used with the iPad and is $2.99. You can download it here. The thing I like most about this app is that it is the perfect example of how a student can break down a piece they want to learn when they are at home practicing. It is a great teaching tool on HOW they should practice at home and the success they could feel when they do it this way. The reward is to be able to play along with a jazz band! I try to think outside the box when I learn about a new app or product and think of different ways I can apply them in my studio. With this app, I instantly thought of not only using it with students during lessons, but also it would be a perfect app to use as a tool in my practice workshops that I hold every few years. In addition it would be a great tool to use when teaching about jazz and improvisation. Really it has a lot of possibilities.

Elena Cobb has graciously offered 5 free copies of this app to some lucky teachers and one lucky teacher will even get a digital copy of the Higgledy Piggledy Jazz book! Thank you Elena!

To enter, please comment below on how you see yourself using this app. Deadline to enter is by Saturday, May 10th; 10:00pm (az mountain standard).  GIVEAWAY EXPIRED

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


Brownie Points this week!


This Saturday is my spring recital, so this week is our recital rehearsals. Students come for one hour on their normal lesson day. They play through their pieces and we go through performance tips, etiquette and any other things I need them to know about the recital. If we have time then they get to play the “focus” game. This is where a student plays their piece while the other students do things that could possibly happen at the recital. (i.e.: coughing, sneezing, baby crying, phone ringing, etc…) The goal is stay focused throughout your performance. They love this game!

In my studio, aside from one optional event that requires it, I do not require memorization in performances. I would rather have a student play a solid performance with their music then have a shaky performance without it. However I do ENCOURAGE memorization especially for the spring recital (our other recitals the rest of the year are more casual). I also let students know that even if they have their piece memorized if they are more comfortable bringing the music up I’m okay with that. Again, I want them to feel confidant, secure and ready. I want them to also play how they normally practice at home. So if they are normally playing without the music, then I suggest to not have the music up there as it could be a distraction. If they normally play with it there, but they don’t look at it, then play that way. Whatever they are used to doing at home, I want them to do it at the recital.

Those students that can prove at the recital rehearsal that they do have their piece memorized (whether or not they end up using the music at the recital does not matter) gets a little something “extra” from me.

This year the “extra” is all about the “brownie points”…



You might be asking, well if it doesn’t matter if they have the music or not when they perform why even encourage? Because I noticed the students that have their piece memorized usually have their piece in the back of their pocket. So all in all it helps with the polishing process.