Book Review: The (Well) Informed Piano

The (Well) Informed Piano 

By Miguel G. Henriques

The (Well) Informed Piano

The (Well) Informed Piano begins with a collection of thoughts and ideas of subjective or philosophical content. In addition to these collections, The Well Informed Piano also addresses, technical, artistic and musical ideas and thoughts as well. “The purpose of this work is to share a personal professional experience insight in the field of piano performance philosophy, artistry, ethics, methodology, and technique. This text tries to assume a certain continuity to the major contributions of artists like Ludwig Deppe, Tobias Matthay, Grigory Kogan, Heinrich Neuhaus and George Kochevitsky published works.”

Published last March, Miguel states in the preface of The (Well) Informed Piano, “It is absolutely crucial to approach these readings with an open mind.” Beginning in the Chapter with Operative Thoughts, Miguel shares, “A music that does not reflect the human contradictions can hardly leave a lasting philosophical impression.”… “Certainly, the deepest reason that supported the implementation of this book was the possibility for sharing one’s personal experience. Perhaps it might contribute to motivate the reader in his own learning of the “whole.”

On approaching a musical piece, Miguel mentions that sometimes there is a confusion that can arise between discussion of taste and assessment of stylistic or aesthetic characteristics of a work or interpretative project. He goes on to say that we should always respect other ideas about a given work, considering them as potentially valid, even if they are different from ours. In this chapter he dives into the different decades, the tastes and styles of those times, the musical languages and characters to be understood. “The starting point for learning a musical piece should be simultaneously the ultimate goal: the expression of the “character” that translates its most inner aesthetic meaning. Here, the term “character” is used subjectively and comprehensively: it can refer to any psychological, emotional or philosophical experience.”

In Chapter 4, The Performance Project is introduced. I particularly enjoyed a personal story shared in regards to an “annoying fly” that he was eager to kill but something his son had said the day before had potentially saved the fly’s life and in turn became not only tolerable but memorable and would continue to be in relation to the piece he was working on at that time.

In regards to formalism and judgment of music, Miguel says, “Music is at one time an art and a living science: it does not comply with intellectual arrogance and dogma. It is a profession that requires great intelligence and creativity and, therefore, great openness, flexibility, curiosity and humbleness. In the artistic world, one who pretends to know everything, or even a part, puts himself at serious risk of being reduced to a simple mime. Before the imposition of a text, it is necessary to learn the context. Silence will only be worth to be ripped off if one managed to previously enjoy it. In artistic professional coexistence, it must be defended above all, the ethics in working relationships between colleagues, and the respect for everyone’s freedom of expression.”

Miguel makes an address to the general public, musicians and teachers. In the address he states, “One of the things that strike me as disturbing in the tradition of intellectual and pedagogic work is the difficulty of sharing information. The explanation, which considers that musicians do not have the slightest interest in verbal language, preferring exclusively the virtues of musical language, is, of course, absurd. For as most extraordinary and powerful as the music may be, its study cannot fail to be complemented with its verbal communicating substance. When the more theoretical or more subjective information about music is not accessible or shared, the present and especially the future generations are severely handicapped.”

The chapter on Pianistic Technical Learning is filled with topics on the mind, body, piano practice, daily routine, exercises, rapid passages, rhythm, sound quality, components and more.

The last chapter concludes with piano performance pedagogy. Miguel gives great advice for teachers, “When starting his own career, a teacher must discover his own style, knowing beforehand that each pupil is always a distinct and unique case. Any method will have to be always adjusted to every student.”

The (Well) Informed Piano leaves the reader to really ponder on his or her own thoughts and ideas on the vast variety of subjects it addresses. After reading The (Well) Informed Piano, you will leave with more of an open mind and eagerness to explore more. In short, you will be well informed.

You can purchase as well as view the table of contents and page samples of The (Well) Informed Piano on Amazon.



Youtube Channel


About the author

Miguel Henriques

As a music scholar, Miguel Henriques has been publishing and presenting articles and essays in different publications, conferences and symposiums. He enjoys a successful career both as a concert pianist and conductor with several CD recordings. His studies include a post-graduation at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow and a Master’s degree in Piano Performance at the University of Kansas. He was a pupil of Ernestina Silva Monteiro, Gleb Akselrod and Sequeira Costa. Miguel Henriques is involved in different music projects as artistic and cultural producer and promoter. Miguel Henriques holds the position of Piano Professor at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa since 1990.

ASMTA Conference: Making a Living as an Independent Music Teacher

By Lee Galloway


Balancing of life- family, friends, health, environment you live in- anything getting neglected?

It’s important to know what your values are. Characteristics, attributes, beliefs- respect, love, consistency,art, physically, peaceful, business, etc…

Find the value words that speak to you. Narrow down to 10 words then put in order of importance. How much does it manifest in your life.

A mission statement should have 4 components-

-what you do

-who you do it for

-what the benefit is for them

-what the benefit is for you


-I teach piano

-to children age 7-10

-enriching their lives with music

-earning enough to pay my bills easily (Last statement is most likely for your own use.)


It is important to write things down (goals, etc…) as the subconscience usually takes over.

Read books


ie: If you can have it anyway you wanted, how would you schedule your week.

Make a goal and visualize

It might not be immediate but it will get there.


ie: Lee wanted to make a goal to stop teaching by 7pm. Two years later he was there.

Before making this goal if he had an opening after 7pm he would fill it. But after making his goal, if he would have an opening after 7pm instead of immediately filling it, he would feel his sub-conscience take over and not fill it.


10 Techniques for improving the efficiency for your studio

– Value yourself- Charge what you are worth. You value yourself more and become better over the years.

– Advertise- ie: water pipe example- loading the pipe from one end, the other end you want people calling you. It takes a while for the stuff in the pipe to get to the other end. Keep your name out there, then the calls come. Then they fill up, they stop advertising. They are still getting calls, then the pipe empties out, the calls stop. Keep the pipe full.

– Hold a free interview/sample lesson

– Teach adults- Upside- lessons are less intense, can come during the day. Downside- expectations unrealistic,

– Reactivate previous clients- see if they want to come back (works really well with adults). He will mail a calendar to previous students, reminds them of your name/business.

– Ask for referrals- referral benefits are not necessary. They are glad to give you referrals, they just don’t realize you have openings. Just need to tell them.

– Giveaway or sell extra books- stick in a box- 1/2 price books, or buy 2 get one 3 etc…; gives books away for participation. (great idea for group classes and camps); Include your books in your tuition. Simplifies things so much!

– Make lessons longer- analyze which students can benefit from longer lessons. You are looking within your studio.

– Payment plans- These vary. Some options can be by lesson (not preferable); by the month- how many weeks in a month; 4 per month system- 4 lessons each month- same amount each month; averaging system- like tuition system but a little different- figure out how many weeks to take off, 40 lessons a year. Multiply that number then divide that and figure out monthly tuition (paying for an installment of lessons); Tuition system- charge for a semester and then can choose payment options.

-The best way to be an efficient teacher is to be an excellent teacher.

“How lucky we are in our field to change people’s lives one on one…. to do it with music, what can be better then that… the one subject the one art that penetrates to the very of our being of one’s soul…. appreciate yourselves”



ASMTA Conference: Music Play- Applying Music Learning Theory in the Studio

Presented by Hannah Creviston



Music Learning Theory is an explanation of how we learn music. It is our responsibility to teach children first before teaching piano as each child is different. Then teach music, through the piano.

Create musicians. Whether or not they like it, they can appreciate it. Engage in the learning process- PLAY. We should teach music the way we learn language.

ie: Baby- listen, absorb, inflection, facial expression, question/answer- give and take by the conversation…. just by listening. Then they start babbling, parents encourage the try at communications… Then they take their sounds, and attaching meaning to them. Then more correctly, they start to imitate language- words, questions, thinkings, words have meaning… Then they start to improvise, create sentences without imitating, ask own questions, create stories. Then they read and write. and so on… 

A good Ted talk to watch- Music as a Language: Victor Wooten

Silence can be uncomfortable for people. Enjoy what a rest or grand pause can do. Keeping audience on edge, what is going to happen.

  • Processing- needs time to process.
  • Give the appropriate response time. Some students will be quick, some will be longer.
  • Audiation- hearing and comprehending music in one’s head when there is no sound present and there may have never been that sound present. (ie: singing a phrase and not singing the last note but knowing what it will be) Understanding patterns.
  • Anticipation

 Listening– slightly different then silence- creating environment giving things to listen to that are going to help them learn what is appropriate in a given music situation.

  •  Acculturation- becoming used to. Variety of modes, meters, etc… so they become used to lots of different genres. Give listening homework assignments.
  • Music Vocabulary- ie: jazz musicians, scale (know what it sounds like as a chunk), chords, etc… Can build on that vocabulary when teaching notation.
  • Sound before symbol- if they can’t hear something, it’s going to be hard to replicate it on the piano.

 Movement– is intertwined with music. Movement is fun. The best way to understand it is to engage your whole body.

  • Body Awareness- we use our entire body when we play the piano. Through movement we learn how to engage our bodies. Feel the music.
  • Breathing- Engage breathing as you are playing, phrases…
  • Relaxation- notice when you are engaging and releasing tension.

Self space, shared space, weight space, time and flow

Finding the beat and put it somewhere on your body (tapping, walking, rocking, etc…)

A good way to help students not rush is rocking back and forth or more flowing movement. Feeling the space in between the beats. Not rushing from one beat to the next. (clapping and marching are easy ways to rush)

Improvisation– Create rhythm and tonal patterns. It’s how students demonstrate what they know and understand. Give guidelines and criteria to help them be successful. Start with improv on black keys. Activity idea using 5 finger patterns- beat one start on C, beat 8 end on G- do whatever in between…

  • Fully develop audiation
  • Demonstration of what students understand

Patterns- little chunks/words in musical phrase. Rhythm and tonal. Similar to words in a sentence. Using these patterns helps learning to sight-read. Recognize patterns. Imitate and now do something different then switch roles. Patterns help students comprehend how musical parts fit together to form musical wholes (Edwin E. Gordon)


Review: Music Words Game

When I was attending the PianoAccent session of our state conference, I was one of the lucky winners of Gail Fischler’s Musical Word game. I was happy that I was able to try it out with one of my last summer camp classes before we headed into break.

Musical Words is a board game based on The Musical Adjectives Project. The project was founded by Dr. Gail Fischler of the Piano Addict blog. Collecting and categorizing adjectives and images, with her students at Eastern Arizona College, to aid pianists and musicians in describing and understanding the emotions and character within repertoire. Gail says “The original inspiration was a wonderful reference handout (now dog-eared and very, very faded) by Maurice Hinson which consisted of an entire page full of adjectives.”IMG_6416

Included is the game board, game cards, directions and tips. There are a couple ways to play the game which is included in the directions. It can also be adapted to your ideas as well.

The way we played it in our camp session was like this…

Students first wrote down adjectives on the game board with a white board marker (Game board can be purchased laminated or non-laminated. I recommend just getting it laminated). Then they rolled the dice. When they landed on an adjective they had the choice to sight-read a piece using that adjective or improv something using that adjective. None of my students had their music with them for this particular camp session which is why I decided to go the sight-reading and improv route with the game.

IMG_6418If students landed on draw a card, then they would draw a card that would give them a “reward” such as moving forward so many spaces or “obstacles” such as sitting out one turn. Some of the cards had a little bit of both a reward and obstacle in the same card.IMG_6415


We had a good time playing the game. I am definitely going to use it again with all my students in upcoming group classes and/or camps. This game doesn’t need to be played in a group setting, it can easily be played with student and teacher. The great thing about Musical Words that many games don’t do is that it gets the students playing, sight-reading, improvising and really paying attention to what the character of the piece is and how they can portray that to their listeners.

I asked my students if they had any other ideas that might be fun to implement with this game for a future class. Because the action in my grand was taken by my piano technician (can’t wait until it comes back) we used the Clavinova in the studio lab room. This gave one of my students the idea that it would be fun to use the different sounds and instruments the Clavinova provides. I thought that would be a real fun idea! So next time we just might try that!

Here is a short video of Gail demonstrating the game.

Now the really fun part! Gail Fischler has offered to do a giveaway of Musical Words. Thanks Gail! To enter, just leave a comment below. Deadline to enter is this Monday, June 30th, 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!


Review: Music Whiteboards

When I attended the Arizona Music Teachers Association conference last week, I was able to briefly meet Gina Barton of Gina was one of the exhibitors and was selling music whiteboards. I had a good size whiteboard in my lab room and it will still get used during group games like this one…


…But I have been wanting an actual music whiteboard for awhile. As soon as I saw the extra large music whiteboard at the MusicTeacherLesson booth I was very excited and knew I had to take advantage.


The MusicTeacherLesson whiteboards are magnet dry erase boards. Over 60+ concepts can be taught on it. Gina includes a list of many ideas of things you can do with your whiteboard when you purchase from her. In addition to the extra large board that I have on my wall, Gina also has smaller boards. The small boards are 8 1/2x 11″. The medium board is 17×11″. The large board is 23×17″ and the extra large (the one I now have on my wall) is 3’x2′.

Here is the medium size board sitting on my Clavinova so you can get an idea of the size.

Medium Whiteboard

All the boards have the same layout. The keyboard at the top. The grand staff in the middle and then the lines at the bottom for chord work. I love that they include all 3!

Before… (we were doing a jungle theme the year this picture was taken…)

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 4.18.38 PMIf you saw yesterdays post then you got a sneak peak of the after… (Doesn’t it look so much better?!)

Piano Lab

I was already inspired to make some letter magnets to use with my new whiteboard… (All you need is your letter printout, decoupage, glass gems and magnets for the backs) I’m going to make some colored one’s and smaller one’s as well.


I wish I had pictures of my students using the new whiteboards but they are on break. So I would encourage you to go to to see pictures of other students using the boards. I am looking forward to using these whiteboards in both private and group lessons. I predict that they will got a lot of use over the years! While I do enjoy using technology resources, it’s also good to get hands on and use those small motor skills. These boards give the opportunities for some good old fashion tactile activities. is offering free giveaways (over $215 worth!). The giveaways expire August 31st. All you need to do is post on the MusicTeacherLesson Facebook page here, different ways you can come up with using their boards. You can post as many times as you like. There will also be a prize for the person who shares her Facebook and website the most. The most creative winners will receive prizes from Small to Medium size boards with magnets, dry eraser and board cleaner.

Also you can take advantage of a 20% off sale by inserting promo code: MUSIC2014 when you go to the online store. Bulk pricing is also available if you want to take advantage of several boards for students. (See website for pricing info)

Just a quick side note: In addition to whiteboards, Gina also sells piano pedal extenders (on sale for $139.99), adjustable benches and even music doorbells (something I’m thinking of getting) on her website. So be sure to check those out as well!

Organizing and Updating the Piano Lab

I teach on my Yamaha Disclavier in my living room. Adjacent to it is my piano lab room. This is the room that I get to have FUN with! So this weekend I wanted to organize and update the look of the room. I was running out of room for all my piano games and manipulatives so I got rid of my cubbies that I didn’t use at all last year and replaced them with two 9-drawer units from IKEA. (Amazon has these too, but they were asking twice the amount! So I opted to get them straight from IKEA)

When I opened the package I was a little worried because nothing was labeled. I had two of these to put together so I knew it was going to be an all day project. My husband owns a videography business on the side and June is his busy month. He had a video shoot that afternoon and was busy editing for the morning. So I was on my own, or so I thought…

IMG_2676When it comes to projects like these, my husband just can’t help but sit back. He came in for a minute, watched for a few and then started to help! What a man! I was so grateful let me tell ya! So he was able to help me with the outsides before he had to take off for his shoot.




Then the rest (the drawers) were all mine…


A couple years ago my husband did custom bookshelves for me. So here it all is with the shelves and drawers…

Bookshelves and Drawers

This room has wood floors and there were areas that the wood was starting to chip. If you walk in barefoot chances are, you may walk out with a sliver. I have been wanting to get a music themed rug for this room for awhile because of that, but rugs are not cheap! Then I saw a picture of a piano rug from piano teacher, Stephen Hughes and asked where he got his. Walmart was the answer if you could believe that! And it was in the price range I could afford. So I ordered the large one and here it is! I love it, it’s soft, just the right size and looks great. If you are thinking of ordering it, just know that the white is more of a creme. That didn’t bother me for my purposes.


So now we turn to the other side of my piano lab room and you will see my Yamaha keyboard and Disclavier and the iMacs. But if you look in the middle, the whiteboard is what I am excited about because this is brand new! I bought it at our state’s music teachers conference and can’t wait to put it to good use. I will be reviewing the whiteboard tomorrow so stay tuned on that…

Piano Lab

Now a little more on my IKEA drawer units. I saw a few that could work, but fell in love with the Alex 9-drawer unit. I figured these would give me what I wanted most out of them.

Here are the bottom four drawers which are deeper. The 3 bottom drawers on the left are my “piano craft” drawers. The drawers on the right are game and manipulative drawers.


Then the top 5 drawers are not as deep, but perfect for the flashcard and flat games. The top left drawer is where I put all my game markers, dice and magnets, etc.


Here is a better example of the bigger drawer. This one has my Whirligig games in it.


Then the smaller drawer sample has mostly TCW games with a few others inside.


I can’t wait until my students see the updated look! It’s always fun to update and organize! I feel so accomplished!

Review: Rhythm Cup Explorations

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When Wendy Stevens came out with her Rhythm Cup Explorations book, I knew it was a winner before I even bought it. I also knew that I just had to have it and couldn’t wait to use it at our summer piano camp. I know by now that most of  you have probably heard about this book, but just in case you haven’t I thought I would share my experience with it.

For my bigger groups I downloaded the book onto two iPads and had one at each end of the table. For my smaller groups I had it up on the wall via my projector. It seemed to work pretty well. One of my groups was a mix of different ages and levels so we used the basic units. (Mixed groups were my “hurry out of town” option for camp. Otherwise the groups were separated into K-6th; 7-12th)





We played the Rhythm Cup Explorations on our 1st day of camp which was a patriotic theme so I used patriotic music as the background (Stars and Stripes Forever, This Land is Your Land…) to our cup rhythm fun! I kept forgetting to take video’s and the pictures above are the only one’s I remembered to snap. But here is a video of two students doing the cups to Stars and Stripes forever.


Rhythm Cup Exploration is a reproducible book that is divided into 4 units. The units include: Quarters, Half notes, Quarter rests, Eighth notes and rests, Triplets, Sixteenths. There is even an international version available (quavers, semi-quavers, etc…)

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Rhythm Cup Explorations is truly a must for the studio. It can be used one on one with student and teacher or in a group setting. Regardless of the setting, students will love it! One thought I had that we ended up not having time for is using this book with boomwhackers. It would be fun to hear what adding in the pitch from the boomwhackers with the fun rhythms would sound like. Another time perhaps.

Summer is the perfect time to join the cup craze and purchase Rhythm Cup Explorations here.

ASMTA Conference 2014: The Nutz and Boltz of a Successful Music Studio

A few weeks ago I attended the Arizona State Music Teachers Association Conference held at the beautiful Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort in Tucson, AZ. I will be sharing my notes from classes I took over the next couple weeks, but for now I thought I would share some tips from the masterclasses and pictures from showcases, exhibiters, concert, etc…

Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort in Tucson, AZ.

The night before the conference began a good friend and colleague of mine was hosting a masterclass with her students by Jennifer Eklund with Piano Pronto. I made arrangements so I could go. Did not want to miss that one!





Tips from Jennifer Eklund’s masterclass:

– Her compositions are meant to have lots of freedom and rubato

 -End game- the feel should be in 1.

– Teacher can play right hand while student is learning left hand.

– On duets or spotlight solo parts, teacher can chord the first beat on left hand while they are learning their part.

– Composition tip- release bottom note of chord for new color. Play with chords.

– Tip for students- Don’t learn by memory. Your hard drive (brain) fills up. We want to fill our “iTunes” library up so you can go back to old things. This was said to a student who enjoys composing. She wanted to make sure that he writes his music down in notation and not just by remembering it. This is important for compositions but also when we learn new pieces. Reading the notation when learning a piece is important as it is alway there and available to go back to when the memory fails us.

-Make a story with what you are writing. (said to the same composition student)

-Fade into Twilight should be felt in 2.

-“Be obnoxious…” Do things 5 times as much then it will come out right. You can scale back later if needed. (Accents, staccato’s, dynamics), make everything obvious. She said this a couple times with students who were a little more timid in playing their pieces.

Jennifer Eklund-Piano Pronto Showcase




Glenda Austin- Willis Showcase




Glenda wanted a group photo with everyone. How fun is that?IMG_6290

Neeki Bey, Gail Fischler, Kristin Yost- Piano Accents Showcase

If you haven’t heard of Piano Accents. Head over to their website. The music is so fun!




Jane Irvine– She shared her story of beginning piano at 13 and overcoming the challenges of learning low vision. She wrote a book called, “Making Friends with Other Trees and Flowers: A Story of Low Vision and High Expectations.”



Baruch Meir Masterclass





Masterclass Tips:

-Sing the sound

-Baruch plays a phrase, student puts hand on wrist to feel the motion. Think of your arm like being in a swimming pool. Arm/wrist flexible, but fingers need to be firmer from the bridge down to the fingertip.

-Shape the chord before the fingers touch the keys

-Scales should be played musically

-Free sounds, not wooden sound. When you are flexible you don’t get an attack so direct. Elbow should be very free.

-Playing piano is very similar to swimming and basketball- they are flexible activities. Playing the piano, the body needs to be flexible not tight.-When asked how his arms was so flexible, Claudio Arrau said “I don’t have bones in my arms, I have snakes”

-When shortening a note- have student sing it first then play it again. When releasing a note too quickly is like a “hiccup”.

-Strengthen finger work by working on upper arm strength.

-Sing melodic line in LH; in order to sing it needs to be flexible.

-When you read a book you can become the character of the book. When you play the music you need to have an understanding of it so you can play it appropriately and become it’s character.

-Usually you cannot play fast if you play scales from the arms.

-Student should decide on fingering (unless you are 6-7…), teacher suggest, student experiment and see what works for you. Be consistent- it will help be more stable in performance.

-Don’t always look down on the keys- don’t smell the keys, they aren’t flowers. 😉

-Be outside of the visual world- feel the keys. Look forward.

-Not enough resistants in the knuckles- playing in the air (missing notes) Keys should go down physically every note.

-Sometimes pianists respond to much with motion- sometimes it can detract from playing. (Less many times is more.)

Concert by Baruch Meir



Teacher Panel

I was able to be a part of a terrific panel on studio practices and policies. It was facilitated by Lynnette Barney (center) with members of the panel being Claire Westlake (far left), Chyleen Lauritzen (2nd left), Sarah Elliott (far right) and myself (2nd right).


And then some of our wonderful exhibitors…










I will be posting on the presentation sessions soon!

Review: Whirligig Games

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One of the games we played at our summer piano camp was Rhythm Riot. Rhythm Riot is a fun rhythm game created by Whirligig. Keys to Imagination LLC recently took over Whirligig. So if you wondered what happened to all the fun Whirligig games, just head on over to and you will be able to find them.

If you are familiar with Rhythm Riot 1-2 there is NOW a Rhythm Riot 3-4 available!

Level 1 covers quarter, half, dotted half and whole notes. Level 2 adds in Eighth notes and rests (both single and pairs).The tempo spinner for both 1-2 includes Andante, Moderato, and Allegro.

Level 3 covers quarter and rest, dotted quarter note, eighth note, dotted eighth note, eighth rest, sixteenth notes, eighth note triplets, Syncopation. Level 4 adds quarter note triplets, dotted sixteenth notes and rests. The tempo spinner for 3-4 includes: Grave, Largo, Adagio, Moderato, Andante, Allegro, Lento, Presto and Vivace


First students spin the tempo wheel and set the metronome to that tempo…



Then students draw a card and show it to all the rest of the students. If they have the rhythm on their card (similar to bingo) they can mark it.




Then students clap or play the rhythm with rhythm instruments together.




IMG_6390Win the “Riot” by having a row covered!

Just a quick hint on Rhythm Riot. If you have 6-8 players playing this game but don’t want to spend a lot of time on it, combine 2-3 cards at a time for a shorter version.

Another game we played at camp this year was Legato Lake, a bingo like game that reviews music symbols.


One of my favorite Whirligig games that I have used many times and will be using again next year during  group class or camp is Space Place. Space Place is a game that reviews melodic and harmonic interval recognition.

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Check out all the Whirligig games here. I have almost all of them and have enjoyed them all throughout the years. The most recent games released since Keys To Imagination took over Whirligig are Rhythm Riot 3-4, Triple Threat Tiles – Level 1 and 2 (terms and symbols) and have re-done Note Wordy 1. There are a lot more games to come!

The quality of the Whirligig games are high and lasts a long time over a period of time. I’ve had some of mine for well over 10 years and they are still in great condition. The great thing about these games is they are games that aren’t too long so they could be used in any setting. During private lessons, a group lesson/class and a camp setting.

Do you receive the Keys to Imagination newsletter? If not, be sure you subscribe as it will contain ideas for creating variations on the games.

Keys to Imagination has shared a coupon code for teachers to use. When ordering use coupon code JF14 for $5 off of two or more games. This code is only good for one week, so don’t delay. Have fun playing!

Summer Piano Camp 2014

I recently finished up with my summer piano camp sessions. I had 5 sessions this year. This year I decided I wanted to simplify my life a little and use a camp that was already done for me. I decided to use Sheryl Welles with the Notable Music Studio, Road Trip USA Camp.

It is a fantastic camp, but in my typical “Jennifer” style I ended up using it more as a resource of ideas and did my own thing with it. What ever happened to simplify? I’m not sure if I understand that word very well. Saying all that, I do want to mention that Road Trip USA on it’s own (without any of my changes) is a fantastic camp and well worth purchasing.

Okay, now for what we did at camp. My camps are 8 hours divided into 2 or 3 days. My 2 day option is 4 hours each day and for those who need to hurry out of town, it is held the end of May. My 3 day option is 2 hours 40 min. each day. Because of this, we only “toured” 3 places of the 5 that Sheryl includes. I figured I could use the ideas from the other 2 in a future camp.

First Day- Washington DC- Patriotic Theme

As students walked in they chose a patriotic necklace to wear. We started out watching a YouTube video of the story behind the national anthem. I really think it’s important for children to know this. They enjoyed it, a few knew the story already (yay for school teachers!) but many had not. We talked about why we put our hand over our heart when the national anthem is sung.


Afterwards we used the Eggspert (they love using the Eggspert!) and went through symbol flashcards to prep them for the Laws of Music Game.



Then we played a game which I will be posting a review for this summer called Rhythm Riot by Whirligig.




After Rhythm Riot, we played Laws of Music (game idea by Sheryl). Now when we used the Eggspert at the beginning I wanted names of symbols. For the Laws of Music, I wanted the definition.

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We played a couple patriotic rhythm themed games and then we saved the best for last and played with Wendy Steven’s, Rhythm Cup Explorations. (Review post coming soon) We did the cup rhythms to patriotic music like Stars and Stripes Forever, This land is Your Land, etc.




2nd Day- I Love New York Day- NYC/Star/Broadway Theme

On the 2nd day I gave students star shaped shutter glasses and watched the Rhapsody in Blue clip from Fantasia 2000. I used the Rhapsody in Blue section of this worksheet for them to discuss later after they watched it.





Then we played a game called Taxi Cab Races (game idea by Sheryl).




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We played Where Everyone is a Star, a terminology game (game idea by Sheryl). I did something similar to this game last year but we used “hats” similar to the “headbands” game if you have heard of that.


We had a craft break and made these picture frames. While they were making this craft I had my NYC slideshow running of when I toured the Steinway Factory, Steinway Hall and Carnegie Hall.


Then I got out the Eggspert again and we reviewed with intervals and note flashcards.


Afterwards I showed this free Broadway Powerpoint and they were able to get a sampling of musicals in each decade. We finished off by doing Boomwhackers on Broadway. They played Lion Sleeps Tonight from Lion King, Matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof and George Gershwin’s, I Got Rhythm. Then I had them make a Boomwhacker composition using these worksheets.







3rd Day- Luau Day- Hawaiin Theme

In her camp, Sheryl shared a link to a website where you can find students Hawaiian names. So I wrote those on name labels and gave those along with leis to students as they walked in.

Then we watched a video montage of IZ Kamakawiwo’ole’s popular version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”.

Our first game was a Musical Truth or Dare game passing around a plastic coconut in hot potato style. Inside were musical truth or dares. An example of a truth would be things like- “Do you sing in the shower?”, Did you practice this week?”, “Is your piano tuned?” Dares were things like “Pick a partner and dance the hula”, “Do some air guitar”, “Sing the Mickey Mouse song in a Mickey voice,” etc…





IMG_6413The 3rd day had 2 crafts. For the first craft we made hawaiin themed wind chimes. These turned out really cute. And then for our 2nd craft we made Pu’ili sticks. Before making the Pu’ili sticks we watched a video of a Hawaiin dance using the Pu’ili sticks.







Then we played a game by Sheryl called Flip Flops and Leis.





Another game one of my groups was able to try was Musical Words, created by Gail Fischler. I won this game at our ASMTA state conference. (a review coming soon).




And if we had time we did some Limbo! (One of the dares in the musical truth or dare game was to Limbo so if that was chosen, we just did it then).






I posted several video’s from this camp on the Foxx Piano Studio YouTube channel. Check them out! (Pu’ili Rhythm Sticks, Rhythm Cup Patriotic, Lion Sleeps Tonight Boomwhackers, Boomwhacker Composition 1 and 2).

As you can see we had lots of fun and I have a bunch of reviews ahead of me this summer! Stay tuned!