Supersonics Piano: Flowing Fantasies


This morning I listened to each piece in Daniel McFarlane’s new releases in the Flowing Fantasies MegaPack. You can say I started my morning off right. If you have a student that gravitates towards lyrical pieces you will want to take advantage of these packs.

While you can buy the individual packs, I would highly recommend getting the complete MegaPack. If you don’t have intermediate to advanced students you will want those pieces for yourself. The MegaPack includes:

Flowing Fantasies Pack 1 (Early Intermediate – Grade 2 Australia/UK)

Flowing Fantasies Pack 2 (Early Intermediate/Intermediate – Grades 2&3 Australia/UK)

Flowing Fantasies Pack 3 (Intermediate – Grade 4 Australia/UK)

Flowing Fantasies Pack 4 (Late Intermediate/Early Advanced – Grades 5&6 Australia/UK)

All the pieces are studio-licenced and on sale for 50% off until Wednesday, May 6th! WOW!

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After listening two the last two pieces in the last pack, “Lift Me Up” and “Light Up My Life” and I can officially say I am now motivated for my day. Start your day off right by taking advantage of the sale on these beautiful and uplifting pieces here!

You may also be interested to know about a couple of other recent releases, both of which are duets. Check out Brother John Duet and London Bridge duet. Both fun duets are perfect for a beginner to play either with the teacher or a sibling. Enjoy!

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Review: Sight Reading Academy


Do you have your students sight read everyday? Colin Thomson has created an effective Sight Reading resource for students called Sight Reading Academy.

As Colin was preparing his audition at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music studying music composition, he would spend countless hours prepping the 3 pieces he was going to perform. While he definitely worried about the sight-reading portion, he put almost no time into preparing for it, considering it impossible to really prepare for sight-reading. He shared with me that he showed up, played his three prepared pieces, and they all went quite smoothly.

Then… a professor handed him one page to sight-read. He knew it was coming, so he nervously took it and started in. About halfway through the second line the professor stopped him and said, “Colin, do you want to take a quick look at the key signature, and try again?” He had been reading it in a completely incorrect key.

He continued to share, “Considering how intensely I had prepared for the audition, this was a bit of a traumatic experience for me. I started back in, and fumbled through the piece. I honestly don’t really remember anything after that. But thankfully, I was still excepted to the school, so the story has a happy ending! But ever since that time, I have wondered how a student is supposed to prepare for sight-reading? Does one have to own a library of music, in order to have access to new music for every day of practice? How can a student effectively practice sight-reading, as well as the disciplines (like looking ahead in the music) that play such an important role in sight-reading?

What I’ve developed is meant to function as a sight-reading method book for teachers to use with students, and to allow students a never-ending stream of level-appropriate sight-reading material, as well as innovative video exercises to help them read ahead. I often consider how my own sight-reading abilities could have been transformed early on through the use of a program like this, and I plan to start a revolution in the extent to which music education focuses on one of the most practical skills a musician can have: sight-reading.”

Sight Reading Academy includes sight-reading exercises from levels 1-8. Here are some notation samples so you get an idea of leveling…

Level 1

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Level 2

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Level 3

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Level 4-5

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Level 6-7

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Level 8-9

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The Sight Reading Academy exercises does not give feedback or scores, it is simply a sight-reading tool. At first I wasn’t sure how I liked not having any immediate feedback for students, however I have had a chance to take some time with SRA. I quickly realized that when students are playing their pieces at home, they are not getting immediate feedback from me. They need to learn to listen and watch carefully. The purpose of sight reading everyday is to improve reading skills (not focusing on mistakes) and become more fluent in the language we call music.

When students learn how to read words and sentences in school, they are required to practice their reading daily. I really believe if we as teachers required a daily sight-reading assignment at home in addition to learning their pieces, our students would become much more fluent readers of music.

Sight Reading Academy has done all the work for teachers, all the assignments are done and ready for students to begin. An optional feature that will be coming eventually to SRA will be for students to opt in to receive encouraging emails when the assignment is complete with the next assignment waiting for them in their inbox. Stay tuned for that feature to be function-able.

Each level includes a video where tips and tricks are shared to help them with their assignment. Students receive positive reinforcement, reminders and tips along with their daily exercises.

Some of the exercises a student will see in a lesson are:

Quick Mem– seeing one measure at a time

ForeSightReader– practice reading ahead of the bar (memorizing as you are moving forward)

Blackout– blacks out the measures as you are moving forward

Some of these exercises, especially the foresightreader and blackout were a bit tricky for some of my students. But they quickly understood why it was important to read ahead.

“Sight Reading Academy is a way for musicians to get new, unseen, level-appropriate music in their email inbox every single day, and includes innovative exercises to help them read ahead. It is my belief that a considerable amount of time should be spent in sight reading exercise. The student who neglects this aspect of study will be woefully unprepared for many of the challenges that will come both during more advanced study and any further performing that may be done later in life. I have gone so far as to say that it is probably the most practical skill that a musician can acquire.” Colin Thomson

How it works for teachers:

The teacher account is always free. After you sign up with your account you can either signup your students or invite them to sign  up themselves. Either way you can track their progress.

Not sure if Sight Reading Academy is right for you? Colin is giving a limited time offer: Get your free teacher account and signup 1 student for a full month. Completely free. The limited time offer for the free student expires in 6 days so don’t wait to sign up for your free account and 1 free student. You can check it all out here, be sure to watch the video to really get an idea of what SRA is all about. And while you are there, you may want to take some time to read some articles on his blog.

MTNA Conference; Monday, March 23, 2015: Pedagogical Strategies For Children with Special Needs

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Hold on to your seat because Melissa Martiros had a lot to cover in a short time!



Use the iPad for recording, (record self playing and send video).

You may need to break down to simpler… then move up from there.

Prompting- brings them back (based on students as far as what works).  If color coding, keep consistent and gradually fade out

Structure is very important, especially with kids with autism.

Develop rapport

Communication (non verbal, pay attention, most disruptive behaviors are communicative, make eye contact whenever possible, say what you mean- clear, direct, literal)

Reflective journaling after lessons (this will help you later in reminding you what works, what doesn’t, etc…)

Basic factors when teaching:

Keyboard geography



Active listening

Interpretation and expression


Processing all

Additional factors:

Full body awareness and control

Ability to block out external stimuli

Ability to stay on task

Ability to establish working relationship with adult

Ability to retain, memorize and transfer knowledge

Understanding social clues

Communication and assessment and feedback


Parents you work with are going to know more than you ever will about their child- become a partner with them.



Regardless whether or not they have the label, you can see what is going on with the child and respond accordingly. You do not need a label in order to respond what is happening.

Put the child before the disability- respectful language (not “autistic” child, child with autism)

Other Tips:

Come up with a plan before behavior issues in what to do when behavior issues occur.

Transition time (before lessons begin). Some kids will need a time to transition from the outside world into lesson time. This can be as simple as getting a glass of water. Going to wash their hands, etc…

Help with sensory (ball or something to keep hands busy), drink of water…

Change activity you are doing (change to theory, etc…)

Physical activity (jumping jacks to get energy out, etc.) Allow child to stand if needed.


I noticed on Melissa’s website that she has a special needs blog coming soon. Here is the link so you have it when it goes live.


MTNA Conference; Monday, March 23, 2015: Piano Adventures at the Intermediate Level

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In this showcase Randy Faber went through the 2nd editions of levels 3A and 3B. I was a little late getting to this session, but wanted to share a few quotes as I know many of you use Piano Adventures in your studio. Randy mentioned that in the 2nd edition the books are tied in tighter together.IMG_4787

On Technique:

“Use the rotation to get where you are going.”

“Be clear on gestures: Forearm rotation, wrist circles”

“First exaggerate the circles (etc) then trim down.”

“Taller knuckles and duck bill (closed hand) approach as students move into intermediate pieces.”

(Duck bill approach= put hands out, cup them with all fingers and thumb touching. Turn over hand.)

“Finger muscles are not efficient, finger coordination is better. Use 3 sources of power: Arm weight, core- rotation, back muscles. Use the sources of nature.”

On Sight-reading:

“Controlled environments with similarities.”

“Use the books not just simply sight-reading but applying the technique secrets.”

“Smart thinking of decoding is from chunking.”

At the end of the presentation he shared the Piano Adventures will be coming out with a new app soon called Piano Adventures Player app. This app will have the entire midi library built in.

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$3 Thursday!

Does this look familiar…?

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.35.33 PMYou were able to download a sample pack of it last month in the MIOSM rhythm book! But for TODAY only you can own the COMPLETE pack for only $3.00. That’s half off!

A bunch of music teachers are joining together and doing a one day sale for some $3 Thursday deals. Just search $3ThursdayMusicFlashSale on TpT to see all the deals!

Be sure to take advantage of the Complete Rhythm Clap Backs Pack for half off as this deal won’t happen again. This is a great pack to use in a group lesson, workshop, bring a friend day, centers and more!

The complete pack includes 20 rhythm slides/cards, 4 rhythm notation worksheets and a memory game! If you like the complete pack, you may want to also look at the I Have You Have Rhythm Clap back game.

Now let’s get clapping! Click the pictures above or below and enjoy!

$3 Thursday

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ASMTA Conference- Coming Soon!

The Arizona State Music Teachers Conference is coming the May 28-30, 2015! Ever wanted to come to Arizona? You should! Did you know that all the ASMTA conference info on my blog? You can find it on this page. I update as new information comes in!

I’m really excited about this conference. There a lot of GREAT presentations in store. Our theme this year is…



Jeremy Siskind is the concert artist and will also be presenting a couple sessions.

Arizona attorney, Susan Dallimore, Esq. will also be speaking to us about the Antitrust for Music Teachers after the FTC v. MTNA. This should be an informative presentation.

Though the theme is Jazz it Up, there are many other presentation topics that will interest all. I personally will be presenting on Engaged Learning. I’m super excited to share this presentation as it should be beneficial for all.

You can see the list of presenters and the current schedule (this will be updated again soon) and much more here. Hope you can make it!

MTNA Conference; Monday, March 23, 2015: Fueling the Flame- Strategies for Preventing Teacher Burnout

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Martha Fischer was a hoot to listen to. Poor lady, she started off with tech issues but all ended up well and she made what could have been a very stressful situation for a presenter (I totally empathized as I have had first hand experience with this) and turned it into humor. The thing I liked most about this session is how engaging she was. She wanted to hear what worked in other teachers studios and many teachers were more than willing to share!IMG_4791

Preventing burnout is always a hot topic because most of us at one time or another will experience this on varying levels and degrees. The

Martha begins by saying, when in a helping profession, burnout happens often. Your vital flame and energies are distinguished because of lack of fuel.

Are you burning more fuel than receiving?

Are you stuck in a routine? Not feeling valued? Feeling powerless to change? Creative energy is drying up? Work no longer feeds you?

There are many symptom’s to burnout varying from physical and psychological symptoms (depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, digestive…)

Moslac burnout inventory (see handout for website)


3 dimensions of burnout:

-Emotional exhaustion


-Negative personal accomplishment


Excerpt online tool to help access where you are… (link on handout)

(personal not scientific)


Prevention and Cure for Burnout

Self care- move, (exercise…), eat well, stay hydrated, get together with friends, pamper yourself once in a while, (be intentional- do it as an act of self care), attend to your emotional health.

Address emotional problems, learn the power of “No”, embrace the power of “yes”, enjoy doing nothing once in a while, participate in the JOY of the music.

Don’t be afraid of getting professional help.

You have choices even when it may feel like you don’t.

When your instincts call you to do something, then do it.

When we are constantly doing, we don’t have time for reflecting, dreaming, creative thinking… Make the time!

Elevated playtime. (her husband measures a lesson if he and a student had a good laugh)

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way on purpose in the present moment and nonjudgmentally”. Jon Kabat-Zinn

Point- so many things we go through in our daily life that is mindless, the more we can be mindful, the more richness we are enjoying in our lives.

Interesting statistic: The average person takes in as much as 5 times as we did in 1996.

Task positive- engaged in task; Task negative- mind wondering. These cannot work at the same time.


Organize the Mind-

Partition our day into project periods (certain times of day)

Avoid multi-tasking and immerse in a task for sustained periods of time 30-50min.)

Allow time for daydreaming

Take a nap (even 10 min. does wonders) (I can personally vouch for this one!)

“Daydreaming leads to creativity, creative activity teach us agency…” Daniel….(missed the last name)


Professional development and validation

Ongoing reflection is a philosophy of teaching.

Join organizations

Professional business practices- studio policy

Promote achievements of your students and others

Fees should reflect your experience (under charging devalues your worth which is a sure way to burnout)


Ways to keep the flame burning bright

Remain a student (don’t pretend you know everything)

Nurture your own musical growth

Be an Arts advocate

Brainstorm with Peers


By the way I found this burnout self-test if you are curious where your burn out level is at right now. Click here.

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