Christmas Camp 2014

As you probably know by now, our theme for Christmas camp this year was Christmas Around the World. In my preparation for this camp I definitely over-prepared so we didn’t have time to include Israel/Hanukkah this time. It will definitely get used sometime if not next year. I really enjoyed this camp as there was so much to learn! Students came for 2 hours on their normal lesson day for 2 weeks (4 hours total). If they were unable to come on their normal lesson day, then they attended on another day.

This year I decided to do a highlight video. One of my goals is to try to get more comfortable using iMovie without the pre-set trailers. So here is the result… Hope you enjoy!

Thank you Jerald Simon for permission to use your arrangement of Angels We Have Heard on High as the background music in this video!



Christmas Around the World

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Did  you hear the good news! Group Made Fun: Christmas Around the World is now available and it’s 20% off right now! I put together a short video to give you a good idea what you can expect.

As with all my Group Made Fun units, all the lesson planning is done for you! So it’s super easy to use in whatever way you would like. Christmas Around the World is set up for a 4-hour camp, with 3-3 ½ hours worth of activities. If you don’t do a Christmas camp, you can take any of the files and resources included and use them during group lessons, performance parties, workshops, etc…

The country files can even be used during a lab or station activity! You can get quite a bit out of this purchase even if you don’t use it as a full camp.

P.S. Don’t forget to follow FPSResources on TpT so you can get your freebie link Saturday morning. You will need to follow by Friday in order it to get in your inbox in time for Saturday. Just click here to follow.


Be sure to ‘Like’ FPSResources on Facebook and follow FPSResources on TpT to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!

Christmas Around the World (Sneak Peak)

I’ve been working hard on getting the Christmas Around the World camp done. Even though I’ve done this camp before in my studio, I’m pretty much starting from scratch. While it has been quite the project, it’s been a fun journey in research. My husband is getting his daily doses of “did you know?” followed about what I have been learning about these different countries.

I thought I would give you a sneak peak and a tip if this is something you are thinking about doing a Christmas camp or a group lesson. If you follow me on TpT you will be getting notifications as I’m downloading countries. I decided to download the individual countries and then put the camp “bundle” together.

Now the big tip… if you want to have the lesson plans, games, activity ideas and all the countries, you will want to buy the Group Made Fun: Christmas Around the World when it comes out (this will be last available after I get all the countries out).  That will give you the most bang for your buck. If you only want the information on the countries as something you can show during a group class etc… then feel free to purchase the countries individually. Just know that all the countries (and more!) will be included in the Group Made Fun download.

Okay, here is a sneak peak of the countries we will be learning about this year! In addition to sharing Christmas traditions from the United States we will be learning…

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Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 9.21.25 AMYou will be seeing Sweden, Germany and Africa/Kwanzaa real soon in the store. With Japan, Israel/Hannukah and Mexico to follow. Be sure to ‘Like’ FPSResources on Facebook and follow FPSResources on TpT to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!

Group Made Fun: Christmas Lessons and More!

Halloween isn’t over yet and I’m already talking about Christmas! Well as you know teachers need to be ahead of the game so we are prepared!

Over 10+ years ago, I started what I call “Christmas camp” in my studio. For the first two weeks in December my students come once a week for 2 hours each day. I started doing this after being frustrated with all the no shows, cancellations and lack of preparation from my students during this month. I felt there was a better way to enjoy the holidays and allow my students to enjoy them as well. Now, I don’t want them to slack on their practicing so I also hold a practice contest during December and encourage them to play A LOT of holiday music and sight-reading during that month. After all, they only have a limited time they can usually enjoy those Christmas pieces. If you subscribe to the Piano Bench Magazine (highly recommended), you will find an article which will tell you a little more about my Christmas camps in this month’s issue. Be sure to check it out!

In short, Christmas camp is basically a longer group lesson. I usually have a theme in place. This year I’m totally re-vamping my Christmas Around the World camp and bringing it back since our yearly theme is a ‘space’ theme. I figured they tie together nicely. I’m currently working on all the updates right now and I have to say I am super excited to do this camp as it is better than ever! So keep a look out when that is available.

One of the new products I have started to make available for teachers is what I am calling Group Made Fun. These are group lessons, camps and workshops. You can use any of these however you like; so if don’t do camps, you can apply them to your group classes and so on. They are basically lesson plans, activities, games and even treat ideas that are totally done for you so it saves you a ton of prep time!

Because these are pretty time intensive to put together, it has taken me longer than I hoped to make them available. But I am enjoying the process of making them nice and organized and super easy for YOU to use with your students!

So far I have the following in my TpT store… (you can click on the picture to see more information)

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Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 10.37.34 AMAnd coming REAL soon is…

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Also coming soon…

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Be sure to ‘Like’ FPSResources on Facebook and follow FPSResources on TpT to stay up to date on giveaways, reviews and other music resources!

Christmas Stinky Stockings Game

This week I have been polishing up my lesson plans for our studio Christmas camp which will start the first week of December. Just in the nick of time, Wendy Stevens has released a Christmas version of her fun game, Stinky Stockings!


Stinky Stockings is a fun interactive “hot potato” style game that will be a holiday hit in your studio! Find a Christmas stocking, toss in the cards, turn on some music and start passing! When the music stops, a student pulls out a card and does what the card says.

There are 7 different card topics in this game. Divided into two levels, this game is perfect for beginning, elementary and early intermediate students. 

Singing– Singing a Christmas song without using the words (lah, tah, etc…) and in an articulation or dynamic. 

Finish a Tune Challenge– Singing the first line of a Christmas song and someone else finishes. 

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Acting– Acting out a Christmas character, person or group of people.

Theory– Answering a theory question that relates to a Christmas song.

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Christmas Riddle– This one is fun! 3 things are given and the student needs to find the common denominator.

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Playing– A student plays a short sight-reading line with another student guessing what the Christmas piece is.

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White Elephant– White Elephant stirs the game up. Just when students are getting comfortable earning their cards, the white elephant card may have them pass them all to their right.

During the game, most of the cards have the opportunity to earn what is called the Bonus Card. The goal is to earn as much cards as possible (to win!) and bonus cards helps not only the student that was able to pull a card from the stocking, but another student who is actively listening, participating and answers correctly. This in turn gets ALL students engaged in the game.

Whether or doing a Christmas camp, a group lesson or a Christmas recital party- this is an easy game to include in your plans! Matter of fact, you can even use most of these cards at your holiday parties with family and friends! Just simply remove the cards that wouldn’t be relevant. (I think I may just do this with my extended family this year!)

Wendy Stevens has given a special coupon code for all my rockin’ readers! Just enter the code FoxxRox to get $1.00 off Stinky Stockings! The code is good until this Tuesday, November 26th. 

You can go straight here to order the game, or check out all that Wendy has in her store here. Be sure to stay in touch with Wendy on her Facebook page!

Group Motivation


I recently joined a boxing gym. Even though there are days I could barely stand let alone walk, I keep going back for more. I also go to Zumba class at another gym. I’ve been doing Zumba for over 2 years now. I have never enjoyed working out… until the last couple years, that is. Before I started Zumba classes, a workout meant go on the treadmill, or elliptical or some solitary exercise machine. What I realized is when I’m on a machine, I am not motivated. I don’t push myself like I should be pushed and frankly I’m just down right bored. The group style classes motivate me, push me to do better (or at least keep up) and it’s fun! (Even though I feel it the next day…)


I think this is the same for our students. Piano in particular can be a “lonely” instrument. You can’t just pick it up and play it wherever you want. Yes, keyboards are portable, but it’s not as easy as say a violin or flute. However, there are plenty of group opportunities that piano students can take apart of so it doesn’t have to be such a lonely learning experience. I hold group classes quarterly in my studio. (No regular lessons when we have group)  In addition to those quarterly group classes I hold a Christmas camp and Summer camps. Because of these settings I have seen my students become friends with each other. I have noticed that when they might have felt like quitting they held on because they wanted to continue to participate and see their piano friends in the group classes and performance events. They push themselves a little more, they encourage each other, we play for and with each other and we have fun!

Next week my students come back to lessons after having a break and we have our Fall Kickoff! (School starts back Monday as well)  This is my 3rd year holding a Fall Kickoff when students return and I love it! In the past I had found that when students return the first week it ends up being a “wasted” week because they really need a little time to get back in the groove. By kicking our first week off as a group, it becomes a week to gear up and motivate. Then when they return for their regular private lesson the following week they are ready to go. I picked up my Piano Olympic/Assignment workbooks last week and am ready to go as well! For those who have purchased the Piano Olympic workbook in the past (or even those who didn’t) I added an assignment page you can download. Be sure to go to my store to find that attachment. What I did this year was combine my Piano Olympic workbook and assignment pages to make a complete assignment book for students. They turned out great!


Music Camps and Workshops Part 3 of 3

Now that you have decided  you want to hold a music camp or workshops you must…


When I send out my re-registration forms, it includes the summer registration information. In my cover letter for my registrations I tell them how excited I am for the opportunities they have this summer to learn new things.

I give descriptions of the camp or workshops which not only explains what the class is about that they are signing up for but creating excitement.  My goal is to make all of them sound so enticing that they want to take more than the minimum required. (If I am doing workshops)

(See Part 2 of 3 for sample schedule to read the descriptions)

Talk it up to students- ask them what class they are thinking about taking.

What Camp Should I Do?    Anything and everything is a resource!

-Those that are done for you…

Music Ed Market

Keys to Imagination

Theory Time

Music Matters blog

Color In My Piano blog

Sheryl Welles blog

FPSResources (currently only my Christmas camp is available)

(I’m sure I’m missing some- so feel free to add yours in the comment section)

-Then there are those YOU create! Some workshops that I have done with my students are:

Accompanying Basics

Conducting Basics

Practice Makes Perfect, or Does It?

Just Fakin’ It (reading lead sheets)

Music by Me- Composing 101

Blues Improvisation

Science of Music

Roots of Rhythm

Now for lesson planning!

If you purchase a camp, the lesson planning is already done for you, which saves a lot of time.  But if you want to create something from scratch lesson planning is very important.

Length- Decide how long you want your camp/workshop to be. Then make sure you have more activities then time for. I always put at the bottom of my lesson plan, “If time…” Sometimes we get to them, sometimes we don’t. I am very grateful for  that I have them when I need them.

Goals/Obectives- What do you expect your students to be able to do after the camp is over?  How will the students demonstrate they have learned and understood what was taught?

Intro- How will you get the students attention and motivate in order to hold their attention?  What will be expected?  Will you have some rules and consequences discussed ahead of time?

Main activity- what is the focus of this workshop/camp?  What will the activities be?  How will the materials be presented, do students need to bring anything or are you providing everything?  What activities will you be doing?  What will the prep time be for those activities?

Be sure there is a good mix between the lesson itself and activities.

Snacks- are you going to provide a snack or should the students bring a snack?

Follow up/Closure- leave time to clean up if needed before it’s time to officially close before the students are dismissed.  How will you close the session?  Will you discuss what was learned that day with students?  Will you give a quick overview of what they learned?  Will you ask for feedback?

I’m worried about my students backsliding over the break after camp is over, what can I do?

The trick is to leave them with a challenge or goal to continue over the summer. The last few years my students are given the challenge to create practice prop projects over the summer and present those projects when they return in the fall. Because they come back to present these projects in the fall, there is accountability. If they return with nothing, it’s actually a little embarrassing… 95% of my students return with their practice prop projects.

The projects are something they create/make that represents their practicing over the summer. They need to present their project at our Fall kickoff (first group lessons of the year) and how it represented their practicing. (i.e.: for every minute they practiced they put that amount of time in their project or every time they completed a section successfully they added something to their project, etc…) The goal is to finish the project (or even do more then one) before they return. This has been successful in my studio. You can see our 2012 Fallkick off here. I encourage LOTS and LOTS of sight-reading, even going ahead in their books. I actually don’t mind when they go ahead. Worst case scenerio- some pieces aren’t right. Well, what do we do about it? We learn it the right way when they come back. They learn from their mistakes, what they did wrong on their own and what they need to look for now and in the future. I’ve had students over the break that have finished a book, sometimes a complete level successfully.

The other tip is follow up with parents. I like to send just quick little email reminders about the practice prop projects. Encouraging lots of sight-reading, playing MusicLearningCommunity games to keep up on their theory, tips, etc… Last year I gave all my students a copy of Shhhh Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Practice. (Please note the giveaway from the review link has expired) It only takes me a minute or two to send a mass email off to everyone and I know the follow up is appreciated.

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If you ever read the book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey you might remember the Think Win-Win Chapter…

“First, see the problem from the other point of view.  Really seek to understand and to give expression to the needs and concerns of the other party as well as or better than they can themselves.

Second, identify the key issues and concerns involved.

Third, determine what results would constitute a fully acceptable solution.

And fourth, identify possible new options to achieve those results.”

(excerpt from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

Music camps and workshops have been my win-win solution in my studio when it comes to both summer and Christmas time. I hope it can be your win-win solution too!