Summer Camp Highlights

I made a summer camp highlight video so my piano parents can see what their kids learned at camp. I thought I would share it with all of you as well.

This year I wanted to really focus on performance skills. These included: Conducting, Accompanying, Performance, Technique and then some fun creating iBands.

I used the following resources for this camp…

Conducting Basics

Accompanying Basics

Rhythm ClapBacks 

Technique Trainer


Musical Words

iPad Ensembles (In addition to using a couple of these ensembles, I also had students improvise. In addition I used regular existing music from to create an iPad ensemble)

Wii Music (We used the Mii Maestro Game where they practiced their conducting skills. So fun!)

When I first was planning this camp, I wasn’t sure how well what I had planned would work with all ages. I have students as young as 5 participating and as old as 18years old. The first group that participated was my “hurry out of town” kids. Which meant it would be a mix of ages. It turns out the mixed ages group ended up being a real nice group as most fell in the ages between 8-12 years. The other sessions were either K-5th or 6th and up. So it worked out well. Then for my K-5th groups I adapted a little bit by adding a little more rhythm activities for them. All in all I’m super pleased with how this camp went!

I hope you enjoy the video!


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COMING SOON! A new incentive program that is unlike anything you have seen before! Stay tuned!

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!



Piano Olympics Training Camp (Part 2 of 3)


Spell A Note- Given a word, students spell the word on the staff and/or keyboard.



Water Sponges Staff Toss- Students are the notes on the staff! A note is spun and the student with the sponges locates the student standing on the staff and tries to soak them with the wet sponge! Fun on a hot summer day!






Indoor Staff Beanbag Toss- Students toss a note on the staff and name the note.



Musical Alphabet Shooting Gallery- Students are asked a note question and then they try to shoot the note (answer) that is on the cans down with a water shooter.











Music Note Basketball- Students are asked a note question either on the keyboard or staff then have the chance to make a basket.




Music Note Dominoes- A musical spin on the game dominoes!


Swat a Note- Who can swat the correct note first?!





Note Memory- Good ol’ memory. Matching note name with staff note.


Musical Slap Jack– In this version students were to look out for any of the C’s on the grand staff. First one to slap gets all the cards underneath.




Musical Note Ring Toss- Each ring represented a note name. Students answered the note on the staff and then tried to throw a beanbag through the correct note ring.





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!