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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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!



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!






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!

Music Camps and Workshops Part 1 of 3


Today I begin my first session of Piano Olympic Training Camp. Every summer I do either a camp or a choice of workshops students can participate in. I thought I would blog about how I go about music camps and workshops each year and give some ideas that might help teachers that have thought about holding one but not quite sure how to go about it.

First to explain the difference between a camp and a workshop… Camp- typically has several topics that you are teaching in one setting. Workshop- is more focused.  For example the subject is only on composing.

Today’s post will concentrate on Why, When and Who.

1) Why music camps and workshops?

– Schedule conflicts. Avoiding schedule conflicts with vacations or other events that might happening in certain times of the year. I live in AZ where it can get pretty hot during the summer. Many families want to leave the heat and go somewhere cooler but I can’t afford not to teach in the summer. So camps and workshops are the next best thing. Matter of fact, my families appreciate and me and my students prefer it because it is so fun!

Review/Learn something new. This is a great time not only to review what students are learning through the year, but to learn something new that can’t be fit in the regular weekly lessons.  When I say learn something new.  This isn’t necessarily just for students.  When I decide a topic that I would like to do a workshop on, I consider topics that maybe I’m not as strong in but would like to improve in.  For example, one year at my spring recital I had a student draw four note out of a hat where I was to start an improvised piece from and create a theme per se based off of those four notes.  If you were to ask me even 5 years ago to do this, I would have told you, you were crazy!  But because I have gone to workshops like Forrest Kinney (Pattern Play), I was motivated to implement improvisation in my studio and would hold workshops, and group lessons on improvising.  This allowed not only my students to grow but for me to grow as well.  Another workshop that I have done during the summer was on reading lead sheets which is something I was never comfortable in doing but had the desire to get better at it.  Bu picking a topic that I’m not comfortable doing, gives me the drive to learn all I can about the topic so I can teach it to my students.

Retain income. Music camps allow me to retain income that could drop dramatically during those summer months but at the same time give me and my students a much needed break.

2) When should I hold a music camp or workshop?

I hold my camps and workshops starting the end of May right after my recital party and into June.  Then I hold a Christmas camp in December.

Summer is a great time to hold camps or workshops.  I have students that are gone all summer, they leave the country, they go visit their other parent that lives out of state, they go on vacation, participate in other summer activities, etc…  By doing summer workshops, I am able to retain my income but allow them the freedom of having summer plans.

I started Christmas camps in December well over 10 years ago after being very frustrated at all the no shows that would happen that month. Music camps and workshops have solved many frustrations for me over the years and has become a win-win for both me and my piano families over the years.

3) Who should participate in the music camp or workshop?

Target audience– Are the camps going to be for your current students only or are you going to open them to others that aren’t in lessons?  One of the workshops that I hold each summer is an intro to piano class.  So my target audience is those on my waiting list and those who are inquiring for lessons.

Pre-requisites– While you are considering your camp topic and activities keep in mind if there is is certain pre-requisites for students in order for them to take that class.  For example my lead sheet class that I did has a level 2 pre-requisite.  I want them to already be familiar with basic chord structure and so on before they take this class.  But my rhythm class does not have a pre-requisite so anyone can sign up, including siblings, friends of students, etc…

Mixed/ages– My camps/workshops typically have mixed ages/levels in a group.  Pre-requisites determine a lot of what ages end up in the classes, but when there are not pre-requisites I can have a variety of ages in one group.  It has never been a problem to do this.  Matter of fact, it’s been helpful to have the older students assist the younger students if needed.

For some camps it may be helpful to have an assistant depending on the size and dynamic of your group.  For example one of my intro to piano classes had 3 brothers all a year a part in age. At the time, I hadn’t yet worked with them yet, but after meeting them realized that I will need my daughter to help assist me in this particular session so we can keep the class controlled because I predict that if I’m not on top of it at all times, they might lose focus. It ended up being a good decision. So always be prepared or have a back up plan. And always plan for more activities then you think you will need.

Click here for Part 2 will focus on how to determine what to charge and scheduling.