Tips to Arrive Prepared for a Music Lesson

Mother and Children Waiting for a School Bus --- Image by © Jim Craigmyle/Corbis

It’s that time of year again.  Time to transition form the carefree summer holidays to the new schedule of school.  Mornings are rough in every household.  Sometimes students come to their lessons with it all – every music book needed – as well as their assignment book!  And, other times they arrive wrinkled and with no books.

It’s possible to train your troops to work in tandem for a smooth, synchronized morning. It will definitely help them to have an organized and smooth progress in their studies.

1. Prep the Night Before
The key to morning efficiency is in what you can do ahead of time.

Establish a morning routine for your kids, and encourage them to check their backpacks before bedtime to make sure homework and books are packed – especially music books the night before their lesson day.  Perhaps have them put an alarm on the calender of their MP3 player or phone.

2. Reward Consistency + Practice
It’s really tough to get yourself ready while trying to get someone else ready, too. One strategy is to get up a half hour before your kids, but there’s another way: make it into a game!

Announce to your children that whoever’s ready for the school bus gets a sticker on a “morning routine chart.”  Once they’ve reached five stickers, reward them with a small but irresistible prize — like music control in the car for the week!

3. Bundle Books
Prevent the panic of being halfway out the door only to realize you have no idea where all of the books are. Put all essential items in the same spot every time that they are finished. It’s preferable to have a special bag to keep the books in whenever not actively using them.  This keeps them all together and handy for “grab and go” when they were unfortunately forgotten in the previous night’s backpack check.

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iPad/Pod Music Apps

Jennifer Bailey has a wonderful list of music iPod/Pad apps that she uses in her classroom.  They are graded for K-2 and 2-3 students.  The apps are also grouped in uses such as Games, Listening, Notation, Recording & Mixing Apps.  You may find the full list and links here.

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Musical Dialogue

Echo of Rhythmic patterns.  Try it out!

Musical Dialogue.

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I Make My Children Do Music (VIDEO)


Great thoughts on a child’s music practice and how to motivate them.

Originally posted on Sara's Music Studio:

ChildsHandsPianoLessonImagine this… it’s the very beginning of Tommy’s piano lessons. He’s 8 years old and totally psyched about learning to play the piano. He practices constantly, without reminders, and with gusto.

Fast forward a bit… Tommy is 10 years old and practice is starting to wane. He’s involved in more activities, which makes practicing piano difficult to schedule, and it’s starting to become a struggle between Tommy and his parents. After a fight about practicing, Tommy tosses his piano book to the floor and yells the dreaded phrase… “I just want to quit!”

Don’t worry, parents… you’re not alone in this fight. This morning I came across a great video from Scott Lang, a nationally known leadership trainer and music educator. Check it out:


“We make decisions each and every day in what’s not only the best interest of our children right now, but in the…

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The season’s end concert on June 22 is CANCELLED.   Alternative plans = in- school concerts were held.  Recordings of the concerts were sent to the parents.  I hope that you enjoyed them!

brain on music 2

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Concert Donation

A silver donation has been collected from audience members for many needy charities  at our concerts.  The March Concert designated the Special Olympics to be the most recent recipient.  Our regional Special Olympics provides quality sport training programs and competitions for athletes living with an intellectual disability in the district of Northern Ontario.

We did it – $79.90 was raised at the concert to support the Special Olympics and handed in to Valley Central to be added to their contribution!

Thank you very much for your support!

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Music Festival – on marks and competition


Festivals Do Help With Individual Growth.

Originally posted on Dale Sorensen's Blog:

My daughter sang in the Kiwanis Music Festival today. It was so sweet. All the girls who sang were very cute. I love the fact that Riley likes to perform in front of an audience – she’s really into it, and I hope she will always retain that joy for sharing music. Last year was the first year she sang in the festival, and it was a non-competitive class – everyone got a participant ribbon, no first-second-third nonsense. If only life could be so, well, non-competitive. Although Riley’s classes were competitive this year, she still didn’t seem too concerned about whether or not she would win, although she very much hoped to get a ribbon (colour not important), just because she likes ribbons – and she came home with a blue one and a white one (even better – two different colours!).

You might wonder what would be the point…

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Click here to read a good article on Jazz for students by Elyssa Milne

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Reblogged from Izzie Chea

Adolescence is a time of great change, both, physical and emotional. The adolescent singer is especially vulnerable when his or her voice changes seemingly overnight. As the young singer approaches and pushes through puberty, his voice may drop an entire octave. This puts him in an awkward and self-conscious position when participating in voice lessons or choir. Rather than shy away from participating, it is best to take the challenge of strengthening his voice through the change so that he comes forth from this temporary phase even better equipped than before.

Here are four strengthening vocal exercises that can help power a male or female adolescent singer through those difficult puberty years.

Sirens. This exercise is a staple in building the chest, midrange, and head voices. A siren can be done at the beginning of each voice lesson, in each of the student’s ranges, including their low, middle, and high range. The siren in head voice is especially helpful for young men to help strengthen their falsetto.

Fifth Descending Passages. I find fifth descending passages to be an effective exercise to strengthen the developing voice. Starting on “do” then jumping to a long “sol— fa-mi-re-do” gives the adolescent singer a solid foundation in their chest or midrange voice to sustain their breath up to and past the new break in their voice. This exercise allows the singer to power through the register bridges as the adolescent voice adjusts to its new sound.

Octave Jumps. Octave jumps are an exercise in diaphragmatic breathing, accuracy of notes, and confidence. As the young singer learns to take in a breath that will sustain a large jump into the high register, they notice the confidence it takes to aim for accuracy. Most young singers will have just enough air to squeak out the octave but not enough to sustain the jump back down. The exercise is begun on an A3 or A below middle C to A4 sung twice, then back down to A3 sung twice, with the following syllabic enunciation: “YAH–AH-AHH–AH-AHH.” Continue this exercise ascending chromatically until the student has achieved their desired range.

Staccato Do-Mi-Sol-Mi-Do. As the adolescent singer works through their register bridge, accuracy is difficult to achieve. Staccato exercises are helpful in coordinating epiglottis opening and closing, forcing the young singer to listen carefully to guide the voice in the right direction. As Do-Mi-Sol-Mi-Do is a simple melodic line, focus can also remain on vowel and tonal quality in addition to accuracy. This exercise furnishes the adolescent singer with the tools to sing with greater flexibility, as is necessary for the maturing voice.

A special word of note: Adolescent voices are constantly changing. Whatever exercise works one week, may not work the next week. Persistent practice will be the key in developing the student’s voice, as singing is a “use it or lose it” skill. The more frequently the adolescent singer practices, the greater chance that they will emerge from their teenage years with a round, healthy, well-developed singing voice.

Sound Off: What exercises helped get you through your adolescent singing years? Is there a technique you are willing to share that worked for you?


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Concert Time!

Right Note  Once again it is student concert time.  A great event that enables students to show off what they have learned and also for them to learn new skills.  Mark your calendars – Sunday, March 29 at 3:30.  Please check your email for further details.

There will be a silver donation held at the concert with all monies received going towards the Special Olympics!  “Special Olympics Ontario is dedicated to enriching the lives of people with an intellectual disability through sport.”

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