Piano Posture Infographic

Fantastic! Thanks, Sara! :)

Sara's Music Studio

Do you teach “Piano Posture” in your studio? Some methods start their Primer books with a basic “this is how you are supposed to sit at the piano” model. Pictures might illustrate how far away to sit, or how a student should hold their hands. Pictures like this should look familiar to most piano teachers:

piano-sit It says “sit tall,” but do you see how much the head/neck juts out over the shoulders? This is the kind of posture that has gotten me into trouble over the years!

This fall I’ve decided to make “Piano Posture” a stronger focus during lessons. The typical drawings that you find in books sometimes don’t really cut it, and recently I came across a great infographic from Hoffman Academy that details the hows and whys of good piano posture:

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Shopping List for Music Teachers

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This list is specifically designed for teacher & studio use, but many items may also be useful in student homes. (this is NOT a list for Small Town Music Lessons or Kristin Phillips – some of these things are already in use in the studio)

What would you add to this list?


pedalextender
Pedal Extender for little ones! Once outgrown, these can be sold or passed down to other young students online or directly through the studio. http://www.cpsimports.com/piano_pedal_extender.html


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Melissa and Doug Band in a Box. Great price and awesome variety of quality instruments that I use for various rhythm activities. http://www.melissaanddoug.com/Band-in-a-Box-Clap-Clang-Tap


 

  • Mini erasers galore, stickers, stickie notes, handheld white boards and markers, magnetic board, laminator, dice, high quality instruments from studio west, giant scarves, floor piano, expo cleaner and wash cloths to erase and clean the white boards, 3-ring binders, spiral notebooks, manuscript paper, highlighter markers, highlighter tape,…

“Hi Ho Cherry-O” Music Game

Hi Ho Cherry-O (music game) - Small Town Music Lessons

I recently rediscovered a photo I took of the adaptation of Hi Ho Cherry-O, and it has almost gone “viral” on Pinterest!  It’s wonderfully exciting :) But then, I realized I didn’t pin it correctly – and left anyone clicking through to the mercy of the search bar on my home page.  Sorry, everyone!  The original page with the photo (which I took during a student’s lesson – the table under the game is in the studio) is located… https://musicstudioblog.com/2013/06/20/more-lessons-overviewed-with-some-photos/

Hi Ho Cherry-O is a fun game for kids, available in most game & department stores.  It is currently available at Amazon (click that link) for $10.03 (with possible free shipping).  My students enjoy the multi-color, multi-fruit option.  I threw out the spinner & puzzle.  For the colorful cubes (on which I drew… 1x whole note, 1x dotted half note, 1x half note, and 3x quarter notes), you can also find a great price at Amazon, currently @ $13.28 for a giant container of them.  I still have MANY of those awesome blocks blank & available, so I’ll often let a student draw those notes on the sides of the cube & bring the cube of their color choice home to adapt to other games.

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31 Days to Better Practicing – AMAZING link & resource!

http://collaborativepiano.blogspot.com/2007/11/31-days-to-better-practicing-entire.html#.U5aiti_0vE9

Johann Sebastian Bach

Many composers come to mind when I think of the Baroque era in music history, the time period covering 1600-1750 AD.  But perhaps one of the most well-known and diverse of the Baroque composers is the one known as J.S. Bach.  Even now, more than 300 years after his birth, his music continues to top the charts of enthusiasts around the world.

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“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” J. S. Bach

https://musicstudioblog.com/2012/09/04/johann-sebastian-bach/

Turning 100 this year – and a 10 year old miracle :)

On June 16th, 2006, on the way to my MRI appointment, my dad drove me first to the home of a wonderful lady to meet her baby grand piano.  I couldn’t walk without assistance, couldn’t see clearly, could hardly hear (everything was muffled), and felt dizzy with every little movement.  He helped me to her front door, and once inside, I remember a greeting and being led to the bench in front of her 1916 Francis Bacon piano.  The center three octaves were horribly out of tune, as she had played mainly hymns for the 30 years she owned it and never had it tuned.  The outer octaves were rich and beautiful, gorgeous to hear, and I knew instantly that I had found the piano of my dreams.  Literally, I dreamt of a piano just like this once in a room much like the one in which I found this piano, and now, I could almost grasp the magnitude of the reality.  Since my hearing was impaired with the mysterious swelling, and the piano was badly out of tune, we asked my music teacher at the time, to also try out the piano.  She was thrilled with it, and three days later, the piano was in my family’s living room.


In 2006, the evening of my highschool graduation party (five days after giving the only student speech at the senior class graduation from Open Door Christian Academy that year), I came down with a fever in the 102 range.  It had been an amazing day, filled with fun & laughter & friends & family & games & food & wonderful conversations.

Our guests were finishing the evening by watching the movie “Cool Runnings” when I went to bed with a fever in the 103 range.  In the middle of the night, I called my parents in the next room on my phone after finding my temperature was in the 104 range.

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They worked to break the fever, stayed by my side, and comforted me.  I am forever grateful for their care.  In the morning on Monday, my mom called our doctor to make an appointment for that afternoon to be seen.  Shortly before going to the doctor, my fever broke, and we canceled the appointment.  We thought all was well.


That night, my temperature shot back up and reached 104.9.  It didn’t subside and I struggled with debilitating chills & severe sweating.  I was mostly unaware of my surroundings when early that morning (Tuesday), my mom drove me to the local Hospital’s Emergency Room.  After X-rays, a spinal tap lumbar puncture, an IV, blood draws, and many monitors were in place and taken, I was admitted to a hospital room.  That night around 2:00am, my blood pressure tanked, and I woke up groggy to a room full of doctors & nurses darting around shouting orders – and I was moved to the Intensive Care Unit downstairs.

The doctors thought I might have measles, be in shock, or have a failing liver.  All the tests in the initial days pointed to any number of terrible things.  On numerous occasions, I struggled to breathe and developed swelling all over.  My feet felt like bricks and I couldn’t move because of the headache worse than I’ve ever experienced before or since.  Because of this series of symptoms and a few others, I was moved to an isolation unit in the ICU with it’s own air supply & filtration system leading to the outside.


ICUWe never found out exactly what was wrong.  I had to have the room as quiet as possible (because sound felt like a stabbing knife through my head), and as dark as possible (because the same happened with any light).  Visitors had to wear gloves and masks.  I kept my eyes closed as much as possible and slept 20 hours each day – only to wake when I’d go into a coughing fit because the oxygen assistance wasn’t enough, or when it was time to have my blood drawn.  My cousin and sister braided my hair to keep it somewhat acceptable.

photo(3)It was an awful time, but through it all, I felt at peace.  My dear family, friends, church, students, and school were praying for me.  The overwhelming gifts of flowers (which were wonderful to receive when I returned home) and the cards were extremely special to me.  My school put together a poster of notes from teachers and classmates.  I still have every single card & this amazing poster sits safely in my room as a reminder of the gift of life & loved ones.

During that time, music was almost constantly in my head.  I wanted to compose, to sing, to write lyrics, and to play my piano.  At the time, and for the approximately 12 years since starting piano lessons, I had been learning on my mom’s beautiful Sohmer & Co upright piano.  But, for over a year, I had been searching high and low, near and far, for the grand piano of my dreams.


Piano Arrival Day :)

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photo(2)After the horrible ordeal in the hospital, and with my blood tests still showing major problems the week after my release from the hospital, we set up an appointment with a rheumatologist, who scheduled a brain MRI.  She was concerned about the increasing headache, the dizziness, the swelling, the hearing loss, and the light sensitivity.  On the way to the appointment, 5 days after being released from the hospital, I was as weak as ever, and my dad had to make a stop.  Much to our amazement, he came across some friends/pastors from church, who volunteered to come out to the car and pray for me.  They did, and we went on our way to the MRI appointment.

At the doctor’s office, I needed some assistance getting to the MRI machine, but my headache had subsided for the first time in two weeks.  During the test (which was a closed MRI), I wasn’t scared, and I could actually have my eyes open.  My head didn’t hurt, even with the loud demolition-type sound of the photos it was taking.  My MRI photos are super interesting!  When it was over, I walked out of that room on my own, standing tall and steady (well, maybe a little wobble).  I have no idea what else happened during that time since running into our friends, but I know I was healed.  I know the Lord did a miracle in my head.  The MRI came back clean.


My sister was married the next day, and I was in the wedding as a bridesmaid.  During every major part of the wedding, I was there.  I took naps between the ceremony, the cutting of the cake, the toasts, the dances, and before they left on their honeymoon.  But, I was there and emerged for each activity.  Alive, and able to be there for my sister on her amazing day.

I am grateful for that – not only for myself, but for her.  To be in her wedding was an incredible gift to us both.  I know she feels that way too.

Two days after her wedding, with part of an inheritance from my granddad and some money from my first couple years of music lesson teaching, I was able to purchase the beautiful Francis Bacon.  Granddad would be pleased.  :)


In the months that followed, my hair fell out.  During the initial months, I wore bucket hats to church, college classes, and while teaching.  This photo was taken at a studio recital I held at Courtyard Fountains Retirement Community in December 2006, six months after the hospital stay, and about 2 months after the day I cut off the rest of my hair after it fell out in too many patches.  When it grew back, it was different – with curls, waves, and with red in it.

It is another reminder of one of the scariest times of my life.

The studio quickly grew.  In June, 2006, I had 8 students.  By the December recital in 2006, I had 18 students performing.  Today (2016), I see 40 students weekly, and couldn’t be happier.  Over the past 10 years since my 3piano blessing materialized, hundreds of students have played it.  Some know the story, and others have no idea.  I don’t tell anyone anymore, but every time I sit down to play, I am reminded that I almost never was able to play again.  I am reminded that life is such a precious gift, and we don’t know how much time we have.  When we encounter a crisis, and are surrounded by family & friends, we realize exactly how much we are loved.  I am incredibly thankful that music continues to be a gift, one I hope to share with those who come into the studio.  I am very, very thankful.


I found out my piano was made in 1916.  To honor the occasion of this 100 year anniversary, I thought I would share the story of this wonderful piano and blessing coming into my life.

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I cried when the movers brought it in, and I cried when I first played it.  You can see my tears in one of the photos.  I am so grateful to be alive, to be teaching, and to be reminded every day that life is a gift.  Life is a gift, my family is a gift, my students are a gift, and my friends are a gift.  My piano is a daily reminder that I am alive today because I was given a gift of healing that year.


NOTE = I originally thought my piano was made in 1914, so I wrote & posted this entry in 2014, but in 2015, my piano technician/tuner informed me it was actually made in 1916 (and I immediately archived this post – making it private).  Today, on 1/25/16, I am posting this again, updated and corrected.  I hope you enjoy having some insight into why music is so special to me.  Teaching is one of my absolute favorite things to do.  I teach and play music because I positively love it.  Thank you for being part of my journey! :)

MORE PHOTOS

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The following is the post from the Studio Facebook page link

On June 19, 2006, this piano arrived shortly after I bought it, delivered by the most amazing moving company. They sang as they carefully brought my new/old piano home – a sound so sweet and joyful, that it brought peace and excitement to my heart.

In this photo, I was crying. Only a week before the photo was taken, I was released from the hospital after 6 nights (4 of which were spent in the ICU).

Having the opportunity to play and purchase my beautiful piano that weekend was a blessing, and a miracle. I could hardly hear, could hardly see, and could hardly walk. My naps took up half the day, with overnight sleeps exceeding 12 hours. I am grateful every day, to have the opportunity to play my piano, and to be able to hear my students play it as well.

My family was my rock through the entire ordeal, and my Savior gave me life and strength to recover and carry on. :) I had the energy that day to play little sections of several songs from my Syllabus exams, and “Via Dolorosa” arranged by Dino Kartsonakis.

This piano reminds me every day to never give up on a dream and to be thankful for life. Every student who has come through the door has had the opportunity to learn and grow while taking lessons in the studio, on my beautiful blessing, the piano that reminds me to live and love and laugh – and create beautiful music. :)

On June 16th, 2006, on the way to my MRI appointment, my dad drove me first to the home of a wonderful lady to meet her baby grand piano. I couldn’t walk without assistance, couldn’t see clearly, could hardly hear (everything was muffled), and felt dizzy with every little movement. He helped me to her front door, and once inside, I remember a greeting and being led to the bench in front of her 1916 Francis Bacon piano. The center three octaves were horribly out of tune, as she had played mainly hymns for the 30 years she owned it and never had it tuned. The outer octaves were rich and beautiful, gorgeous to hear, and I knew instantly that I had found the piano of my dreams. Literally, I dreamt of a piano just like this once in a room much like the one in which I found this piano, and now, I could almost grasp the magnitude of the reality. Since my hearing was impaired with the mysterious swelling, and the piano was badly out of tune, we asked my music teacher at the time, to also try out the piano. She was thrilled with it, and three days later, the piano was in my family’s living room.

In 2006, the evening of my highschool graduation party (five days after giving the only student speech at the senior class graduation from Open Door Christian Academy that year), I came down with a fever in the 102 range. It had been an amazing day, filled with fun & laughter & friends & family & games & food & wonderful conversations.

Our guests were finishing the evening by watching the movie “Cool Runnings” when I went to bed with a fever in the 103 range. In the middle of the night, I called my parents in the next room on my phone after finding my temperature was in the 104 range.

They worked to break the fever, stayed by my side, and comforted me. I am forever grateful for their care. In the morning on Monday, my mom called our doctor to make an appointment for that afternoon to be seen. Shortly before going to the doctor, my fever broke, and we canceled the appointment. We thought all was well.

That night, my temperature shot back up and reached 104.9. It didn’t subside and I struggled with debilitating chills & severe sweating. I was mostly unaware of my surroundings when early that morning (Tuesday, June 6, 2006), my mom drove me to the local Hospital’s Emergency Room. After X-rays, a spinal tap lumbar puncture, an IV, blood draws, and many monitors were in place and taken, I was admitted to a hospital room. That night around 2:00am, my blood pressure tanked, and I woke up groggy to a room full of doctors & nurses darting around shouting orders – and I was moved to the Intensive Care Unit downstairs.

The doctors thought I might have measles, be in shock, or have a failing liver. All the tests in the initial days pointed to any number of terrible things. On numerous occasions, I struggled to breathe and developed swelling all over. My feet felt like bricks and I couldn’t move because of the headache worse than I’ve ever experienced before or since. Because of this series of symptoms and a few others, I was moved to an isolation unit in the ICU with it’s own air supply & filtration system leading to the outside.

We never found out exactly what was wrong. I had to have the room as quiet as possible (because sound felt like a stabbing knife through my head), and as dark as possible (because the same happened with any light). Visitors had to wear gloves and masks. I kept my eyes closed as much as possible and slept 20 hours each day – only to wake when I’d go into a coughing fit because the oxygen assistance wasn’t enough, or when it was time to have my blood drawn. My cousin and sister braided my hair to keep it somewhat acceptable.

It was an awful time, but through it all, I felt at peace. My dear family, friends, church, students, and school were praying for me. The overwhelming gifts of flowers (which were wonderful to receive when I returned home) and the cards were extremely special to me. My school put together a poster of notes from teachers and classmates. I still have every single card & this amazing poster sits safely in my room as a reminder of the gift of life & loved ones.

During that time, music was almost constantly in my head. I wanted to compose, to sing, to write lyrics, and to play my piano. At the time, and for the approximately 12 years since starting piano lessons, I had been learning on my mom’s beautiful Sohmer & Co upright piano. But, for over a year, I had been searching high and low, near and far, for the grand piano of my dreams.

After the horrible ordeal in the hospital, and with my blood tests still showing major problems the week after my release from the hospital, we set up an appointment with a rheumatologist, who scheduled a brain MRI. She was concerned about the increasing headache, the dizziness, the swelling, the hearing loss, and the light sensitivity. On the way to the appointment, 5 days after being released from the hospital, I was as weak as ever, and my dad had to make a stop. Much to our amazement, he came across some friends/pastors from church, who volunteered to come out to the car and pray for me. They did, and we went on our way to the MRI appointment.

At the doctor’s office, I needed some assistance getting to the MRI machine, but my headache had subsided for the first time in two weeks. During the test, I wasn’t scared, and I could actually have my eyes open. My head didn’t hurt, even with the loud demolition-type sound of the photos it was taking. My MRI photos are super interesting! When it was over, I walked out of that room on my own, standing tall and steady (well, maybe a little wobble). I have no idea what else happened during that time since running into our friends, but I know I was healed. I know the Lord did a miracle in my head. The MRI came back clean.

My sister was married the next day, and I was in the wedding as a bridesmaid. During every major part of the wedding, I was there. I took naps between the ceremony, the cutting of the cake, the toasts, the dances, and before they left on their honeymoon. But, I was there and emerged for each activity. Alive, and able to be there for my sister on her amazing day. I am grateful for that – not only for myself, but for her. To be in her wedding was an incredible gift to us both. I know she feels that way too.

Two days after her wedding, with part of an inheritance from my granddad and some money from my first couple years of music lesson teaching, I was able to purchase the beautiful Francis Bacon. Granddad would be pleased. :)

In the months that followed, most of my hair fell out, and in October, I cut the rest of it off. Initially, I wore bucket hats to church, college classes, and while teaching. That December, my brother and I performed “O Holy Night” together (he on guitar, me singing) for my studio’s first public performance held at Courtyard Fountains Retirement Community – “hat free”. When I was able to grow it long again, my hair dresser and I donated 10 inches of it to Locks of Love.

Each struggle, change, and milestone is another reminder of one of the scariest times of my life, and how amazingly supportive those around me were when I needed them most.

The studio quickly grew. In June, 2006, I had 8 students. By the December recital in 2006, I had 18 students performing. By 2016, I saw between 30 & 45 students weekly, and couldn’t be happier. Over the past 10 years since my piano blessing materialized, hundreds of students have played it. Some know the story, and others have no idea. I don’t tell anyone anymore, but every time I sit down to play, I am reminded that I almost never was able to play again. I am reminded that life is such a precious gift, and we don’t know how much time we have. When we encounter a crisis, and are surrounded by family & friends, we realize exactly how much we are loved. I am incredibly thankful that music continues to be a gift, one I hope to share with those who come into the studio. I am very, very thankful.

My piano is a daily reminder that I am alive today because I was healed that year. Thank you for being part of my journey.

The Studio App

I am very excited to announce the addition of a studio reference app to the App Stores for both Android & Apple. If you are interested in using it on an iPad, there is an option in the iPad app store on your device to search for iPhone apps only (by default, it chooses “iPad apps only”).

Additional comments can be found at this Facebook Studio post. I would love for you to try it out when you have the time. Reviews in those stores are greatly appreciated and very important. Please let me know if you encounter any problems along the way. Thank you!



  

2015 – Site in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Recipe for Success: The first 6 months of piano lessons

WONDERFUL article by a parent in a different studio, who shares amazing strategies for guiding, supporting, and encouraging lessons and practice on the home front – something I think is truly awesome!

This article and website linked is wonderful for parents. Please take some time to read it when you get a chance. :)

Diary of a Piano Mama

1. Timetable practice into your daily schedule
Seriously.

Nothing but nothing but nothing (but nothing) will replace actual time spent on the piano, each day.

With any luck your child will have a lovely time spending 30 mins each week with a piano teacher – piano teachers are notoriously lovely people, after all. If you have chosen the right piano teacher who chooses the right piano method for your child, your child is bound to have fun and look forward to going along to lessons each week.

Any student is likely to be able to move along and progress through a method book just by playing once or twice each week – it’s not rocket science, after all.

However, no one is born with “piano hands.” And prodigy is developed and nurtured – not some kind of divine blessing.

If you have decided to make the investment in piano lessons…

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