Since we had such a great chance to perform in October, this year for Christmas my awesome husband helped me put together some cute graphics for each student to create their own digital Christmas cards to send out!
We took just a couple of weeks to put together some fun Christmas carols, I staged the piano for Christmas a little early, and we recorded during one of their lessons. Most recorded before Thanksgiving so that their parents could have plenty of time to send the cards to family and friends.
They turned out so cute! I wish so badly that I could remember the teacher who gave me this idea, (I subscribe to more teacher bloggers than I can count).
Last month we had an incredible recital where each student got to perform a piece that they composed during their 2021 summer lessons! Families in my studio know that I handle summer a little differently - instead of having weekly lessons or taking all three months off, (talk about a great way to atrophy!) Each student schedules six, one-hour lessons throughout the summer at a time that works for them. So each family can schedule around their vacations, camps, and other summer activities. During those lessons, the students and I dive into music theory by learning to write our own pieces! By no means do I consider myself much of a composer, but each year I have challenged myself to follow the exact same steps as my students in order to write a piece myself.
By the end of the summer, each student gets a copy of their own printed piece with either their original artwork on the front, or, (for kids like me who do not enjoy drawing!) they can choose a free-domain image that they feel fits the theme of their piece.
Once we begin lessons in the fall, it's time to learn our own compositions! This may seem like an unnecessary step from the outside looking in - but trust me! Even when you write the song yourself - you're going to need time to learn it. Many of my students and I figured out quickly this year that it is often easier to write a piece than it is to play it proficiently! Some students wrote well beyond their own lesson book level.
After taking the time in September to learn each of our pieces, it was time to put on a recital! Each student had the chance to perform their own compositions in front of family and friends, see the others who worked on the same thing, and even enjoy a cupcake afterwards. It was my favorite recital so far!
Below are some pictures that I got of our setup before the recital, as well as a pdf image showing a few of the student compositions! We had eighteen performers in all, and I wish I had gotten more pictures!
Piano lessons really do reach beyond just learning how to play music! There are so many valuable life-lessons and skills that we learn along the way as a result of the work that we do. For example, in this game by Nicola Cantan with Colourful Keys, one of my students and I this week learned about developing a "Grit-and-Growth" mindset where it's ok to make mistakes and we don't have to be too hard on ourselves when something goes wrong. Thing go wrong all of the time in piano and in life, and it's all about improving our recovery time and using mistakes as positive learning opportunities:)