How to create a recital program and amplify your graphics

In this post you’ll learn how to create a smashing recital program from pro graphic designer, Andrea West. Plus, you’ll learn how you can amplify and use her graphics purchased at the Piano Teacher Planning Center to make stunning student gifts and to market your studio. 

When’s your recital?

This week I’m starting a countdown. It’s 39 days until mine on May 19th.

Perhaps your recital check list looks a little like mine?

  • Venue: Neighborhood clubhouse. Whoa, did mine change this spring–more on that later!
  • Repertoire: Students will perform their original compositions and duets.
  • Well-rehearsed students: They will be equipped to perform with the Five P’s of Performing: Get your free download on these essentials for young performers here.
  • Food for afterwards: In the spring I like to prepare items that students can grab and go as my recital will be informal and students can come when they can and come as they are: (Like I said, more on that later!)
  • Student gifts: Keep reading for some terrific ideas, I think I’ve decided on t-shirts.
  • Program with a cool cover: If you need cover art for your program, Andrea West has created lovely options for you. Thanks to those who have already gotten theirs!

Get your recital program cover art here!

Once you purchase one of Andrea’s graphics, you’ll need to download the graphic and transfer it onto a document to create the program. For those who are uncertain about how to do this, I’ve got great news! Andrea has generously spared time from her busy schedule and agreed to share a step-by-step process on how to create a program in Word.

Don’t use Word for generating documents? Neither do I BUT, you’ll want to watch the video any way as this pro graphic designer has dynamite tips on how to organize and format your recital information so you can spare precious time when it’s the week of the recital. Plus many of the tips she shows are similar to what you’d use in Pages or Google Docs.

On more thing, save on ink and spare yourself from printer frustrations by joining MTNA and taking advantage of their member benefits card. Show up with your “magic card” and you’ll get close to 60% your printing costs! Learn more here.

Learn now to create your recital program in Word

Andrea guides you step by step with clear, succinct instructions. You DON’T want to miss a thing. Her tips on design, fonts, formatting are golden. Watch the video below (or click here) and download her instructions as well, so you have plenty of guidance as you create your own document. Read More

Celebrate 150 years of Canada with these designs!

Did you know that Canada is celebrating it’s 150th birthday? Nope? I didn’t either! Not

A selfie after lunch out during spring break. Of course, shopping happened, too!

A selfie with daughter-in-law, Brittany, after having lunch together during spring break. Of course, shopping happened, too!

until fellow teacher, Swan Keizebrink filled me in and was requesting a recital program cover for her studio recital in honor of her native land.

Watch the video below to help you understand that it may come as a surprise even to many Canadians. Confession: my lovely daughter–in-law from Alberta, Canada had forgotten about it and she takes great pride in her Canadian citizenship.

Click on the video below to get a one-minute explanation of Canadian history and it’s 150-year birthday.

screen-shot-2017-03-24-at-3-12-15-pm

Although it’s not quite the Fourth of July celebration we enjoy in the states, the birthday is worth noting. In fact, it’s quite a big deal and is marked with an official logo! (See below.)

My loyalty for Canada begins with my daughter-in-law Brittany, but also because I enjoyed presenting at the Alberta Registered Music Teachers Association in Calgary last summer and met or reunited with many lovely teachers from Canada at the recent MTNA conference.

c150-logo-red-nouvnew_1469624863855_eng

So, why the post about the Canadian 150th birthday? As mentioned above, this was spurred by a request from Swan who was looking for a design for her upcoming studio recital program commemorating this Canadian celebration.

Swan asked Andrea West for some designs and Andrea has delivered in fine fashion. You will find her new, custom Canadian designs perfect for a program, an invitation, card–use your imagination. Get them HERE!

Plus, don’t miss her other designs for spring recital covers. Find them all at the Piano Teacher Planning Center right HERE.

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Stay in touch,

Leila

Use a Green Screen for Virtual Performances

The recital venue that I’ve enjoyed for years is no longer available for me to use. It’s a long story so I’ll save it for another post. This turned my world upside down and has had me looking for other possible venues and performance opportunities for my students. When I saw Amber post videos of her students playing piano “virtually” anywhere with the help of a green screen, I had to learn how she did it! Amber has generously written down the steps she took to make this a reality. 

Take it away, Amber…


I love sparking imagination in my students! One of the ways I do this, is to let them perform virtually anywhere! It’s surprisingly easy to create these virtual performance videos.

Here is what you need:

  1. Green screen background: You need a green background of some sort. The best background I have found is the large green canvas sheets that come with the green screen studio kits. You can find the kits, or canvas backgrounds on Amazon. In a bind, I have also used a green plastic tablecloth from the Dollar Store! It worked! Check out the green screen kit here.
  2. Good lighting: I cannot emphasize this enough. Lighting will make or break your videos. Shadows will produce a pixelated effect. The best lighting I have found are the lights that come with the green screen studio 41tntsirx1l-_sx355_kits. I have used table lamps before but, they just cannot produce the same effect.
  3. A green screen app: My favorite green screen app is Green Screen by Do Ink. Once you get the hang of it, it is very easy to use.
  4. Garageband: I use Garageband to record the audio portion of the video.
  5. iMovie: I import my green screen video and the audio into iMovie to edit and create the finished product!
  6. Intro app: I like creating a fun movie intro with Intro Designer Lite.
  7. A keyboard that can be hooked up to an iPad.
  8. A tripod, or other support to hold your iPad for recording. [Leila likes the Manos Mount.}

Now on to the fun part! Read More

Make Recitals Easier with Ready-Made Cover Art

It’s been a pleasure getting to know Andrea West. She’s a piano teacher and a graphic designer who created wonderful cover art for your winter recital programs last year. She’s done it again and created marvelous options for your spring recital programs! I’m pleased to be selling them in the Piano Teacher Planning Center. Learn a little more about Andrea and why she creates her designs below. You’ll also get a chance to vote for your favorite design and it could go on sale IF you spread the word!

-Leila


Preparing for recitals and concerts requires more energy and skill sets than most people imagine.  Not only do we prepare each child for a successful recital experience, but we have to be master event planners as well. The solution for me has been to outsource those things I cannot do (like tuning the piano) or don’t have the time to do (like baking all the recital treats), and to focus on what I do well.pop-piano

Since I have a lifelong background in the arts, I use that ability to create memorable recital programs for my events.  The students have worked unbelievably hard to prepare and present their pieces to the audience, and I want to showcase those pieces in a recital program that parents can take home and put in their child’s scrapbook. 

Because I love it, I spend much of my free time designing cover art.  It starts with a simple idea, and then slowly it evolves into a finished piece.  I’m often inspired by a piece of music a student is playing, or something they say about their piece.  These designs are all created in 5.5” x 8.5” format that are ideal for putting on the front of a folded program.  They insert perfectly into your favorite program like Publisher, a Word document, Pages, or even an Excel spreadsheet. And the best part is, it will save you many hours of work and provide your families with a beautiful recital keepsake.

Take a moment to vote for your favorite design by putting the name of the design in the comments section below. The design with the most votes will go on sale for $.99 from March  17-19, 2017.  Voting ends March 15th!

-Andrea

There are TWO pages of designs so make sure to look at them all.

Click on the page links below or click on the image to view all the covers.

Page One   Page Two

 Remember to let us know which is your favorite in the comment section here, or on either program page by March 11th and watch for the sale!

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Let’s Meet Up at MTNA!

Are you heading to Baltimore next week? It’s too late to register for the annual MTNA conference held March 18-22, but, you can do so at the hotel. Here’s all the info.

If you are registered and ready to go, let’s get together!

I fly in Saturday and leave Wednesday. In between, I’ll be part of the Music Teachers Helper Showcase on Sunday morning at 8:00AM. Come join me and we can get coffee afterwards.

If you’re not crazy about your scheduling and book-keeping system, attend the showcase and learn about the ten things I can’t teach without thanks to ten years of being addicted to Music Teachers Helper. Learn more about the service and sign up for it here.

Tuesday at 11:00AM, I’ll be presenting a session called “Set Your Studio Apart On and Off the Bench.”

For those who attend and stay ’til the bitter end, I have a REALLY cool gift that you can use with your students to build strong practice strategies. Have you been using the six scientifically proven strategies in your studio? Read about them here and get a free printable to use with your students. These work and my students and their parents agree. The gift you’ll receive at my session will definitely enhance your student’s use of these practice strategies and will guarantee progress.

After the session, I’d like to get together with you! Bradley Sowash has agreed to join me and the plan is to “brown-bag” it. We’ll connect after the session is finished which is lunch time and we can plan to meet in the hotel lobby…where you can bring your own lunch or stay for a bit, bring your iPad and teaching questions and then head off to a favorite restaurant. This is definitely an informal gathering. If it grows into something bigger I’ll let you know. If you are interested, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

A couple of other housekeeping items.

We are hearing terrific feedback about our latest 88 Creative Keys Webinar: “Keys to Colorful Harmonization.” If you missed the live stream, you can purchase the replay here.

“You threw out several VERY HELPFUL hints that were worth my attendance in the first 30 paint-tubes-with-infominutes! “

“I thoroughly enjoyed listening to your ways of composition. This summer I am looking at doing a composition/harmonization series for both my piano and vocal students. Thank you for putting together this webinar.”

“I have taken all the theory of this before, but wasn’t sure how to apply it.  You’ve given me extra tools in my tool box.  You’ve also given me lots of ideas as to how to teach this to my students.”

During my portion, I use my original arrangements as examples of how I incorporated my favorite Groups and Campsharmonization tools. All of the sheet music is on sale–here.

Looking ahead

There are some exceptional resources coming your way in the near future at 88pianokeys.me. If there is a topic that you’d like to see addressed, please let me know in the comment section and I’ll add it to the list.

As always, thanks for tuning in, your support and most of all for sharing a passion for teaching music with me!

-Leila

 

Have a ball at group lessons!

Starting a composition and naming it can be tough. To charge up the creative juices, we played a game called “Would You Rather” with the help of a groove and a beach ball at this week’s group lessons.

When I rang the bell, they had to stop and whoever was holding the ball had to answer the question under his/her right hand.

“Would you rather eat dinner in a castle or breakfast in a hot air balloon?”

“Would you rather eat three live worms or a tunafish and peanut butter sandwich?”

They didn’t want to quit…

The video explains it best. Click here if you can’t see it.

Sometimes it’s just hard to get to know your students when they’re sitting on the bench next to you. They may feel a little shy about sharing their thoughts, their likes, their dislikes, etc. In a group setting and with an icebreaker like “Would You Rather,” all those inhibitions get tossed aside–yes, pun intended!

How will this contribute to an upcoming composition project?

After a student answered the question, most everyone else chimed in with their answer and we discussed why they chose what they did. They were eager to start making connections with what they like to what they will be creating at the keys.

Bonus: did you notice that this is a great activity to get them moving to the beat?

WARNING: Stock up on beach balls…more ideas to come. Here’s a screamin’ deal on them if you can’t find beach balls in your local stores right now. Remember to look for them on sale at the end of summer!

What questions to include on your “Would You Rather” beach ball?

Here’s a start. Begin each statement with the words Would you rather

  • Run a mile or swim a mile?
  • Go to a movie theatre or watch Netflix?
  • Stay up late or wake up early?
  • Have a robot or a monkey in the house?
  • Sleep on a hard pillow or a soft pillow?
  • Eat pepperoni pizza or sausage pizza?
  • Eat breakfast in a hot air balloon or dinner in a castle?
  • Eat a hamburger or a hotdog?
  • Paint a picture or take a picture?
  • Do word finds or crossword puzzles?
  • Do math homework or science homework?
  • Have ten brothers or ten sisters?
  • Go to school on Saturdays or go to the dentist every week?
  • Ride a bike or a skateboard?
  • Color a picture or draw a portrait?
  • Drive a self-driving car or a spaceship?
  • Become a famous singer or a famous actor?
  • Shop at the mall or play at the park?
  • Snowboard or ice skate?
  • Have a fish or a bird?
  • Eat mac ‘n cheese or spaghetti?
  • Play at the beach or in the snow?
  • Live on the beach or on a mountain top?
  • Have a cat or a dog?
  • Live without music or without TV and movies?
  • Talk on the phone or go out for ice cream?
  • Be a super hero or a villain in a movie?
  • Wear running shoes or flip flops?
  • Eat a bug or get stung by a bee?
  • Cook dinner or clean up?
  • Take a walk or a bike ride?
  • Go out for Mexican or Italian?leila3d
  • Read the book or watch the movie?
  • Eat 3 live worms or a peanut butter and tuna sandwich?
  • Take a vacation or $1,000 in cash?
  • Eat chocolate chips or gummy bears?
  • Take a road trip or a stay-cation?
  • Ride in a plane or a train?

For more “Would You Rather” questions, checkout my Pinterest board.

Need a fresh way to determine who performs first at the group class?

To review the sound and look of intervals, students were asked to read my e-book Understanding Intervals last week during Off-Bench Time. During the group lesson, everyone spun to see who would play first. I created three wheels in the Decide Now app, with level-appropriate intervals.img_3645

  • Wheel #1: Intervals Repeat-5
  • Wheel #2: Intervals Prime-8
  • Wheel #3: Major 2nd, 3rd, Perfect 4th, 5th, Major 6th, 7th, Perfect 8va.

After the student spun, he/she was asked to play the interval on the piano and try to recall the tune that is associated with that interval in Understanding Intervals. For example, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” begins with a 2nd. The student was then asked to sound out more of the tune. Naturally, everyone sang along!

The student who landed on the smallest interval performed first and others followed according to the size of their interval.

Need to build up knowledge of key signatures?img_6027

In preparation for upcoming theory tests at the local Federation Festival, students identified specific key signatures within the Challenge Mode of the app called Tenuto. They took turns naming the key as the key signatures flashed before them. After each drill was completed, they were challenged to reach a new high score. Music Money awarded to the whole group for beating the prior score. I’m never above bribery!

Note: you don’t need to hook your iPad to an HDTV in order to play this game. I like to reflect my iPad during groups lessons to show videos or to explain theory concepts with an app called Octavian.

Need one more winner for your next group lesson?

Make sure to get Rhythm on a Roll.

This game was developed for my group lesson week last December. I brought it out for group lessons this week and everyone was excited to play it again.copy-of-rhythm-on-a-roll-3 That was good news to me because you know how some can moan about doing anything more than once.

My students also enjoyed the new score cards with the rests and playing the variations I mention in the resource.

Tip: we played this as students were performing for each other. It works well as the audience is quiet, listening and thinking at the same time. This keeps them from getting restless.

It’s still on sale until March 11th. Get it now and your activities for group lessons will be set!

-Leila

NEW GAME! Reinforce Note Values with Rhythm On a Roll

During Off Bench Time, I assigned students to complete worksheets in the app called SproutBeat which challenged them to add up note values. I noticed this was difficult for some. Many students (even though I stand on my head and do back flips trying to make it clear) assume two 8th notes equal two beats.

The red flags went up so I was determined to develop an activity for an d626eed83fdba1f407497658e26d1b8eupcoming group lesson that would help anyone at any level to understand the duration of notes and add them up with confidence.

For quite some time, I have wanted to design a music game similar to Yahtzee using 5 dice and a score card. For my new rhythm game, I decided to use Yahtzee as inspiration and assumed that the score cards would be the same for each player just like in the game. Then it occurred to me that Rhythm on a Roll would be much more interesting if each player had a different card—like in the game of Bingo. For example, when a TWO is rolled, it represents a quarter note for one player, a half note for another and an eighth note for another.yahtzee-2

With each score card being different, this educational game of chance became much more engaging and competitive. This was a last-minute game planned just in time for my first group lesson of the week and it was a winner. I believe it will be for your studio, too!

Clear as mud? Stick with me, the video will clarify things.

See Rhythm on a Roll in Action

Pictures speak a thousand words and videos…10,000?
To learn how to play Rhythm on a Roll, you’ll want to watch this video that shows me playing the game in “high speed.” Rewind as needed!

What you need to play Rhythm On a Roll?

>Dice. I discovered that my favorite childhood game of Yahtzee is not that popular with most of my students! Some play Farkle, and even Spicey Farkle. ANY dice will do so raid your board games! If you can’t collect enough, try this collection of dice.

>Cup for tossing and rolling the diceimg_6257

>Tray to keep dice from rolling away.

>Padding for the tray to keep the dice from making too much noise if used during Off Bench Time.

>Clear pockets in which to place score cards so they can be reused.

>Dry erase markers with erasers.

>Six score cards in each level.

>Players who are ready to roll!

What’s included in Rhythm on a Roll?

The downloadable PDF includes:

>Instructions to play the game which includes the link to the video above. I suggest letting your students watch it, too.

rhythm-on-a-roll-round-1

Sample score card

>Level One Score Cards (six variations) and instructions on how to play.

  • Quarter note
  • Half note
  • Dotted half note
  • Eighth note
  • Two eighth notes.

>Level Two Score Cards (six variations.)  The same Level-One instructions apply but, you’ll notice that the score cards include shorter note values and that tricky dotted quarter note!

TIP: For more advanced players, change the note value equalled to one beat to an eighth note instead of a quarter note. Added note values include:

  • Eighth note
  • Dotted quarter note
  • Sixteenth note
  • Two sixteenth notes.

>Variations on the game that encourage creativity.

>Ideas for prizes for winners.

>Single-player version for Off Bench Time.

>Tips on how to use the game if you don’t have Off Bench time or teach in groups.

Bonus!

Just before Rhythm on a Roll was going to be “rolled out” it dawned on me that the score cards should also include rests. Rests are SO important and usually overlooked. It’s been said that Mozart stated…

“Notes are silver, rests are gold.”

Therefore, I’ve added two more sets of score cards with rests–one set that correlates with Level 1 and another for Level 2. In addition, you’ll enjoy the clever options provided when playing Rhythm on a Roll with rests.

Get Rhythm on a Roll on sale for $4.88 (studio license) and build strong rhythm counters and readers!get-it-now-button

Let me know how Rhythm on a Roll is a winner in your studio!

Classical Repertoire that Appeals to Teens

First, congratulations to Sara, Chris and Leticia for winning a free code to Waay–a hip app that teaches the theory behind songwriting. This tutorial app passes the hard-to-please teen test. Check it out here.

Speaking of teens…

In this recent app giveaway, I asked readers to leave a comment about how they inspire teens. Most everyone commented on the importance of building a relationship with teen students. Did you know that your relationship with your students is one of the five key factors that impact student motivation? I’ve recently developed a new presentation called “Nurturing Potential into Passion” and found some fascinating facts about motivation. Relationships matter!

More on that later as I want to get to another topic of discussion in the comment section: finding repertoire for teens and specifically repertoire from the Classical genre.

Other teachers have asked me similar questions. What Classical pieces do you recommend to students? Which ones will appeal to teens? In what order do you teach these pieces?

In response to these questions, I’ll be starting a page dedicated to repertoire that stands the test of time AND teens.

Here’s a short list to get it started. These pieces featured below came to my mind immediately because for at least one student on my bench, they were a game changer and catapulted a pianist into a new level of inspired playing.

I would GREATLY appreciate your input. In the comments below, let me know if this list would be helpful. If so, I’ll flesh it out more with links to books, etc.

Next, if you like this idea, I’d love for you to contribute. Leave the title, composer and if possible, the book or collection of your favorite classics that connect with your students. I hope to grow this list into something that can be helpful in a pinch.

From the Classics

Early Intermediate

“Arabesque” by Burgmueller

“Wild Horseman” by Schumann

“Sonatina Op 36 No 1” by Clementi

Intermediate

“Ballade” by Burgmueller

“Avalanche” by Heller

“Solfeggietto” by CPE Bach

Advancing

“Nocturne” in Em by Chopin

“Prelude No 1, 2 and/or 3” by Gershwin

“Fantaisie Impromptu” by Chopin

“Sonata K545” by Mozart

“Golligwog’s Cakewalk” by Debussy

“Arabesque No 1” by Debussy

Fresh Arrangements of Classical Literature

Why not introduce the classics via a fresh arrangement like the Piano Guys do!

“Winter Window Frost” by Vivaldi arr by Leila Viss (the studio license is down to $4.88 right now so get it here.)winter-frost-copy

“Winter” by Vivaldi arr by Lorie Line

Big Publisher Finds

These titles may not be considered “Classical” but, I still want to create this list because the work of some terrific composers often gets buried under the mounds of sheet music from larger publishers. And, these titles are teen tested and approved!

“Impressions on Red” and “Impressions on Yellow” from Impressions on Color by Kevin Olson

“Jazz Suite” by Glenda Austin

“Firefly” by Billotti

This is just a start. MANY titles are missing as well as the links to where to purchase. Please let me know if such a list would be helpful to you. Next, please let me know what you would add to the list!

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Leila

Waay: A hip music app for teens and songwriters

What app is a good fit for those who grow out of Piano Maestro, Flashnote Derby, Rhythm Swing…? If you have groomed pianists beyond the first couple of years of piano or any other instrument (hooray and congrats!), you are probably asking that question. I’ve got an answer.

Take a look at Ten Kettles’ app called Waay.

In fact, you can literally take a look by watching the video interview I held with Alex Andrews, the developer of Waay.  In the video you’ll learn that Alex is a bio engineer-turned-full-time-musician and app developer. He explains how he saw a need for an app that explains the fundamentals of melody and chords in a user-friendly, relatable format for those interested in songwriting. I’ve found that the app crosses over well to anyone –songwriter, pianist, guitarist….anyone wanting to know more about scales and chords and how they combine to create songs. I particularly like how the ultimate focus of Waay is to generate creativity!

Read More

Register NOW for the 88 Creative Keys 2017 Workshop

Take a moment to check out the video below –you’ll learn what we’re cooking up this summer at 88 Creative Keys and get a chuckle, too.

Here we go!

The 88 Creative Keys 2017 Workshop Registration is open. If you’ve been thinking about attending, this is the year to commit. 

The first ten registrants get an extra discount–they are going fast (I mean SUPER fast) so press that blue button below.

register-now-button-dark-blue-hi

Need more info before you commit? Here are some answers to the questions you may have. Read More