Practice Pals

Hi Parents and Students!
We have some VERY exciting news. We are re-launching our beloved Practice Pals program with a new amazing twist. This program will be an unbelievable resource for our students, and we are offering it FREE for current Starlight customers!

Each current customer will have the opportunity to have up to three 15-minute practice sessions with a Practice Leader per week (excluding studio vacation weeks). The practice sessions are done online to maximize convenience for you!

Here’s the amazing part: These practice sessions will be on-demand(first come, first served), meaning you can schedule the sessions:

  • when you need them
  • at a time that works well for you.

We will provide a link you will use to schedule your session between 3:00-8:00 pm M-F, and some limited weekend hours. You’ll schedule each session individually, so you can book out a consistent time a few weeks in advance, or simply schedule a session when you need help.

We know practicing can be the most difficult part about becoming skilled at an instrument. As a matter of fact, lack of practice is the number one reason students quit music lessons. We teachers hate to see great talent wasted (as well as the parents’ time and money gone!) when someone decides that consistent practicing is too challenging to accomplish.

But practicing doesn’t have to be stressful for parents or students! Practicing doesn’t have to involve tears or fighting. Practicing doesn’t have to be a drain on your energy and time!  It’s Time To Have:

Fun practicing (yes, practicing can be fun!)
Efficient Practicing (make more progress in less time!)
Practicing without a fight (yes, you can enjoy stress-free practicing!)

The Practice Pals program is designed to supplement in-person lessons, not replace in-person lessons. Your in-person teacher will still introduce new concepts, teach technique and skills, select the curriculum, and do all the things a teacher usually does. Your Practice Pals Leader will follow the teacher’s practicing assignments and guide the student through the assignments in a fun and energetic way. Working with a Practice Pals Leader will:

  • Make your practice sessions more efficient so you can practice fewer days and/or progress faster.
  • Make your practice sessions fun: meaning no more fights about practicing!

Our Practice Pals leader is super friendly, encouraging, and trained in many different instruments. Her job isn’t to teach new material — that’s the job of your in-home teacher. The Practice Pals Leader is there to provide help when you are struggling with something, encourage you through your sessions, and it gives you someone to practice with — a cure for those who dislike practicing in solitude.

We are expecting to begin providing this unbelievable perk within a couple of weeks. We are so excited!

Stay tuned for the launch!

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How to Practice While Away From the Piano

Is your child in and out a lot this summer and having difficulty finding time to practice? While I can’t stress enough the importance of spending time at the piano practicing, did you know there are some things a piano student can do to improve his/her skills even when away from the piano?

POSTURE

Good posture is very important for a piano player. Even when the piano player is away from her beloved instrument, she can practice correct posture. This practice away from the piano will make it easier for her to have correct posture while sitting at the piano.

HAND SHAPE

To play the piano correctly a student must learn to keep her hands in the proper shape while at the piano. Many students like to rest their hands flat on the piano, but this is a bad habit that negatively effects the playing and must be corrected, sooner, rather than later. Encourage your child to practice holding an invisible ball or bubble. This creates the hand shape necessary for playing the piano. The more a student becomes familiar with this hand shape, the better equipped he will be at playing the piano with the correct hand shape.

FINGER CONTROL & RHYTHM

Obviously, playing the piano requires much hand/eye coordination and individual finger control. While away from the piano a student can practice gaining control over his individual fingers. Here’s a simple game that can be fun to play when you have a few minutes to spare. Think: Waiting room, car trips, grandma’s house, etc.

To Play:

  • Have the child hold up both hands, with fingers spread.
  • Call out different finger numbers for the child to wiggle. (Ex: Left hand #4!)
  • The goal is to help your child remember piano finger numbers and practice moving fingers individually.
  • For older/more advanced students you can call out one finger from each hand. (Ex: Left hand 5 & Right Hand 2!) They should practice responding quickly and accurately, and wiggle both fingers at the same time.

This game can be fun and lead to lots of giggles while sneaking in extra practice. 🙂

To add rhythm practice into this game, you can bring along your child’s piano book. Have your child “play” his songs with the correct fingering and rhythm. The child can practice playing the rhythm on a table or on his lap. The fingers will gain practice which can help a student improve, even while away from the piano.

FLASH CARDS
Ah, flash cards…. Some people love ’em, others hate ’em. Frankly, whether a student enjoys or hates flash cards often is a reflection of the attitude they’re presented with. If it is presented as a boring but necessary task, the child will trudge through flash cards only when forced. This doesn’t have to be so! Flash cards can be loads of fun and something that your child actually requests to do! Easiest way to make flash cards an enjoyable task? Make it fun! Make it easily accomplished. Don’t just hand your child a stack of flashcards and say, “Learn these.” Start with 3-5 flashcards. Have the child spend 5 min (or less if they catch on quickly) with those few cards. Then you’re done for the day! The next day have them do those first few cards again. Once they are strong on those, add 1 more card. Now the child only has 4-6 flash cards to work with, but most of them are easily recognized.

If you stay consistent with this method and have your child work on flashcards just about every day, he/she will have the entire stack of cards memorized in a couple of weeks! That might not sound like a great accomplishment, but IT TRULY IS! Usually what holds beginning students back like nothing else is a struggle with identifying notes on the staff. If they can learn to identify the notes with ease, learning new songs and progressing to bigger and better pieces is SO much easier! Click on the picture below in order to print out free flashcards for the Treble Clef and the Bass Clef.

You can also turn flashcard practice into a game: a race against the clock! Set a timer and see how many flashcards you can do in that amount of time. Then see if you can increase your score every day. Encourage your child to tell his/her teacher about the progress he is making in his flashcard time. His teacher can be a cheerleader and extra encouragement to get those flashcards learned!

If you have a child that can easily identify note names, don’t think they are done with flash cards! Oh, no! You can use this same simple method to help him/her quickly master a plethora of crucial music theory concepts such as intervals, dynamics, and other important theory. Hint: This method is also a great way to study for tests in all subjects. Remember, rather than trying to soak it all in at once, break the subject into smaller chunks. Go over that small chunk multiple times until it’s imprinted. Then add another small chunk. This is the best way to retain large amounts of information quickly.

Other ways may be used to improve music skill while away from the instrument, but this is a quick overview of a few ways to get your child practicing today! Don’t let the busyness of life get in the way of improving!

Want to hear a fun piano prodigy? Click on the video below. Hint: If you just want to hear the piano playing, skip ahead to 3:20. Do you think this child was born with incredible skill? Perhaps. But what is more likely is that he practices every day. If you want your child to improve on his/her instrument, even 15 minutes of practice per day can make all the difference! Consistency is key. Enjoy your summer, and enjoy that practice! 


Pssst! Did you know that Starlight Music Lessons offers a Practice Program that makes practicing fun?

Practice Pals
We take the dread out of Practicing!
Practicing is a must. Period. But practicing can also be fun! Our Practice Pals program is an add-on program available to those taking lessons. When you enroll in Practice Pals, your practice leader guides your practice sessions three times per week online via webcam. Practice Pals makes your practicing fun, engaging, efficient and motivating. Students who practice regularly will progress faster, enjoy learning more (since they can quickly see progress) and are more likely to build a life-long love of music.

Fun Summer Projects for Music Lessons

Hey! It’s SUMMER! Wahoo! As a piano teacher, summertime is one of my favorite seasons. Students are off from school, which means they don’t have so many activities fighting for their attention. This is often the time students have an opportunity to make incredible progress toward their musical goals.
Summer can provide much needed rest from school, however it is healthy for kids to maintain some structure in their days and have something to work toward that will help keep their brains sharp. Not to mention, music is a language. As such, if it is not used it will be lost. The opportunities for enhancing summer lessons are endless, and summertime is often the best time to explore these other avenues of music. Here are just some of the things that your child can focus on this summer to take music lessons to the next level:
Have you always wanted to have family music nights? Or to enjoy your children perform music together? Summer is a great time to put some time into some duets and/or trios! How fun is it to see kids working together! Music can be a great way to bring your kids together. Make sure to choose a song both kids are excited about, and watch their skills and excitement take off! (Seriously you HAVE to watch this video! Show your kids too!!!)

 

Is your child interested in music composition? Summer is a GREAT time for the teacher to focus more on composition with interested students over the summer. Perhaps a goal for such a student might be to have an awesome “show-off piece” created by the end of the summer! (Check out this beautiful song by a 9-year-old boy!) I just started a composition study with one of my personal students, and the energy of the lesson is clearly evident! She is so excited to be learning how to create her own music!

This would also be a great time to work on accompaniment. Does your child love music, but you would like a more practical outlet than simply playing the songs in the book? Think: holiday gatherings, carols, church accompaniment, preparation for band ensembles… Ask your teacher to work on accompaniment skills this summer! This doesn’t have to be limited to playing with others! It is so much fun for musicians to have the skills to accompany themselves!

Is your child fascinated with history? Perhaps your teacher can work some fun music history into the lessons!

Of course, regular learning will certainly continue, but summer is a fabulous time to integrate other musical outlets into your regular lessons! Is your child dragging musically? Not seeing the progress you/they would like? Have they lost the sparkle in their eye they had when they first began music lessons? Sometimes all it takes to revive an old passion for lessons is to simply switch things up a bit. Shaking things up a bit and periodic change is good! Do some of these suggestions seem interesting? Or did it get you thinking about other ideas? Ask your teacher about possible special summer explorations.

Are you looking for things to keep your kids busy during the long (and sometimes dull) summer days? Do your kids like coloring pages like mine do? Here are some coloring pages you can print out.

I hope you have a fabulously fun summer!

Why is Participating in a Recital Important?

Hello Everyone! Happy February!

Since recital season is quickly approaching, we’d like to go over some of the reasons why recitals are so valuable to your child. (Click here to read about Starlight Music Lessons Recitals.)

Why is participating in a recital important?
  1. A recital offers a big goal to work toward. 
    • This enables your child to set goals, learn to persevere through practicing, and learn discipline. The discipline that a student acquires in preparing for a recital will translate to a student’s work ethic as he/she grows to take on life’s new challenges.
  2. Recitals allow the student to feel successful, having actually accomplished something they set their minds to. 
    • Most of the time music students have to work hard at pieces and receive no recognition for all of their hard work.  Music recitals provide an opportunity for them to get that much-deserved recognition and praise.
    • Recitals give the students a sense of responsibility, accomplishment, and importance.  This sense of importance will inspire many students to continue working hard with their instruments.
  3. Recitals provide an opportunity for you to show your child that you value their music education.
    • When you set aside time to focus on that recital and take the entire family out to witness your child perform, that tells your child that your family values music and that you appreciate the hard work he/she has put forth in order to perform.
  4. By witnessing beginner students in the recital, the student (and parent) is able to reflect on how far the student has come.
  5. Seeing more advanced students will likely motivate your child to continue working hard to become a higher level performer. 
    • Time and time again, we teachers see our students gain a new level of excitement by simply witnessing what can be done on their instrument by children their own age.
  6. Recitals provide an opportunity for extended family and friends to be participants in your child’s musical education. 
    • Compare a music education to sports: Everybody comes out to see the football games and soccer games, but rarely does the music student have the ability to show off for his family and friends. Recitals allow all students the opportunity to share their hard work with those they love.
  7. By participating in a recital your child has the opportunity to experience performance jitters…  And to realize that these nervous feelings are OK.  
    • Many parents hate the idea of their children having to experience nervousness of any sort.  But what these parents likely don’t realize is that experiences such as these teach a child how to keep his cool in a stressful situation and build confidence. When children are allowed to experience and are taught to deal with these emotions, they gain more confidence and are better prepared a to deal with stressful situations which will arise all throughout their lives.
  8. Recitals give you a great opportunity to praise your children!! 
    • Do you want to see your child’s commitment for music lessons soar?  Clap enthusiastically, bring on those pictures, videos, and heartfelt praise of your child’s hard work.  Let him know how incredibly proud you are of everything he did to get to this point.  Believe me, when your child sees pride in your eyes over her hard work, she will certainly want to repeat that.
    • Stage performance help students develop self-esteem and build a high sense of self-worth.
  9. Your child will gain important experience being in front of a crowd. 
    • Whether or not she becomes a professional musician, she most likely will benefit from learning to comfortably be in front of a crowd.  It does take a lot of courage to get up in front of a crowd, but the more it’s done the easier it gets.
    • The earlier these lessons are learned the easier it will be on the child as they go through adolescence and enter adulthood.
  10. Recitals teach children in a safe environment that mistakes are an inevitable part of life.
    •  At Starlight recitals everyone wants to see you succeed. Nobody is nitpicking about mistakes or waiting for you to fail. In this safe environment your child can learn that mistakes are common and everybody makes them. The more a student practices the better they will be prepared to deal with mistakes and effortlessly move past them, but more importantly what they will learn is that the mistakes are not what matter most. Conquering their fears; getting up on stage and performing is what is important.
    • The child learns to focus on their achievements rather than focusing on mistakes.
  11. Recitals provide the opportunity for your child to see and/or meet other students who are also going through the same musical journey. 
    • Because music lessons are done individually, it is easy for the student to forget that he or she is not alone. In seeing the other students who are also having to work hard, your child will be encouraged by seeing that he/she is not alone!
  12. At a recital your children have the opportunity to experience live music. 
    • Recitals provide the opportunity for your child to hear a wide variety of music, and nothing beats a live musical performance!
  13. Recitals offer an opportunity for you to focus on your child and enjoy what their music education has provided up to this point. 
    • Oftentimes music lessons and practice are done among the busy household with kids running to and fro, siblings, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, and it may be rare that you have the opportunity to just sit and listen to your child perform.
    • Sitting back and enjoying the music that your child is able to make matters!  It matters to them, and it will make beautiful memories for you.

We are looking forward to seeing you at our next recital! If you haven’t already registered, click here to do so. Register early in order to sign up for your preferred time.

P.S. If you like this information, please share it with your friends! Like Get your Recital Packet this week + Why is it Important to Participate in a Recital? on Facebook

November Newsletter: The Importance of Effective Practice and Setting Goals

Is practicing a chore in your home? Developing consistent and effective practicing habits is often the biggest struggle for those learning an instrument. Sometimes you just need a little help. If practicing is a struggle in your home, you could definitely benefit from our Practice Pals program. This program allows you or your child to have a Practice Leader actually practice with you three times each week! This is a great opportunity for beginning students as well as for those who have been playing for years.Practice Pals

Practice Pals can help teach a student how to practice by walking with the student through his/her practice assignments throughout the week in a fun, engaging way. This will help lay a solid foundation for long-term musical success. It is crucial for a student to not only practice, but practice in such a way to make that time effective. If a student doesn’t know how to practice, much time will be wasted. Many students get discouraged due to ineffective practicing habits, leading to dropping out of private lessons. We have spoken with many adults who have had that experience themselves, only to regret their decision to quit music lessons.

We want to help! Practicing doesn’t have to be a chore! Give Practice Pals a try and see the amazing difference in your child’s progress! Don’t let your kid be the one who grows weary of the process and quits, only to regret that decision for the rest of their lives. Contact us today to get started with Practice Pals!


Setting Goals
It’s amazing what a difference having goals to work toward can make, no matter what the area of life. You set goals for yourself, right? Business goals, fitness goals, spiritual, financial, family goals, etc. Music education is no different. Goals are so valuable in keeping music students motivated and excited about their education. Do you or your child have musical goals to work toward? Here are some ideas that might help motivate the musician in your family: 

  • Participate in Starlight’s recitals!
  • Schedule family recitals for your child throughout the year. Invite grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts, and family friends. Have your child put on a mini-performance.
  • Set a goal date in which your child successfully completes his book. (This one’s a larger goal, you might want to break it up into smaller goals for accomplishing specific songs in a certain amount of time.) You can speak with your child’s teacher to figure out what reasonable goals might look like. 
  • For every 30 minutes of practice the child gets 30 minutes of tv/video game/computer time.
  • If the child practices for the agreed upon time each week they get special time with mom or dad. (Making cookies, go on a special walk, play a board game, etc.)
  • Here’s an idea that can help students visually see their effort: Place two jars on the piano, one with beads (or rocks, pennies, marbles, etc.) and one is empty. Every day the student practices he/she can move one bead from the full jar to the empty one. Once the jar is full the child gets a special prize. This may or may not cost money, depending on your family goals. Maybe your child can get a special toy or movie when the jar is full. Maybe you can have a special family day out. Maybe the reward can be a lazy Saturday: movies and games all day long! 

Be creative, and don’t be afraid to get your child involved in the brainstorming process! Encourage their practice to be a fun activity that they look forward to every day!

But DON’T

  • Use their music practice as a punishment. This will create a negative association with music, and they will likely lose interest in learning music altogether.
  • Don’t ridicule or make fun of mistakes your child makes. Learning an instrument is challenging, and they WILL make mistakes! Regularly! If they feel shame or embarrassment for those mistakes they will lose heart. 
  • Don’t force your child to perform in front of family and friends if they don’t want to.
  • Don’t apologize to others about your child’s weak/flawed performance. They are doing their best, and they will grow the best in a supportive and nurturing environment. Children who fear ridicule or shame will often just give up.

As always, if you ever have any questions or struggles or need ideas, feel free to discuss your thoughts with your child’s teacher, and you are always welcome to contact us in the office about you or your child’s lessons. Hopefully you will be able to take something away from these tips to help your child on his/her musical journey!

Have a wonderfully happy holiday season!

It’s Recital Time!!

It’s Recital Time!!

Are you ready?

Time sure flies, doesn’t it? I feel like we just started talking about the recital 2 weeks ago. And here we are… recital month!

Hopefully by now your child has mastered his/her recital song(s). If the pieces still have some trouble spots, make sure they know to practice, practice, practice! NOW is the time to get that piece perfected. If the student waits until the last minute (week) to finally get the songs perfected, he/she will not have as much confidence and excitement when coming to the recital. If your child perfects his song now, he will still have a few weeks to comfortably play the song and gain that confidence that he can perform it effortlessly.

This month your teachers will begin working with their students on the performance routine. Learning the recital songs is obviously crucial, but learning *how* to perform is also very important. A musician who knows how to play/sing, but doesn’t know how to act on stage or interact with his/her audience is not going to be nearly as successful (or have as much fun) as a musician who has been trained not only how to play the instrument, but also how to carry himself on stage.

The Spring Recital packet your teachers gave you a couple months ago has instructions regarding the performance routine your child should memorize. If you haven’t read your recital packet in a while, please do that to insure you know what to expect and are familiar with what is expected of you/your child. Although your teacher should be working with your child on the performance routine, this is also something that your child should be practicing at home. You can help! Pretend you are in the audience and let your child perform for you! Tell them to pretend it’s the real deal. Walk, play, smile like it is the actual performance. They are likely to play how they practice, so make sure they don’t get lazy or careless in their practice! 🙂

Click here for a list of things you can practice with your child these last few weeks leading up to the recital.

We are so excited to see all of you and your wonderful budding musicians at our Spring Recital in a few weeks! I know everyone’s hard work will pay off. I am eager to see how much our long-time students have improved, and we’re looking forward to meeting and being wowed by our beginners!

Next week we’ll send out an email regarding how to deal with performance anxiety/jitters. You won’t want to miss that! Performance jitters is something almost ALL musicians deal with. The key is learning how to use those nerves to your advantage.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

It might be a good idea to go ahead and plug this into your phone:

RECITAL LOCATION:

THE OLD BEDFORD SCHOOL (AUDITORIUM)
2400 SCHOOL LANE
BEDFORD TX 76021

For your enjoyment, here are a couple of pictures from our Spring Recital last year. 

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