Lesson Plan Added: Traffic Jam! (and our giveaway winner!)

We have a winner! The lucky reader who will receive a free copy of my "Night & Day" lesson plan is...

Congratulations dianne c! Please send me an email with your email address so I can get you your download link!

And I am excited to announce that there is a new Mighty Musicians lesson plan available for purchase today in the Teaching Studio Store!

"Traffic Jam!" is a lesson plan all about rhythm and beat in music. We learn that music is made up of a pattern of short and long notes, and that there is an underlying steady beat. Students are introduced to half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes in a fun way, we create our own Rhythm Traffic Jam by clapping and speaking the different rhythms. We listen and sing to Beethoven's 5th Symphony, we write our own 1st Symphony. We listen and move to another fun song about traffic. We use our fingertips to play a pre-staff notation piece on the piano. Here are a couple of previews:

Like our other lesson plans, this one comes with a fun student take-home book and many other great resources and take-home extras. It is 51 pages and is in downloadable e-book format. You may purchase it on this post, or visit my new Teaching Studio Store page!

Traffic Jam! Lesson Plan: Music Has Beat & Rhythm
Price - $10.00

Have a great day!


Mighty Musicians! (...plus a giveaway!!)

Happy Saturday!

Well as some of you may have noticed, I haven't been around a lot lately. I've been a bit busy....my friend Nichole and I recently wrote a whole new curriculum and taught a new music class for 5- and 6-year-olds. We call it Mighty Musicians and it was a big success! We are so excited to share it with you all, and I've been working like crazy getting these lesson plans all ready to go.

Our Mighty Musicians class is similar to the Early Explorers course (and I *promise* to have more of those lesson plans available soon as well!), but geared toward those 5- and 6-year-olds who are able to catch on and then apply the musical concepts a little more quickly than the preschoolers. This class is very fun, and it involves lots of singing and movement and creative play with the music, but it also has some basic piano technique elements involved to give those kids a great and fun intro to piano lessons! At each class, students get to play simple pre-staff notation pieces at the piano, and they also get to compose their very own songs! We learn about some famous composers and their music and just have a blast singing and moving and listening.

We have five lesson plans that will soon be available for this class (for either a week-long camp or a five-week course). Each lesson is for a one-hour session. Our plan is to get a new one up and available each week....so stay tuned!

TODAY, the first lesson plan, Night & Day: Music Tells a Story, is available for purchase on my "Lesson Plans for Sale" page, and we will also be giving away ONE free copy to a lucky reader!!

The format of the lesson plan is a downloadable e-book, which is awesome because once you purchase it you can print out as many copies of the pages as you need for your class. It is 82 pages chock full of awesomeness...aside from the actual lesson plan and teacher's guide, there are plenty of resources, printables, songs, clipart, and visual aids, and it also includes a ten-page student take-home book! We think you're going to love it :)

So a little about this lesson plan - we talk about how music tells a story! We do this all within the fun theme of "Night & Day." We go over some basic musical elements, learn a little about Edvard Grieg and a couple of his famous pieces, sing and move to his music, improvise at the piano, write our own compositions using the musical elements we learned about, learn some basic keyboard topography and play a simple piano piece!

Here are some sneak peeks into the lesson plan and its contents -

So would you like to win a FREE copy of this lesson plan? Just leave a comment! You may receive ONE extra entry into the giveaway by posting about this giveaway on your blog or facebook page (leave an extra comment to let me know you did it). Giveaway ends on Friday, July 20 at 11:59 pm Central time. I'll announce the winner next Saturday.


Points for Prizes

Jenny Jones here. For the beginning of summer lessons, I wanted a fresh way to motivate my students to practice. Most were already in the habit of practicing everyday, though not always effectively. I felt like they were feeling in a rut, and I was feeling like I had lots of extra time on my hands, being done with school, and all. So I developed Points for Prizes.

How it works:

I made notebooks for each student with pages that look like this

 and inserts that look like this (with room at the bottom for special student-specific points-earning activities)
Each week I have them keep track of what they practice each day, with the charts on the right of the assignments, as well as the number of minutes at the bottom (PI, in the notes section, is for parent initials :) just to keep things honest).

When they come to their lessons,  I have a chart for each student where I keep track of the points they've earned that week.

When they get to a hundred points, they get a sticker. When they get to 300 points, they start earning prizes.

The way I figured out the points  and prizes began with what my expectations are for their practice. I expect them to practice everything everyday. That's why that is worth so many points. I also want them to spend lots of time at the piano. I think a lot of my most valuable time at the piano was "goofing off", not playing what I had already played, but learning new things by sight reading, picking out things by ear, etc. This way I'm rewarding both good practice and lots of it. Once I knew what I wanted every student to do every week, I started assigning point values to those assignments. I decided that 70 points a week was sufficient and sustainable (we can't have them burning out).

Then I had to decide how much the prizes would be worth. This was trickier, and I'm still trying to figure some of them out. At first, I decided it would be by cost to me. I was willing to spend x amount per student per week if everybody was achieving those 70 points. But the challenge is that the older students are, the more expensive they are to motivate. I'm talking about the 10 to 12 year olds. Anyone older than that isn't really interested. Plus, there comes a point when they need to be internally motivated. I'm trying to build solid practice habits now.

Things I think are working:

*Motivating younger students--the 5 to 9 year olds are eating this up.

*The expectation--I was happy to find out that many of my students already were doing some of these things. By spelling everything out like this, they are starting to prioritize they way I'd like them to prioritize ("oh, you mean, if I practice everything every day, I get a bonus of 30 points?!" "you mean, it's not enough to just play the piano for 30 minutes every day?").

*My instructions--I'm learning to be very specific in how they should practice, which is what I should have been doing all along. With some students it isn't enough to say, "Learn this for this week." I have to help them find the hard spots, make a plan for how to practice those sections differently, and then do some practicing in the lesson where we learn just how many times it takes them to get something solid. Since I am rewarding them for good practice, they want to know just what it takes to get the reward, so they are very interested in creating the plans for good practice. It's kind of win-win.

Things that I still need to figure out:

*Motivating older students--one parent had a great solution. She said there was a toy that her son really wanted that they were willing to buy for him, but that he would earn it via this points system. So I sent her the points information and told her what my expectations are and then asked her to decide how many weeks of good practice she thought this toy was worth. Hopefully it helps him! The problem is that at this age, the kids are starting to be doing things by internal motivation, and then this amounts to bribery instead of incentive. If they really don't want to practice, they won't.

*Group prizes--I want to have a pizza party at the end of the summer. At first, I was going to have it for everyone who got x or more points. But I didn't want to exclude anyone, especially the very young kids who aren't practicing that much anyway. So then I decided that I'd do a group effort. If, as a group, we get x points, then we can have a pizza party. But I'm not sure what a reasonable number is at this point. This could be effective for kicking in some urgency. I will have a poster that shows how close we are to the number of needed points. If, come the beginning of August, we're not on target, then I know at least a few of them will start some crazy practicing in order to push the numbers up.

*Long-term effects--I don't like a lawyerly kind of "payment" for practice. Also, I don't know how to insert a bit of new excitement into the program every semester or so. Maybe new prizes showcased every few months. Or a twist that involves some group lessons and the attendant activities. Ideas?

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