05 Jan 2014

What’s New?  A lot!!

You know you love your job when you’re “vacation” time turns into a 2 week long extravaganza of planning, creating, organizing, song hunting and practicing, and you don’t mind one bit! Thankfully, instead of throwing a fit that our living room has become my glorified organization and activity work zone,  by husband has resorted to taking pictures whenever our dog gets a little too involved in trying to help…

Don’t worry- when students show up tomorrow, I promise you will be able to see our floor again.  You’ll also see my new set of curricular and extracurricular activities for this semester!

My influx of younger students in the past several years has called for an interesting change of pace.  I’ve been upping the ante on creative challenges and activities that get students thinking about music away from the bench-  not just when they’re fine tuning their technique and polishing their repertoire.


Listening Lab

The new Listening Lab might be my favorite roll out of the semester.  Thanks to Spotify, each of my students now has their own playlist that I can use to share song suggestions, receive songs that they like, and expose them to new musical genres.
The only thing I don’t love is that since Facebook has now bought out Spotify, full sharing capabilities have been limited to Facebook users.  If you have Facebook already,

definitely use it when you create your Spotify account.  I’m finding creative ways around this for now, and I’m on the prowl to figure out how to make this program better and easier going forward.  I’d like to extend a special thank you to the parents who have been cooperating to make this program work despite the wrenches that were thrown into the gears on our first go-around.

To download and print another copy of the Winter Listening Lab worksheet, click here.


Student of the Month

Starting at the end of this month, I plan to recognize a Student of the Month.   I can not stress enough that this is not a competition.  The awarding of Student of the Month status will be based on noticeable improvement of effort, ability, or attitude compared to a specific student’s record in the past.  When students display hard work at their lesson that reflects consistent hard work at home, they deserve to be recognized.


Studio Points/Bucks

Some of my younger, more extrinsically motivated students have really challenged my creativity lately.  I tend to struggle with offering too much “extra” reward for students who do things that they’re supposed to do for the sake of doing it.  But no two students are alike, and each are motivated by different things.

Balance between motivating students intrinsically and extrinsically is a delicate beast.  It’s tricky making sure that all of my students, ranging from age 5 to 62, have something age-appropriate to healthily motivate them.
My goal is to make sure students care about improving the quality of their sound for its own sake, and are recognized for their hard work in a way that best suites them.  

Students can now start earning points, or “bucks” by meeting curriculum bench marks, and by supplementing their regular lesson requirements with other assignments.  This allows me to encourage extracurricular time being spent in areas like Music History, Listing, and Composition that I find myself wishing there was more time for during lessons.  It’s also a way to recognize students who go beyond what they “have to do” and do more because they are motivated, hard workers.

Points will be individually tracked overall, and along the way students can trade them in for other goodies if they wish.

Extra activities that earn points include:
Question of the Week  (featured below)
Composer Job Application (Thanks to makingmusicfun.net)
Meet the Composer Word Search (cover pictured below)
Listening Evaluations
Student Teaching Activities
Problem Solver Puzzles
Make Me a Melody Activities

ScreenHunter_28 Jan. 05 18.09

ScreenHunter_30 Jan. 05 18.14

Happy New Year!






About the Author

Amber Staffa is a performing arts graduate of Rowan University. She holds a BA in Subject Matter Teaching for K-12, and a BM in Instrumental Music Education with a Piano Concentration, and is currently licensed in the state of NJ.

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