Sunday, July 29, 2012

Music Tip - Practice Ideas

I asked my piano moms for ideas they use to successfully get their children to practice during the summer.  Here's some of their responses:

My son says "knowing that I'll get (computer) game-time after I practice and that I won't get bothered about it the rest of the day and that I can play at friends' houses" is what motivates him.

My son seems to practice on his own without much encouragement, but that's probably because he loves it, and because we're in the routine of him doing it right after breakfast, and he knows that play time (or whatever he wants to do) comes AFTER piano practice is finished.

Currently we have a small box on the piano that holds our squeakies. They are small rubber figures. Each song they play well, they pick one and if they complain I get to pick one.  At the end of the lesson we have a squeakie war where we just play make believe war, but the toys don't leave the piano since they get lost if we do! Then after all my men have been killed/ no more than 5 mins. We put them back for the next day. Squeekies came in a 12 pack at Walmart and I will use my Micheals coupon to get them for a better deal. 

I do use TV in the summer since we don't watch it much during the school year, especially on school days.  If I really want to make it worth their while I promise to pop popcorn and we all watch an Andy Griffith together.  

The best thing for us is to pick a time each day and stick to that time.

The boys get 20 minutes of computer time each, every day, but they don't get it until after they do their piano practice. So I don't have to keep telling them to practice because they tell me "I'm going to practice now so I can do my computer time."

We do our piano, reading, learning games (and chores) all in the morning during the summer time. The reward is they can either watch a movie or have video game time in the early afternoon. This structure has worked fairly well for all age groups and we've used it over quite a few summers. :-)

1st- We TRY (the optimal word) to get our music done EARLY in the day. That way there's no drama during the normal late afternoon drama.

2nd-  I do the "Ms. Cathy cup game"  with a sweet tart under one.  This really works WONDERS, and helps me keep my cool.  (Although one time I got so frustrated I picked up the cup and ate it right in front of my child..that showed him....not). [side note: The Ms. Cathy game consists of hiding a sticker under one bell out of 5-6 bells sitting on the piano.  The student plays a tricky section and rings a bell.  If the sticker is not under that bell, the student keeps playing the section and ringing bells until he finally finds the correct bell.  The students LOVE this game]

Practice before breakfast!

Did you notice how most every one mentions practicing early in the day and making it a routine?  I think that is the key--consistency and putting it before play/tv/computer time.

Some kids are starting back to school in a couple of weeks and others of you around the country are still enjoying summer.  No matter what your schedule though, some of the above ideas will continue to work.  If they don't, analyze your new routines, find out the best time for piano practicing, and make it work.  You'll be so glad you did as you raise a brighter, more caring child.

                                                    Well, I didn't say they wouldn't still be silly!

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Parenting Tip - Intentionally Teaching your Children

My daughter-in-law, Katie, was on Studio 5 TV in Utah offering some parenting advice.

It was on a theme that is dear to my heart:  intentionally teaching values to your children.  You are your child's parent/teacher/mentor.  Your child is learning every day--learning from your actions, from what you do and say and also from what you don't do or say. 
You can facilitate this learning by naming it.  
"You are learning how to be responsible when I give you chores to do."  
"You are learning how to be accountable and dependable when you get consequences for choosing not to do your chores."
"You are learning how to be a good sport when we play games together and you don't always win."
"You are learning how to be brave and have courage when you go to swimming lessons even though you're afraid."

And to you parents, I say:
"You are learning how to be effective parents when you try and implement new ideas for your family!"

Way to go parents--YOU make a difference.  
You are important to your child!

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Parenting Tip - Easy Travel Ideas

I don't know if you're still traveling in the car this summer, but I ran across a few ideas that I wish I would have know when my children were small.

This blog had some really great ideas like an easy-to-sew road trip pillow case that has a pocket to hold activity books, crayons, etc.  Another fun idea was a bucket on a pulley so you can easily pass items back and forth between the front and back seats.

How about quickly stitching up a travel pillow, one that keeps your child's head from tipping uncomfortably to the side?  All you need to do is cut out a rectangle from a piece of fabric.  Fold it in half, lengthwise with right sides together and sew up the long side opposite the fold.  Turn your fabric inside out so the right side is now visible.  Stuff your tube with stuffing and sew up both short ends.  You or your child can decorate the pillow by sewing felt eyes, a nose and a mouth on it, or you can make it look like a snake by adding eyes with a red tongue sticking out, sewed at one end.  What a fun project for an older child to make for herself or her siblings.  And don't forget, boys would love to make this project too.
Picture found here on this blog.

Here is another simple pillow you can make.  Minky fabric would be really soft and fun to make a pillow out of.  Hey, what a great birthday or Christmas present to make for grandchildren or nieces and nephews.

By the way, what do you mothers do to keep your children's car seats from being so hot?  I feel so bad for babies and children who have to sit in their car seats in Arizona when it's so hot.  How about using ziplock bags with a little water or ice in them that you keep in the freezer and grab as you head to the car?  Keep the bags in the car seat while you're in the store.  Even if they're completely melted when you come back, they've kept the car seat a lot cooler than if you hadn't used them.

If you're still traveling this summer, have fun!
Thanks for reading,



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Music Tip - Dancing + Working = Smart Mom

Here is another water tip.  Have your children mop the floor for you.  One of my friends even made "mop footsies" for her kids.  They dance and run around and have fun while mopping.  That's what I call dovetailing.  That's what I call a Smart Mom!

For the footsies, she just took wash cloths and quickly sewed elastic around the edges. 

Turn on your favorite music and get dancing! I mean, mopping!  No, I mean dancing!

Thanks for reading,



Sunday, July 8, 2012

Parenting Tip - Summer Time is Water Time!

Summer time is hot time, so break out the hoses, water balloons, wading pools and squirt guns. Encourage outside play.  Buy squirt guns, send an attack message to a nearby family and go have some fun.

Have your children paint rocks, fences or paper with water and paint brushes.  Combine different combinations for new fun, such as putting a slide next to a trampoline or go fishing in a wading pool.
How about letting your children wash dishes outside--that is their toy tea sets or let them wash their scooters, bikes, or even the car. Put food coloring in a large pan of water with different sizes of smaller containers and let your child pour the water from one container to another.  Add bubbles.

Please remember that it only takes a couple of seconds for a child to drown.  Watch your children around water; be sure to empty wading pools or buckets and containers of water.  Use sun screen.

Thanks for reading,



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Music Tip - Not Ring Around the Rosies, but Ring Around the Finger

I like to help my piano students stay focused when we are working on a problem they are having.  But sometimes merely telling them what to do doesn't sink it into their little minds.  That's when I like to use props that are fun and will help them stay focused.

Rings - I find fun rings and use them for many purposes.  I just found some cute ones at Pretty Party Place that have googly eyes on them. 

Use rings to:
*remind a finger to sharp or flat an upcoming note
*keep correct shape of fingers and thumb (curved or standing up)
*remind a finger that keeps forgetting to play when it should
*practice finger numbers (i.e. thumb=1, pointer=2)
*practice skipping fingers
*practice playing chords 

Bracelets - I looked for several weeks for those slap bracelets that used to be popular.  I just found them at JoAnn's in neon colors. 

Use bracelets to:
*remind wrist to stay up (as opposed to "don't let the wrist fall down"--always say the directions or reminders in a positive statement)
*remind the hand to bring out the melody or perhaps to play softer
*remind arm to relax
*practice a phrase or note pattern

Now how can I use these rings or bracelets to help ME with my problems?  Put rings on every finger so when I open the refrigerator to eat something I'll see them and stop?  Hmmm....I'll have to think on that one.

Thanks for reading,



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