My Studio is Going Baroque!


I've tried and quite honestly failed at other teacher's studio incentiveBaroque Bash 2 (1) programs. You know the ones where students complete certain activities and they move forward on the game board or earn points, etc. It's all because I'm so poor at keeping track of things. There's just so much to squeeze in a lesson! In addition, other people's programs seem to tie me down. I've discovered that they leave me feeling claustrophobic, looking for a way out and in the end the programs make me feel that I've ultimately failed my students. Incentive programs are devised to ensure progress, they work for many teachers and I know students succeed because of them. But, last year I tried one and realized I'm not capable of fitting within the confines of some else's "rules" and someone else's curriculum.

What works best for me is to choose a theme and teach around it and offer unique activities to hold student interest. Usually the theme is based on a lapse that I sense in my curriculum. As most of my students do not ask to play Baroque music, I determined that this fall I would make them aware of this rich, elegant style and the legendary composers of the time. Over the past week, I've dreamed up activities that will help students explore, experience and understand the music of the Baroque. I'm calling it Baroque Bash.

My priorities for students were the same across the board regardless of age or ability (my students--not including the adults-- range from 6 to 18 years old.)

  1. Choose, learn and master one or more pieces written by a Baroque composer.
  2. Understand and add ornaments to the mastered piece.
  3. Play the mastered piece on the Clavinova using the harpsichord voice.
  4. Create a 21st-century improvisation based off the mastered piece.
  5. Learn and memorize basic facts about the time period and composers.
  6. Relate the visual art of the time to the music.
  7. Learn the steps and dance a minuet.

In the next couple of blog posts I'll share my on-and-off-the-bench plans. These will include assignments to use during Music Tech Time and group lessons.

What's Tech Time? All my students arrive for a private lesson with me but also stay and complete assignments usually on the iPad, sometimes on the computer and sometimes with pencil, paper and other manipulatives. These assignments reinforce what is discussed at the lesson and complement the studio theme.

In this post I'll share three item's that may be of interest to you if you decide to follow along and use Baroque as your studio theme. (Keep in mind that the PDF's reflect my graphic artist limitations.)

  1. Go Baroque Checklist: This includes 14 items that all IMG_3459students will complete over the next couple of months meeting the priorities listed above. My guess is that this theme will last through December.Baroque Bash 2
  2. Go Baroque Punch Card: After a student completes an item on the checklist, this card will be hole-punched on the coordinating number. In addition, students will receive $50 in Music Money. The photo on the right shows the laminated punch cards placed in this "thing" that I found in the $1 bin at Target a while back. It's hanging on my dry erase board with the help of large magnets. I was quite sure I needed it but didn't know why. Now I know, I found the perfect use for it! Baroque Punch cards
  3. Get Inspired! Episode 12 Baroque Bash: Because some of the videos in this episode are quite long, it's been divided into parts. I plan to assign students to watch a part and then complete other assignments during Music Tech Time. Stay tuned for more detailed assignments for the Tech Time.

Yes, I'm offering my themed studio program for FREE with no pressure to use it! If you do choose to borrow it, there are some strings attached. Here's what I ask if you follow in my Baroque footsteps:

  1. Customize my plan to suit YOUR needs and let me know how you tweak it.
  2. Visit and post your ideas and experiences on my Facebook facebook-logopages: either 88PianoKeys or the iPad Piano Studio.
  3. Leave a comment here at the blog letting me and fellow readers know how it's going.
  4. Sign up for my newsletter (here) where I'll post specific ideas and assignments for the Baroque theme that will only be featured in the newsletter.
  5. Consider purchasing my latest ebook, The Full Scoop on Chords. I'm designing a studio theme around this book and will be sharing it soon.

My studio's going Baroque here in Colorado! Let me know if you are compelled to do the same. Remember, there's, no turning Bach.