Ten Things Guaranteed to Rock Your Summer Lessons

It's mid-summer for those of us in the States which means we are either enjoying time off from teaching or are desperate to keep things interesting during private lessons, group lessons and/or camps. Dynamic teachers Lou Ann Pope and Anna Fagan provided some terrific posts about Practicia and group lessons for multiple ages while I've been away. Click on their names to check out their posts loaded with ideas for your studio. Thanks to both of you!

After a wedding in Canada (hooray, we have a daughter in the family!) I travelled from coast to coast (South Carolina to Oregon) and I picked up some additional ideas to share.

As our 88 Creative Keys Workshop begins this Wednesday--July 6th--I'm short on time but big on ideas so the list below offers limited descriptions of each idea, but...I figured it was best to show and then I'll tell more later OR leave a question in the comment section.

1) Rhythm Boards

At the Oregon MTA conference Bradley Sowash debuted his Rhythm Boards. Not really IMG_5205on purpose, they are fashioned closely to one of my favorite apps: My Rhythm.

His hand-made boards constructed on his own wood-working bench comes with an instruction manual packed with ideas on how this can be used in lessons to notate and understand rhythms without the complicated standard notation getting in the way.

Tip: I integrate his Rhythm Board while using My Rhythm and I prefer Skittles or M&M's over marbles because they don't roll out of the carved holes and it allows you to color code rhythms.

Order yours here.

2) Mason Jar Drink Cups

At our 88 CK workshop I prefer to avoid waste as much as possible so we provide all attendees with a beverage cup that they will use during the workshop. This year we'll be giving everyone a mason jar with a lid and a straw. Brittany (my crafty daughter-in-law) added names to each jar with chalk board labels.

If you are serving food at your summer camp, this could be a great way to avoid using plastic cups and water bottles for drinks. We purchased the mason jars from Target. Straws should be delivered from Amazon just in time and are not shown in the photos below.

Purchase your lids here.

Purchase your straws here.

Purchase your labels here.

3) Mason Jar Lids

Since we purchased new lids for the beverage jars, we have a number of lids and rings left over. I've been dreaming up some ideas for these. I'll be asking those who attend our 88 Creative Keys Workshop to explore as many uses as we can for these so stay tuned for an extended list!

Here's a few that came to mind today:


  • Medals for your Piano Olympics. Follow directions here.
  • Your own memory game with music terms or anything you desire.
  • Rhythm patterns and denote which beat to play on by placing rings around the desired lid.
  • Chords by spelling them with alphabet lids and identify the roots with the rings.
  • A ring toss with bottles labelled with letters and then...

For early students

Find the "ringed" letter on the keyboard

Draw the pitch on the staff, or....

For advancing students

Play the major, minor, diminished or augmented chord built on the letter

Determine the chord in which that letter functions as the third of the chord, or...

The pics and their descriptions below may help you understand my ideas a little better.

You'll definitely see more about these lids in a future post. If you've got an idea, please share in the comment section!

Get your lids here.

4)  Chalk Board Blocks

Perhaps you already grabbed these from the Target $1 bin? These are perfect for when I want a miniature size of the activities I usually use with bigger manipulatives shown below.

5) Theta Music Trainer App

The software program called Theta Music Trainer has been around for a while. I evenimgres used it in my studio for quite some time and then the iPad came around and I shifted away from web-based computer programs. Good news, Theta Music Trainer is now available as an app. You'll love the free drills they offer in the app. This is one of the top programs for ear training so I'm extremely excited to get back on board with this product.

6) Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers13231080_10208317250061633_488357979_n

With 80+ recipe cards, you'll find ideas for your private lessons, groups and summer camps. Marie, Heather and I (authors of Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers) intended to compile a flexible resource that would feed and stimulate teacher creativity. Apparently, we did just that with fellow teacher Kristin who currently uses the resource for private lessons. Later this summer, she will integrate our ideas in her summer camp plans. She is even planning a drum line for her end-of-the summer outdoor concert. I can't wait to see pics!

Kristin was kind enough to share a worksheet she created from the items we provide in Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers There's no better Beginner 1compliment than to see others "riff" from our resource! Here's what Kristin has to say:

And thank you again, for creating the bucket drumming material. It's those kinds of materials that help make teaching even more productive...and fun!!!"

Here's Kristin's PDF that you can use with your students: Beginner 1

Get your Bucket Drumming for Piano Teachers HERE while it's $10 off the normal price.

7) Glow in the Dark Drum Sticks

The queen of all innovative gadgets for her booming studio--Marie--gifted me a pair of "electric" drum sticks. My private lesson students have loved reviewing rhythms with these on my padded piano bench. These promise to electrify any lesson!

Purchase your electric drumsticks here.

8) Cool Moves

Need a brain break? Take a look at this video collection at Mrs. King's blog arranged in a unique site called Symbaloo. These hip videos that encourage everyone to move are TERRIFIC additions to any group or camp when kiddos need to get the wiggles out.

Find all the videos you'll need to get your groove on here.

My favorite from last year is The Sid Shuffle.


9) Piano Maestro Summer Camp

As in summers past, JoyTunes, the developers of Piano Maestro, offers a Summer Camp where they will release a new song every week. Several versions of the tune are provided in the Piano Maestro app so anyone at any level can play. Students who get 3 stars on the song will automatically be registered in the drawing to win an Amazon gift card.

TIP: Remember to force quit after each practice session for your entry to count!

10) ThingLink 

This summer I held a workshop called Jammin' Across the Centuries. You'll be hearing more about it later. One of the apps that students used during the workshop is called Thinglink.

This dynamic web-based program allows you to add text and videos to graphics. I borrowed this terrific infographic from Takelessons.com and added video and text to the Baroque portion. My students are still working on the other style periods.

I look forward to sharing much more about Thinglink and my studio workshop. I was pleased at how the workshop offered a rich overview of style periods. In addition, students read through, analyzed and improvised within classical forms AND reviewed advancing theory concepts.

Sign up for Thinglink here.


Happy teaching!

Looking forward to seeing fellow 88 CK teachers soon.  I hope you will consider joining me and Bradley Sowash at a future workshop.

What are you doing to avoid the summertime lesson blues?