Kristin Jensen’s site called Ear Training and Improv offers unique worksheets, videos and posts to spur musical imaginations. Kristin’s growing library of clever resources for music teachers is impressive. Since the special day is coming up shortly, I decided to check out her Mother’s Day Composition activity.

I’m always attempting to find a way to incorporate my favorite tool (the iPad) and prefer to remain a paper-free studio as much as possible. Therefore, I’ve created a tutorial on how your students can complete Kristin’s activity as a digitally handcrafted musical Mother’s Day card with just the iPad and the help of a terrific app, of course!

Take a Peek at a Completed Composition

Here’s a finished project. You’ll notice some slight variations in what was notated and how it was played and sung–creativity can’t be stopped!

Note: Before you begin this process make sure to download Notability developed by Ginger Labs at the App Store. Here’s the link. [···]

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On November 15, 2009–four years and 13 days ago–I posted my first blog here at MusicTeachersHelper.com. I was thrilled to be selected by Ronnie Currey and Brandon Pearce to blog monthly for the site. Since then, my appetite for writing has grown exponentially which translated into my own blog 88pianokeys.me and now a book. As I’ve done my share of reviews for others, I hope you don’t mind if I now share an explanation–not a review as yes, it would be quite biased–about an accomplishment that also began in November–November of 2012.

Sitting next to "Bella," my piano and inspiration.

Sitting next to “Bella,” my piano and inspiration.


After perusing my blog site, Philip Johnston–an author whose edgy approach has inspired me for years–encouraged me to write a book about using the iPad and apps. It turns out it didn’t take much nudging and over a number of months a book was conceived. Penning the content was the easy part, but finding the means to publish a book with a time-sensitive subject was the hard part.

Finally, in March of 2013, I met Tom Folenta. The easy part was talking him into publishing the book for/with me. The hard part: taking 12 chapters and building a book with a pleasing cover, some eye-catching graphics and that all important ISBN number.

Fast forward to the present. The easy part is expressing how ecstatic I am with my first, freshly pressed publication. The hard part is figuring out where to begin when explaining the cutting-edge features of this WebGINES Publishing Digital Series book.  Let me explain in more detail…

Your purchase of the The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps includes these features:

#1: Physical Paper Back Book: $21.99 (+ shipping)  PLUS a free copy of SimpleTEC Magazine AND all the additional features listed below.

Between the covers you will find information, ideas, insight and inspiration on integrating the iPad within every aspect of studio teaching. Yes, it’s called the iPad PIANO Studio, but teachers of other instruments will find the book beneficial as well. From those who are still contemplating the purchase of an iPad to those considered “veteran” iPad owners, there’s something for everyone. The chapters are concise with striking graphics and a fresh format so that information can be gathered quickly. You’ll follow my journey as I explored this slick device and along the way you’ll enjoy playing “I Spy” as there is plenty of name dropping (those who have inspired me) throughout the pages.

#2: Digital Edition: $17.99 (no shipping)


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Playing Interval Water Ballloon Catch

Over a year ago, I posted a blog about increasing summer fun and income here at MusicTeachersHelper.com. This idea of holding a Piano Olympics camp to build summer income was spurred on by the countless games stored on my studio shelves waiting to be played. It dawned on me that using indoor and then outdoor games within a camp setting could be a great way to boost theory skills, continue contact with students over the summer and guarantee income.

Inspired by the idea of Piano Olympics, a reader named Gwen C. developed her own Piano Olympics  in her studio out in California.  Triggered by Gwen’s questions about details, I posted an article with more details  here.  I was pleasantly surprised when she emailed me to let me know of her experience with her camp. (By the way, feedback is always wonderful and especially so when a success story is shared!) As we exchanged emails, she invited me to submit a proposal to present at MTAC (Music Teachers Association of California) about this topic and I invited her to write about her first time out of the gate with her studio Piano Olympics.

Here it is a year later and I’ve just wrapped up my time at the MTAC in San Jose. I enjoyed attending part of the conference, presenting my session called Increasing Summer Fun and Income: Let the Games Begin! and of course meeting Gwen C in person. It was an honor to have her preside over my session. My one and only regret, why did I not pull out my camera and grab a snap shot of the two of us?–wish I was better at documenting events, I just get too distracted. So below is Gwen’s article she wrote after her first year of camp:

This summer I tried something new! I read a great article by Leila Viss about increasing your income during the summer months by offering “Piano Olympics”. Summer time can mean a drop in income when several students take the summer off. However, I was mainly motivated to create something fun, to get off the bench and to solidify some theory concepts in my students.

Playing rhythms on original instruments

Playing rhythms on original instruments

I started with a beginner session with 4 students that had between 6 and 8 months of study. We focused on note recognition, tempos and terms. Leila’s article provided many links to other sources that provided ideas of games to play and I enjoyed using my creativity to design games for what they needed to learn.


Presenting at MTAC

 My second session was with an older group, 9-11 year olds. This session was only 3 students and was a bit more challenging. Our focus was on primary and secondary chords, terminology and rhythm. For this group I purchased an “Eggspert” from Amazon.com and it was a big hit. They loved the game show feel to this activity. But, again, the biggest hit was the scavenger hunt. For this group, I created cards for primary and secondary chords in addition to relative major and minor scales. They enjoyed this game the most. I think they enjoyed the activity of it because it involved a lot of running to the piano and kept them active.

 I also created a relay race with pylons. Each student was given a group of notes and had to take them one at a time from one pylon to the next to create a major scale, then primary and secondary chords.

 This second group was a bit more challenging because their levels were more varied (from 2 – 5). I was a bit worried that the most experienced wasn’t challenged enough and conversely that the least experienced was a bit lost. But, we worked through it, I made modifications along the way. They all had fun and learned something in the long run.

 I am so grateful to Leila for writing about and sharing this great idea. I know that I will be offering it next year.”

-Gwen C

I too, am grateful to Gwen for inviting me to present at MTAC and also happy to learn that she is holding an Olympic camp again this summer! It was marvelous meeting Gwen in person as well as many other teachers looking for innovative ways to make summer fun AND profitable.

If you are interested in learning about my latest round of Piano Olympics (yes they are held every year and not every four!) Here’s and article about a unique camp I designed around creativity and green bugs! Follow this link.

Have you hosted an Olympic Camp at your studio? Would love to hear your success story!

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