What are most piano teachers thinking about in October? Christmas! Yes, we have to think about Christmas now so that our students have a chance at sounding great when they play Christmas Carols for friends and family during the holidays. Of course it is never to early to help children understand that nothing just happens and that getting good at something takes time. That is why this week in my studio, students are receiving their “Christmas Presents” from me. These are not your ordinary Christmas Presents! They are literally the gift of music. Each child has a wrapped present with their name on it and inside is a label (available on Susan Paradis’ website) with the title of their Christmas piece. At first the children are a little bit confused because they are used to getting toys and other items when they unwrap gifts – never just song titles! That’s when I begin to explain to them that this is their very own solo that no one else in the studio will be allowed to play!
The next thing is that they get to keep the box with their song title and put it on their piano at home. I tell them that they should practice this song every day at home and then check inside their box afterwards to see if mom or dad has left anything special inside for them. Of course I give the parents a warning beforehand. Parents can choose whatever incentive they want to give their child. It can even be something as simple as an “I’m so proud of your playing” note.
One more thing makes this activity so fun – they get to see the unopened presents of other students and begin to wonder out loud what’s inside and why their box is bigger or smaller than the others! Sometimes they even want to know what they can do to get a bigger box next time!