Practice Contest 2014: Practice Notebook and Music Prizes

Something that’s been on my mind for a while is helping our students better learn to organize and track their practice.  We’ve already got a “Smart Practicing studio–I am so impressed by the way our students have grown into using their practice very well and coming up with great ideas to get the job done.  But especially in the past year, as many students are starting to work on multiple pieces or multiple fronts of technique, I thought it might be a good time to try…

The Practice Notebook!

notebook cover

(Although I am apparently part of the tech generation, I cannot for my life figure out how to get this right side up…)

There are ready-made practice notebooks on the market, but we’re going to use one that I’ve designed especially for our studio and will be providing to each student when we start up next week.  The notebook has two pages set aside for each week: one for lesson assignments and goal-setting, one for practice recording.

(view practice notebook pages)

The way the contest works is this: In the lesson, we write down our assignments basically as usual, except that I could use the “day” grid to pencil in suggestions for helping the student plan their practice week.  The student has a space at the bottom of the assignment page to think about and set their own specific goals for the week.  Then, the student needs to WRITE DOWN every day they practice.

It can be super-simple: just writing down the basics of what you did (scale, technique, pieces) and the time and leave it at that.  Or, you can use the space to journal a little more specifically–what worked, what didn’t, what needs more review the next day, etc.  The more detailed you are, the more helpful it will be; but start by just recording something, each day you practice.

Then, every day of recorded practice becomes 10 Music Points.  These Music Points can be redeemed for a Music Prize, which basically means that instead of physical CD’s, Mrs. Layug is finally catching up to the virtual world and offering digital music prizes!  :)   (At this point that looks like Amazon gift cards which *ahem* you are on your honor to use for music  :)  If I ever figure out how to do it with Itunes that will be available too!)

So, in summary:

-Write down your practice

-Every day of practice is worth 10 music points (10c)

-When you want to redeem it let me know, and I will check off the days counted and send you an online gift card to use FOR MUSIC

-Since I’d love for you to get music that will both be really fun and grow you as a musician–as opposed to just whoever’s big on the radio at the moment–I will also have a great big list up with lots of fun recommendations, with links.  I’ve got ideas for a little bit of everything on it, I just have to type it up.  Eventually. Soon, I hope.  :)

Music Ordering

As I noted in the studio emails, there is a change in the music ordering policy for this year:  Generally, please plan on purchasing your own music directly rather than ordering through me.

There are a few reasons for the change-

  1. When I had 40-60 students, I was making an order every month or so, so it made sense to combine orders.  Now, it’s more on an as-needed basis which is just as easy for you to do (and price-shop, if you want) than for me to do for you.
  2. The music then goes straight to you so you don’t have to wait for it, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting it, or bugging you to pay me back!
  3. It’s really good experience for older students to start doing this for themselves, and having “ownership” of their music.

So, where should you order from?  There are any number of places, but I usually get my music from

  • SHAR (sharmusic.com)
  • sheetmusicplus.com
  • Amazon
  • The local music store!
  • imslp.com (free scores for music in the public domain)

Of course, if you have any trouble finding your music, I’m always glad to help!

We’re Back!

Well, not just yet.  September 29 will be the first date for our fall lessons and I’m excited to see you all!  I hope everyone has had a fabulous summer and is ready to get back to new music and practice goals!

Over this month, I’ll be putting up info for this year’s contests–some familiar, some new and improved  :)  I’m planning:

  • A scale contest, with a new element added for those who are in 3-octave scales
  • A similar practice contest to last year, but with an emphasis on ercording and organizing your practice–and if I can figure out how to make it work, digital music prizes! :)
  • A listening “contest”–not sure if this will really be a contest, but more of an extra/enrichment opportunity through the website

I am hoping to make the website more interactive this year, with things like listening links, practice tips, and links to any articles that I think are worth your time. I’d really like this to be a helpful and fun resource for the students and parents both and welcome your feedback on making it better.  So, stay tuned (literally!) and see you in a month! :)

Summer Lessons!

I’ve held off putting this info up so the recital announcements didn’t get lost,  but I think it’s about time!

Because we have a shortened time this summer,  and the season is so variable anyway, I’m not assuming “regular” lessons for anyone; please contact me when you know what you want to schedule.  I would encourage everybody to try to schedule at least one session for goal-setting, so you have something to work on before the fall even if it’s “just for fun.” :)

I plan to teach, as usual, mainly on Mondays at my home and Thursdays at Itasca.  Some Tuesdays,  Wednesdays,  or Saturday mornings may be available for makeups or rescheduling.

My current plan is to teach through Thursday,  July 17 before taking leave.  I will be unavailable on the evening of Monday June 16 (can teach that morning though) and will be taking one week off for family time, from Thursday June 19 to Wednesday June 25.

I’ll be sending out an email in the next couple weeks regarding the maternity leave.  If you have questions about anything else, of course feel free to contact me!

Studio Notes-May 2014

Lots of details today, so we’ll stay short and to the point!

  • For recital:
    • All students should plan to arrive around 6 pm for the 6:30 recital.  Tuning will happen between 6:10 and 6:20 and we’ll use the extra few minutes to get settled and ready to play!
    • Our setting will not be quite as formal as in past years; however, performers should plan to “dress up” to some extent for the special occasion.
    • For the reception, I will be providing chocolate and vanilla ice cream (including dairy-free),drinks, etc.  I’d love for each family to bring your favorite ice cream topping!  (you are welcome to bring more than one  :) )
    • Piano rehearsal times will be Thursday May 29 (Itasca) and Monday June 2(Streamwood), with an optional extra practice on Thursday June 5 at my home studio in Streamwood.  Please see your email for tentative individual rehearsal times. Please confirm ASAP if any changes need to be made!!!
    • Like last year, I encourage each student to have “something to say” about their piece–history, challenges, what they enjoyed about it, etc.  If we have not talked about that yet, please remind me in your lesson this week! :)
  • Also upcoming:
    • Orchestra audition season–many of you have already talked to me to make sure you are on the right track with your preparations.  If you are planning to audition and have not yet me about it–please let me know so I can help you be sure of your preparation!  If you have not thought about this yet–it may not be too late!  Schaumburg and Elgin youth orchestras are both wonderful opportunities that I encourage for all students.  If you think you might be interested, please follow the links in the sidebar to contact the audition setup people ASAP! Most of the auditions happen between now and first of June.
    • Summer lessons–Please contact me when you know what dates you would like to plan lessons this summer. I hope to continue teaching through the middle or end of July, mostly on our normal Mondays and Thursdays, with alternate options on Wednesday afternoons/Saturday mornings.  I often encourage students to take the week after recital off, though given our short timetable this summer I’m certainly happy to schedule lessons right away for anybody who wants to jump right back in!

Have a great week!

2014 Recital Info!

2014 recital invite

Layug String Studio’s 2014 Concert will take place on

June 7, 2014 6:30 p.m.
Christian Fellowship Church (152 E. Devon Ave, Itasca)
Ice cream reception to follow.

Please feel free to invite guests.  You are welcome to use the graphic above or this link.

Please note:

  • All students should plan to arrive around 6 pm for the 6:30 recital.  Tuning will happen between 6:10 and 6:20 and we’ll use the extra few minutes to get settled and ready to play!
  • Performers should be “dressed up.”
  • Please bring your family’s favorite ice cream topping for the reception!
  • Piano rehearsal times will be Thursday May 29 (Itasca) and Monday June 2(Streamwood), with an optional extra practice on Thursday June 5 in Streamwood. Please see your email for details and individual rehearsal times.