Thursday, October 22, 2015

Piano Practice Ideas from Parents and Teachers

How to Create Peaceful Practice… And End Practice Wars for Good!

This post isn't written by me, but another piano teacher with a blog (see above). However, I could have written it because I get asked all the time how to help a student practice (see my post here on motivation tips for teen students).  It's so hard to give advice for a very private matter for your home and family.  But here are suggestions, I use all the time.  Remember, music is a long-term skill.  Some parents want to pull their children from lessons because they don't see them not practicing, which means, to the parent, that their dollars are wasted.  Never fear, their kids are still learning at lessons and those skills they learn on the piano are so important in the long run.  Have faith, don't give up, and trust that your student/child is soaking it all up.  One day it will return to you many fold from the study habits learned, motor skills enhanced, math figured out, and music in their heart.
In harmony, 
Ms. Leslie
p.s. enjoy the following ideas 
Recently, I had a teacher email me looking for solutions to end the practice wars that were occurring in the home of one of her piano students.  Her studio parent was stressed to the max; feeling as though piano practice was creating a rift between her and her child, testing her parenting patience to the limits, and making her say all sorts of things she regretted later.  It was not her idea of “music in the home”.
When parents sign their child up for piano lessons they are not looking for a way to encourage epic battles at home.  As piano teachers it is in our best interest to help piano studio parents end these battles…
When choosing a location for your piano, select a space that is lived-in, welcoming, and well-lit. Keep it close to “the action” but not in the action. Your children will gravitate to the piano more often if it is in a central place in your home. Avoid bedrooms, basements and other “put away” places. Feeling shut-off from the family while practicing will inevitably lead to a reluctance to spend time on the piano.
While choosing an appropriate space, also consider the noise factor; not only from the piano, but also from your family’s day-to-day activities. Your children want to be close by, but not competing with noise from TV’s, dishwashers and washing machines.
2. Make the space warm and welcoming. Your children will be encouraged to spend upwards of 30 minutes every day in this space. Is it a happy place to be for this amount of time? Small adjustments to lighting and heating can make a world of difference. Seek out places with natural light and ensure it is a cheerful and welcoming space that will encourage your child to visit the piano often for their own enjoyment.
3. Ensure your children have all required materials at hand. Help your children put together a small basket or bin of everything they may need for home practice. Pens, pencils, highlighters, and post-it notes will give your children a sense of organization that will then spill over into their practice habits. Your children will also need adequate lighting to see their music, and a comfortable bench at the correct height to practice comfortably and correctly.
4. Make the “Practice Nest” a communal space.  Children of any age appreciate company while they practice. Having a chair, couch, beanbag chair or pillows nearby where family members will be inclined to sit, listen and enjoy the music immediately sets the tone for happy time on the piano. Encourage siblings to stop by and listen quietly, and allow yourself even just 10 minutes to sit and listen with undivided attention each time your children practice. A set-up that is conducive to including the family in home practice will encourage everyone involved to make piano practice an activity the entire family can be a part of.


Nothing stresses a parent out more than helping their child practice when they have 10 minutes before leaving for the piano lesson.  Keep the peace at home by beginning home practice immediately after you return home from their piano lesson.  They will still remember what they covered in their lesson, and the piano books will actually make it to the piano… setting you up for a good start to the piano practice week.
Cramming creates feelings of inadequacy in your child as they struggle to perfect what should take 7 days to percolate.  Cramming makes you sweat and wonder why in the world you are paying for these lessons.  Cramming is not the answer.


We promise!  It’s our job as piano teachers to sort out the mistakes in lesson time.Your job at home is to be the support – to remind them to spend time on the piano, congratulate them on their efforts, revel in the joy that is your child creating music, and show that you value music in your home.
Avoid the following statements and watch peace fall over your home immediately:  “Is that right?  I don’t think that’s right.”… “That’s not how it’s supposed to sound.”… “Are you watching your music?”… “Your sister played that piece and it didn’t sound like that.” … “Wrong note!”… “Try it again.” etc.  Your child will get their back up immediately and the practice wars are sure to ensue.


How many times has your child shouted a statement similar to this?  “Mrs. Jones said I only have to play the first page!”… “Mrs. Jones said to play it up here.”… “Mrs. Jones said to play it this fast!”… What your child is actually trying to say is “I want to be in charge of my learning.”  So let them!  Whether or not Mrs. Jones actually said these things is beside the point.
Resist the urge to argue (and resist the urge to call up Mrs. Jones to ask what the heck she is teaching) and trust that your child will sort it out themselves.  This is often a knee-jerk reaction on your child’s part – they so desperately want to be right and in charge and it’s their way of saying “Stay out of this, I’ve got it.”  If you allow them this right to direct their own learning you will help to create a confident piano student.
More websites to visit ideas with charts, non-candy rewards, and encouragement for parents, please read to help you in your quest to not have piano practice wars at your house.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nutella Pudding

photos by SMW

Howdy chocolate fan!  Or are you strictly a Nutella fan?  I once gained 20 pounds on Nutella in one summer.  Yes, siree, I'm proud of that fact.  Did it in Europe! Eating my way through a jar of Nutella and a bagette was where it's at, don't you know?

The recipe is easy, just make sure you don't take too many dips into the Nutella jar so you'll have enough for the recipe :)

Nutella Pudding:

Serves 6


  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup cocoa, unsweetened
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup Nutella spread
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • whipped cream, optional
1. Whisk cornstarch, cocoa and salt in heavy saucepan.  Slowly whisk in the milk. Turn heat to medium and cook, stir frequently, until mixture thickens, about 8 min.
2. Remove from heat and whisk in Nutella, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Divide among 6 ramekins.  

Serve warm or cold, with a dollop of whip cream is best.  Will keep in fridge for 3 days covered with plastic wrap.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cover Girl +Olay

Have you seen these commercials with Ellen de Generes?  They are cute plus they show her playing around with a smooth, flexible ball. My take on that is Cover Girl wants you to know that they've partnered this makeup with Olay, known as a firming, rejuvenation product in the beauty product world.  I've really enjoyed using this product and, in my own opinion, I think it's made my skin look smoother and more youthful.

photos by SMW

Here's the de-puffer and the foundation makeup. Ready to give it a try.  Below is my naked face.

Above, I am using the de-puffer to hide the black under my eyes (I'm a light sleep and not enough sleep).

Voila!  The finished product.  nice and smooth and youthful.  I love it!  The foundation is creamy and covers spots nicely.  The de-puffer does its job of hiding tired eye shadows and any other spots around the face.  I have 'mother's mask'.  It's a condition where the skin blotches from pregnancy.  This makeup conceals the blotches much better than others.

I'm really happy with this product and know I'll be using it in the future.

*I received this product free from in return for a review of the product.  The opinions above are my honest opinions.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shark Tank and Entrepreneurs

photo courtesy of Shark Tank

If you are like me and want to train your children about the elements of hard work and entrepreneurship, this father has got it down.  Read here to learn more how this father showed purposeful action when it came to helping his child and letting him succeed on his own.  What a great example of true entrepreneurship!  Let your kids think out of the box (no pun intended!) and soar with a little shove, push, and elbow grease from Mom and Dad.  L.O.V.E this!

Paper Box Pilots is a very simple idea, one that we've all probably done with our kids on our own.  But, with a snazzy sticker set you can make it really special.  Their prices are reasonable at under $8 for a set and instructions, sometimes a paper hat is included.  Their customer reviews are very high and enthusiastic.

My niece did a birthday party using this idea of boxes and making their own airplanes.  How cute would it be for them to get their own sticker set as a party prize?!  Right now their is a Shark Tank special!

Hope you loved this idea and let's all start thinking entrepreneurship for our kids!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Music Moment Monday

Sesame Street and music really go hand in hand.  Think of all the songs you watched being sung by Grover, Cookie Monster, Big Bird and all their friends.  Can you sing one?

Well this Christmas, Sesame Street and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are going to get together for the annual MoTab Christmas concert in Salt Lake City.  Tickets are free and they are up for grabs today!

Wish I was going to be in Salt Lake City for this one!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Halloween- No Candy Options

I've been a Halloween grinch for a few years- or have I?  I'm protecting your and my children from tooth decay and an unnatural sugar high.  I give out little prizes like slap hands and pencils.  I usually get a 'hey, that's cool' or 'I really like this', even a 'I like this better than candy!' sometimes.  Super neat!

Here's a few ideas for those that want to join the non-candy band wagon.
 1. slap hands- $6.92 for 6 dozen.  Not bad.  That averages to about the same price as candy treats.

2. Glow Stick Bracelets- $8.89 for 100, that's a smokin' deal.  Kids love these. A lot!

3. Glow in the dark Bouncy Balls- I want one.  Sounds like hours of fun!  $6.25 for 48 balls.

4. Crazy Eye Patch- $5.25 for 48.  This one looks like a winner for after Halloween shenanigan's.

There are so many options.  Happy pre-Halloween shopping.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

3 Good Things to Buy at Costco

1. Milk and Eggs- Diary has usually been a steal at Costco.  Now that milk and eggs are constantly going up dairy continues to be a best deal here but make sure you check any 'loss leader' ads at other stores for good deals.  Butter, that's a whole new monster (can you believe it went up to $2.99/lb?!)  Make sure to check other ads before shopping at Costco.

2.Toilet Paper- Hands down best buy at $15.00 for the large pack.  My rule of thumb is .50 cents per double roll or less.  Costco has the best quality for generic brand also.

3. Fruits and Vegetables (sometimes!)- again, caution and knowing your prices, i.e. having low price sheet , make it easy to buy bananas, spinach, red peppers and lettuce at Costco.  Again, knowing your prices first and looking at 'loss leaders' before you go to Costco really help.

What are your hot buys at Costco?