My Music Staff

Happy Spring!

Change is in the air! We’re moving to a brand spanking new studio space in just a couple of weeks, we’re gearing up for our Spring concert, we have a couple of other fun things up our sleeves for the coming months, and… we’ve updated our studio managing system to make administration a breeze!

We’re very pleased to be using the My Music Staff managing website and have sent you the login info that you’ll need to get set up with your account and calendar.

We like My Music Staff for a number of reasons (other than how great it is in helping us teachers stay organized and that it automates a lot of administrative duties online). Two of the best features are – the event creation function (regular and make-up lesson planning), and the automated invoicing feature. When students need to schedule for make-up lessons, it is often time-consuming to communicate with parents/students which time slots work well for both parties. By creating a “make-up lesson” event, students can easily register for it by logging into their student portal and a confirmation email will be sent to both parties. Students will be able to see all available make-up lesson slots the teacher has created on the schedule and choose the ones that best suit their schedule.

One thing that we’d like to see with My Music Staff in the future is support for multi-teacher lesson planning and administrative usefulness.

Thanks for your continued support and patience as we make some changes this Spring. We’re excited to use this time-saving program to get to the more important aspect of our jobs: making music with you!

Looking forward!

Julie

New location! 317 Jane St!

Hello!

We’re so pleased to announce that we are moving to a brand spanking new location on Jane St, just south of Annette in just a few short weeks! We’ll be in a cozy studio spot that will have all the comforts of home but without the scary stairs that I will sadly miss (not at all miss).

The Junction will always be near and dear to us, but now we’re doing a little tiny shuffle down toward the Baby Point Gates area. We already feel super welcomed by the new neighb’s and can’t wait to settle in to our spot there.

Come join us in celebrating the digs, and also please excuse us as we try to move as swiftly and with as minimal interruption to our weekly lessons as possible. Can’t wait to share this exciting new step with you.

Looking forward!!

Julie

Practicing: how much, and how often?

How often should my kid practice each week? Do I need to practice every day? What if I can’t make room in my schedule to practice [insert your instrument here] as much as I should? These are questions we hear from students and parents so often that I thought I’d share some insights from a teacher’s point of view.

>>So, do I really need to practice regularly?

Well, how good to you want to be? How much you (or your child) are able to practice obviously affects how well and easily you learn new material and develop skill. This makes sense, right?

>>OK, so how much practicing do I have to do weekly?

Good question. It depends on several things: what level you’re at, whether you have something specific to practice for (a concert, evaluation..etc), and how much time – realistically – you have to dedicate to your practice. For the sake of this post, let’s assume that the student is around a beginner level. We usually recommend around 10-20 minutes at the piano 3-5 times per week. Time will increase as the student progresses.

>>Really? Will 10 minutes a few times a week really do much?

Totally. And, if your child is still relatively young (5 years or under) you can even break up the time. 5 minutes in the morning and then one quick pass of a couple of songs before dinner time is great. Whatever you can manage to fit in to your day. It all adds up!

Studies show that shorter, more frequent practice and repetition works better to rewire our brains so that this set of new and complex actions becomes smoother and more comfortable with time. So, take that into consideration next time you’re cramming in an hour-long practice session right before your next week’s lesson!

>>I got my kid to sit down at the piano today but all she did was play around and make up her own “songs”. Does that still count?

Hooray! Yes, this is great news. Sometimes just sitting down and tinkering around with your own sounds is good enough for that day. Sometimes, we really don’t feel like playing scales or that challenging new piece that’s taunting us. Reminding ourselves of what we love about music is the most important and fun part of taking music lessons. “Playing around” is great! I actively encourage students to improvise and create new sounds, and together in lessons I even guide them toward song writing on their own. Getting those creative juices flowing is necessary and welcomed. However, playing those scales are just as necessary, and knowing scales and improving technique will help with that lovely creativity down the line. Balance is key.

>>Ooh, you’re talking about scales now. Geez, I don’t know if I really need to do those.. I just want to play for fun.

OK. I get this one a lot. When even mentioning the word ‘scales’ to my students I get vacant or weary gazes. Some adults tend to think of them as old fashioned and unimportant and kids can see them as scary or boring. We’re planning a separate post about scales, but since we’re talking about them now I’ll just say this: scales are as important to playing as fruits and veggies are to eating – You can’t live without them! Look for our next post for more specific points about the importance of scales..

>>Alright, so I get that practicing is important. How should I divide my time while practicing? What should I practice the most?

How you break down your practice time is actually pretty important. Just as important as how long and frequently you get to your instrument.

When practicing one specific piece: If you’re having trouble with certain measure or passage make sure to take your time with them and go over a section hands separately, slowly, while working out any kinks that are getting in your way. Repetition is integral in smoothing out those tough spots. Trying a piece from the beginning straight through to the end, hands together, and at a speed that’s not quite working for you isn’t going to help much. Not only is it not the most effective use of your time, it will leave you feeling frustrated and will leave the piece not much further along than when you started.

When practicing several pieces and scales: Warm up with your scales and other technical work (chords, arpeggios if you’ve got them.. etc.), then move on to the new piece of the week. We have more stamina at the beginning of our practice sessions, so don’t spend ALL your energy first on pieces that you already know, but dive into the new piece of the week and make a little headway before taking a break and playing an old favourite.

When preparing for an exam or concert: This is probably best discussed and decided between you and your teacher. You will have a good idea of what to play and in what order as planned out for you during your lessons.

 

Making a practice plan and coming up with some goals with your teacher is an important part of your lesson experience. Try to come up with realistic and achievable practice goals that will leave you feeling satisfied and proud of your accomplishments!

Now that the weather is getting a bit colder and the nights are getting longer, spending a little extra time with that big old lovely piano (guitar, violin, trumpet…) doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, does it?

Happy practicing to all of you!

Finding the right music teacher for you/your child.

Blog update! (Sorry, poor, neglected blog)

So, I’ve had different versions of the same conversation in the past few months and I’ve been inspired to share this conversation with you: How to find a music teacher that’s the right fit for you.

I’ve had the good fortune of meeting a number of new students in the past little bit and some of them have come to me with previous experience from other teachers… and lots of questions. I typically also have a bunch of questions for students who come to me from someone else because I, a) want to get a good feel for what their background is (technical level..etc.), and b) am interested in how they felt about their previous musical experiences; were lessons enjoyable overall? Did they feel as though they were getting as much out of them as they’d hoped? Did they feel like their teacher’s style of instruction suited their learning style? Were lessons interesting and fun?
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Happy New Year, Happy Students!

After a lengthened break from blogging, we’ve returned with some awesome New Year’s news and musical inspiration!

In Annette Street News:

The new studio space is open and currently being spruced up just for YOU! I’m super excited to have this dedicated space in my home to share with my students and the groups of ASM. Come on over to take a peek, and when you come for your next lesson you’ll see why Bear and I are enjoying the fresh, open new room!

Annette Street Choir is gearing up for our Winter Session! We’re planning some really exciting and FUN new songs for this session, so if you’d like to sing with your besties, tell your friends to come out and see just how much fun we have together! Our next session will be starting on Sunday, January 27th at the Annette Recreation Centre! For more info, please email: annettestreetchoir@gmail.com.

Creative Moments: Music and Language Program for Young Beginners is in mid-session right now and will be starting a new session in February. Enrolment is now open for the 8-week Winter session beginning in Feb. This program is designed to introduce children ages 3 & 4 to some basic music and rhythm elements. As well, we tie language development and phonological awareness in to highlight syllabic word break-down, alphabet recognition, and other pre-reading/verbal/comprehension skills. AND it’s loads of fun! Please email: julie@annettestreetmusic.com for more info about this Preschool music program.

The Annette Street Choir soundcloud page has been updated, so check the kids out singing tunes by Florence and the Machine, Katy Perry, The Jayhawks, and more!
( https://soundcloud.com/annette-street-choir )

2012 brought so much fun, joy and music! Here’s to an amazingly creative 2013!

Cheers!

Julie

Annette Street Choir – fall performances and other news

Annette Street Choir sings for you in November and December! Come check us out at these wonderful events:

Saturday Nov 17th at COCO Crafted Organic Chocolates (365 Jane St.). We’re invited to join in the opening celebrations of this amazing new chocolate shop in the Junction/Baby Point area! Come by any time that day for some tasty treats and open mic music, and be sure to check us out at 4pm when we’ll be singing a few of our favourite songs from this session!

Tuesday, Nov 27th at Chapters on Bloor St West (near Runnymede). Runnymede Public School is holding a fundraiser where all proceeds go toward celebrating student achievements throughout the year. We’re performing at 8pm! Come, pick out a good book, listen to some great music, and support children’s literacy and academic achievements.

We are also joining in the Santa in the Junction* festivities this year – stay tuned for more info about our performance time! This special holiday event takes place Saturday, December 1st. Check out the line-up of other activities and points of interest here

Last but not least! We’re excited to offer a holiday drop-in session for 4 weeks before the Christmas break. Sessions will be held on Sundays at the Annette CRC (12:15 – 1:45pm) starting Nov 25th through to Dec 16th. Kids (7-13) are welcome to come by and sing some favourite holiday tunes, as well as some of our favourite choir songs from our Spring and Fall sessions. Investment is $20 per session – come for one, or all four! Bring some friends and sing awesome and unique arrangements of your favourite tunes.

Hope to see you (and sing for you!) soon!

*To sing with us at Santa in the Junction, you must attend at least one drop-in practice rehearsal before Dec. 1st 🙂

Music of Unity – Sat Nov 10th at Runnymede United Church

I was recently contacted by the Art of Life Community Health Centre and informed about their upcoming music concert which is being held in the High Park area next month to raise funds for gifted children with medical challenges. The Art of Life is a not-for-profit, holistic medical organization.

For more information about the Art of Life centre, visit their website: www.theartlife(dot)ca.

And you can check out their Facebook page for more info about tickets for the concert on November 10th:
http://www.facebook.com/events/268617843256122/

ONE WEEK LEFT to register for Annette Street Choir!

This is the last week to register for the fall session of choir!

This session we’ll be singing Florence and the Machine, Katy Perry, Fun and more! You don’t want to miss this amazingly fun and educational musical experience!

Boys and Girls ages 7-14
Annette Street Recreation Centre (333 Annette Street)
Sunday afternoons
8 weeks (beginning this Sunday, Sept 23rd)
$160

Please email or call for registration TODAY.

*family discount rates available, as well as installment plan for families with financial need.

We can’t wait to have another fabulous session of choir with the greatest voices in the west-end 😉

Julie

Creative Moments: new home for Sunday morning class!

Our preschool music & language program has a new home for Sunday mornings! We’re so grateful to Wise Daughters who will be hosting this program for the fall session. Here are the new deets:

– Sunday’s (beginning Sept 23rd) at 10am
– Wise Daughters (lower level studio)
3079B Dundas Street West Toronto, ON M6P 1Z9
– 8 week session – excluding Thanksgiving wknd (Sun Oct 7th)
– Investment: $160

Also check out Wise Daughters website for more information about their beautiful hand-crafted products, workshops (for kids, teens and adults), exhibitions showcasing amazing artists ..and more!

www.wisedaughters.com

Can’t wait to share this program with you in such a creative and inspiring space!

Email for more information and to enroll in these classes starting later this month.
(Wed morning – Yoga Seed studio location – spaces available. Email now for enrollment!)

Have a wonderful weekend,

Julie

Yoga Seed – preschool program!

I’m so excited to be partnering with Tiana Zarubica and Melissa Haddad at Yoga Seed Studio to offer an amazing weekly preschool program starting this fall!

Check it:

Yoga Preschool Program for 2.5-4yrs. This program is designed to be a structured morning program with:

Curriculum led Yoga sessions designed by Yoga Ed (www.yogaed.com)
Music classes led by kids music instructor Julie Sousa (annestreetmusic.com)
Drama + Creative expression with Melissa Haddad of Young People’s Theatre

+ organic snack, crafts and stories with a maximum of 15 children and 3 qualified adult instructors.

​ The program runs Tuesdays & Thursdays from 9am -11:30am
Location: 3081 Dundas St. W 2nd Floor
Cost: $180 +HST per 4 week session – Pre Registration is required.

Phone: 647.808.7085 or email at yogaseedstudio@gmail.com to receive program package and updates on our 2012 Fall dates.

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We’re pumped to start this collaborative and creative kids program here in the Junction! Yippee!

Check out more amazing kids yoga programs at www.yogaseedstudio.com !