Week One Winners

by | Aug 23, 2016 | Lesson Ideas, Printables, Studio Ideas | 5 comments

Hi there!

It’s an exciting time of year, isn’t it? Kids are headed back to school and getting back into their daily routines. An entire year lies ahead of you and you get to decide what that is going to look like in your studio.  What new things are you going to try? How are you going to push yourself to be a better teacher? Where can you find inspiration? What have you been wanting to try, but have been putting off?

After wrapping up the first week of fall lessons here at Fun Key Music, I am reflecting on the new things I tried. I’m sharing 10 things (some big, some small) that were a hit with students. I’m calling them my “Week One Winners”!


1. Photo & Birthday Wall

As students entered the studio they noticed that things looked different! Instruments and bookcases were moved around, there were new decorations on the wall, the keyboard had new speakers, and the room was tidied and freshly cleaned.

My favorite new decoration is our student photo and birthday wall. I loved the reaction when students found their picture and birthday and saw their piano friends from group lessons.

I sent out an e-mail asking parents to send me a recent picture of their student(s) that I could use in the studio.  I had them printed at Walgreens, hung up multi-colored string and attached the pictures with colored mini clothespins.

My goal for this wall is student recognition, building familiarity and friendships among students, and to promote a sense of community and “piano family’ throughout the studio.



2. Practice Pouches

I first heard about Practice Pouches from Leila Viss at 88 Piano Keys. Today she released an updated blog post on practice pouches today! Go take a look!

First I had a stack of pouches (pencil cases) with a variety of designs and colors for students to choose from. I found my selection of pouches at Dollar Tree and Walmart.


After students chose their favorite pouch, they made their way down the “assembly line” and gathered items to put inside of their pouch. They each collected:

  • bookmark
  • clothespin
  • dice
  • mechanical pencil
  • ink pen
  • big eraser
  • sticky note pad
  • ziplock bag
  • mini erasers
  • tootsie roll


We will be using these throughout the year to reinforce practice skills at the studio and, most importantly, at home. I’m working on a printable to send home with students and parents so they can work with their practice pouches at home.  I’ll share that here when I create it.

We put the mini erasers to use by mapping out a scale in one octave and then playing it in another.

mapping scales



3. Music Money Envelopes

We are implementing a new incentive this year. Students will be earning music money for completing various challenges. The only thing we did for the first lesson was to decorate the envelopes where they will be storing their money. I had markers and stickers available for students to use.  I love the way students personalized these with their own flair.

Music Money

I didn’t tell them much, just that they would be earning music money that they could spend to “buy” prizes. They were intrigued about the idea.  I also had a sneak peak of the prizes out to get them excited about this new incentive!


I will be sharing more in the future how my students will be earning their music money.  To see how Leila’s students ear their money and how her incentive program works, read her blog post here.

4. Rock Star at Work

There’s not much to explain about #4, just a little item I found in the Teaching section at the Dollar Tree. I placed it where they were sure to see it by the sticker bin and writing utensils on top of the piano.  Another cute moment when they realized they were the rock star. 🙂




5. New Music

I took time each day to go through all of my studio-licensed music choose new pieces and print them out for students.  It was refreshing to have new material to work on and to start the semester with something outside of the lesson book.


6. A Walk Down Memory Lane

In her lastest webinar, Back to School Organizing Tips, Jennifer Eklund suggest “taking a walk down memory lane” by flipping back in your student’s assignment notebook and looking at music that they have completed a year ago..

If students are feeling a little down in the dumps, Jennifer suggests one reason might be because they are feeling too challenged.  “Taking a walk” might be the solution!

Pull out the piece from a year ago and say “Look how far you’ve come!” and remind them how much they’ve progressed.

For the students who are not thrilled with being back to school to getting in the routine of practicing again, this could be just what they need.  It’s sure to bring a smile to their face.


7. Whiteboard Activities

These activities were a hit because:

  • students love writing on whiteboards
  • a quick way to see what students remember
  • give you a moment to take a deep breath, get a drink or snack, use the restroom, talk to a parents
  • get the wheels turning in your students’ brains
  • make connections (“aha”/”lightbulb” moments)

Here are the activities I used this week and I will be posting more soon!

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 1.16.45 AM

Download printable whiteboard activity page here.

8. Piano Maestro Avatars

There are some really fun avatars that students can choose from. My students have enjoyed scrolling through all of the options and picking their favorite.

 9. Erasable Highlighters

When I saw these I knew I had to have them.  I thought it would be great to be able to draw a student’s attention to something in their music (a new note being introduced, notes to be played sharp or flat, etc.) and then when the concept is achieved, I can just erase it and not end up with really messy music and a bunch of markings that are unnecessary by the time a students has finished a song.

Students have been surprisingly excited about these. They say, “Those are erasable? Thats cool! Where did you get them?!”

Who knew something on my office supply list would be such a hit!



10. See Through Storage

Ok, I need to make a confession.  Organizing does not come easy to me.  I get easily overwhelmed with paperwork.  I have been known to shove things in the closets in my studio and without any attempt to keep it in order to know what I have.

Last year I bought some storage items that were see through and it worked out great, so I went out and got more.  I like that my lesson items can be put away and neatly stacked/stored so they are nice and organized, yet they are visible and easy to find.


flashcard storage


Seasonal Storage

Several games, decorations, and manipulatives that I use in the studio are only used during a certain time of year, for a certain holiday or season.  I didn’t want these items to be stored with items that can be used year round.  I found these Super Stacker document boxes and they are the perfect solution for my seasonal items.  I can pull them out the month/holiday I need them and not have to deal with them again all year.

seasonal storage

Here’s a little peek at what’s inside…

seasonal storage


I am most excited about this one! Game storage! There are so many great teaching sites and bloggers out there that are providing colorful, fun, exciting games that reinforce what we are teaching in lessons. Now I can easily flip through all of my games making it easy to quickly choose one.


I love all of the bright colors and I have memorized what color some of the games are making it even easier to find.  For instance, my Interval Octopus is pink so she lives in the pink folder (it didn’t always work out this way-that was a happy accident).



There’s my Top 10 Week One Winners!

What new things do you have planned for your studio this fall?




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