Monthly Archives: August 2011

Binder Calendar for 2011 – 2012

Binder Calendar

I promised I would post this calendar soon, and here it is.  It matches the binder cover I posted a few days ago.

This is the planning calendar I made for my students. Arlene Davenport (a great teacher and festival judge) gave me one like this that she makes for her students binders, and I just had to make one myself, using my theme for the year.

In the center I listed all their events for the year, including “memorize by” dates, group lessons, holidays, recitals, festivals, and tests.  I circled all the “memorize by” dates in red and I put green squares around the actual events. You can use colored highlighters in the same way.

Also, you can give this to your students just the way it is and ask them to use the space in the middle as a to-do list.

There is space on the left side for a 3-hole punch. If you use a spiral notebook, cut around the white space and tape it to the inside.

If you have trouble printing on templates, read on. If not, I hope you enjoy my calendar!


  1. Print the PDF of my graphic and set it aside. You will need to have Adobe Reader installed, which is a free program to download from  Adobe’s website. For best results, use the latest version. When you print, it is important to make sure page scaling is set to “none”.
  2. Draw an X on a plain piece of paper. Put it in your printer and make note of what side your printer prints. I suggest you write it down if you have a lot on your mind.
  3. Open Word. In “Page Set Up” set the left, right, and top margins to 2.25 inches, and the bottom margin to 1 inch. If you are not in North America, I hope you know how to adjust for A4 paper.
  4. Type up your studio’s events using whatever size and font you like. It looks really nice if you use this dark olive font color, so I suggest you try that. Adjust the spacing to fit your events.
  5. Remembering what side your printer prints on, insert my graphic into your printer.
  6. Print a test copy. If it’s on the wrong side, try again!


Filed under Teaching Business

Another Cover for Your Student’s Binder

Assignment Book Cover Page

I was driving in downtown a while back and when I stopped at a red light I saw a large music graphic painted on the side of a building. It had colorful notes that were giant circles, not ovals like I usually draw. I liked the way the circles made it look like the music was just rolling along.

When I got home, I was inspired by the round notes so I drew some circles using colors that would appeal to my older students. I made a digital scrapbook background with the brush tool  (a hobby of mine) and before long I had another assignment binder cover that my students really like.

In addition to the cover, I have a 2011-2012 calendar using this same theme and I will post it in a few days when I get some spare time to polish it up.  You can subscribe to my blog if you want to keep up when I post it.

Do you use binders or spiral assignment books? Spiral notebooks fit so well on the piano and parents like them better. But binders are so much more flexible and you can add theory sheets and music.  Let’s take a poll. (It is completely anonymous and you will not be identified, so go ahead and make my day by voting!)


Filed under Teaching Business

Don’t Swipe My Sharp!

Don’t Swipe My Sharp

Do you have students who have a little difficultly learning to read sharp and flat keys or understanding the concept of enharmonic notes? Would you like to find another way besides a theory book or a worksheet to review these concepts?  I made up this game for my students, and it is the fastest and most fun way to learn enharmonic notes and quickly identify accidentals. It is especially good for tactile learners.

Don’t Swipe My Sharp is a game on the piano keys the teacher can play with a student. The student draws and places a token on the correct sharp or flat key. The first player to cover all 5 black keys wins. To add to the fun, players can “swipe a sharp” from their opponent.  There are also some optional white key sharp and flat enharmonic notes.

Objective: The student will learn to read and physically identify a selected group of enharmonic notes preceded with accidentals. The student will develop an understanding of enharmonic keys on the keyboard.

Level: Students in Level 2 and above enjoy playing this. It is designed for students who know the notes on the grand staff, but it can be played with all ages, even intermediate students who get confused with enharmonic notes.

Materials: Don’t Swipe My Sharp cards, 10 or more pawns that are suitable for placing on piano keys, and a piano keyboard. Suggestions for tokens are: inexpensive pencil erasers, glass jewel stones, small magnets, Lego blocks, or collectable erasers that are available in many shapes. The tokens should be able to stay on the black keys for the duration of the game. The age of the student can determine what tokens you use.

I bought 50 of these colorful erasers for $1.00 and I use them for many different games.

For younger children I use these cute erasers from my collection.

I like to use erasers on my piano keys because I know they will not scratch the keys.

Preparation: Print pages  1 – 4 of the Don’t Swipe My Sharp PDF file on card stock. Click the link at the top of the page to go to my website where you can print the PDF. Pages 5 and 6 are the optional back of the cards so do not print them initially.

There is one set of cards for the bass clef and one set for the treble clef. For ease in use, the cards for each clef are distinguished by color. There are two ways to do this. Option 1 is to print the front of the cards, pages 1-4, and reinsert the pages in your printer and print the back of the cards. The blue graphic is for the treble cards, and the green graphic is for the bass clef cards. Option 2 is to print the bass and treble clef cards on 2 colors of card stock and omit the back of the cards.

Directions: The student and teacher sit side by side on the bench. The black keys above and below middle C is the ‘game board”. Divide the cards by color, shuffle, and place on the piano music rack face down in front of each player. The player on the right has the treble clef cards, and the player on the left the bass. The  cards without the staff, the Swipe My Sharp cards, should be in each deck, but make sure they are spread out in the deck and not the first card. Remove the white key enharmonic notes for a shorter game.

Student and teacher take turns drawing a card and placing a token on the corresponding key. If a student draws a note that is enharmonic to a key they have already covered, for example, G Flat when F sharp is already covered, the player cannot place a token  and skips a turn.

If he draws a Swipe My Sharp card, he “swipes” a token off his opponent’s key and puts it on his own key, if it is vacant. He can only take a sharp he needs, and he must verbally identify it as a sharp key in order to “swipe” it. For example, if he needs an F# on his keys, he must stay, “I’m swiping your F# (not G flat). Of course, you can change this rule if you want the keys identified as flats!

The game is over when the first person covers all 5 black keys or how many you decide before you play. It is a very fast game, and quite easy, even thought it might not seem like it when you read my instructions!

There are other ways to play.  You can print out more note flash cards and use more than one octave. You can play in a small group using paper keyboards. You can set the rule that the student can keep their Swipe My Sharp card and use it later when they need it.

I used the cards to introduce accidentals to a 6-year-old primer student who asked me what the sharp and flat symbols meant. He learned it very quickly and enjoyed the game. He went home and wrote a song with E flats! So while I intended this for older students, I have found a lot of different uses for this game.

Have fun!


Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, Note Identification, Texas State Theory Test, Theory

A Colorful Cover for Your Students’ Binder

Piano Lesson Binder Cover

Do you use the type of binder that has a see through cover on the front ? I like to make colorful covers for this type of binder to insert and personalize with the student’s name.

This is one of my original designs I made last year  and I decided to share it with you in case you want to use it with the assignment sheets I posted last week. I tried to think of a general title so that it can be used for more than one thing, such as an assignment book,  theory sheets, or  music that I’ve written for my students.  I always have a 3-hole punch handy!

After printing, you can put this back into your printer and center your student’s name near the bottom.

When you print it out, there will be an uneven white border on the page. To make it look nice, I trim that off with a paper-cutter.  You might have a “print to edge” feature on your printer and you can try that.

All printers are different, so don’t be surprised if yours is a different shade. There might be some adjustments you can make. Of course, no printer will look like the colors on a monitor that are so luminous.

Let me know if you are interested in this kind of printable.  I have some more things I’ve made that I can post if there is a need.


Filed under Teaching Business