If you haven't added composing activities to your music lessons, you should absolutely give them a try!
Composing helps students understand theory better, gives them a creative outlet and even encourages them to practice. I've heard first hand from parents that the most stubborn practicers will race to their instrument every day to practice "their song". In fact, I've heard "Miss Christie, can we start with MY song?" more than once in my lessons.
Our Newest Composing Book!
Composing Through The Year is an annual composing book that has composing activities for the seasons and holidays.
There are some favorites - You're the Best Dad!, an updated version of My Valentine's Song and The Smelly Elf - along with some new songs for your students to create and explore.
How Can I Use the Book in My Lessons or Classes?
Each of the songs can stand alone as their own composing activity or you can use them all at once. The pages can be used as slides, on the iPad or tablet, or they can be printed.
When I use this book with my students, I print out the activity page to use during the first lesson of the month. Then at the end of the year, I'll print the monthly cover on the back side of their composition, print a cover on card stock and bind it all together. Then I present each student their own songbook at the spring recital.
Another great alternative is to use the book for a composing camp! You can have the students compose a couple of pieces each day and then spend time practicing them or adding embellishments or percussion. The options can go as far as you and your students imaginations can carry them!
What Students Can Use Composing Through the Year?
The goal with this book was to include a variety of composing styles while making it accessible to students of every age. That's why I made a pre-reading and a grand staff version of each song in the book.
Most of the activities are geared toward elementary age students, but can also be tailored for teens and adults.
Included in each download:
Want to get your hands on both versions? Purchase the bundle for added savings.
I hope these resources will help you incorporate composing in your lessons, classes and camps!
Do you already have your students compose in their lessons? What are your favorite composing activities? Let me know in the comments!
Several years ago I was approached by one of Tim Topham's assistants asking me to contribute an article to their newly started Inner Circle.
I immediately agreed to it. I loved the idea and was grateful for the opportunity to contribute.
I had learned so much from Tim through his blog and podcast. I knew I had a lot to share with other teachers & entrepreneurs and thought it would be a great way to give back.
Here's the thing though, I never wrote the article. I kept putting it off saying, "I need to do this for my business first, then I'll get to writing".
At the time, I was in the middle of starting up my brick and mortar music school and I was so bad at time management.
I mean really bad.
And being that bad left me overwhelmed, over-worked, and unproductive. So, no article.
Now I'm kicking myself so hard for not finishing. Tim has grown his small blog into a full-blown music teacher's aid empire and I wasn't able to contribute.
So here are 3 lessons I've learned about procrastination:
Procrastination isn't worth the potential regret
Yup, I seriously regret not getting an article to them.
Who knows who could have been inspired, who's business could've been changed or what doors it could've opened? None of us will ever know.
It's a truly terrible feeling to be selected for something special and to let those people down because you procrastinated. I don't wish it on anyone.
Procrastination is a time sucking monster
"I'll do that after I start/finish this" sounds innocent enough, right? WRONG!
If you're procrastinating on something, you're going to be thinking about it while you're doing absolutely everything else.
That will slow down your progress on your current project and eventually everything will either come to a halt or you'll completely give up on whatever it was you were procrastinating and
Procrastination is an anxiety producer
This is the biggest lesson I learned. When I procrastinate anything, I feel anxious.
That little voice in my head starts whining - yeah, she whines, it's worse than yelling - and she won't stop until I do the thing I've been putting off.
Once I do it she's happy again - like a little kid finally getting that ice cream they so desperately wanted - but I don't feel better. I feel drained and guilty for letting it get that far.
Have I learned my lesson about procrastinating? Sure.
Have I mastered it and completely stopped procrastinating? Nope.
Will I continue to work on it? You bet!
I recently got my second vaccination shot and I'm not going to lie, it hit me hard. I was out of commission for two full days and still feeling off the third.
I'm glad I did it, but that's not what this post is about. Today, I'm talking about chicken soup.
Not just any chicken soup. Belize chicken soup.
What's so special about this Belize chicken soup? I'm so glad you asked!
A few years ago my husband and I visited Ambergris Cay in Belize. Our flights and ferry ride over weren't the easiest and we had a few other complications with our travel that left us feeling pretty drained and kind of punky. Thankfully we had our whole vacation to relax and get our energy back.
That first night finding dinner was a challenge. Neither one of us knew what the food was like and we weren't looking for anything adventurous, yet.
We walked down the beach to this little beachfront cafe and decided to give it a chance. To say we enjoyed our meals there is an understatement because we went back 4 more times on our trip!
I ordered fish tacos, but my husband went for their chicken soup. I kid you not, he was a new man after eating that soup. His energy was back. His discomfort was gone. It was magical.
That ended up being his favorite meal of the entire trip. (Yes, he ordered it a couple more times and so did I!)
When we got home from that trip, we couldn't stop thinking about the soup and wanting to go back just for that soup. Since that wasn't an option, we started searching for recipes.
It took a little time, but I found this recipe on a blog a few months after our trip. I don't remember which blog I found it on, but the one below has our modifications to the soup to make it more like the one we had in Belize.
Before I got my second shot, I decided to make some of this soup knowing that I would want something comforting. I hope it brings you and your family as much comfort as it brings me and mine!
Belize Chicken Soup
Heat dutch oven over medium heat.
Brown the chicken in batches. (do thighs first) Return all chicken to pot.
Add onion & garlic. Sweat for 5 minutes.
Add water to cover. Add habanero, consommé, and cilantro. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Add carrots and potatoes. Simmer for another 15 minutes.
Add more cilantro right before serving, if desired.
Serve with coconut rice.
All of the ingredients should be roughly chopped. It's a chunky and hearty soup!
We use water, but chicken stock will also work.
Malher's comsommé can be purchased here. Yes, it MUST be this brand, otherwise it won't taste right. Yes, it's a big jar, but trust me, you'll use it all and if you need ideas just hit me up!
Stab the habanero a few times, but unless you like it Extremely spicy (like you can't taste anything else level spicy), don't cut it!
We use Yukon Golds, but any potato will work for this recipe.
Mothers' Day is right around the corner and I have a composing activity that you can use in your lessons TODAY!
Typically, my students do all the composing in my composition activities, but I changed it up with one student.
We were working on the music alphabet and intervals.
I gave her the starting note of a line and then had her identify the next note based on the interval we discussed (it was skips that day).
By the time we were done, she could quickly and easily name the skip up or down from any note!
"I Love You Mom!" comes in 4 versions: pre-staff reading, treble clef, bass clef, and grand staff.
This adorable composing activity is sure to warm the heats of all the moms in your studio!
Students can compose using finger numbers, fret numbers, or the music alphabet.
The song can be played on the black keys or white keys of the piano or on any string you're working on for guitar, ukulele, or orchestral string instruments. It even works with wind instruments.
You can also use solfege to compose the song with your vocal students and have them sing it on the syllables as well as with the lyrics!
Click here to get your copy of "I Love You Mom"!
Hi there, remember me?
It's been a little while since we last spoke. Over a month in fact.
My last post was about our 1 year anniversary and I was super stoked to release that one...along with the myriad of other ideas I had to share. I had grand visions of what this year would bring for the blog.
Then reality hit me hard at work and in my personal life, and it's taken me a while to get back up and recover from the beating. If I'm being completely honest, I'm still a bit bruised.
See, I'm not what one would call a natural writer. I have plenty of thoughts and ideas to share, but the process of putting them into coherent sentences and paragraphs that anyone would understand takes quite a lot of effort and time. The latter of which I'm sorely lacking.
From concept to release, a single post takes me 4 to 6 weeks to complete and while putting the effort in isn't the issue, keeping up with a 1 to 2 post per week schedule is a challenge.
A huge challenge.
Far bigger than I ever anticipated.
I began planning and writing for this blog 4 months before actually starting it. I had the first month of posts completed before hitting publish on the first one and another 2 weeks worth in process.
I honestly thought I could keep up with the schedule. Sadly, that hasn't happened.
I don't know whether it's because of pandemic fatigue or because it really is too much to run an online shop, a brick & mortar multi-teacher studio, 2 separate social media accounts over 3 platforms, and have a church job. Whatever the reason, I've come to the decision that I need to pivot.
Knowing when to pivot isn't as obvious as one may think. It's also not always the easiest decision to make.
Being the teacher I am, I thought I'd share some things I've discovered. Here are signs that it may be time for you to consider pivoting in your business.
It may be time to pivot if/when:
So here we are at my pivot point.
I will continue to post here, just not as frequently and with no set schedule.
I will continue to bring you awesome, quality resources for you and your students.
I do hope you understand that this wasn't an easy decision for me and that you'll be willing to stick it out with me while I figure out what this business will become.
I don't know when my next post will be, but I will continue to add resources and music to my store so be sure to follow me there.
You can also follow me on Instagram, I'll be sharing about new resources and life stuff over there more regularly.
Until next time my dear friends, stay awesome!
It's Music With Miss Christie's blogiversary! Woohoo!!
And wow, what a year it has been! The twists and turns of 2020 were not on my radar when I started, but I think they've helped shape my mindset for the future.
So today, let’s recap the last 365 days by the numbers:
Total Posts: 57
Total Pieces/Songs: 12
Most Popular Piece/Song: The Smelly Elf
Total Resources: 39
Most Popular Resource: Llama Hear Ya Play: Accidentals
Are you surprised by any of this information? I was!
I didn't realize how many posts I wrote this past year. Pretty good for someone who's not really a writer and fought starting this blog for years. Don't worry that story is coming soon! :)
Thank you, friends, for making the adventure of this past year so much fun!
I’m so grateful for each and every one of you and am excited for what this year holds for us all!
If you've been around for a little while, you will know that we have a different challenge or incentive for our students. Remember the Candy Corn Challenge?
Beginning on Monday students will be collecting stickers on their hearts for The Heart Challenge!
Here's how it works: Students will earn a sticker to put on their heart for every theory page and piece that they complete.
There will of course be a prize for the student with the most stickers on their card at the end of the challenge. :)
Big thanks to Sara Campbell and the Piano Teachers of Canada Facebook group for the inspiration!
In late November, I began my yearly reflection on what did and didn't worked for me in the last year and started considering adjustments for the new year.
In 2020, I used a single planner for the following categories: Finances, Business (work)/Blog/Store, and Fitness/Health,
This year I'm keeping some things the same and completely overhauling others in my quest for organization and planner peace.
I plan to follow up quarterly, so I'm writing this post as much for my own accountability as I am sharing my reflections and ideas with you. :)
Let's start with usual the elephant in the room. Finances.
In December 2019 I decided that 2020 was going to be a "no spend" year. I wrote out a sheet in my planner of the rules and guidelines for my spending.
I budgeted and tracked my business expenses digitally using My Music Staff for general bookkeeping and a P&L for my studio.
For my personal budget I used a Numbers spreadsheet.
So I set my goals and then just tried to not spend money. You can probably guess how well that worked out.
Some of it had to do with it being 2020 (hello Amazon!), but most of it had to do with my system.
I wasn't able able to clearly see what I was and wasn't spending my (and my studio's) money on, so I get to the end of a quarter and be WAY over budget in some areas and WAY under in others.
Then I made two discoveries. The first was Dave Ramsey's EveryDollar app. This app does everything my spreadsheet did and more. It's clearer, does the math better, it's easier to use...overall it's really a much better system.
I've been using it for the past couple of months and I LOVE IT! My favorite feature is the "fund". A fund is a way for you to budget for big expenses over the course of the year.
Here's how they explain it: "Imagine you have a $300 insurance bill due in three months.
Set $100 as the "Planned" amount. In three months, you'll have $300 when you need it."
Side note: did I really just say "nifty"? Ooph, I'm getting old.
The second thing I discovered was Mike Michalowicz's book Profit First. I won't be going through all the details of the book in this post, but I highly recommend reading the book.
I will be implementing the Profit First system - in addition to using the EveryDollar app - in my business beginning this month and will update you after the first quarter. #accountability
I love the flexibility and creativity that The Happy Planner products offer, but trying to plan 2 businesses and a personal life in a single planner just wasn't working for me.
I've been using a Happy Planner for almost 2 years and I've seen a lot of people purchase 3-5 planners for a single year.
I seriously thought the were crazy. Honestly, who needs more than 1 planner?
Turns out, I do!
It's not that I have a lot to plan every week, it's more that keeping everything separate makes more sense to me. When things make more sense, I don't overthink as much and am more productive.
I've decided to take the year one quarter at a time.
For the first quarter of this year I will be using a combination of my own 2-page monthly calendar and Elizabeth Caldwell's Teacher Entrepreneur Planner for my blog/store planning.
For my music school planning, I'm sticking with a vertical Happy Planner and a new daily page that I created a few days ago. (I'll update you on that as well)
Near the end of the quarter I will evaluate my systems and decide what needs tweaking and what works as is, then adjust accordingly.
Let me know if you're interested in seeing more about my planner set up. I've been considering a flip-through video.
This is where I failed the most.
I had it in my head that if I wrote down my weight every day and if I planned what my workouts would be for the week that I'd have success.
I used the long range planning pages of my Happy Planner for my workouts and created my own version of it for my weight.
In theory it all sounds great, but practically speaking it just didn't work for me.
I got discouraged when the scale when up - even though I know there are so many factors that are out of my control - and on days when I physically didn't feel up to to the workout I planned, I either did it anyway and ended up feeling like garbage for the rest of the week or I beat myself up for not "sticking to the plan". Neither of which was healthy.
This year, my fitness goals are different than they've ever been. This year, I simply want to be active.
I'm not a naturally athletic person, but I used to be active. Teaching elementary and middle school kept moving, but now that I spend so much time sitting for work, driving and my other hobbies, I'm not so active anymore and it's time to change that.
I'll be using my own 2021 At a Glance Calendar planning pages, but instead of tracking weight and workouts I'll be journaling what I did and any new skills learned that week.
I'm also looking for new active hobbies, so if you have something that you love please share it in the comments! :)
What are your favorite organizational systems?
How are you going to plan your awesome year?
I LOVE to bake.
Whoa, totally got some deja vous as wrote that statement.
I think I've started 6 posts this way, but it's the truth! I love to bake!
Know what I love to bake the most? Okay, yes you're right it's cupcakes, but my second favorite thing to bake is cookies and cookies are a Christmas staple in my family.
Today I'm sharing 3 my favorite (easy) Christmas cookie recipes.
These are delicious and so easy that you can totally make them with your kids or just enjoy them yourself.
At one point Nestlé changed the recipe on the back of their chocolate chip package and my mom wasn't impressed. She dug out the old church cookbook and found the original recipe which made for much better cookies. Thankfully there are others who felt the same way and stored it in their online cookbook. :)
I've make this sugar cookie recipe every year with my nephew since he was 3. While the recipe doesn't specify it, this cookie is perfect for cutout cookies. We've done everything from Zombie Santa (cookies that we touched too soon and created deformed shapes), to Christmas trees, angels, and ornaments. Add a little colored icing and make it an afternoon of baking and decorating. We weren't able to make them together this year, but it'll make next year's cookies even more special!
Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies
I came across this recipe a few years ago when I was doing an elimination diet to identify potential food allergies & sensitivities. I didn't want to completely give up chocolate cookies and I loved this flourless cookie so much, it has now replaced my regular chocolate cookie as a Christmas staple.
Picture this: You've opened your new brick & mortar studio and had your first week of lessons. You straighten up your lesson room then head to the office to shut things down for the weekend.
On your way you glance at the waiting room...the floor is filthy.
You poke your head into another lesson room...there's dust everywhere.
You look in the bathroom...did they even try to aim, how are we out of paper towels already and why is the sink covered in bubbles?
You're exhausted and really want to go home, but if you leave it you'll still have to deal with it Monday morning.
So you spend the next 2+ hours scrubbing the entire place. Your husband calls to make sure you're okay and asks why you're not home yet. You burst into tears because you're completely spent and aren't even half-way finished cleaning.
Welcome to business ownership.
The realities of owning a business with a brick and mortar location can be overwhelming at times. We need the most help with "menial" tasks at the beginning, while we're still getting our bearings in the business world. The problem is that's the time we need help the most is the time when we typically can't afford to hire said help.
This is where I was a couple of years ago. I did (still do, but not for long) EVERYTHING for the business side of my studio and I was on the verge of burning out.
I hired teachers to help me teach new students, but couldn't afford to have someone come clean, or take phone calls while I taught, or run my social media accounts, or handle advertising. It was all on me. And I was at the end of my rope.
That's when I discovered how important it is to have solid systems. I carved some time out of my day off and did some research. Once I got past the "a business owner should never clean the toilet" advice, I found that the most successful system for me would be a cleaning schedule.
A cleaning schedule? Like a chores chart? Really?!
Yes, really. And yes, it really helps.
I tried a few "premade" schedules, but found them either lacking or overwhelming, so I created my own schedule.
I divide each day's tasks into two categories, before teaching and after teaching. I should note, this is a mental division of tasks. They're all just written out on the schedule. When I come in, I get my self unpacked and start the firsts thing on the cleaning schedule. When I'm done teaching, I finish the list and we're ready to start again the next day.
I'm still tweaking the schedule to suit my needs, but I have to say, the academy stays clean and I get to keep my sanity.
Want to get your hands on an editable version of my cleaning schedule? Click here to download your own free editable copy.