Do you remember when I promised a series on my morning routine and how I was experimenting with different routines and would fill you in along the way?
No? It's okay, I almost didn't remember too.
This series began about a month after I started this blog. It was going to be my first big series here and I was excited to dive into different morning routines with you.
Then…well you know what happened. Our world was turned upside-down by the coronavirus. I know, I'm tired of hearing and talking about it, but this virus is a major game-changer in our lives and our routines.
This blog series is a perfect example of how life got upended. I had planned to post a different routine that I tried every couple of weeks with a final summary that should've come out last week. Instead, I went into survival mode and if I'm totally honest with myself (and you) I still feel like I'm there.
I've been trying to write this post for the last several weeks. I spent hours over spring break thinking and staring at the blank screen in front of me. When it came down to writing, I just couldn't find words appropriate to the situation.
Here we are on May 1st and I still don't have the words. So rather than of giving an in-depth review of the routines I tried, I'm going to share my takeaways to help you build the best morning routine for you!
WHAT KIND OF MORNING ROUTINE DO I NEED?
That my friend, is a question that only you can answer.
Morning routines vary widely from person to person and what works for me will not necessarily work for the mother or father of 3 or for the senior in college or for the nurse coming off of a 12-hour shift.
To find the right morning routine, you have to know what your priorities are for the day and what will serve you best.
ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
Every morning routine I researched fell into one of three categories: productivity, self-care, or mindfulness with the allowance for overlap.
Remember, a good morning routine always serves you. When you know what type of routine you need, make sure you choose activities that answer the following questions for that category.
Questions for Self-Care Routines:
Questions for Productivity Routines:
Questions for Mindfulness Routines:
MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS
Start the day well rested.
You won’t enjoy your morning routine if you’re trudging through it groggily and half-asleep. Get yourself a good 7-8 hours of sleep. I know, it’s not always easy for us to get the right amount of sleep, but you’ll be amazed at how good you feel when you’re well rested!
Make sure that your morning routine serves you in every capacity.
If you need quiet and contemplative, focus on activities that calm and center you.
If you have a lot of energy and need something vigorous, throw in some exercise.
If you need a boost in creativity or productivity, find ways to spark your imagination.
Just because going for a run then doing 20 minutes of yoga before having your coffee and breakfast worked yesterday, doesn’t mean it will work today. Find what you need and adjust your routine to meet you where you are this morning.
Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need for your morning routine.
I tried several 30 minute or 1 hour morning routines and they ALWAYS took longer! It started making these routines feel like a to-do list instead of the enjoyable way to get my day started. Give yourself at least 10-15 minutes more than you think you’ll need and future you will thank you.
Plan your morning routine before you start.
I know what you're thinking. "Christie, I'm not going to know how I'll feel in the morning, and what kind of routine I'm going to need, how can I plan it?"
Hear me out.
If you start trying to change your morning routine flying by the seat of your pants (like I did), you'll get overwhelmed, frustrated and you'll stop before having a routine becomes a habit. Creating a plan for each one of the routines listed above will set you up for future success.
So, what makes up your morning routine? Is it serving you or will you be making a shift? Let me know!
This adorable teacher mouse and sign were a gift from a student who's been with me for 9 years. When she gave it to me, she told me she picked it out herself and got it because she knew I would love it. And she was right!
Growing up I never had incentives to practice from any of my teacher or my parents. I would simply be given an assignment and I was expected to go home and practice. No promise of a prize or goodie if I did my work, I just had to do it.
After years of reading networking with other music teachers, I appear to be one of the few who didn't receive an incentive for practicing. All I can figure is that I wasn't like other kids. I wasn't always the best and most consistent practice-r, but I got it done.
When I first started teaching 15 years ago, I was working for another music studio and I found that my students needed a little more push to get some of their assignments done.
I tried all kinds of things, but the only thing that worked consistently was stickers. The current sticker incentive program I have for my students is ongoing.
How It Started
I had a young student bring in one of her school assignments to show me. She had drawn herself practicing the piano. (It was adorable and I wish I had taken a picture) I commented on her beautiful work and asked where the sticker came from. She said her teacher puts one on all of their completed assignments. I didn't think much of it at the time and gave an "oh that's cool" type of response.
When got into her lesson, she asked if she could have a sticker on the song she had just completed. I obliged and started doing that for all of my students. They loved it!
Stickers on their music turned into stickers on the front cover of their books. They all started keeping track of how many stickers they earned, but there's a problem with keeping stickers on book covers; they either fall off or get ripped off one way or another.
I had one child come to his lesson in tears because his favorite sticker fell off his book and he couldn't find it. I decided to find a way to help my students keep track of their stickers without losing them.
I grabbed a handful of index cards, wrote each of my students names and bound them together with some yarn. Problem solved. Woohoo!
I started doing this in 2009. It wasn't until 2012 when I came across Joy Morin's blog, Color In My Piano, that found other piano teachers were doing the same thing!
AND they were giving prizes! (I swear I love the prizes just as much as the kids do sometimes)
How It Works
Students earn 1 sticker for each page of music they learn or sightread, each theory sheet they complete, and for knowing the "Music Symbol of the Week".
When they reach 25 stickers, they pick a prize from the Prize Box. We flip their card over and do it again. Once the second side is full, they get to take their card home and receive a new one to start filling up.
I think this incentive is so effective because every sticker, every card, and every prize is new, just like the pieces they're learning.
It's also great for online music lessons because your students can still earn stickers. Then when they earn their prize you can either send them a digital gift (gift card, coupon, music, digital download, etc) or you can send them a gift in the mail. If you know you're going to see your students in-person again (like me), just let them know they'll be able to pick their prize as soon as you're together again.
Do you have practice/learning incentives? What works with your students? Let me know in the comments below.
This was just too good not to share. Happy Wednesday!
Over the past several weeks, I've been sharing several resources I've created and used in my music studio as we transition to online music lessons.
In March, I shared 11 benefits of online music lessons. Last week were student and parent guides to online lessons.
In today's post, I'm be sharing dynamics practice sheets.
These fun llama-themed sheets - from my "Llama Hear Ya Play!" series - will help your students understand reading and playing with dynamics on the piano!
The theory sheets can be emailed to your students or printed and put into their piano practice packets!
Using the packets
There are 3 versions of the dynamics practice sheets: Pre-Reading, Beginner, and Elementary.
Each packet has an informational page that introduces the dynamics forte & piano, their definitions, and a description of how to play them properly on the piano. The next page provides your students the opportunity to practice these dynamics with easy to read and play exercises.
Packets can be used as an introduction to dynamics in your students' lessons or you can send it to your students as a fun supplement to their daily practice routine.
Click the photo to download the Llama Hear Ya Play! Dynamics Packets or on the link below.
This week, I am on Spring Break. Woo! My original plans were to have a beach getaway with my husband.
Except, social distancing.
Except, travel bans.
Except, instead of being upset about our plans changing, I'm choosing to revel in the wonderful things about being home.
Instead of feeling discouraged about being "stuck at home", I'm choosing to take this time to be grateful for what I do have and to do things during this time that I normally wouldn't be able to do.
And now if you'll excuse me, I have a Bob Ross landscape to paint. 🙂
I, like you, have been a busy bee these past few weeks.
In addition to teaching, running a multi-teacher business, transitioning my other teachers and their students to online lessons, and transitioning church services to an online format, I've been hard at work creating teaching materials.
You may have noticed there wasn't a post last Friday. That's because I chose to use that time to create new resources that I think will benefit you more than reading me ramble on about being a piano diva.
Don't worry that post will come! :)
Back in March, I shared 11 benefits of online music lessons with you. If you haven't read it and grabbed your freebie, head over there now before continuing on!
Got your freebie? Great, here are the next ones!
After creating that download, I realized that very few of my parents needed convincing about how good it is for them to continue lessons and needed more guidance in how to help their children succeed, so I created a guide, or cheat-sheet if you will, for parents and students to help with having successful online music lessons.
You can get your free guides here:
I hope your families find these resources as useful as mine found them!
My birthday is next week and I have a few birthday wishes to share.
💕 I wish for a warm, sunny day.
💕 I wish for a nice long walk with my husband.
💕 I wish for ice cream cake!
💕 I wish for the world to be a better place than it is today.
💕 I wish for the hurting families who have lost loved ones to find peace.
💕 I wish for all the people suffering with COVID-19 to be healed.
💕 I wish for you to enjoy a beautifully joyful day with me.
Happy Wednesday my friends!
How are you doing? Hanging in there? I hope so!
This quarantine hasn't been easy for anyone I've spoken to in the last several weeks. The things that seem to be getting people through are family, music/the arts, and food - 3 of my favorite things! Which is why for today's Wonderful Wednesday post I'm sharing three of my go-to recipes.
These are easy, yummy, and healthy recipes that kids can help make...but only if you want them to :)
The recipes from each website are written pretty solidly, so I'll be providing a link to the original recipe and sharing my alterations for our personal household taste.
Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs
This recipe comes from DamnDelicious.net.
We're not big green bean people in my house, so I add some extra carrots and potatoes to the recipe. I also reduce the amount of honey and soy sauce to 1/3 cup and add some ginger and 1/2 cup of ketchup to the sauce.
What I love most about this recipe is all of the optional changes that you make to the sauce.
Want it Spicy & Savory? Use the original sauce recipe with these modifications:
Looking for an Asiany Flair? Use this sauce instead:
You can even eliminate the veggies and use only chicken thighs! Use your imagination, it won't steer you wrong.
Sheet-Pan Pineapple & Shrimp Fajitas
This super yummy recipe is courtesy of CleanFoodCrush.com, which quickly becoming my go to website for new recipes.
We had this for dinner last night and I totally should have taken pictures. Alas, I didn't. My bad.
I only make a couple of changes to this recipe. Sometimes we like a little heat in our meals, so I add some red pepper flake or jalapeño or habanero peppers to the sheet-pan.
I also tried something new last night. Instead of having this as a fajita, I put it over shiritaki noodles. It adds a different texture more than anything. I would definitely try it again.
Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies
Okay, so maybe this isn't necessarily a healthy recipe, but what would a recipe post be without some dessert?
These cookies come from BonAppetit.com and with only 6 ingredients, they're perfect!
Seriously, I don't make any changes to this recipe.
So go make them. Right now!
You can thank me when you're face is covered in powdered sugar and you only have 3 cookies left 20 minutes after they come out of the oven. :)
Have you made any of these recipes before? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Happy Wednesday, friends!
That's right, tomorrow is International Piano Day!
What is Piano Day?
"The aim of the day is to create a platform for piano related projects in order to promote the development of musical dimensions and to continue sharing the centuries-old joy of playing piano. It is intended to be the most joyful of all holidays!" (pianoday.org)
When is Piano Day?
Piano Day is celebrated on the 88th day of the year - March 28th, 2020 - because of the number of keys on the instrument.
Why Piano Day?
Why the heck not?
No, seriously, we observe so many other holidays that have lost meaning to most people celebrating them, why not celebrate something that has meaning in our lives?
As Nils Frahm puts it, “Why does the world need a Piano Day? For many reasons. But mostly, because it doesn’t hurt to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers and most important, the listener.”
How Can You Celebrate Piano Day?
The easiest way to celebrate is by playing and sharing the love of all things piano with those whom you love.
There are typically local gatherings and concerts across the world, but due to the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic, many (if not all by the time this is posted) of the live events have been canceled. There are however several groups have chosen to continue their performances via livestream. You can find more information about that at pianoday.org.
Here are some additional resources:
The official Piano Day website - http://www.pianoday.org/ Here you can create your own beautiful piano music by clicking on the tabs. I've had it going on loop in the background while writing this post 😊
Piano Day on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pianodayofficial/