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Fall practice ladder challenge

During the four weeks leading up to the school winter break, we challenged our students to keep track of the number of days they practiced, AND the number of days that they listened to their reference recording. For every day that they did both, practicing AND listening, they earned a rung on our studio practice ladder.

For every 50 rungs on the ladder, we made a donation through the Plan Canada Gifts of Hope  program. Up to 200 rungs on the ladder, we donated baby chicks;  up to 400 rungs, we donated beehives; up to 600, sheep; up to 800, goats, and if they got past 800, we would go for the whole barnyard. 🙂

This year the students built a practice ladder of just over 400 rungs, earning 4 baby chicks and four beehives.  The challenge is to get to the sheep next year 🙂




Listening for Easter Eggs

When we hide Easter eggs and give a child a basket to collect them in, we make sure that the eggs are hidden but still possible to find.
When a child plays a musical instrument, picking out the notes of the tune is like finding the eggs, and the eggs are “hidden” in the child’s memory.
If you don’t listen to the recording, that’s like giving the child a basket but not hiding any eggs.

I see students in my studio who stop playing as soon as they are uncertain of what comes next and look at me, expecting me to show them the next note. They do not try to find it. I do not want to tell them – I am trying to teach them how to find out for themselves. But if they haven’t listened to the recording, they don’t know where to look. I have other students who continue through into less familiar territory, and if they hear an error, stop and try to correct it, comparing it to their memory of what they are trying to play. These are the students who have listened to the recording, and by observing them “hunt and peck” looking for the solution, I learn much about how to help them learn, while the student is learning the value of persistence and determination. These are the students who already have some eggs in their basket and they know there are more out there! The others are standing with their empty baskets, disappointed because there are no eggs.

So hide some eggs so your child can have the fun challenge of filling his basket – listen to the recording!

(Thanks to the Classical Musicians Everywhere Facebook page for the photo!)


Kathleen goes back to Peru in January


Recorder Book 1 Class, Lima, Peru, January 2014

I have been invited back to Lima, Peru,  for the 30th annual International Suzuki Music Festival. Looking forward to seeing all the students and teachers again! I am very happy that they asked me back – now that I have seen what they do at the festival when I was there last year I have a much better idea of how I can help.



Recorder Book 3 class, Lima, Peru, January 2014

Hopefully my blogging skills are better too, this year, and I’ll be able to provide more regular updates. In the meantime I’ve been going back over some pictures from last year. The featured photo above is of the students from Huancavelica performing in their traditional costumes, and here are some of the amazing teachers that I had the pleasure of working with. I’ve kept in touch with many of them through social media, and some have already told me they are planning to return to the Festival to take another Teacher Training course.


I’ll be spending my unscheduled time over the holiday season preparing  course materials – imagine me sitting by the fireside with a mug of something hot, my feet up and  my computer on my lap, busy creating lesson plans.


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About Us:

Thomas & Kathleen Schoen are classically trained performers on both historical and modern flutes and violins. Their repertoire ranges from early music on period instruments to modern works that use phrase sampler loopers and other modern technology. read more

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