September Surprise Fall Piano Kickoff!

It’s that time of year again! I know most teachers have already been teaching for at least several weeks, but I love summer too much to start fall piano lessons before Labor Day. So, as has been our tradition now for at least 15 years (as best as I and some of my former students can remember), the week of Labor Day, we host the September Surprise! – an evening of playing the piano (students can prepare any piece and surprise me with what they learned over the summer!), announcing the practice incentive theme for the year, enjoying some other interactive activities for the whole family, and eating snacks.

Announcing…The Aquarium Caper! An action-packed aquatic adventure that will have students swimming through each week’s practicing and assignments in order to fill their aquariums with each of the twelve unique creatures hidden along the path. It’s so rewarding to see the students’ faces light up as I go through the logistics of how the theme will work.

One of my students clapped her hands together and exclaimed, “This is going to be so much fun!” Love seeing their enthusiasm and energy! After everyone selected their representative object to swing along the aquarium bubble paths this year, we took turns playing our musical selections for each other. Impressively, each student learned a new piano piece on their own over the summer and did a fabulous job performing it!

For our interactive game, I put together a list of eight theme-related songs with a musical incipit, then three clues, and finally a recording of the song. Everyone was split into two teams and each team had a chance to see if they could guess the title of the song with as few clues as possible.

It was fun to watch the students and parents intently study the musical incipits, trying to sound out the melody so that they could guess the song without any additional clues (great audiation practice!). In the end, the dads stole the show and took full advantage of their bragging rights!

It took me a while to come up with any kind of theme-related snack to include in the evening’s festivities (especially since several of my students are gluten-free, which ruled out simple options like gold fish!), but in the end a suggestion from my son and a quick internet search resulted in a smorgasbord of homemade vanilla ice cream with jellyfish (Oreos and sour worms), turtle (kiwi shells, cutie arms, and strawberry heads), and fish (Swedish gummy fish) toppings.

And of course, we were so absorbed in all the delectable goodies that I forget to get any pictures during the snack time…oops. Oh well, it was still a super fun start to a new year of piano lessons!


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