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Take Note! E-zine
December 04, 2015

What's New at


SOMETHING NEW TO THE SITE THIS MONTH is a search bar... finally. Sorry it took me so long to do something so simple. It works very well - occasionally I use it too!



WHAT WORKED... Christmas music. Oh boy! Some kids JUMP at Christmas music. It is less than a month away, and they are eager to get in the Christmas spirit! Here in Alaska it has begun to snow, and family feels closer at this time. When a student and I are working together on a Christmas piece they love, I can see the MAGIC in their eyes.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK: Assigning scales, chords, the Louie Louie pattern in a new key, or some aspect of technique aimed at improving finger facility, then failing to check up on it for a couple of weeks... or more... when other lesson items take a higher priority, is a big mistake! There is no urgency on their part to practice something at home if they know there's a good chance I won't bother to hear it.

I've started trimming down the TECHNIQUE section of my students' lesson sheets, so as to touch on every single item. And if I'm not happy with the way a scale or etc. is shaping up, we will spend extra time solidifying it, or else drop it for later. It's too easy to clutter up their lesson sheets (which are templates I make & alter every week).


Here are the latest NEW PAGES at - which you can always find listed at "The Music Notes Blog":

Greensleeves / What Child is This duet written like a conductor's score, with the two parts stacked. There are three versions; one with all lettered music notes, one with a few "helper" notes, and one that has the chord symbols but no alphanotes at all, but shows exactly how I play the melody and backup for my students when they learn Greensleeves chords. Twelve pages in all.

Silent Night for guitar, and also for strings - a duet for violins, and two trios. Yes, I said STRINGS. Violin and viola and cello. Fairly simple but pretty and satisfying. Kids LOVE familiar Christmas carols.

Silent Night for PIANO - solos and a lovely duet. Some alphanotes are used. I will admit that the solos are very basic, but they are just right for most second or third year young players. The duets, however, were made with certain older students in mind who are working on chord inversions and need a bit of incentive.

They have the flowing chord sound of my arrangement of O Holy Night.

The Canon in D by Pachelbel, arranged in C, with the fancy quick-moving part, is achievable by ambitious little guys, even those who are in too much of a hurry to read the notes carefully - I had a very young student ask me for "the REAL Canon." (He played the "baby version" last year.) I've seen this student tackle bigger things with more accuracy since I started using some alphanotes with some of his music - he always memorizes quickly and plays by ear, so he frequently has memorized things WRONG. This Canon arrangement comes 3 ways - with all AlphaNotes, with some Alphanotes, and with none. It is an arrangement for a smaller hand.


"New music" means additional arrangements or improved sheets on pages that already exist. Since I started making Alphanote pages for my newer and younger students, there are more and more of those.

Horizontal staff paper with GIANT STAFFS is my latest addition to the world of music theory, along with some horizontally-oriented tablature, VERY LARGE, for my younger guitar students who struggle with teeny tiny tablature numbers.

A number of new AlphaNote songs - or "helper" versions with just a few AlphaNotes - can be quickly found on my page called Note-Naming Worksheets, or Piano Music with Letters. Here's a few (mostly for Christmas - and with more coming!):

First Noel (late elementary)

Fur Elise (the original part 1, though with altered timing to make it easier to read, with just a few helper notes)

Haida, a singing round for my vocal students who need the help finding notes on the piano!

Hark How the Bells, both beginner and elementary arrangements

Up On the Housetop the Reindeer Pause (by special request from one of my students - now I've got THREE beginners working on it)

We Wish You a Merry Christmas


- there's bound to be something there for your students! (And it's almost always free...)

Until next time, please be safe and enjoy this wonderful time of year,


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